Who Will Be the Bridges?
Today's devotion comes from the resident Bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference, Bishop Sally Dyck. Here's a note she shared on Monday, May 31, 2020.
"Yesterday into last night, hundreds of people demonstrated against the racism in our country, sparked but not confined by the recent police violence against black people. And it was good for them to be there.
But last night the scene turned toward violence. The route was my daily running route every morning—along Wacker Drive and into the loop.
So this morning my husband Ken and I went for a walk. I wanted to see my running route. But as soon as we got to the river, we saw that all the bridges along the Chicago River were up. There was no way to get across the river. We couldn’t get into downtown or along the south side of Wacker.
When a bridge is up, there’s a loud clanging sound with a flashing STOP sign. As we walked along, there was a continuous, out of sync clanging of the bridges. The clanging sound resounded down the canyon of the city—the canyon made by the tall skyscrapers. The clanging called out its warning: pay attention to what is going on!
We walked into the River North area for a while before circling back toward our neighborhood. All along we saw the effects of the night before but it was the clanging that haunted me.
I’ve seen people write that the time we’re in is an apocalypse; and this was before this week or weekend. We’ve done such a poor job teaching about the Book of Revelation that it’s hard to go against the stream of how it has been interpreted popularly in our culture. But let me just say this: an apocalypse is an unveiling, a revealing for all to see. The Book of Revelation is a revealing of evil being overcome by good until there is
A new heaven and new earth,
for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away.
We are in an apocalypse. But the apocalypse is not an economy that has plummeted to depths unknown since the Great Depression. The apocalypse is not the unemployment figure. The apocalypse is not that we can’t come together and worship, singing our hearts out. The apocalypse is not the higher rates of illness and death of COVID-19 for people of color and those who are the most economically stressed in our society (often essential workers). The apocalypse is not police shootings. Hear me out!
The apocalypse is the unveiling, the revealing that all these things—as much suffering, death and loss that they have caused—the revealing of all the inequities and racism and poverty and poor health care that exists in our society. It has been starkly revealed just who we are as a society. That’s the apocalypse: the revealing.
Some say that religion is really a way of seeing. If anyone has any religion right now, we cannot but help but to see what has been revealed. And what has been revealed is now up to us to address.
While out walking this morning on the north side of the river, I saw a woman sitting at a bus stop. You have to understand: neither the buses nor the trains were running because they couldn’t get across the river. But this woman was sitting at a bus stop that was about 50 feet from a bridge that was up. No bus was going that way! But there she sat.
Why was she sitting there? Maybe she was just tired. But to me, it seemed symbolic that we can sit down and pretend that everything is normal. We can refuse to see. The question is: What do we do with an apocalyptic time? Well, we can’t just sit down and close our eyes and not see what we have seen in these last couple of months and now last couple of days.
The Book of Revelation ends in a vision of a new heaven and earth; nothing less. We must work for a new economy for all and not just for some, a better America that is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable among us, a new way of being church that values the realm of God’s justice and mercy, a new way of loving that transcends—or bridges—our many divisions. On this Pentecost Sunday, with all our various experiences and perspectives and expressions of faith, let us join our voices with one heart to live and work and love into a new reality that is made possible by this time of revealing.
With the clanging and looking up at the gaps between the raised bridges, I kept wondering, who will be the bridges? Who will be the bridges? Who will be the bridges?
Will it be you? Will it be me? Will it be us? May it be so.
~Bishop Sally Dyck