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.
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.
Why do people say politics and religion shouldn’t mix? Even our favorite Christmas hymns mix politics into the birth story of Christ. Proclaiming God’s gift of peace in Christ is politically motivating, and it calls us to a greater understanding of the joy we proclaim when we sing, “Rejoice, Rejoice, Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!”
The promise and invitation of the Magnificat is to trust in the promise of God that is proclaimed in the birth of Christ. It is a song that declares that in the Incarnation, God is humbling the proud, and lifting up the lowly; God is supporting the weak, and weakening the strong; God is breaking down barriers, and building up community. And the Word In-Fleshed comes to invite us to participate in this, God’s work.
The Advent and Christmas Seasons are simply the best because the music is the best. The music is built upon a message of hope, promised in the gift of Christ. “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” is a hymn that reminds us of that promise, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
We want concrete realities, and for those whom it benefits, we desire to maintain the status quo … we want to proclaim our truth without being told we are wrong. But in the resurrection, we are offered a new truth, a new promise – that life wins out over death.
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.