After three days of rain, it was lovely to stand out in the sun this week continuing Sojourners’ #FaithfulFilibuster. Across the street from the Supreme Court and the Capitol, faith organizations, volunteers, people who heard about the filibuster through social media, and even curious passersby took time to read aloud the Bible’s 2,000 verses relating to poverty and justice.
The Faithful Filibuster is a call to remind our elected leaders that the shutdown is hurting many of society’s most vulnerable. So, while partisanship reigned in the halls of Congress, a coalition of partners showed their support by taking to the podium behind a sign reading “God’s justice never shuts down.”
While there on Tuesday, I saw God show up in so many unexpected and delightful ways. God used people from very different walks of life to remind me that God stands as witness to what is being done and the positive effect this outreach has had on individuals. I share with you some of the best highlights of my day.
After listening to Lucas Koach, Senior Policy Advisor at Food for the Hungry, finish reading his verses, it was my turn at the podium. The sun was already burning down at mid-morning without a cloud in the sky. I had just finished the Matthew 25 passage including “I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.” Immediately, a big truck parked right on the street before me, and a man came out and started unpacking boxes of bottled water for delivery. He glanced in my direction, walked over, and handed me a cold bottle. Thank you, William, for the water. May you be blessed for doing this kindness, as the continuation of the passage says that what you did for me, you did also for Jesus.
Next, Angela, a furloughed Peace Corps worker who had volunteered at the Faithful Filibuster the previous week, stopped by to read again. Afterward, I had a good conversation with a man named Barry, who was very knowledgeable and passionate about local D.C. politics. He agreed that those on the margins suffer while our leaders relish in political games.
Broderick, a seminary student from Virginia, came to support the Faithful Filibuster after reading about it on Facebook. Happy to learn how faith was being put into action on behalf of the poor, rather than simply hearing the Good News from a church pew, he also took a turn reading from Scripture. Next, Rev. Robinson from Baltimore came by on his day off to check out the filibuster, and also took to the podium.
When I began to read again, I started by going through the Psalms. An elderly gentleman paused to listen, and then requested if I could read aloud his favorite, Psalm 91. As I read it, he also began to softly quote the verses by heart, praising God and saying “hallelujah” before thanking me and walking on.
Later, a local pastor from the District Church in Colombia Heights came to read. We met a couple visiting from Louisiana. The wife was a furloughed federal employee with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It was interesting to hear her point of view working first-hand with immigrants in a deportation capacity. She said as a Christian, it is sometimes very difficult to find a balance between desiring to deport violent criminals, and also wanting to keep hardworking, law-abiding immigrant families together. She and her husband thanked all who were participating in the Faithful Filibuster for keeping Christ present during the government shutdown.
As the next speaker from Salvation Army was reading, several teens participating in a rally at the Supreme Court came to ask about what we were doing. After explaining the filibuster’s mission, a young boy thanked us, shook hands, and said “God bless you.”
At the end of the day, I felt so encouraged by everyone who spoke and came to listen. God used pastors, students, old and young, whites and blacks, D.C. natives and out-of-towners, people in scruffy clothes and well-dressed businessmen giving me the thumbs-up, to give me a greater hope and enthusiasm for what we accomplished through our Faithful Filibuster. Many thanks to all who planned or spontaneously lent their time to stand with us in solidarity for the poor. May you be blessed, as I have been.
Anna Hall is campaigns assistant for Sojourners.