An ELCA pastor shares his thoughts about the Bible, spirituality, the world, and LGBT issues.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Justice, Compassion, Service

What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? [Micah 6:8, NRSV]

     There are a number of lists in the Bible that tell us the kinds of activities we should be involved in as God's children. This is one of my favorites. It's this coming Sunday's First Lesson.   We are called to "do justice," which means to fight for the rights of all people who are oppressed and not just those in the LGBT community. I believe people will take us more seriously if we put some of our time and energies into other justice causes such as poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, and the environment. We cannot be a single issue community.
     Secondly, we are called to "love kindness," which is better translated as mercy or compassion. The Message translates this phrase as "be compassionate and loyal in your love." Compassion means more than feeling pity for someone. It means taking the time to learn what it feels like to walk in someone else's shoes. If we are seen by the world as a compassionate community, we will stand in a sharp contrast to the religious right who often come across as angry and self-righteous.
     Finally, we are called to "walk humbly," which means we should not be filled with our own self-importance but should seek to serve others, following the example Jesus set for us. I have always found that service not only blesses those who are being served, it blesses the servers as well. It's important that we give back to the LGBT community as a way of saying thanks to those who made great sacrifices to bring us to the place we are now. Service helps us to remember what is truly important in life so that we don't get distracted by trivial things.
     Which one of these three speaks to you: Justice? Compassion? Service? Pick one of them and make something happen today! Our world will be a better place because of your efforts.


christina said...

I stumbled upon your blog by accident and am intrigued. I am a straight Christian (as if either label matters to God) and have become very disillusioned by church. I spent 12 years in a Baptist church and thought wow they've got this godliness thing down pat! I learned all the christianese phrases and was there every time the doors were open. Go me! Then the bottom fell out of life. My husband of 20 years walked out and shortly after my 16 year old daughter became pregnant. All of a sudden the church was eerily silent. Days I spent struggling and hurting and no one came. Although I was asked at one point how my spiritual life was, as if my lack of closeness to God was somehow the cause of all that had happened rather than independent people with free will making their own choices around me. Fast forward a few years now. I'm in a good place and have a wonderful grandson whom I adore. I've learned so much being on my own and am grateful for all I've learned. But what bothers me now is lack of church community. I've visited places here and there but haven't found my place. I have come to realize how legalistic so many churches are and how much that damages people. My youngest daughter is very passionate about being in a church that believes like we do that God made all of us as we are. Straight, LGBT, black, white, etc and LOVES us where we are and wants us to love and serve others. How do I get over my hurt and mistrust of all things churchy (I know it's lumping everyone in the same pot) and find a place that accepts us and others?

Rev. David Eck said...

When we're hurt by the church it takes a lot of time to heal from these wounds. Trust me, as a gay man, I've been the recipient of a lot of hate from so-called good Christians. The good news is that there are many churches out there were are welcoming of a diversity of people in their midst. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America there are congregations such as mine who are designated as "Reconciling in Christ." My husband is a pastor in the United Church of Christ which is also welcoming. I encourage you to find a church that loves more than it judges. There are more out there than you may think!

christina said...

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I'll keep searching and praying that I find the place where we belong. God bless you and your family.