February 17, 2018

By Rev. Angela Galanis Price, Whittier First UMC, East District

Psalm 100:1,5

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth…For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

It’s difficult to make a joyful noise when life is messy and complicated. People are suffering; discrimination still exists; children are being trafficked; our undocumented brothers and sisters are still not safe. The list goes on and on. When will we experience joy?

I was appointed July 2017 to Whittier First and I spent the first couple of months getting to know the neighborhood. It was one Sunday afternoon when I decided to take a stroll out in Uptown Whittier, just a couple of blocks from the church. Uptown was celebrating the Day of the Dead (Día de Muerto) and the people were all in costume, with classic cars lining street after street. I was mesmerized by the culture and the music.

As I was walking in the late afternoon, a car filled with men with their windows down started “cat-calling.” I overheard some of them say, “Oh look, she’s a cutie. What are we going to do with her? She looked this way, I think she wants it.” My heart started pounding in fear as I looked around to see if there were any others around who could help me. It was just me and the car filled with men. So, I decided to keep walking, with my eyes looking straight ahead and a prayer under my breath. I kept walking until I turned the corner. Then anxiously, I turned around to see if I had walked far enough, and I was relieved that they were not there.

That was the week that Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct (and now rape). That was the week that women in the entertainment industry started finding their voice to speak the truth about sexual predators. That was the week that #metoo was trending, that birthed #timesup. That was the week I shared with my congregation the daily struggle that women experience with harassment and power. That was also the week that a young woman found the courage to share with me that she, too, had experienced sexual abuse.

A shout of rejoicing rises up from the core of our beings when we learn that the fight of justice continues to gain ground; we rejoice when we learn that we are not alone and that others stand in solidarity with us. We rejoice when we experience the Spirit giving us courage and when we are reminded that God stands with the oppressed. We rejoice that in every breath, God is still good and God’s love sustains us through the struggle!

Prayer: God of Great Love, thank you that you can say with us #metoo and #timesup. In times of great suffering and trial, give us endurance and patience to hold onto your promise. When we are experiencing the “dark night of the soul,” remind us that you have already overcome both the cross and the grave. Give us an outpouring of your Spirit so that we can continue to fight towards equity and justice! You are faithful and we will remain faithful to your love. We find our joy in you. In Christ we pray, Amen.