by Rev. Kathy Bouchard
Some weeks it’s difficult to decide what to feature in the Justice Corner section of our church newsletter; not because there’s so little to draw upon but because there’s so much. It is often overwhelming to think about the ways that injustice creeps into every aspect of our lives. The choices we make about how to vote, what to buy, the food we eat, and so much more all have an impact on people we don’t even know; many of whom live so far from us that they are easily forgotten or ignored.
Some weeks something amazing presents itself and there’s no question about what should be featured in our newsletter. This is one of those weeks. Last weekend a few members of our congregation attended a production called Breaking The Chains by N.I.A. Kids Center for the Performing Arts, a non-profit performing arts program for youth and teens. We were there because our own Allysen Jackson was part of the cast. Little did we know when we arrived that we were in for a powerful message. During the course of the production we watched the cast of talented youth and teens bring to life the world of teen dating and family violence. We were awed by their incredible acting skills even as we struggled to listen to their tragic stories; stories that play out everyday in communities near and far. The thought that kept running through my mind was this, “Yes, these are real struggles. Yes, something needs to be done. How can the chains of family violence be broken?”
From my perspective, there were two answers to be found within the production. As the last story had been told, one of the characters entered the stage to perform a contemporary dance. When the music started up we heard the lyrics, “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.” It was a moving experience as we listened and watched the other characters enter the stage holding chains with two hands above their heads. During the course of the dance, each chain was dropped until all of the characters had been freed of their chains; a testament in music and dance to the powerful Gospel that we are called to share with the world.
The other answer that I found was in the work of N.I.A. Kids. Not only do they “Nurture, Inspire, and Affirm,” by encouraging creativity and self-expression through low-cost classes in drama, dance, visual arts, piano, and voice, they provide after-school and summer programs that include meals for children who might otherwise go unsupervised and undernourished. They’ve been doing amazing work for over ten years. Surely, they are helping break the chains of racial and economic injustice. I call this kind of work a “pocket of hope” and wanted to share it with you this week. I hope you’ll be watchful for other “pockets of hope” in our community and across the globe.
The subject matter was difficult, but the experience was inspiring. Allysen along with the entire cast did a great job! To find out more about N.I.A. Kids go to http://www.niakids.org.