‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. An being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and become obedient to death—even death on a cross.’ – Philippians 2:5-8
Whenever I take off for Denver, driving off of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is always a exhilarating and painful moment for me. As a first year teacher, I can never truly recognize how well things are going or how difficult things have been until I leave the environment in which I have been working. At the same time, it is a painful reminder of my mobility. I am able to just get in my car and leave. The same is not true for many, if not all, of my students and their families. I was joking with my girlfriend, Hilary, that as a teacher I am the 1% on the reservation, but it is true enough. I have the money and freedom to pick up and leave. No matter how much my intention is to live in solidarity with my students and their community, it is a feat I cannot accomplishment.
My experience on and off the reservation casts a new light on the life and mission of Christ. He did so perfectly and faithfully what I fail to do every day. He stepped into the world, into broken lives and broke communities.. He then lived in complete solidarity with the community he entered. He did not seek to leave, he sought to be obedient to the life God, His Father, had called him. Christ’s life and ministry is a deep exhortation to me in this Lenten season, obedience calls you to a deep, at times painful solidarity with the oppressed of the world. It calls you to a deep and often painful solidarity with the mission of Christ.
At the same time, the Lenten season reminds me that I am not Christ. I will not live in perfect solidarity, I can only invite others to knowledge of the God man who did. I will keep going to Denver, I will leave the reservation for the summer, but I do so encouraged by the knowledge that though I am unable to live by complete faithfulness, Christ has been and will continue to be at work in the places I leave. His Lenten season led eventually to death, eventually to resurrection, and finally to the joy of nations. I pray that mine would lead to a joining with Christ’s mission in the world.