Mercy is the willingness of the one who has power to withhold such power, or to shift such power, for the purpose of God’s greater justice: so that all of humanity, all of God’s created, might share equally in community with one another. But what does it mean to LOVE mercy?
Justice is the desire of God, maintained throughout the Biblical text. Both the Old and New Testament stories proclaim this as the will of God. But the text also makes clear, this is Godly work we are to participate in – as the prophets declare, we are to be ‘doing’ justice.
We hear the word ‘justice’ thrown around a lot these days. “Social justice,” “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” “justice for Breonna Taylor,” and so on. Micah, among other prophets, also used the word as a primary instruction to the people of God, saying, “Do justice.” Before we can understand what it means to ‘do’ this thing called justice, we have to understand what the Bible means by ‘justice’ itself. With over 400 uses in the Biblical text, the Word of God makes clear what is ‘justice.’
It may be Easter in exile, but we are not left on our own to fend for ourselves. We are empowered by the risen Christ to claim that new life, eternal love, and God’s glory are designed for all people. This means not only feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and offering our thoughts and prayers to those who are harmed by the sin of racism; it also means doing the hard work of leading systemic change that keeps people hungry, keeps people homeless, and inequitably causes harm to communities of color.
It is Easter in Exile, and God has a promise, that in Christ, in the resurrection, a new covenant is born. May this season of exile in our lives lead us to claim God’s promise not just for ourselves, but for everyone born, that everyone may know God’s almighty love.
Build your homes. Live in them. Plant gardens. Go for an isolated walk. Enjoy the sunshine. Seek the well-being of the community in which you live. Learn to live as Easter people in a time of exile.
The Biblical text never promises wealth and prosperity to the faithful. What it does promise, is peace, well-being, and unity among the gathered faithful. The English translation fails us when it replaces God’s vision of shalom, with our worldly visions of extravagant wealth.
The celebration of Christmas is not just about the hope and promise that the world will be made whole. It’s not just about God coming so “everyone else” can receive new life. Christmas is about acknowledging the brokenness in your own life, and the promise of God in Christ to make you whole, to give you hope, to give you new life.
If we cannot identify ourselves as wilderness people, we will have a hard time understanding the context of Advent. The advent of Christ is to bring good news to the poor, release captives from slavery to sin and death. If we can’t claim our own wilderness, perhaps we should align ourselves with those in the wilderness.
The witness of God’s will in the life of Jesus Christ proves God’s love for all humanity, regardless the color of their skin, their perceived or expressed gender or sexual identity, their faith or lack thereof, their country of origin or their country of citizenship.