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  • Writer's pictureMont Vernon Church

We Persist

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow. Here is a woman who wants justice, and she will do just about anything to get it. In a vulnerable spot, without a husband, or perhaps any family to protect her, she must rely on the law. But the law has failed her...


This week's Blog Post comes to you in the form of a video. You can read the text of this video below, but the video is a lot more interesting. 😊

 

One month ago today, a twenty-two-year-old Kurdish woman was killed in Iran for wearing improper hijab. Her name was Mahsa Amini, and she was taken into custody by Iran's Morality Police for what she wore. Then, she was beaten to death.


Her death sparked outrage across the world. In what reality does a young woman die because she's showing too much of her hair? Surely not in this one. But yes, this is happening. Now. In our world--and she hasn’t been the last one to die. Hundreds more have been killed as the Iranian people take to the streets to protest.


Hadis Najafi, twenty-years-old, tied her hair back in a ponytail before she headed out into the crowd of protesters, where she was shot six times by police. Sixteen year old Sarina Esmaeilzadeh, a vibrant girl who loved to post about her life on social media, died after being beaten in the head by batons. Nika Shakarami, also sixteen, shared the same fate as Sarina, although officials claim she committed suicide by jumping from a roof.


I have watched these events unfold over the last month with a mix of horror and awe. Horror at the abject tragedy. Awe over how the people respond. Video after video has come out of people cutting their hair. Rebellion by the snip of the shears. School girls shout insults and chase government officials. Women spit words of fire and use their hands and feet to kick and punch as men try to drag their freedom away. It hasn't only been the women. Husbands, fathers, brothers. They’ve all entered the arena to fight for the women they love.


At first the country of Iran doubled down, claiming no responsibility, sending out more police. They turned off the internet; People still spoke out. They closed the borders to journalists; Stories continued to stream through. Iran's president tried to assuage the people's anger by saying the government had "weaknesses and shortcomings". The people didn't buy it. Someone even hacked Iranian State Television during a speech. A masked man straight out of the movies spoke about threats and revolution. Despite the risk. Despite the suffering. Protests continue. What strength! What bravery! What persistence!


In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow. Here is a woman who wants justice, and she will do just about anything to get it. In a vulnerable spot, without a husband, or perhaps any family to protect her, she must rely on the law. But the law has failed her. A corrupt man sits in power who neither fears God nor respects man, but this woman pecks and prods. Pokes and pummels. She beats him down until he would rather appease than oppose.

“Because this widow keeps bothering me," he says. "I will give her justice." She persists, day after day, no after no, until she wears her adversary down.


Would we persist? So comfortable in our rights and our freedom. If this happened in our country would we head to the streets? Would we flaunt our criminal beliefs before a line of police? Would we burn down the world? Would we even cut off a piece of our hair?


The truth: A life lived six-thousand miles away is hard to imagine. A three-minute news reel, quickly forgotten. We can’t relate, but we can be angry. We have little power, but there are things we can do, both without and within.


Our parable today tells us we ought always to pray and never lose hope. For if the unjust judge will bow to the plight of the widow, will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?


Within, we can pray without ceasing, as long as we have breath, for all the Lord’s people. We can pray in the spirit, for the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. We can tell God what we need, and thank him for all he has done. Ask and receive. Seek and find. Knock and the door will be opened.


These are all things our book of faith has said about prayer. Prayer is powerful, and needed. And it is more than folded hands or bent knees. Prayer is relationship with God. Communication by a whispered word or hidden thought. Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, petition, intercession–for us and for others. Simple words, a quiet thought, even the work of our hands can become praise to a merciful creator, who pours out his blessing, heals the sick, feeds the poor, upholds the cause of the oppressed, and metes out justice.


But prayer takes trust. And trust is a leap of faith. And faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Are you there, God? Can you hear me? A good way to know is to do. Faith needs action; Our Faith is within, but action is without. When we express faith, we are brought closer to the Kingdom, a place that can be in the here and now, full of righteousness, peace, and joy.


So what can we do to help bring about the Kingdom for the women of Iran? Or, as in our parable of the widow and the judge, usher in Justice more speedily? We can use our voice to amplify their message. Where there is attention, there is pressure. And Iran’s government has certainly felt the pressure.


Write to your officials about the importance of keeping these women’s story in the light. When you see articles or videos online, like, share, follow, and interact with the content. Social media may seem frivolous or irrelevant, but where there are millions engaged, people in power take notice. Find and support organizations like the Center for Human Rights in Iran or the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, who document human rights violations and work to affect change. Sign petitions. Join your local protest, share your interest with others, spread the word. Together we can move mountains, in this crisis or in any other that pulls at the core of your heart.


In Psalm 10, we are told this about God: God’s character includes a zeal for justice that leads him to love tenderly those who are socially powerless. The women of Iran push against a regime that whittles their freedom to dust. Hand in hand they keep pushing. "Give us justice," they cry. "Give us justice, give us justice." The world stands witness as the unrighteous wither beneath their assault.



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