My church has been participating in BOLD Justice* since the beginning of the group. Last night was our BOLD Justice Nehemiah event, where religious folks gathered in the spirit of Old Testament prophets to remind elected leaders of their responsibilities to the poor and outcast. We were overwhelmingly Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic, with an Episcopalian group and a UU group here and there, along with a stray Evangelical group or two. We enjoyed music from a fabulous black Baptist group. We demanded that county officials do more to save elderly people in assisted living facilities from abuse and to move towards a less punitive approach to minors who commit non-violent crimes.
Some years have felt more successful than last night, and some years less. Some years we've felt successful, only to see gains reversed. Some years, officials seem to have hardened their hearts against us, only to reverse course later.
The quest for justice is so fluid--it's one aspect about social justice movements that I was never taught. In school, it seems like a straight line from injustice through the struggle to a more just world.
It wasn't until much later that I realized that those sweeping changes were started with small, halting steps. I suspect that most changes that lead the world to a more socially just place begin with tiny steps stepped by people who aren't entirely sure what they're doing or where they're going.
I used to think that the end result was how we would be judged. Now I realize that the process is what's important. It's about doing what God commands, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God, in the words of the Old Testament prophet, Micah; it's about caring for the least of these, in the words of Jesus. Our presence and demands may not mean much to elected officials, who spend every night going to groups who make demands. They may not care as much about us as about those big donors. But our silence would send the kind of message we cannot afford to send.
And frankly, we just don't know what will finally tip the scales towards justice. Back in the 80's, when we gathered to pray for South Africa, we had no way of knowing that Nelson Mandela would soon be free, and then be elected president. We had reason to be despairing and cynical. I would have predicted civil war, not freedom.
But we are people who listen to a different promise, who see a different possibility. We are resurrection people with a vision for a redeemed creation, a Kingdom that is already breaking through.
*Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice
feeling the feelings…
6 months ago