News, Connections and Photos from the life of the faith community at CAPC Oakland
When I think of the word justice I hear the protest chant “No Justice, No Peace.” Then hear the hashtags that have populated the public conversations in our digital public square these paste months/years. #black-livesmatter. #metoo. #stopasianhate. #sayhername. #BLM. #cancelled. #cancelCovid. #instajustice. But justice doesn’t just come with a tweet or a hashtag. It’s not instant. It’s a fight, a work of organizing and deep change.
The Six Great Ends of the Church is the articulation by our church system – the Presbyterian Church USA – of what it means to be Church – and how we are called together to be the people of God. The fifth of the six ends is the promotion of social righteousness.
Curiously in the biblical languages of the Bible (Hebrew and Greek) the words for justice and righteousness and basically interdependent or intersectional. Justice (MISPHAT in Hebrew) is the right: that which God wants in and for the world. It’s the ruler by which good is measured against evil. Righteousness (TSEDAQAH) is God’s justice enacted: it’s living rightly, truthfully, in a God-like way. They’re inter-related and also have meaning that is moral, economic, financial, political and spiritual.
The prophet Amos is likely the earlier of the Hebrew prophets and writers, unique in that he was neither a priest nor a professional prophet, but a shepherd. Easily underestimated in terms of his intelligence and education, he ministered during when Israel was experiencing great prosperity albeit under the wicked king, Jeroboam the Second. This king was a successful military leader but he allowed idol worship of the Ca-naanite gods and turned a blind eye to injustice and neglect of the poor. This led to national apathy overall and in relation to God. Amos speaks out against idolatry and economic inequality, equating the two as in-justice – or anti-God. It’s hard to say if it’s idolatry that leads to unjust economic activity, or the other way around.
In Luke, we read of the first speaking of Jesus in the public square (at least recorded by Luke). Participating in the weekly service, he reads from Isaiah 61. God proclaims good news, active liberation and radical heal-ing to all peoples, especially the poor and broken symbolized in the literary phrase of “the orphan, widow and the refugee.” Here too social righteousness (justice-doing) is equated with faith-full living (or personal righteousness).
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN:
• What engaged you, enraged you, or surprised you in the text?
• Why do you think God is so angry with the people in Amos 5? Why do the people of Nazareth go turn so quickly from adoring Jesus to wanting to kill him in Luke 4?
• How is the Spirit of God inviting you – or us as a church – to promote social righteousness today, here in the East Bay?
Download a Text Study Sheet that we’ll use together in our study on our website HERE.