When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

Proverbs 21:15

I remember those hot summers in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. They were marked by an unease due to the social unrest around me. I used to be a real news junkie and would watch the process of protest unfold each night. Between the ages of 6 and 9 it scared me, and it also marked my psyche and life. Those hot summers of protest did engender change. Voices that needed to be heard were heard. Now they are back. They are needed to make a difference now. The promise of past decades slowed to a crawl and needs to be bought closer to completion. Perhaps it is our general comfort with the way things are. We get used to the status quo. No matter how much we say we like excitement, and things to be different, we don’t. This is why scripture is important. This is why we must study what God has said on the subject, look to God’s design, and then set to work to close the gap between God’s way and what is. Jesus tells us: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” We must live that. We need to ensure action for justice and dignity.

Summer and we have plans to re-open for public worship in our parish on Sunday, July 19th at 10am. Take a look at the required guidelines. We can do this by working together. 

We had a busy June and July/August look to be just as busy. We are looking forward to Virtual Kurs and to re-opening for public worship. We look forward with hope and continue to be the faithful church at home and together.

Read about all it in our July/August 2020 Newsletter.

He
provides!

A bountiful rain You showered down, O God, upon Your inheritance; You restored the land when it languished; Your flock settled in it; in Your goodness, O God, You provided it for the needy.

Welcome and happy Labor Day weekend! This weekend offers us an excellent opportunity to focus on God’s provision and what we, as Christians, and as a nation, do with His provision.

Our verse of focus is taken from Psalm 68. Biblical scholars, those who slice and dice original language, verse structure, the paradigms that existed at the time something was written have often opined that Psalm 68 is one of the most difficult Psalms to understand. Yet to us, the ordinary reader, the Psalm seems pretty straightforward.

The Psalm begins with a prayer for God to arise, and recounts what happens to God’s enemies and to His favored righteous. As a result of God’s action, the righteous rejoice, they sing praises. God defends and provides, no one is lonely or a prisoner.

The Psalmist recounts God’s saving history. He praises God again saying: Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, Who daily bears our burdens. He calls on God again to save, to rescue. Confident in God’s rescue and provision, he again calls the people to praise.

We can imagine historians and scholars looking at the paradigm of our times 3,064 years from now. They would say that our times are the most difficult to understand. Yet the ordinary reader would say, it is not difficult to see what was going on. A nation of success and riches failed to provide avenues of advancement for its workers. Wages were stolen by the rich, justice was not done through a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of a nation. The people cried out, suffered, but were not heard by their brothers and sisters. Those who traveled from afar, seeking refuge were turned away.

On this Labor Day weekend let us begin. Ask the Lord to arise again to scatter and defeat those who work to thwart justice. Let us pray that this Labor Day will mark the rising of the Christian people who have a God of power and might. May our words and work be a bountiful rain. Let us restore the landfrom its languish. Following God, we “will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Getting to
work.

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.

Tomorrow we celebrate Labor Day. Our Holy Church has a long history of support for the Labor movement. Our founders were in tune with the struggles faced by working men and women. They experienced the reality of exploitation by the powerful moneyed interests of our nation. Bishop Hodur spoke out for the respect that was due workers, for fair treatment, payment of proper wages, and a fair share of the profits they produced. He advocated for the same kind of democracy in industry that was part of our Church. All worked against selfish interest and for the collective good of the community.

It would be one thing to advocate for workers from self-interest as an ends, but we well know that advocacy for the rights of workers and for the community comes from and is centered in our love for Jesus’ way of life.

As we see in today’s gospel, Jesus’ healing takes physical form. He works to make the deaf hear and the mute speak. In John 9:5-7 we see Jesus again healing physically: “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam ” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

St. Paul reminds us that we cannot forego justice toward the weak, the downtrodden, the worker. We are not to make distinction, but look to the collective good of all – because Jesus showed no partiality: show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?

Our faith in Jesus requires that we work faithfully for the collective good. We must be unafraid of working to renew the world – to help those deaf to faith to hear; to help those who fear proclamation to cry out; to open streams of the life giving waters to the entire world; and to show no partiality, treating all as equal before God.

Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

Jesus-Justice

We must do
justice!

Thus says the LORD: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

When we think of the Old Testament, what is the first thought that comes to mind? For some it is the personalities – Adam, Even, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Ruth, Esther, Isaiah and the prophets. For some, it is the journeys – the exodus and journey to the Promised Land, the exiles, and the returns to Jerusalem.

