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A Bridge of Hope


In a rare display of solidarity, a diverse array of unions and activist groups from two states joined together to march from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington. Unions brought their current struggles while members of the Occupy Portland encampment joined in solidarity. "Good Jobs, No Cuts" was one of the main slogans of the march. To get to Vancouver, the marchers crossed the I-5 bridge that spans the Columbia River.  The march ended in downtown Vancouver across the street from the Hilton Hotel where the workers are currently pushing for higher wages and better benefits. What follows is the text of an invocation that I gave at the rally:

To prepare us for entering into the spirit of solidarity and justice that this rally represents, I want to present to you four images. The first image is that of you at home lying on your bed. You are lying there all by yourself and all you can think about is one thing, and that one thing is the cause or concern closest to your heart that brought you here today. For some, it might be a threat to the livelihood of your family that has brought you here. It could be a threat to union jobs with decent wages. It could be a threat to lay off thousands or reduce your benefits. It could be a threat to your social security, your Medicaid, or your Medicare. For others, you might be here because you’re tired—tired of not being paid a living wage, tired of not having the benefits you need, tired of struggling to make ends meet. And for still others, you might be here because you care. You care about the widow down the block barely getting by. You care about your fellow workers. You care about justice, fairness, and decency. Whatever it is that brought you here today, I want you to think about it. Imagine yourself lying on your bed losing sleep over it.
 
For the second image, imagine whatever is the greatest obstacle to meeting the threat to your family’s livelihood or to getting the living wage you deserve or to making sure that widow gets the care she needs. Think of whomever or whatever is getting in your way.
 
Now the third image is real easy. It is an image that represents overcoming whatever obstacle lies on the path before you. I know all of you are intimately familiar with this image because you just marched on it. Imagine a bridge. Imagine a bridge allowing you to pass over the obstacle in your way. Imagine that you are no longer that solitary person who was sleeping all alone in your bed a few hours ago. Instead, you are crossing over that bridge with others. You are surrounded by people who have causes and concerns just like yours. There are people facing threats just like you. There are people who are tired and fed up just like you. There are people who care just like you. You soon realize that the people all around you are not just bridge marchers. They are bridge makers. With them by your side, you begin to feel that you can overcome those obstacles that have been standing in your way.
 
Now, I would not be a good pastor if I did not present you with a fourth image drawn from my Judaic-Christian heritage. For this fourth image, I want you to imagine that you and the bridge makers all around you have built a bridge that leads to the promised land. In this promised land, there is not just milk and honey. In this promised land, there are jobs for everyone who wants work. In this promised land, the jobs come with decent wages and benefits. In this promised land, everyone has a home and no home is foreclosed. In this promised land, each of those homes is full of food and no child goes hungry. And, then finally, in this promised land, there is a people who live in a spirit of solidarity and justice. Amen.

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