Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Hall of Justice
I'm still reeling.

When I was a wee lad, one my favorite afterschool cartoons was Super Friends. I have this specific memory of driving through downtown Tulsa with Mom and asking, "Which one's the Hall of Justice?" I knew Superman, Batman and the Wonder Twins had to be here somewhere.

I saw Hotel Rwanda over the weekend. A suckerpunch to my gut. Maybe a sledgehammer. Pick your metaphor. Especially after the lecture I had heard just the day before. It's not just a movie. I've ridden in that same Toyota minivan. I've seen the stark landscape of central Africa. I've seen the tall, thin, black bodies walking down the street in clothes two sizes too big, an AK-47 slung over the shoulder.

And in one moving scene, hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina thanks a Western photojournalist for videotaping images of the genocide for the rest of the world to see. The cameraman replies, "I think if people see this footage, they'll say 'Oh, my God, that's horrible.' And then they'll go on eating their dinners."

So how do I as the comfortable student of the theological academy keep from saying, "Oh my God, that's horrible" and then returning to my humdrum daily routine, thoughts of my basic survival light years away from my mind. Much less the basic survival of my brothers and sisters around the world.

What now? While genocide continues to sweep Africa, what does social justice look like right here where I live? In local politics? In public education? In health care? What does injustice look like in Jessamine County?

We sang a song Sunday morning that went a little something like:

Jesus brings a meal for tips
Jesus trying hard to quit
Jesus raising two alone
Jesus drives a heavy load

Jesus with worn wrinkled hands
Jesus sows a patch of land
Jesus hides a tattooed arm
Jesus keeping dinner warm

Turns out Jesus has cancer. Turns out Jesus' insurance doesn't cover "preexisting conditions." Turns out Jesus' medical bills are in excess of $75,000.

Mark Palmer is a friend of Vine & Branches, the faith community I've been hanging with. His own blog is here, and Alan explains what's going over here and here.

Maybe its a small way to worship justly. One dominant theme of the Old Testament prophets is justice--peace to the fatherless and widows, inclusion and fairness to all those treated unfairly by the world. We Christians are called to stand and act for those who cannot stand and act on their own.

On Sunday morning, I providentially opened the hymnal to #456. It's a prayer written by Alan Paton of South Africa in 1968, entitled "For Courage to Do Justice":

O Lord,
open my eyes that I may see the needs of others;
open my ears that I may hear their cries;
open my heart so that they need not be without succor;
let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears
that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee. Amen.

And now I'm learning that the Hall of Justice is right here. Right here wherever I choose to take it.

posted by Peter at 11:18 PM
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