Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Anointed for the work of justice
This afternoon at 4:30, I will join hundreds of other Episcopalians here at Convention as well as other religious leaders from the area in supporting the Prayer Vigil and March organized by the group "Disney Be Faithful," representing 2150 employees of the three Disneyland Hotels: Paradise Pier, Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotel.
These workers clean the rooms, cook and serve the food, wash the dishes, and carry the luggage.
Disney wants to take away from its employees union family health insurance. They also want to take away full-time jobs, forcing many into positions with no health insurance at all, no vacation and less than full rights.
Disney's net income in the first half of the Fiscal Year 2009 was nearly $1.46 billion. In Fiscal Year 2008, Disney CEO Robert Iger made $30.6 million.
When I signed up to march last Monday, I was approached by one of the organizers with a request I agreed to but I'm still processing.
"Mother," he said (as I winced), "would you stay with us at the end of the march? We're asking some of the clergy to anoint the workers, and it would be wonderful to have you with us."
I was initially taken aback. 'Anoint' he said. What did he mean, really? Did he mean anoint with holy oils or just extend a hand in blessing?
I wanted to make certain I had a correct translation from his Hispanic, Roman Catholic culture to my progressive Western European, Anglo-Catholic understanding.
So, I asked.
"While we are marching," he said softly, "some of the people from Disney will be standing along the sidelines, filming us as we pass by. They will use that film as evidence to get us fired or to have our positions eliminated or downsized."
"You may not be aware, Mother," he said politely, "that for the workers, this Prayer Vigil and March is a big risk. We need to be anointed for the work of justice, after this event, so that we will find the strength to go back to our jobs. Just a little sign from God that He will continue to be with us after the support of this event."
"We know you have probably not brought your oils with you to this place, so we will have some for you. Will you help us? It would mean so much to some of us for a woman to anoint us for the work of justice."
"Anointed for justice."
I continue to find myself deeply moved by that request. There is something that strikes a cord of authenticity with the core values of what the church professes to be, but often is not.
I ask you, wherever you are, to pray with me and for me, that I may be a worthy vehicle of an anointing of God's healing and enabling power upon these workers.
Pray that we may catch a glimmer of God's justice promised of the Realm of God for these workers and their families.