Doing Justice, Loving Kindness, and Walking Humbly Before God

Evensong Homily by the Rev. Dr. Cheryl McFadden on Sunday, October 11, 2020.

 

In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)? This last verse of our passage today is often the rally cry among Christians who support the social justice movement. In fact in the book, The Social Justice Bible Challenge, edited by our rector, Marek Zabriskie, this very passage is cited in the introduction. Marek writes, “This is the most succinct and vital passages in the Bible. It summarizes what God would have us to do. It is a verse worthy of committing to memory, writing down, and setting daily before our eyes (p. 7).” Marek further states, “the Hebrew word for justice is mishpat, a word that puts an emphasis on action. The word for kindness used here is taken from the Hebrew word chesedh, (Ka-said) which conveys God’s unconditional and steadfast love, grace, and compassion (p. 7).” According to Marek, we are to carry chesedh or kindness within us and mishpat or justice is our response to serving God by caring for others, especially the most vulnerable. God’s call to us to reflect his unconditional and steadfast love, grace, and compassion toward others by striving for justice and peace among all peoples.

Does the call to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before God also remind you of something we profess in a particular service? It should because it is front and center in the vows we take as our Baptismal Covenant found on page 305 in the BCP. Let’s remember this part of the service.

The priest says, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” And you say, “I will with God’s help.”

The priest says, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” And you say, “I will with God’s help” (BCP, p. 305).

You may remember the banner we put up near the WWI Memorial after the George Floyd killing. It said, “Respect the dignity of every human being” on one side and on the other, “Justice and peace for all people.” The background color on this side was a rainbow color, drawing our support and attention to all people including the LGBTQ+ community.

But what does it mean “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). The recent racial injustice has awakened our country to the fact that things are not all right and that as individuals and the body of Christ need to make changes in the way we think, speak, and act. We need to reexamine our Baptismal Covenant. Are we seeking and serving Christ in all persons and loving our neighbors as ourselves? Are we striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being? If not, then we need to learn how to become a community of reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers. The Episcopal Church has identified four concrete ways we can become this type of community. In the Becoming a Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church’s Racial Healing, Reconciliation and Justice program, the first step involves us engaging in “Truth Telling.” We need to ask and answer the question, “What things have done and left undone regarding racial justice and healing? Have we turned a blind eye when we have encountered racial injustice? Have we failed to speak out and speak against discrimination, bias, and inequity among people?

Second, we need to repair, restore and heal our relationships with people who have been unfairly treated and judged. In the Becoming a Beloved Community, this step is called “Repairing the Breach.” We need to ask and answer the question, What institutions and systems are broken? Is the brokenness in our home, our schools, our work environments, our community programs, our church, our civic organizations, our government on the various levels? We need to ask and answer how we will participate in the repair, restoration and healing of people, institutions, and systems? Third, we need to envision what a Beloved Community looks like. We need to ask and answer the question, What behaviors and commitments will foster reconciliation, justice and healing? When we create this vision, we need to engage boldly in “Proclaiming the Dream” to everyone, both near and far. As individuals, we could commit to becoming a member of the Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation Task Force at CCG and participate in the programs offered to educate and awaken our senses. Right now twelve members of this parish are participating in the Sacred Ground program which is a film and readings based dialogue series on race and grounded in faith. We are grateful to Karen Royce for facilitating the program for us. As individuals, We could commit to participate in the parish-wide Social Justice Bible Challenge beginning in January of 2021.

The fourth step in Becoming a Beloved Community is “Practicing the Way of Love.” The good news is that this past fall, the “Way of Love” was our theme and we actively engaged in learning the seven parts of the process in our forums and through the sermons. Remember the seven parts: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go and Rest. In this step, we ask and answer the question, “How will we grow as reconcilers, healers, and justice-bearers?” Isn’t this exciting? How might we as an individual work toward being known as a reconciler, a healer, and a justice bearer? I know that many of you are already engaged in this work. In October of 2019, the YWCA presented to Patrick Mooney the Purple Ribbon Award for his work in providing free financial literacy counseling to YWCA Greenwich Domestic Abuse Service clients. Thank you, Patrick, for being a healer and justice-bearer in our community. Finally, we need to ask and answer this question on which is front and center in our Baptismal Covenant, “How will we actively grow relationships across dividing walls and seek Christ in the other?”

My dear friends, as we leave this service of Evensong, let us reflect on how we as individuals and the body of Christ will do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before God. Amen.