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31 Days Not According to PlanContinued from February 2nd post, Just Living.

I later heard about leading families in our Baltimore church hosting and having dinner with the El Salvadorian pastor. That was how I’d hoped to help with the justice series. A relational welcome, not a ministry fair.

But as I thought about how to kindly tell our missions director no, I felt convicted to help create a solution instead of simply point to a problem. The timing was uncanny with God having so recently changed my understanding of justice, and it seemed appropriate to share what I had learned.

So I asked my husband if he would brainstorm solutions with me. When I shared our ideas with the missions director, she actually liked them. So I agreed I would plan the justice ministry fair.

Our pastors led a five-part sermon series that laid a beautiful foundation for the justice ministry fair. Much like the Redefining Justice series I wrote in October, they emphasized justice as living in right relationships.

Week after week they repeated, “Biblical justice is valuing what God values the way He values it.”

Justice is not primarily about signing up to fight for a cause, building awareness, writing a check, or going to a conference. “Those things are important,” our pastor said. “Relationships are very important.”

They pointed out that in biblical times, sharing food with the hungry or providing shelter was done by inviting people into your home.

“Justice starts with valuing God,” they declared, “which doesn’t happen without loving people made in His image, especially loving the vulnerable.”

As I listened to their sermons and pondered solutions my husband and I had thought of, I decided to hang signs throughout the concourse that would connect justice with living in right relationship.

reconciliation

love family love neighborsWhereas the ministry tables would highlight causes such as prison ministry and sex trafficking, the signs hanging above them would highlight right living in terms of God’s values.

generosity

gentleness

faithfulness

pure in heartI wanted people to understand justice as a state of being as well as an action, as a noun and a verb.

share power

speak truth

walk humbly

I hoped people would prayerfully consider how they might engage more with justice as both personal righteousness and as action on behalf of the most vulnerable.

repentance

mercy impartialityI wanted them to understand that we contribute to or detract from justice with everyday choices. When we choose to open ourselves to neighbors by spending time in the front yard instead of in the backyard, we live more in line with God’s intentions.

When we invite students who live far from home to holiday dinners or care more about people than the products they make, we value what God values.

We don’t have to take up causes or make additional time commitments to live justly. We can live differently in everyday life at the office, in our homes, on the streets we walk.

We can share power with younger colleagues, shovel snow for an elderly neighbor, offer a meal to someone begging on the street, become friends with people different than ourselves.

To further address this kind of everyday justice, I set up a table at the end of the church concourse with a banner over it that said, “Overwhelmed?”

overwhelmedIt was intended to draw people who were lost in the sea of opportunities or unable to sign up for more activities, but I hoped others would come as well. It was a haven for seeking guidance in how to live justly by making simple changes in everyday life.

Several volunteers helped me prepare a list of ways to live out justice in everyday life and careers. They manned the “Overwhelmed?” table with me, offering possibilities for engaging within personal limitations.

We helped people discern possibilities for furthering justice in their everyday circles of influence. We prayed with them, asking God to reveal what He wants them to value differently. And we connected them with representatives at ministry tables when their gifts and interests naturally aligned.

Continues on February 14th post, The Justice Conference 2014.

All justice ministry fair graphics were designed by Ray Almsteadt – thank you Ray!

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