For others, the Old Testament is filled with judgment, war, betrayal, and hard laws. Some point to the many slaughters that took place and even question how God could condone such things.

Regardless of perspective, what most fail to recognize is that the Old Testament is replete with God’s call to justice. He continually called His people to do justice to their own and to those who were foreigners. His prophets continually called the rulers and people to recall justice and put aside injustice. Micah spoke to the rulers and priests saying: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?

A really quick reference review indicates 212 biblical verses about justice; another 22 refer to acting justly.

Jesus came to offer humanity the fullness of God’s promise, to complete the law of the Old Testament. He came not to act as an opponent of the law. His goal was not to prevent its fulfillment. Rather, He revered it, loved it, obeyed it, and brought it to fruition. He fulfilled God’s call to perfect obedience and in obedience He acted with perfect justice. He calls us to live the very same justice. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we recognize His command as perfect. Like Him, we must know and do justice. To do justice we must first and foremost recognize the inherent human dignity of each person and do nothing to diminish it, to steal it, or hurt it. By actions and work our parish family builds human dignity. As we do here, we must do every day in our homes, work, and leisure.

A Prayer for the Unemployed on Labor Day

Almighty God,

As we reflect on this Labor Day in fellowship and in hope we call ourselves a people committed to following You to serve the well-being of others. We commit to one another’s dignity and welfare. We know that our creativity is a gift from You; and we commit the work of our hearts and hands and minds to Your service and to Your glory in all that we do.

We see in one another and in those whom we serve Your divine signature, and we honor it. We know that You are present among us as we offer this prayer in one voice to You, Lord God of compassion and mercy. We ask that You remain with us and strengthen us as we endeavor to ensure that Your justice is served.

We remember particularly today those among our brothers and sisters who are without meaningful and sustaining work, those who struggle to provide for themselves and their families. We ask that You guide us and grant us the wisdom to address the problem of unemployment and underemployment in our community and in our nation.

Encourage us now, Lord, as we seek to find solutions to these challenges. Lord, in Your presence and filled with hope; guided by Your grace we are determined to preserve the well-being and dignity of working people and their families across this country. Grant that we persevere with faith and hope, and in the sure knowledge that justice will certainly triumph. Amen.

Bible Study for the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time and on the theme of Labor

  • 9/2 – John 5:17 – Lord Jesus, You came among us not to be master, but to be servant. You came to labor in Your Father’s vineyard. You and Your Father stand with us as a co-workers. Grant us the strength to carry on in our mutual work.
  • 9/3 – Matthew 20 – Lord Jesus, grant sight to those who oppress workers and turn their hearts. Grant the blessing of work to all who are unemployed or under-employed. Grant that no one lord their authority over others, but that employers and their managers act with the generous and open heart of a servant. Grant accord among all workers and strengthen their collective effort for justice.
  • 9/4 – Deuteronomy 24:14-15 – Lord God, grant justice to all workers who have had their wages withheld or have been underpaid for their work. Open the minds and hearts of their employers to the decrees and blessings that come from carrying out Your Holy law.
  • 9/5 – Jeremiah 22:1-5 – Heavenly Father, guide us by Your Holy word and grant that all may abide in it, doing justice, righteousness, and delivering all who are oppressed. Provide Your abundant blessings to those who follow Your will, and bring back those who reject Your way.
  • 9/6 – Jeremiah 22:11-17 – Lord of Heaven and earth, grant that all may build upon justice and right. May no one build by unrighteousness, by making a neighbor work for nothing; stealing wages. Send forth Your Spirit to judge the cause of the poor and needy and grant them restoration. Set the ways of those practicing oppression and violence to naught.
  • 9/7 – Luke 7:1-10 – Lord Jesus, grant that all employers may act as the centurion, for the good of their workers. Grant that we may break down the barriers of class and nationality and focus instead on the good of everyone. Grant all workers access to healthcare and paid sick leave. Heal all those injured in their work.
  • 9/8 – Isaiah 58:6-12 – Lord Jesus, bring us to restoration and healing. Grant that all our work and effort be one with Your gospel By the justice we do may Your light may shine forth and our communities may become the home of peace, generosity, light, strength, and vindication.

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, bless our work and all who labor. Provide justice for those oppressed.