Monday, June 25, 2018

The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

-- BCP, page 230


1 Samuel 15:34-16:13; Psalm 20;
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 11-13,14-17; Mark 4:26-34

Today's collect asks (1) that "we may proclaim your truth with boldness," and (2) "minister your justice with compassion." These are daring petitions that, when practiced and granted by grace, transform our lives and the lives of those around us.

1. Proclaim God's truth with boldness. Mention Truth and we start stumbling. So many of us immediately think that this is about having the most accurate information -- right doctrine -- and most complete ideas about God.
But Jesus said, "I am the truth." God's truth, while encompassing propositions about God, is primarily and most fundamentally personal and relational. Want to know God's truth? Look to Jesus, who in his person uniquely embodies God for us. Pay attention to what Jesus did, to what he said, how he lived, and how he died. Look to Jesus, and find resurrection in him, in this life and in the life to come. I came across this quote, attributed to John Ortberg:

Some people would rather debate doctrine or belief or tradition or interpretation than actually do what Jesus said. it's not rocket science. Just go do it. Practice loving a difficult person or try forgiving someone. Give away some money. Tell someone thank you. Encourage a friend. Bless an enemy. Say, "I'm sorry." Worship God. You already know more than you need to know.

2. Minister God's justice with compassion. How strange! I suspect that not many of us see this as part of our Christian job description. I mean the "justice" part. Compassion is not itself the objective, according to this collect, but rather the manner in which we pursue the mission of ministering God's justice.

We stumble again, don't we, because our notions of Justice imply making sure that individuals get their due reward or punishment -- and, who am I to give that? Isn't that the job of the courts and God? But Justice in the biblical sense is so much larger, deeper, and wider than our retributive notions. Justice is first and foremost about the restoration of right relationships with one another, so that all may live in the righteousness and peace of God. It is relational -- about how we deal with one another. It is communal -- not merely for individuals but constitutive of community. It is restorative -- aiming to repair the broken bonds of dignity and trust without which our humanity cannot exist, live, and thrive. When we minister God's justice with compassion, we are participating in God's dream of a reunited and restored humanity.

In last week's post I relayed to you the current work of Faith in Action, our interfaith network of 26 congregations. Please review it again. Then write to our city council (for those who live in city) and the sheriff, or the board of supervisors (for those who live in the county). We want to do three things that, while they will not usher the Kingdom of God, will make us a more just community. Our local elected authorities hear from us that:

(1) The $1 or $3 per day charged to inmates' families has to stop;

(2) We need the city and county to hire a community justice planner, so we can best use the data we'll be collecting with our new multimillion dollar system to save money and reduce incarcerations;

(3) Make restorative justice (not merely punishment) the first consideration in our juvenile justice cases.

Under the Mercy,

Fr. Daniel+

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