Thoughts on Social Justice

Monday, January 23, 2017

On Saturday I and 499,000 of my closest friends marched on the Mall in Washington, D.C. I have attended marches and protests in Washington before, but this march was in a category all by itself. First of all, I felt totally safe the whole day. That has not always been the case during past events. On Saturday all of the attendees I encountered – without fail – were pleasant, courteous, helpful, and determined to make a difference — and that this march would be different.

Snags in programming, such as delays, and snags in execution, such as an appalling lack of sanitary facilities, were taken in stride. There was no anger, no pushing, no shoving. I never even heard raised voices. Even after standing in one spot for hours, the predominant attitude was, “we’re all in this together.” Many people had brought food, snacks, and water to share. Also shared were hand warmer packs and emergency space blankets – it got more than a little chilly, especially since we were not able to move around — not even a foot in any direction. This was interactive democracy at its best. Expressing one’s opinion by words and actions, without rancor or violence, just a steady presence stating, “We are NOT pleased.”

As a pastor I have frequently been politically active on my own time, as it were. I have very strong beliefs and political views. I realize that my views are not held by everyone in our congregation. That is our right as Americans. Please never think that although we may disagree politically, I don’t hold you in the highest regard as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope that, even though we may disagree, we can work together for the best our church and our country can be.

Yesterday was the first time I have ever expressed my own political views from the pulpit. Although, that said, and thinking about it again, I do not view the right to affordable and readily available decent health care a political issue – I believe it is a social justice issue, and therefore absolutely the purview of the Church. Jesus expressed a preferential love for the poor, the vulnerable, and those who are struggling with day to day living. My own health care costs remind me how hard it is for many people to gain access to health care and how almost impossible it is for many to afford their own absolutely necessary medications.

I am troubled that profits and market shares seem to be held in higher esteem than our neighbors and colleagues. I am troubled that it is all too easy for many of us to turn a blind eye to the utter desperation many feel in everyday living. I have had countless people relate how they work multiple jobs to make ends meet. I have had mothers tell me how they do not eat so that the food they receive from the food bank will last longer for their children.

I cannot solve the problems of the world, but I can:

Vote and make my views known to my elected officials.

Speak and make my views known in appropriate forums.

Serve on juries and civic committees when called.

Donate money and goods to the food bank, Goodwill, and other charitable organizations which assist those less advantaged than we are.

Donate our time to non-profit organizations: fire/EMS departments, schools, ESOL learning centers, hospitals, food banks, community health centers, call centers, cold weather shelters, etc.

You and I are called to live and act each day as if tomorrow is the day when we will stand in front of God on the emerald pavement at the foot of the heavenly throne. We are called to live so that the words spoken to us will be “Well done, true and faithful servant.” May it be so in your life as in mine — may we be the hands and feet of Christ reaching out in service and in love.

With blessings always,

Pastor Gayle

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