Birthing New Systems

"I never intend to adjust myself in economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few." - MLKAt our worship gathering Sunday morning, we sang the song “God of the Bible.” Verses 3-5 really stuck out to me, in many ways representing the best of the Anabaptist tradition. On MLK Day in the U.S., this seems like an appropriate segment to share.

Those without status,
those who are nothing,
You have made royal,
gifted with rights,
chosen as partners,
midwives of justice,
birthing new systems,
lighting new lights.

Not by your finger,
not by your anger,
will our world order
change in a day, but, by your people,
fearless and faithful,
small paper lanterns,
lighting the way.
Hope we must carry,
shining and certain
through all our turmoil,
terror and loss,
bonding us gladly,
one to the other,
‘til our world changes,
facing the cross.

So verse 3 we have that everyone is made partners in this Kingdom, maybe even given some kind of special status. My favourite line, though, simply because we don’t see this very often in hymns is the claim that part of our call as Christians is to birth new systems. We don’t just complain about existing systems. Sometimes we have to openly call out harmful systems, but only for the purpose of helping build something better.

Verse 4 makes an equally powerful point. What is it that changes the world? It isn’t God’s finger or anger. It’s God’s people lighting the way. It also isn’t an overnight process. Small lanterns lighting the way will take a while to light up the whole world.

Verse 5 sets us up practically for carrying this out. We do this by carrying hope into the world. It isn’t a naive hope. We acknowledge the turmoil and terror and loss, but instead of running from it or trying to overpower it with similar tactics, we conquer these things with cross-like love.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.