Judgment or Justice
Pastoral Newsletter, July 15, 2016
– Christina Cosby
This week, we are given difficult texts to read. We hear the prophetic words of Amos, who speaks out against his own people, Israel. We relate to the words of the psalm, which tells of rulers caring for their own good before the good of others. We connect with the letter to the Corinthians recognizing that Christ is our only leader, and has suffered on our behalf. We are asked to rethink what servitude to Christ looks like with our Gospel lesson from Luke.
All of these combined speak to us, give us thoughts to reflect upon, and leave us wondering in what way God is calling us to do justice in a world full of judgments. This is not an easy task—yet it is an important one that God calls each of us to follow. Let’s take a closer look together.
Amos 7:7-17 is a prophetic word to Israel regarding the end. Speaking of a famine, but not a famine of food—a famine of God’s words. This is a famine that lasts longer, and is more hurtful than any other absence.
In our world today, we can relate to the words Amos speaks. As we watch the news, we ask, “God, where are you in our world?” As others who are homeless or without food cross our path, we wonder, “Why O God?” As people are quick to harm others instead of having a conversation, tears fall upon our face more often than smiles.
Amos is not speaking only to the Northern Tribe of Israel; he is speaking to us in our world today. He is saying something must change, or else God’s words will disappear from our world, too. In what ways might God be asking us to speak out against injustices in our world?
Psalm 82 continues to point out destruction among leaders. The psalmist, like Amos, sees that religious officials have turned sanctuaries into palaces. It is through this corruption that the poor suffer; it is through this denigration that God remains absent in the world. This psalm poses a question to each of us in the midst of our world; In what ways do we promote principalities over that which furthers the Kingdom of God? How is God asking us to change our ways, so that all peoples may flourish?
Colossians 1:1-14 serves as a letter of comfort in the midst of confusions. It reminds us that through Christ all things are redeemed. God is indeed among us … once walking upon the Earth in the form of the human Jesus, and now in the body he has left behind—the church. This does not serve simply as truth to us, but it transforms how we live and act within the world.
Luke 10:25-37 is a familiar story of two sisters. A story that asks us to think about our intentions: whether it is inviting another in to our home (such as Martha does with Jesus,) listening to someone else’s teachings (Mary and Jesus,) or serving another (Martha and Jesus.) Are we to be busy for the sake of being busy? Are we to sit quietly for the sake of being quiet? Or are we to do whichever we choose with Christ in mind?
Through each of these passages, God’s judgment is not what we would expect. In Amos, it is a decree against God’s chosen people, Israel. In the psalm, it is against leaders that God has seemingly chosen. However, God’s justice turns our ideals upside down.
In the letter to the Colossians, all are made right because of Jesus’s blood. Not what we would expect from a mighty messiah to do? Throughout the Old Testament and the Gospels, thus far God and Jesus have asked people to serve others before they are served. Yet, Jesus commends the one who sits quietly (Mary).
However, I am not sure Jesus is discounting Martha. Instead, he is pointing towards the intentions one has. Mary has chosen the better, because she sits at Jesus’ feet full-heartedly. Martha initiated the interactions with Jesus by inviting him in—yet it appears to be an invitation that is not a full-hearted one. She does the inviting and the serving out of a sense or responsibility, not devotion. As one commentator puts it, the Gospel of Luke shares the importance of going and doing, in relation to siting and listening. Only after sitting and listening can we go forth and do. It sounds a lot like our commitment to both the inward and outward journey of faith, right?
This weekend, as we go forth into our busy lives, let us ask ourselves … are we busy out of obligation, or are we serving God our from a place of devotion?
This Sunday, we will reflect on the story of Martha and Mary, our passage from Luke, more deeply in light of last week’s Good Samaritan text (credit to the Wednesday morning lectionary group for this inspiration.) I hope to see each of you in worship at 11am this Sunday!
Blessings to you as you read God’s story and listen for God’s word. Where is God calling you to to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with the Lord your God in the midst of a chaotic world?