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31 Days Not According to Plan

You’re now firsthand witnesses to how well I perform without a deadline.

After a year without a roost on which to perch, I spent much of the past three months nesting. Ben and I finished unpacking moving boxes just in time to decorate for Christmas.

It’s astonishing to realize we’ve already lived in Connecticut five months. Even more so to reflect on all the grace poured out in the past year.

Since last Christmas, God has given us much-needed time with friends and family before moving us further north. He has provided time and space for the difficult lessons of Portland to sink in. And He has surrounded us with a church family that championed us at every turn.

Unbeknownst to me, our Baltimore church home was planning a sermon series on biblical justice shortly after we returned from four years in Portland. As God’s providence would have it, I had written a 31-day series on Redefining Justice two months earlier.

Justice-banner

Our church’s missions director had read the series and greeted me with her hands raised in excitement, exclaiming, “It’s the lady of justice!” I couldn’t have felt more welcomed back.

The missions director went on to inform me that the upcoming sermon series on justice would culminate with a simulcast of the Justice Conference. I’d steered clear of this event for years, despite having attended a Portland church involved in it and having hosted out-of-town friends who participated in it.

In conversing with our missions director, I felt compelled to overcome my aversion to the conference. She spoke of an El Salvadorian pastor she’d invited to ride around the city with police, showing him a gang culture similar to the one he fights at home. And she mentioned local voices for justice who would lead workshops during the event.

The local, relational approach appealed to me far more than the popular conference speakers ever had. So I offered to help.

The request our missions director made in response was the worst possible I could have imagined. What I heard her ask was: “Would you consider setting up a marketplace in the church concourse to commodify justice?”

marketplace-BYNCSA-Pereyra

Photo courtesy of Joaquin Lopez Pereyra.

Um, no, thank you.

Did I fail to communicate that I believe justice is about living in right relationships, not about causes people can get involved with?

What the missions director actually asked was: “Would you consider organizing an opportunity fair at the end of the justice sermon series?”

I told her I wasn’t sure I’d be able to, and she assured me it wouldn’t require a substantial time commitment. “That’s not really what I mean,” I said, bracing myself as I debated whether to explain further.

I was pretty sure she would think I was crazy. She’d asked me to coordinate a handful of ministry tables and I was about to respond with a philosophical conundrum. But I couldn’t bring myself to act as though tables lined up in the church concourse would adequately represent justice.

I shared my thoughts with her, and to my relief and amazement, she understood where I was coming from. And she agreed!

In response, she explained that the five sermons preceding the ministry fair would frame justice from a biblical perspective, and a six-week Sunday school class on the topic would follow.

I told her I’d pray about it.

Continues on February 4th post, Justice: An Everyday Choice.

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