by Phil Morice Brubaker
“Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, … all you people of the land,” says the Lord. “Work, for I am with you, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. … Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; … and I will fill this house with splendor.” – Haggai 2:3-7
The Israelites had been slaves. Then they were exiled. This passage from Haggai finds a remnant of the people back in Judea and looking at the once glorious temple of Jerusalem. The ruined temple was a reminder of that time when they were their own community, not exiled or occupied by others.
The prophet’s message is simple and timeless: the disenfranchised community should remain hopeful because the temple, a centerpiece of the community and symbol of its freedom, will once again be made whole, even better than it was before.
People of Color have a similar story: slavery, imperialism, disenfranchisement, exile, destruction of their communities. The hope is that the lost glory of the community — its freedom from injustice and oppression — will be restored.
God’s message continues with the imperatives “take courage” and “work.” The glory won’t return on its own, so the community has some responsibility to help make this happen. White people can join in the courage-taking and working, as members of the same community of glorious freedom.
The song “Glory” from the film Selma expresses some similar ideas about working toward glory.
God of Glory, “shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land.” Shake us out of our laziness, our fear, our complacency, our despair, whatever it is that keeps us from working for the future glory of your community restored in justice.
Phil Morice Brubaker is coordinator and trainer with Roots of Justice.