by Linda Mackie Griggs
OT 1 Kings 9:24-10:13
Holy Women, Holy Men Paul Jones
“Don’t get arrested.” That’s what my Beloved tells my son when Mike casually remarks that he would be interested in attending a Moral Mondays event. “There’s no upside,” Malcolm tells me when I wonder aloud if I would have the courage to get arrested with the 900-odd people who engaged in civil disobedience in Raleigh this summer. “Don’t get arrested,” he says, looking down at his newspaper, avoiding my eyes. Bless his heart.
Every Monday during the legislative session in North Carolina this summer citizens gathered to protest the measures being passed that threaten voting rights, education, the poor, women’s rights, health care, and unemployment benefits. “Forward together! Not one step back!” they chant. A number of them agreed to be arrested for refusing to leave the legislative building when asked to disperse. Our own Win Bassett wrote the story of Methodist elder and mother of six, Tuck Taylor, who said, “Biblically, there are no unworthy. There are no unclean people—only unclean systems. I feel strongly we have to stand up.”
“I wanted to do more than just preach about it.”
The Reverend Jane Holmes, age 72, of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was also arrested. One of her ministries is as Chaplain to the Mecklenburg County Jail. The day after her arrest and release in Raleigh her privileges at the Charlotte jail were revoked. She is unapologetic about her actions. “As Christians, we are supposed to be supporting one another. We’re supposed to be protecting the poor, also respecting the stranger…and loving our neighbor.”
Holmes and Taylor are living their faith—taking the risk of repercussions from the powers that be. Just like Paul Jones, they speak with conviction and gentleness rooted in the Good News of Jesus Christ. This Jesus who was arrested, interrogated, flogged, and handed over to be crucified. For us.
Wouldn’t it be great if our ministry was as easy as Solomon’s? If all we had to do was build a gorgeous church and be flawlessly wise and witty with our erudite sermons and lovely vestments, and the unchurched would flock to our doors?
But it’s not, is it? Jesus knew that there was more to it than that. So much more. Paul Jones knew it, and so do Tuck Taylor and Jane Holmes. We know it too, don’t we? But the question remains; what risks are we willing to take in our life of faith—in our ministry?
“Don’t get arrested,” my Beloved says. “There’s no upside.”
Bless his heart…
Homily for Berkeley Chapel Morning Prayer, 4 September 2013 on the Feast day of Paul Jones. Linda Mackie Griggs is a third year (and third career) seminarian at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. She is a Candidate for Holy Orders from the Diocese of North Carolina.[Editor’s note: Maria L. Evans wrote an essay on Paul Jones for Speaking to the Soul and it was picked up by the NPR station in Utah. Here is the interview with her.]