Repairing, Rebuilding, Renewing, and Revival

Watch Rev. Dr. William J. Barber’s homily delivered at the 59th Inaugural Prayer Service on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

Our text this morning comes from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 58. It begins,

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
“What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad …”

And it ends, saying:

“If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,

“If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,

“Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness …

“You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

“You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.”

We can’t accept the poverty and low wealth of 140 million Americans before Covid and many more millions since. We must have a Third Reconstruction. We must address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation/denial of healthcare, the war economy, and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism. These are breaches that must be addressed, and according to the text, repairing the breaches will bring revival.

Read the full text of Bishop William J. Barber II’s homily at

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is the President & Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival; Bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary; Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and the author of four books: We Are Called to Be a Movement; Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing; The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear; and Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation.

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