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January 1, 2015, 12:00 AM

Working for Justice


“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3.28

Beginning after Epiphany, we will be honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. this month. Our focus in worship, Bible Study, and Sunday school will be the faith practice of “Working for Justice.”   When most people say the word “justice,” they are thinking of criminal justice – of establishing blame and assigning punishment.  The type of justice that the biblical prophets and Jesus were focused on was economic justice.  When Paul said that there was no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, or male and female, he was calling for justice within the church.  No one was to be excluded, discriminated against, or disempowered; and resources were to be shared fairly.  If Paul were writing today, I am certain that he would say, “There is no longer black or white, male or female, gay or straight, first world and third world; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” 

Working for justice is putting things right in the church and in the world. It is building right relationships with God, each other, and all of God’s creation. The biblical concept of shalom, refers to more than just peace.  It is peace with justice.  It is wellbeing for all God’s creation.   Justice is a universal value that, within the biblical story, is required of people of faith. Following Jesus’ lead, we seek wholeness and reconciliation through both individual and systemic change. Working for justice is a way of life that is different from doing charity. Charity is a compassion­ate response to a need; justice works to repair the root cause of need. Justice is not a one way street; it requires active partners. It heals both the oppressed and the oppressor.      

As we work for justice, we level the playing field, break down walls, and create environments in which all may experience a whole and holy life. This life is free of oppression, degradation, and exclusion.  Working for justice is working to eliminate the causes of terrorism and war. 

Living, as we do, in an affluent and influential country; there are many ways we can work for justice in our daily lives.  Despite what the media focuses on, and regardless of our government’s gridlock; there are many individuals and non-governmental organizations doing remarkable justice work under the radar screen.   Join us in worship this month to be inspired, empowered, and informed about ways to follow Christ and work for justice in our daily lives.

Our Wednesday morning Bible study will be starting a new DVD-based Bible study called “Eclipsing Empire,” which focuses on how Christ’s teachings and Paul’s churches subverted the domination system of the Roman empire.  The group meets Wednesday mornings at 10:00.  If there are enough people interested, we will run the same study on Thursday evenings, so please contact the church office to register.  We will begin the study on Wednesday, January 7. 

On Sunday, January 18, Bryan Nurnburger will be speaking about the work that Simply Smiles in doing in this country and in Mexico, and we will be featuring Simply Smiles coffee from Oaxaca, Mexico during coffee hour.  His wife, Kristen Graves, will be providing the special music during worship.  See you in church!

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