On this Sunday, September 11, at Trinity Lutheran Church, we will celebrate a Justice Sunday. First we will gather for worship, where we will consider this text from an ancient prophet:
Isaiah 58: 6-12
Then we will do our annual God's Work, Our Hands Sunday. Some of our works will be works of charity, like boxing up cookies for college kids or working on quilts for Lutheran World Relief. Our church has begun its work with BOLD Justice, where we will have house meetings to determine the justice needs of our community.
There's a difference between justice and charity, and we believe we must do both. In a book I cannot recommend highly enough, The Heart of Christianity, Marcus Borg explains the difference this way: "Charity means helping the victims. Justice asks, 'Why are there so many victims?' and then seeks to change the causes of victimization, that is, the way the system is structured. Justice is not about Caesar increasing his charitable giving or Pilate increasing his tithe. Justice is about social transformation. Taking the political vision of the Bible seriously means the practice of social transformation" (page 201).
Will we see this social transformation in our lifetimes? We will certainly see some justice. Just think about how much transformation you have seen in your own lifetime. As short a time as 10 years ago, I had students assure me that our nation could never elect an African-American or a woman for president, that those candidates would never be taken seriously. Now, that's changed. It wasn't too long ago that same sex couples were denied the right to legalize their bond. Now, that's changed.
The work we will do on Sunday is important too. We may pray to God for change, and we should then expect God to equip us to make the change. Gathering together is a way to strengthen our efforts. It builds community too.
And it's just more fun.