“…make a tent for me, and I will dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8)
What kind of a God takes up residence in a tent so as to be with a people on the move? A moveable God. A journeying God. A God who is not fixed to one place, yet a God known in a specific place. A tent dwelling God, a God on the move, combines the insights of religions that focus on the sacredness of place with those that emphasize the movement of God in history to bring about greater justice and mercy.
Jesus of Nazareth stands in this biblical tradition, from Exodus to the prophets, as a Jewish reformer. In the first century CE, Jesus occupied very specific places from Nazareth to the Galilee to Jerusalem to Golgatha. Jesus related the places where he preached and taught, the places he occupied, to his Jewish scripture, and especially to the prophets.
Thus, the early Israelites, Jesus of Nazareth and the #Occupy movement today occupy in more than one sense. Setting up a tent in a specific place, whether you are in Zuccotti Park in New York City or in the wilderness in the ancient Middle East, is one meaning of occupy. But “occupy” means more than ‘take up space in a tent.’ It also means to engage in a struggle to live out of a different reality, to not let yourself be defined by others but to take back your own life, society, economy, and spiritual meaning from those who want to control you.
To “occupy,” in this sense, means to “take possession” and that means to take back the definition of our own lives, our social relations, our economy, and indeed our spirituality from corporate interests that are gaining too much control over us in our democracy.
For Christians, above all, it means to take back the meaning of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and the prophetic biblical message he brought.