posted on December 18, 2018
WAITING TO SEE JUSTICE
Hebrew 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
"Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved." Psalm 80:19 NIV
Born in Greenville, South Carolina in the middle of the 20th century, the Bible was central to my growth within a family of Methodist preachers. Upon the lap of Mother Rouse the stories of Jesus would be read. In the pulpit of local churches, Father would annually preach: "Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings, you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.' " First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them"—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrew 10:5-10 NIV). I would come to believe Jesus to be the long-awaited Christ, Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary for the purpose of bearing the sins of believers; and would come again into a world of salvation. Why?
The revelation is contextual. Our unique culture in the 21st century carries a mixture of identity confusion embedded within a worn-out abusive system of racial and ethnic stratification. Societies have been established around rankings of people in a hierarchy that class them as socially superior or inferior. The United States of America is a great nation built on a systemic social stratification bathed in a mindset of institutionalized inequality. Reflecting favor or injustice on the basis of assumed genetic commonalities in biological heritage and skin-color known as race /racial identification is just wrong. Social class injustices are not exclusive to the United States of America; every nation building communities binding people together by ethnicity identified as common ancestry and cultural backgrounds as well as gender dominance perpetuate injustices, leaving females and males often in search of justice. What might be said to authenticate purposes in the coming or coming again of Jesus? Waiting and watching for justice, we know throughout the world there are imbalances among the wealthy and the unhealthy; the brilliant and the militant; the royal and the commoners; etc. Might there ever be a society of justice with fairness and equal opportunities prevailing for each human being?
During forty-two years of sixty-three years, I have lived as an ordained United Methodist minister witnessing the achievements of persons connected by legacy, heritage, geography, etc... Not so bad, one might say until closer notice reveal that our churches image social stratification by race and ethnicity, often harshly advocating for or discriminating against sexual preferences. Arguments on matters of sexual privacy create diversions from combating humanitarian economic, health, social behavioral ills. I retired from active pastoral ministry in 2018 with local churches holding on to many old and molded prejudicial stratification practices as opposed to a practical theology of hope for validating the message of being "children of God" (Galatians 3:26-29). Through all the years of learning, preaching, and teaching, I tire not in my wait to see justice within the sacred context of the Church and the social construct of the Nation.
While waiting to see justice, hope has been seen in challenging experiences. Unbelievable changes have come often representing the best in us, too. Barack and Michelle Obama defied odds becoming Potus and Flotus; the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are Prince Harry and Meghan; invigorated involvement has risen in voting for change in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government; economic, healthcare, and education improvements are happening. Through the storms, rains, and pains of life, our human responsibility is making choices, the ethical and moral choices. At Erskine Seminary in the 90s, I taught United Methodist polity as resembling the branches of government in the United States of America. Then as now, the church struggles to embrace certain practices of the nation as moral, just and fair.
A few friends asked: "How might you and Marie celebrate Advent (the beginning of the Christian worship calendar) in retirement?" "Good question", I responded: "After our resurrection, I will let you know." We have not died, so we will remember the act of God in Jesus, and anticipate as always the coming of justice, peace, and reconciliation. We invite everyone to refresh or rekindle activism among the people called United Methodists. Let us be active in social action as we wait to see justice. Here and now, choose to participate in the strive for social justice. Choose to embrace the joy of being a Christian. Choose the leap of faith and be active "agents of God's justice, peace, and reconciliation" (MFSA). Choose to channel the church hierarchy in navigating THE WAY forward by practicing the love of God, and love of neighbors. Anticipate reconciliation with God and reciprocity among neighbors as agape is the purifying love.
As at birth, the Bible remains my inspiration. Thus, in 2018-2019, I anticipate leaping in joy and strengthening our social action for JUSTICE, PEACE, AND RECONCILIATION starts with the person I see daily in the mirror - ME! Join your fellow justice seekers in making a gift to MFSA this advent season.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, grant us mercy and grace in our social actions as we actively wait to see justice, peace, and reconciliation. Amen
Rev. Luonne Abram Rouse
MFSA incoming Southeastern Jurisdiction Rep
Board of Directors/Program Council
Read full advent appeal letter from our Co-Chairs