Justice is a river running through the Bible, and if we don’t engage with that then our faith becomes impoverished, or even corrupted. Here is a collection of posts all about that:
We live in a world tainted by rape culture and the ongoing cover-up of sexual assault. The church needs to be able to speak to these things and, more importantly, do something about its own complicity in them. We have to engage with stories like those of Tamar and the woman caught in adultery, Jephthath’s daughter and the woman at the well (twice), Hagar, Mary Magdelene and Mary the radical Christbearer. At the same time, we should be asking ourselves why women are often airbrushed out of biblical history, like Junia.
Economic justice is also a theme, something that underpins the stories of Ruth and Boaz, the widow’s offering and Joseph. We should see Jesus reflected through each of these and, by extension, in our own world (such as when Jesus queues at the foodbank). This connects to homelessness, with posts on the ‘Homeless Jesus‘ sculpure, defensive architecture, and an encounter of grace between a homeless man and a mobile library.
We can’t ignore environmental justice either, be that through caring for the world around us, celebrating the new year of trees, or just having a church environmental strategy. We’re stewards of the earth, and that carries with it responsibilities.
The refugee crisis has had a huge impact on Europe, during which dehumanising language and negative attitudes have been poisoning public debate. We seem to forget that refugees, like everyone else, are made in the image of God, that Jesus himself was a refugee and went on the run, same as many other biblical figures. And that has implications for how we respond to the crisis; maybe that’s in remembering that the book of Esther is about genocidal threats to an immigrant community, or how an obscure medieval feast might remind us to help those fleeing for safety. Sometimes it’s simply about loving our enemies, even when they’re imaginary.
We live in a violent world, and that expresses itself in many ways – unarmed black men being killed by police, the murder of activists like MLK and other Civil Rights workers, 9-11, Lahore, Orlando, Aleppo… Children are slaughtered and abused, people are martyred. We live in a world where these are regular occurrences, and our reaction to all this needs to be informed by our faith.
Part of that is simply by opening our eyes and noticing injustice, by recognising when a community is hurting and responding to it in a healing sort of way. We need to respect the identities of individuals, and always remember that people are not demons.
How we react will also mark us out; we can take a stand against power, like the Hebrew midwives, or we can turn swords into ploughshares, sharing stories of that along the way. We can turn the other cheek, but there are those who would weaponise that concept, so we need to be careful in deploying it. We can be good Samaritans, but sometimes that means being subversive; we can be good Christians, but sometimes that means standing up to Christendom (or even going to war against maps). We can draw a line in the sand against the terrible things around us; we can kick at the darkness to let the light in.
The blog has also covered key events from the last few months, namely Brexit and how it has (literal) apocalyptic overtones – there’s a US version of this post for the Trump election. Feelings are high around all these things, and we need to recognise that people are mourning as a result; we need to work through that and find a way forward, together.
(For posts about disability, the church and some of the justice issues around that, go here.)