Tag Archive: justice


Loving Your Neighbor

be-the-church-1

Pastor Robarge encouraged us to be the church in this week’s message. Here are some thoughts by Karen Kennedy wrestling with some of the details of being the church. Enjoy!

Recently, I have been reading (actually re-reading and re-re-reading) “Generous Justice,” a book by Timothy Keller.

Keller takes on the subject of justice by searching the Old Testament accounts, and how Israel was set up to make provisions for those most vulnerable, which included widows, orphans, refugees and the poor. He then shows Jesus’ heart to this “quadrant ” as Jesus fitly calls “the least of these.”

Personally, the book is making me feel very uncomfortable. I wish I could say that there was some fundamental problems with his logic or something theological wrong with his conclusions, but there is not. I think he is correct on his assessment on what followers of Jesus ought to be doing. The problem is that I am not doing it.

Not that I am not doing some of it–I am. The problem is that following Jesus demands more than what I have been giving.

Let me expose more of my quandary through a biblical and then a real-life example:

When an expert of the law asked Jesus the famous question, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus doesn’t give an exact answer; instead he tells a story about a man who was beaten and left dead at the side of the road. The two who figuratively represented God, the priest and the Levite, ignored the man, continuing with their lives as normal. A Samaritan, who was considered the dirt of society, took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, brought him to an inn and took care of him throughout the night. His care continued the next day when he made arrangements with the inn keeper to look after the wounded man.

Jesus asks “who do you think was a neighbor to this man?”

What? The question was who is my neighbor? Not who was neighborly? Maybe the expert of the law really wanted to know who was his neighbor? And if he was to love that neighbor, maybe he thought he ought to know whom he should love. Maybe the expert was a list person, like me.

Unfortunately, I do not see a to-do “neighbor” list in this account. What I do see is a traveler who saw one person in need and immediately became committed into helping that person through his troubles. And this neighborly thing cost the traveler time and money, as well as a detour in his traveling plans.

And Jesus says this example shows that loving your neighbors involves mercy, and, at times, inconvenience, risk, money and sometimes danger.

A few weeks ago, in Des Moines, there was a fight that broke out with about 50 young teens. A lot of the details of what happened are still unclear according to the news. However, it was reported that a passerby in a SUV saw one of the teens lying at the side of the road, stopped and pulled the teen into her SUV.

What! I have a million questions to ask: “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you call the police? Don’t you know that you could have been sued by taking an underage child in your car without his parents’ permission? And was he bleeding? And if he was bleeding, weren’t you afraid of getting blood on your hands, and in your car?”

I think I am starting to sound like the possible scenarios (minus the SUV, of course) that the priest and the Levites could have entertained when they saw the injured man at the side of the road. Perhaps their minds filled up with logical reasons why they shouldn’t get involved, but the woman in the SUV, made a quick decision to get involved.

And Jesus tells us to “Go and do likewise.”

To me, that brings God’s second commandment of loving your neighbor to a whole new level. Not sure about you, but if the entire law and prophets now hinge upon loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, I need to do more than think about it. I need to stop being so convenience-driven and ask God to enlarge my heart, so that my actions line up with His heart of love. I need to stop with all the reasons why not to become involved and “go and do likewise.”

What are the things that you wrestle with concerning being the church? And what should  change so that you can show the world Jesus?

 

 

 

 

God’s Righteousness and Justice

 

Isaiah-58c

 This weekend we talked about justice. Here is an excerpt from one of our publications concerning a woman who has a deep passion for justice.

Clementine Karl, a professed “not your typical prototype” Lutheran, grew up in the Catholic Church talks about a deep restlessness that gnawed within her heart.

As a teenager at Johnston High School, she wanted to see Christians passionately making a difference in the world. “Shouldn’t it be part of Christianity to want the hungry to eat?” she says.

With her purple Mohawk hair, she started searching other churches, only to find out that she was “too rebellious, not okay, too passionate and just way too weird.”

At that time, she gave up on God.

But the deep yearning to do something more, kept springing up, so she pursued studies in psychology/philosophy and women’s studies from Drake University. In her junior year, she traveled to Guatemala and Honduras for an international study on law, politics and society. There she found a ministry of Christians who were literally walking around the countryside looking for widows to help.

Since social justice is a great passion of Clementine’s and one of the reasons she came to faith, Clementine soon became enthralled with these Christians because they were the only game in town helping these families and calling out the injustices occurring from the government and the large-coffee plantations.

“It was an amazing mission to see,” says Clementine. “It changed my mind about Christians.”

Out of admiration for their mission of “pulling thousands out of poverty,” Clementine started to attend their worship services and began to discover God through a different lens.

In recent months, she has led an online study on “Generous Justice,” by Timothy Keller. If you are interested in studying this with her in the fall, please contact her at clementinekarl@gmail.com.

Not a familiar topic

Justice? The church’s responsibility toward those inequities in life is something we don’t talk about much. But should we? And if so, what is our responsibility to the poor, to the hungry, to the homeless. And what should be our motivation? There’s some answers to these question in this video.*

We believe that the church has a responsiblity as well as the privilege to help “the least of these.” So, as a church, we are searching for opportunities where we can collectively become involved. Here is what we have so far:

  •  Dorothy’s House
    There is a house that is being renovated to help restore healing to these girls. They need people who will help with construction.
  • Joppa Outreach (118 S.E. 4th Street, Suite 120, Des Moines, IA 50309 | 288-5699)
    Gloria Dei is adopting every fifth Sunday of the year (four times a year). We will visit the homeless, listen to their stories, give out meals, laugh (and cry) with them. We will have our first church-wide Joppa outreach on Sunday, August 31 from 12:30-4 p.m.  Joppa Outreach

  • Meals from the Heartland on August 27-30
    Meals from the Heartland (http://mealsfromtheheartland.org)  It is not too late to sign up to be on a two-hour team: Gloria Dei is organizing teams to help package food August 27-30. Our goal is to provide 120 volunteers.

  • Human Trafficking
    Attend a meeting on Saturday, August 23 from 9-10:30 a.m. WestKirk Presbyterian Church, 2700 Colby Woods Drive, Urbandale, Iowa 50322
    Learn from others who are helping the victims of sex trafficking.
  •  Prayer Nights
    We want to immerse ourselves in prayer for all the victims, the perpetrators, as well as all the efforts to combat this wickedness.
  •  Adopt a Truck Stop (http://www.truckersagainsttrafficking.orgPlan to attend this training on Tuesday, Sept. 9 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 8301 Aurora Ave., Urbandale, IA. We will use the materials from an organization called Truckers Against Trafficking. At the end of the presentation, you will have the opportunity to select a truck stop and submit a short application to this organization. They  will then send you the needed material to proceed with partnering with a truck stop.

Want to join us? Sign up at the display in the Narthex or the FLC or contact probarge@gloriadeionline.com.

*(If the video does not appear, check out https://gloriadeionline.com/message/his-hand-our-feet/his-hand-righteousness-and-justice)

 

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