From the Dean’s Desk…

Letting the captives free

Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help,
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps promises forever… (Psalm 146:5-6)

I have actually heard people say that our Christian faith is a very personal matter only and we must never discuss ‘religion and politics’ or that the Church needs to stay out of politics, has no business sticking its nose into politics, or business, for that matter. Even more disturbing, I have actually heard people say, argue passionately, that the Bible really has nothing to say about faith except our personal, quiet, interior, non-public expression thereof. Hmmm…

I agree wholeheartedly with the separation of church/synagogue/mosque/temple/gurdwara, etc. and state, but this does not mean we should be silent in the public square, as it is just that: Public. We all share in the conversation space called ‘public’ and that includes people of faith and no faith alike. That’s called democracy.

Especially frustrating – I now make public confession – are those Christians of whatever stripe who argue that ‘there will always be poor’ and God has blessed the rich, etc., etc. It’s just too bad, they’re poor only because they’re lazy, etc., etc. Kyrie eleison! Lord have mercy!

[The LORD] gives justice to those who are oppressed,
and food to | those who hunger.
The LORD sets the captive free.
The LORD opens the eyes of the blind;
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD cares for the stranger;
the LORD sustains the orphan and widow… (Psalm 146:7-9)

The Bible is actually brimming with material saying – which at least Christians need to hear, and not skip over – that God cares very much indeed how a society is run (politics) and how the supposedly free market operates (economics, based on the Greek word having to do with how the household – oikos – is organized – nomos). The Older Testament is absolutely chock ablock with passages like this Psalm for Sunday, overflowing with God’s care and concern for the poor and the oppressed, for the stranger, for the widow and the orphan. Jesus also makes it very clear, in revealing the heart and mind of God to us, that he is very, very concerned about justice. All you have to read is his mission statement in Luke 4 and his vision statement in Matthew 25, much less his numerous references to the Kingdom/Reign of God throughout all the Gospels.

Our faith – and the New Testament never really speaks about ‘my’ faith – is not just about the sweet hereafter, but about God’s mercy for this world, God’s passion for justice in this world, God’s love of all the people of this world, and God’s claim on this world which remains God’s garden, not our playground or hunting/fishing resort or mine-pit or dumping ground. God is faithful, and God keeps God’s promises forever. Thankfully, in Christ we know that God does not keep score, that God’s grace abounds, that there is hope for us. That really is good news, sisters and brothers, that really is the Gospel.

The LORD shall reign forever, your God, O Zion,
throughout all generations. Hallelujah! (Psalm 146:10)

Thanks be to God!