if you are content now
you will be devastated then
for when the world is flipped upside-down
all your riches will go spilling into space.
a voice cries out in the wilderness
cries out: prepare the way! prepare –
for what? for peace? perhaps, eventually
but first a revolution – woe to you
(to us) who sit too comfortably! for soon
all thrones will be upturned, and those who served
as footstools wear the crown!
(o come, Immanuel! come and turn
the whole world upside down!)
if you are satisfied now
you will be inconsolable then
when all that succeeded in filling you up
is razed to the ground to make way for a table
built of once-rejected stones – the ones
too crooked, too jagged, too small,
too broken to ever be chosen before.
…will those of you (of us) accustomed to
places of honor at the table
accept the humbler seats
when those once trampled underfoot
are seated at its head?
This poem was written by Avery Smith and belongs to them. This is a revised version of a poem included in their volume The Kin(g)dom in the Rubble. Please do not publish it anywhere, or use it in a service, without permission from the author. Reach out to Avery at firstname.lastname@example.org for that permission, or just to chat!
About this poem: Many of the Bible’s prophets speak of the End of Days and God’s in-coming Kin(g)dom as a fearsome time indeed for any of us who are comfortable with the status quo. In this poem I follow in their footsteps, and hope to remind myself that even though I belong to several oppressed communities, as a white middle-class US citizen there is much indeed I will “lose” when God transforms the world. Will I be ready? Will I be able to let go of my comfortable seat and embrace the revolution?
For more on these ideas, see this sermon I preached in 2018: “When the Good News Feels Like Bad News” on Amos 7 and Mark 6. Here are a few excerpts from that sermon:
“But it turns out that always being accepted, always being liked, is not what following Jesus, what sharing God’s news for the world, is all about. Because sometimes, sharing God’s news for the world comes as bad news for the people who have to hear it, ourselves included. And no one likes the bearer of bad news. …”
“There’s no denying the similarities between our society and the one God called Amos to prophesy against: we too have gross income inequality, the mistreatment of immigrants, refugees, and other vulnerable people, the worship of money at the expense of the marginalized…
Our fancy homes and all we have in them, our malls and factories, all razed to the ground to make way for a system that does not exploit the poor?
When we are at the top of the social ladder, when we are the ones benefiting from other people’s suffering, God’s good news about the world flipping upside down sounds a lot like bad news.”