2 Nov. 2014 Matthew 23:1-12 -- "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is"
My mother’s most consistent challenge to us as we were growing up was “put your money where your mouth is.” She applied that challenge to everything from our learning to ride a bike to the Sunday school lessons she taught to our free expressions of how we believed the world ought to work. In high school that meant her expectation was our participation in the youth group trips during Christmas to help create community centers, playgrounds or parks, or run after-school programs in inner city Chicago, St. Louis or Biloxi, Mississippi. The message was clear – rather than expect the poor to conform to my Midwest expectation that “if you had two good hands and weren't lazy, you could get a job and support your family,” we were to do something to help reduce the stress on the lives of the poor in some way. Our trips focused mainly on the stress on the children who suffered both from poverty and the absence of parents holding down the two to three jobs they needed to put food on the table and pay the rent. In college that meant moving beyond either denial or verbal outrage at the Jim Crow South, to helping with tutoring children or voter registration and walking that bridge in Selma.
My mother’s challenge still rings in my ears. I have chosen to put my money where my mouth is by becoming immersed in Christ the Solid Rock – working to build relationship between the Black and White populations of Madison. Others have chosen to work with the Nehemiah Center which is focused on reducing the racial disparities in our prison system. Still others are beginning to focus on the “cost” to our vulnerable populations of legislation that affects Madison and Dane County. I think about how to find those groups who are working on the racial disparities issues in the Madison schools and wonder how this old former school principal could help. Where are your skills and expertise and where can you use them to “put your money where your mouth is?”