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Isaiah 56:1

“This is what the Lord says:“Maintain justice and do what is right,for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.”   Isaiah 56:1 I must confess I’m a political junkie. I see the word “justice” and I immediately think about politics. In the midst of this political season I want so much to see a government that embodies principles of fairness, at least my concept of fairness I must add. I've lived long enough to know, however, that life isn't’t fair, and our government is surely not fair and everyone doesn’t think like I think.  As I try to live a life that is growing in love, forgiveness, grace and mercy, I, for whatever reason, expect people who call themselves Christians to think and behave as such. I recall thinking why is it that when policies are being written or votes being cast in our legislative branches that pastors and Christian friends of our representatives aren’t sending emails and making telephone calls to them, reminding them of the Church School lesson or the sermon that was preached regarding a particular topic. I’m always wondering what is going on in the minds of CEOs and school board members when they create business practices or educational policies that side more with the bottom line than with the good of the people. This is where the politics of things come into play. Money and power over the betterment of the people. I’m always surprised when individuals indicate that we should avoid discussing ones faith or religion and politics. Why? I’m even more surprised when individuals state that we have no business discussing politics in communities of faith. Why? I’ve concluded that in this so call democratic society everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I’ve also concluded, right or wrong, that people have chosen to keep God in a box on Sunday morning or Wednesday night. When we are discussing our faith walk we discuss those things in the Book. On the other hand when we discuss those thing that dictate how we live, well, that is a different matter.  Things don’t change much. This particular text reveals the prophetic word of that day. In today’s vernacular or contemporary language one might say it like this “Y’all act right! Jesus is on His way back.” In this season of Advent as we expect and await the return of Jesus, I believe we find ourselves living in a political environment that is as messed up as it was in the prophet Isaiah’s day. People have been left to their own systems of right. Individuals are left to decide if they will chose to live by God’s precepts and principals or humanities fleshy concepts of right and wrong. Lady Justice is certainly not blind and now the law enforcement and our criminal justice system appear to be answering to a prison system that is bought and paid for. The statement that power corrupts absolutely is never more fact that in every aspect of our lives today. Many are questioning the necessity and the relevancy of communities of faith, particularly Christian faith, as those who hold memberships therein say “Amen” during worship, prayer meeting and times of study but make decisions, policies or statutes which govern our home life, in our finances, education, health system, employment, criminal justice system are quite different outside of the gathering of brothers and sisters of faith.  God’s people are not religious people. God’s people are people who have chosen to live   in constant relationship and be guided by the precepts of love, forgiveness, grace and mercy. When we live any other way we exemplify just what the prophet Isaiah spoke about when he reminded us that God’s ways are different than our way. Practicing rituals and customs on Sunday and Wednesdays and failing to walk in the way, the truth and life of Jesus on Monday through Saturday makes us religious. So here Isaiah conveys to the people of his day, and to us now, that we must do what is right, what God does. Justice isn’t getting someone back for the wrong they have done but it is obeying God word.  The people of that day were an oppressed people, not unlike today. God’s people worked for non-believers and were slaves, unable to physically observe the Sabbath because their masters would not allow them a day or a time for worship. How do the Israelites, those called by God’s name, maintain the law of keeping the Sabbath and every other precept or commandment God had established for His people? Prayer and mediation is the only way one can remain focused on what God wants each of us to do in spite our situations. Our hearts must be turned toward God. God judges the heart and desires communion with with us. It is the only way we can face the hostile and harsh realities that we encounter on a daily bases and still walk and talk as God speaks to us, being led by the Spirit of the Living God.  How do we live in a society that sometimes prohibits us for walking in our religion. I would encourage us to step out of our religion and into our communion with God by drawing closer to God in our prayer life, in our study time, in our meditative time. In doing so we develop relationship, faith and trust in God to keep the promises made to us. It is only in the building of our faith and trust in God that we have the courage to walk in the halls of corruption that are not just but speak truth to power, in the classroom that can never stop us from praying because we have learned to pray at home. It is in our faith and trust in God that we can love all the world’s neighbors because they are the creation of our God even when their faith walk or doctrinal belief is different from us, without bible bashing them. It is in our personal knowing the love of God that we can love without judging the gay couple that lives next door, treating them with all the respect we desire for ourselves. We will accept the foreigner into our communities as we too were foreigners because we have no reason to fear. We will feed the hungry and cloth the naked. We will work for the healing of the physically, emotionally and mentally sick and give keys to those who are in spiritual, educational and financial bandages. It  is in our private worship of God that we become the vessels which Godself is revealed to a dark world.  So as we look at our society today we still see the oppression and darkness that remains. God has already told us that nothing goes unnoticed and all will be judged. This we can count on. God has said that vengeance will come. For those who are called by God’s name must be different. We must live by the principles of love, forgiveness, grace and mercy, knowing that our own salvation comes when we are delivered from our carnal mindsets and we take on the mind of Christ, as we are used as vessels of the Most High God to reveal God to world. Our job is to believe God and do what God says, not to force our beliefs on others. If WE fail to live as God has commanded us to do then we condemn ourselves to eternal separation from God and our salvation is lost. Our job is not to ask for special privileges or rights. The privilege of being God’s vessels is enough. God has our back and is working things out for our good. Our jobs is do right!  We live in a society that is political and thus our task is to live in the world the way God requires, knowing that God’s salvation is at hand and God’s righteousness WILL soon be revealed. So don’t get weary in doing good.         Rev. Sayaunda Casey,  Associate Minister        Bethel AME Church        San Antonio, Texas

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