Reflections on the Gospels from a Justice Perspective written for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church by members of the congregation

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

John 20:19-31 - Being “Out There”

 John 20:19-31  -   Being “Out There”

I have always liked Thomas.  Unlike the other disciples who locked themselves in a room in fear, Thomas was “out there” somewhere.  Thomas reminds me that, if I truly want to touch Jesus, to know that God is real and alive and at work, the best place for me to be is “out there” – showing up and sitting with the disenfranchised in my community,  touching the pain I find, doing what I can do to participate in works of reconciliation and healing. When I try to sequester myself and my children away from the world's pain, I am hiding in that room in fear right along with the other disciples.

How do I participate in Jesus’ work of reconciliation and healing?  What can one person do? I don't know. I can choose to leave the locked rooms and gated communities that are my perceptions, my judgments, and my fears about people who are different from me.  I can choose to see them – actually see them rather than pretend they do not exist -  as people rather than as issues or problems. I can choose to take a deep breath, and begin to “show up” in those places in my community where the marginalized and disenfranchised live (or attend school) simply to get to know them, to build a relationship.  I can choose to love and respect “the other” as good creations of God.  I can choose to listen to their stories.  I can choose to practice deep, respectful listening, and let any actions I take emerge from my authentic listening rather than my perception of what they need.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

John 11: 1-45: "Unbind him, and let him go."

After Jesus summons Lazarus from the tomb, he asks the witnesses to complete the miraculous resurrection by unbinding Lazarus and setting him free. Writing about this story in a recent issue of the Christian Century, Stephanie Jaeger connects it with our own calling to help liberate our neighbors both from the bondage of personal sins and from "systemic sins" like entrenched poverty and injustice.

Rev. Jaeger, who lives and works in Chicago, emphasizes the urgent need for such “unbinding” in her own neighborhood: "It’s a place where race and class matter. If you are an African-American man on the South Side of Chicago, you have a better chance of going to jail than you do of going to college. This is a sin that binds all of us, whether we realize it or not."

If we’ve been paying attention to recent statistics and news stories about racial disparities in education, job opportunities, and the justice system here in Dane County, we know that Rev. Jaeger could be describing Madison as well as Chicago. Should we despair over this realization? Do we believe it is God’s will that all our neighbors should be released from the bondage of endless poverty and injustice? What part might God be calling us to play in his wonderful work of healing and liberation?