Alumni Posts

The Wilderness and the Borderlands: 6th Week of Lent

This morning, as I read my daily on-line New York Times, I came across a short video titled “A conversation with my black son”; in it, a number of black men and women talked about the TALK that each of them has had with their sons (or had with their fathers) regarding behavior around the police.

By the time I finished watching it, I was in tears.   As a white middle class woman, I never had to have that talk with my son when he was a teenager.   I never had to choke down a meal that was distinctly unholy, simply because of the color of my skin.

I did, however, need to have a conversation with my son about his appearance .   His long unkempt hair, and slovenly “cool” appearance too often sent a message to police that this was a kid who might be high on drugs or alcohol. And that was reason enough for them to stop him on the street, especially if he was out at night after the curfew that was in effect in our north shore suburb.

Our family didn’t live in fear that this kind of encounter was inevitable, as is the case for so many people who live on the margins, But we did know that it was a possibility, due to the choices our son was making.   It sensitized us to those for whom marginality is daily reality.

Throughout Lent, many of us give up or take on something we care about. But we do it by choice. No one forces us.   For others, choice may not be an option: poverty, lack of physical safety, profiling, fear of those who should serve and protect us –those realities are sacrifices that are not freely chosen, but they are almost always shadowing the footsteps of those who live on the margins.

Jesus operated there, reaching out to those who were reviled , ignored and excluded.   As the end of his life neared, he promised all of us all new life if we would eat and drink in remembrance of him.

Can we do that every day?   Can we willingly give up our places at the center of the society in order to be transformed by and in solidarity with those at the margins?   They have much to teach us; we only need to pay attention to be transformed and made new.

Christine's headshotRev Christine B. Vogel, D. Min is a 1996 graduate of McCormick. She served as an associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, and then as college chaplain at Alma College.   She was McCormick’s Dean of Students from 2005 – 2013. Christine is a certified spiritual director, on staff at Claret Center in Hyde Park.   She meets with individual directees and has recently begun facilitating a group for 20-30 something professionals in ministry/social services.