How many of you can quote Micah 6:8?
It is an important verse for this church. Fr. Paul used it often and it is central to the work we do with PEACE (People Engaged in Active Community Effort).
The verse is this:
“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?”
If you read the first part, you’ll see that this is in response to God’s frustration that people don’t seem to remember all the things that God has done for them. How should they respond to God’s grace? Should they sacrifice rivers of oil, or sacrifice their first-born child? NO. God wants them to do these things: Justice, Kindness, and Humility. We translate this into:
• Justice—making sure that systems are fair for all people
• Kindness—acts of mercy for those in any kind of need
• Humility—worship God.
The annual audit we do at the beginning of the cycle in PEACE is when we literally hear the stories of injustice, pain, and concern in our community (audit comes from the Latin “audire” which means “to hear”). We recognize that we come together regularly to worship – an average of four services a week for 52 weeks so about 208 Eucharists a year plus Morning Prayer. We are a community formed around worship—“walking humbly with our God.”
We know that we love kindness. Through the Way Café we feed folks in our community. We collect toiletries for Farmworkers through the Coordinating Council. We share beauty with our community through the work of our resident artist programs including the Core Ensemble and we hope to see the Zimmerman Café again soon. We pray for those in need and do our best to reach out to others who are in need.
But we cannot do justice alone! Justice is a system. It takes organization to affect it. And though it makes us uncomfortable, it takes disruption. For systems to change, it must be more painful to continue the same way than it is to change. The work we do in PEACE is to shine a light on places of unfairness in our systems, find workable solutions, and then find the people in the system with the power to authorize and enforce the change. Then, we ask them to say ”yes.”
I think part of the reason that it’s hard to make changes for justice is that those injustices don’t affect us equally. If you need a photo ID to get a vaccine, and you have a driver’s license issued by the state, you’re golden to get the medication. But, if you don’t drive and don’t have transportation, now getting that ID is harder. If you don’t have a way to prove your address, such as an electric bill in your name, then it is harder still to prove you live in the county. So, something that has no obstacle to me, suddenly has huge obstacles to others in our community.
That is why we start with listening. From my own personal experience, there is no injustice in needing to show an ID to get the shot. I’ve had a Florida driver’s license since 1975. But when we listen to others, we find that our experiences are not universal. And the more we listen, the more we find that there are systems that need to be changed.
It takes work. It takes cooperation. It takes a community. It takes YOU.
There are so many things in the church done by the clergy or the office staff. This is good and right. But there are other things that we must gather to do. A small number of people can’t do it—it takes all of us!
I hope that you will say “Yes” to being part of PEACE. I hope that you will mark your calendars and be at our Community Problems Assembly on November 8. We’ll gather in Frazell Parish Hall to watch the Zoom call together at 7:00 p.m.
Though I want to say, “come to be with me” in this, what I need to say is “come to do the work of Justice because God calls us to this work.”
Please email me at email@example.com if there is anything more about PEACE you’d like to know. I’m eager to talk about it with you!