Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oceans of Justice

I've been preparing for this weekend's CCDA Institute in the Twin Cities that Juanita and I will be teaching. The topic is the CCDA core value redistribution. It's amusing how that word has fallen out of grace during the election. For CCDA, the definition of redistribution is a 'just distribution of resources' or 'giving people the tools and resources to work their way out of poverty' - not a socialistic or communistic interpretation. Another way to look at it - it's changing the economic forces to reflect God's kingdom and His values.

I recently read a great article by Jeremy Del Rio called "Worship and Justice". In the article Jeremy quotes a well known text from the prophet Amos, but read in The Message version. It states:
“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want” (Amos 5:21-24, The Message)
Jeremy goes on to say,
"That passage messes with lots of evangelical tradition, far more than there’s space in this column to explore. But what of the “noisy ego-music” Amos references - that of the “I’m blessed, be blessed” variety - that consumes much of our church time? Is it possible that we have become so focused on what we can get from God for ourselves that we have forgotten that the point of His blessing is to love Him well and others sacrificially?
It seems I can't go to chruch these days, or pick up the mail, or turn on religious TV without someone asking for money. In fact, as I right this I myself am writing a Christmas appeal letter for NCUD. No doubt times are tight for ministires. Donations are down. But, in the middle of chaos and consternation I'm praying for awakening. Awakening to a new realization of Kingdom economics, Kingdom values and Kingdom infused worship.  

I find myself saying a lot of cliches lately. When someone asked how I'm doing I've been saying, "blessed!" When we speak of the financial woes, I say, "God is still on the throne!" I say these not to be trite or religious. I'm saying these because I want to remind myself of how blessed I truly am, in more ways than I can mention. I also want to remember that God is sovereign and still in control over the world's and, yes Virginia, my finances. 

Perhaps I'm rambling too much here. But - in the middle of the swirling chaos, I'm daily seeking and at times finding peace. It's a daily battle, no doubt, one I don't always win. I'm standing on the truth that if I first seek His Kingdom, His justice and His reign - that all will be 'added' and provided. 

Please pray for this weekend's Institute and that God's presence would show up. Pray also that Jesus' peace and presence would invade our lives and world. God knows we need it! 

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