14 Nov A Little Holy Discontentment…
That’s the name of a booklet I recently received from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, which is based in Washington, D.C. The booklet is “intended to be a resource for Presbyterians and other people of faith seeking to engage in public witness ministries.”
What do they mean by “public witness ministries”? The Office of Public Witness is the public policy advocacy arm of the PC(USA). They seek to “translate the church’s deep convictions about justice, peace and freedom into reality.” Thus, they articulate our policies regarding social justice issues both at home and abroad, seeking to both educate us about issues such as homelessness, poverty, racism, and many others, as well as to motivate us to be personally involved in working on behalf of those impacted by social injustice.
In scripture the prophets consistently proclaimed a discontentment with the nation’s public life coupled with an alternative reality. This alternative reality is God’s vision for the earth and all humanity, what Jesus calls “the kingdom of God.” This kingdom, which is another way of saying God’s reign, is a vision of reality in which our many social ills and wrongs are made right. And, it is a participatory vision. We are invited to usher in the kingdom of God by working on behalf of the poor, marginalized, and powerless.
Too many times we minimize what one solitary person can accomplish. Just because we are not invited to provide testimony to Congress does not mean that our individual acts of compassion and generosity have no impact. Every day we have choices about how we treat other people who are of a different race or economic status. We can be either careless or thoughtful about how we tend the environment. We can harbor and inflame feelings of fear and isolation, or we can reach out. We can make our lives all about us or we can be generous with our time, attention and resources. We can choose to care and become educated about the impact our government’s policies have on the elderly, poor, and disabled, or we can choose to remain ignorant. As people of faith, we are invited to participate in all God is doing to bring about greater justice for all. The prophet Isaiah puts it this way:
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and God will say,
Here I am.
If you’d like regular updates and alerts about the vital work of the Office of Public Witness, you can sign up for their electronic mailing list on their home page.
Yours for the Kingdom,