A prayer lifts up from the city, like the smoke of incense. A single prayer, in the myriad of others, a strand of smoke amidst a great burning.
But God is listening. God hears the prayers of God's people.
The question is, are we listening? For God, who hears the prayers of his people, is calling us to listen as well. God's justice is a collective project.
But when we listen, we hear stories of oppression, corruption, and injustice, in the face of honesty and hard work. But listening is not enough. When we listen, God calls us from the quiet of prayer to be a healing presence in the world.
Bertina Jones (see video) is an accountant from Bowie, Maryland. In 2008 she lost her job of 17 years and got behind on her mortgage, a house with she had owned for 11 years. Bank of America began foreclosure proceedings against her.
Bank of America told Bertina she could pay $12,289.48 and keep her house. But they lost her paperwork and did not apply the certified check they cashed to her home despite its timely delivery. At the end of this Kafkaesque process, she had $73,249.11 in the bank, but no way to apply this balance to her home and stop its sale. Whether inept or profit-seeking, the end result is the same.
Bank of America sold Bertina's home to Freddie Mac. For Freddie Mac, Bertina's house is another sheet of bank paper bought at cut-rate prices from Bank of America, a single asset on a balance sheet. Bureaucrats process so many foreclosures they bungle or forge papers, breaking laws that require foreclosure review. This collection of automatic methods for disposing with 11 years of a person's careful investment has been called "robo-signing."
Ultimately, we are responsible for Bertina's home. Freddie Mac is a government sponsored enterprise under the conservatorship of the federal government, and taxpayers own nearly 200 billion dollars worth of Freddie Mac, despite the fact that they speculated obscenely with our mortgages, creating value from nothing in the derivatives market, inflating profits the way a government prints money.
First, we ask for your prayers to God for Bertina's home. But the true prayer does not stop at a longing of the heart expressed to God, it moves into the world with action for change. Which is why we ask that you plead Bertina's case with us by signing this petition, and gathering with Occupy our Homes on the 27th at noon in DC. We believe we can force Freddie Mac to back down on Bertina's foreclosure, but if not, we will stand with her before the agents of unjust eviction.
Martin Luther King's work was cut short by his assassination. King fought for civil rights in the deep South, but when he came north to Chicago, he worked for jobs and affordable housing, a stark reminder that injustice was not just a characteristic of provincial southern towns.
Martin Luther King and the SNCC led the way with nonviolent direct action, a way of praying with our bodies.
God is calling. It is no longer a whisper that pierces the veil of our systems of oppression, it is a trumpet. God is calling to us to be the change we wish to see in the world.
If you know anybody that wants to resist foreclosure in the DC area, please contact us of Occupy Our Homes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Jeremy John on Twitter: www.twitter.com/glassdimlyfaith