For the past few weeks clouds have been gathering overhead in the late afternoon / early evening. In an area of drought such as ours, we love to see rain clouds. From the high hillside where St. Paul's United Church of Christ is located, we have an expansive view of the sky. And inside the Church, we have an expansive view of God... God is always bigger than our vocabulary.
Selecting images for this month, I used the last part of our motto -- Justice Committed -- as a guide. What does that have to do with umbrellas? What came to mind were the words of one of ancient Israel's prophets, Amos: Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream. (Amos 5:24) When people are drought-ridden, spiritually and literally, what could be more refreshing than a good steady downpour of justice? Not the slam-the-cell-door-shut kind of justice.
At St. Paul's we've been trying to find vocabulary to get a handle on what justice means -- what it looks like. We are learning that charity and justice are two different approaches to meeting the needs of people who are hurting. On the third Sunday of every month we gather in food items for Storehouse West, who in turn gives food to those who come for assistance. Even in Rio Rancho, a modern city seemingly affluent, there are plenty of people for whom hunger is a daily challenge. How far will that jar of peanut butter go that I added to the collection? (An illustration only. Actually I'm eating the peanut butter.) But it isn't just one jar. Along with it goes a can of soup from someone else, and a box of pasta from another. Each food item is like a drop of rain into the pond. The pond gets replenished over time.
So that's charity. What about justice? It's larger in scope. What may be a justice view would have us pose the question: Why are there hungry people in Rio Rancho? There must be many answers. Some of them may lead a justice committed person to sign a petition or write a letter to officials in industry or government. Again, what difference does my letter make? It's just a drop in the ocean. A whole of drops are needed.
Justice needs many hands. Hands working together. Hands sharing umbrellas. Hands influencing an umbrella manufacturer to open a factory in Rio Rancho. Hands encouraging Rio Rancho high schoolers to come up with designs that revolutionize the umbrella industry. What are your hands doing today?
Come to a Gathering this Sunday,
August 7, at 9:00 am.
No matter the weather, it's always the season for renewal. We ponder questions, meditate, share and sing. Join us for a splash of adventure.