Category Archives: justice
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February 10, 2017 by jmar198013
John came calling the people to cry, and he was right. Jesus came calling the people to dance, and he was right, too. The Pharisees and scribes thought John was demonic and Jesus was a drunk. And they were wrong. You know what that means? It means there are times and seasons when we need to hear a call like John’s to weep over our sins and repent. But Jesus also calls us to joyful celebration, to acknowledge God’s justice, and feast on God’s love.
Children of wisdom will know when it’s time to cry, and when it’s time to dance.
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November 10, 2016 by jmar198013
Like Isaiah, we live in unsettled and unsettling times. Things are changing, which is a constant in our world. But so many feel left behind. Lost. Unheard. Many are afraid of what the future holds for them, if anything. Many live in despair. In fear. In rage. In confusion. We also live in a time when so many unclean lips go unchecked, and the words they speak do real harm. We are surrounded by the walking wounded. In such a time, may we be people with clean lips. God needs us to be his lips, to speak words of hope, comfort, and healing to our wounded neighbors. To use our words to build others up, not tear them down.
God’s invitation extends to us, from Isaiah’s day to our own: “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?”
May you and I—all of us—respond as Isaiah did: “I’m here; send me.”
January 22, 2016 by jmar198013
Jesus returned to his hometown synagogue, and preached from Isaiah 61.1-2. The great Jubilee text. Good news to the poor. Release to prisoners. Recovery of sight for the blind. Liberating the oppressed. And Jesus concluded by saying, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus always confronts the church afresh with this challenge. Today is the day to proclaim Jubilee. Today is the day to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the prisoners, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed.
Today is the day to fulfill the scriptures.
November 7, 2015 by jmar198013
If the church wants to learn how to deal with widows–and whatever other vulnerable people we meet–we shouldn’t look to the story of the widow’s mites in Mark 12. That widow was being exploited.
Rather, the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath will provide us with a pragmatic, more just, more organic model of ministering to and alongside the vulnerable members of our communities.
October 31, 2015 by jmar198013
Hebrews 9.11-14 shows that it was not God who needed blood sacrifice to forgive; we humans were the ones who called for blood. Thus, for Hebrews, the blood of Jesus doesn’t change God’s feeling for us, but “washes our conscience clean from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews also makes it clear that Jesus’ sacrifice is the sacrifice to end sacrifice. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus liberates to offer God the only sacrifices he ever wanted from people: wholehearted devotion to God and our neighbors (Mark 12.28-34; Deut. 6.1-9).
September 6, 2015 by jmar198013
In Mark 7:24-31, Jesus is approached by a Syrian immigrant, probably a single mother, with a chronically ill child. She’s begging him to heal her daughter. Jesus does, but not before calling her and her sick child “dogs.” Why would he do that?
What if Jesus was only saying what everyone–including the Syrian immigrant with the sick child–expected him to say? What if she is the hero of the story? Her daughter’s illness was caused by an unclean spirit. What if Jesus knew his disciples had an ever worse unclean spirit?
What if we do, too?
March 7, 2014 by jmar198013
When introducing their 1992 song “Revolution,” hip-hop group Arrested Development’s front man Speech mentions those in previous generations who were tortured and killed for the freedom and dignity of generations to come. “They died for me, and they died for you,” he concludes. Might this expression shed some light onto the Bible’s claim that Jesus died “for us”?