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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

John 11:32-44

1 Nov 2015  John 11:32-44
Today’s gospel is sandwiched between Jesus’ escape from attempted stoning and arrest and the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, pronouncing that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people rather than the whole nation being destroyed.
I can imagine Jesus weighing the cost of the choices open to him when he received the news of Lazarus’ death.  He was safe across the Jordan so he could grieve with his sisters and then go on his way – a good option since Lazarus was already dead.  His other choice was to give life back to Lazarus, knowing that it would be that very act that would seal his own death.
The raising of Lazarus reminds us that life always comes at a cost. To bring life to others costs us something of our own life.  What is the cost of standing in solidarity with the vulnerable and marginalized and speaking out for justice?  What is the cost of leaving our sanctuary and taking our faith into our neighborhood?  What is the cost of standing for what is right when our neighborhood is our city, our county, our state?  To trust another costs us something of our independence and our right to question and accuse. What is the cost of accepting and affirming instead of questioning and accusing?  The core question is how wiling we are to pay the price.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Widow's Offering, October 25 Justice Reflection

Mark 12:41-44

'He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she
had, all she had to live on.’

October began with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who repudiated his wealthy merchant family and the life of a prosperous young man, and became an impoverished mendicant whose whole purpose was to rebuild the Church and serve the poor.  The radical risk he took was made possible by his naked trust in God's providence.

The next week Jesus told us about a rich man whose crops yielded such a great harvest his barns couldn't hold it all. Rather than sharing the excess, he decided to build bigger barns.  He wouldn't risk running short.

Last week Jesus continued the contrast by drawing our attention to God's loving care for the natural world of which we are a part:  We need not be anxious about even the basics of life, we can trust that God will provide all we need.

This week Jesus observes the crowd putting money into the temple treasury.  Many are as rich as the man with too-small barns; out of their abundance, they give large sums, although they undoubtedly keep back sufficient to maintain their way of life.  And then his eye is caught by a poor widow, so poor she has only two small copper coins, not worth much, but all she has to live on.  What will she do?  She takes a radical risk, as St. Francis did, and gives both coins.

We are in the season of making pledges to St. Andrew's for our annual budget.  We are closing the first year of our Capital Campaign to rebuild our parish church, in part so we can better serve the larger community.  We are considering what other end-of-year donations we can make to care for "the least of these".

It's a good time for each of us to think about where we are on the continuum of security vs. risk, of anxiety vs. trust as we make decisions about returning to God what we've been given.