Every Wednesday morning following Eucharist we repeat the post communion prayer: “You have nourished us at Your table with holy food and drink. Now send us forth, to be Your people in the world, to resist evil and to proclaim in all we say and do, the good news of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I’m glad to be numbered among God’s people. And fresh from the Lord’s table, I am energized to be “sent” into the world… and then, every week, I momentarily hesitate before saying the next words, “to resist evil.”
It’s not that I don’t want to resist evil, it’s more a question of “how” to resist evil. More specifically, how do I resist evil without becoming that which I am resisting?
Resisting involves action. But what action? So often in the process of “resisting” we find ourselves tempted to use some of the same tools and methods of the evil we are resisting. How can our “resistance” avoid these traps?
Recently two events reminded me that resistance comes in many forms.
The first event was a preview of a new movie starring Tom Hanks, as the gentle Mr. Rogers. Fred Rogers took the time to have authentic conversations with the younger set about some very old, very complex, and universal problems. He did so with grace, often pausing in silence, until everyone in the room had the time to catch up at their own pace.
The second event was the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street, a program set in an urban environment using a multi-ethnic cast of people and puppets to tackle not only the challenge of reading and numbers, but the complex questions of grief, racism, violence and disproportionate economic security.
Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood offered all of us, who have been commissioned to resist evil, a place to stand. We don’t have to stand mute or look away in the presence of evil. And we don’t have to demand an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth.
The good news of the gospel is that there is always a third way.
We resist when we show up as witnesses in the presence of evil. We resist when we persevere in “doing good.” We resist when we forgive. We resist when we speak truth to power. We resist when we check facts. We resist when we pray. We resist when we teach. We resist when we listen to those who are usually not heard. We resist when we ask the right questions. We resist when we create. We resist when we highlight beauty. We resist when we encourage the downtrodden. We resist when we tell the truth. We resist every time we choose the way of peace.
Resisting evil always has a price. Failing to resist evil has a price as well.
There are as many ways to resist evil as there are people.
Once we figure out how we are being called to resist, the next part becomes possible: “to proclaim the good news in all we say and do, of Jesus Christ our Lord.’
Joy Sylvester Johnson