The Line: What Matters

Last night, I was privileged to be at the premiere of The Line, a documentary film by Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Midgett and Sojourners, in partnership with World Vision, Bread for the World, Oxfam America, and the Christian Community Development Association.

The ‘line’ of the title is the poverty line, which currently stands at about $23,000 per year for a family of four; and the film delves into the stories of four people faced with poverty.

It is the poor that are mentioned throughout the Bible as of unique concern–these are the vulnerable and marginalized, these are the ones often oppressed and kept down by the systems in place, these are “the least of these.”

As Aaron said a few weeks ago at The District Church, “The test of true, biblical justice is how we treat the poor.”

Please take some time to watch the film and learn the stories and faces of just a few of the almost 50 million Americans living in poverty–they are our brothers and sisters, and we are called to be their keepers, to be their neighbors.

Don’t just be aware; do something, even something as simple as raising your voice.

You can find more info and action steps that you can take at thelinemovie.com.

Isaiah 58: the chapter that changed my life

(Well, one of the chapters that changed my life–see also “The day God broke my heart.”) I pretty much underlined the whole chapter …

A reminder, Isaiah 58:6-14:

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 rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

 

If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflictedthen your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

 

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own – Oscar Romero

Reposting this beautiful piece–“Prophets of a Future Not Our Own”–in honor of Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated March 24, 1980. A champion for the poor, the oppressed, and the gospel.

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a small fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about: We plant the seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing  that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects  far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense  of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

[Yeah, I know I posted this exact same thing and same photo a year ago. But you wouldn’t have known that without the helpful “Related Posts” link below, would you?]

Van Jones on social justice and plastic pollution

I love Van Jones. He has a way of drawing people in to a biblical worldview (especially of caring for creation) without necessarily using biblical language. He makes things make sense. Here he talks about the poor and the planet and plastic pollution.

Jesus is a liberal democrat

Stephen Colbert tells it like it is, almost crossing over from satire to sincerity in doing so:

If this is gonna be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then admit we just don’t want to do it.