Liturgical Pop-Up: The difference between outrage & justice
Dear Trinity, As one mom said to me today (as we watched a dozen happy Trinity youth walk from Pybus to Walla Walla and back again – hooray for Caleb our summer intern!), “All I talk about is Covid19 because nothing else is happening in our life!” We want to get back to “normal” but personally, I’m worried that some of what has been brought to the surface over the past weeks will be pushed under the rug in order to achieve “normal” again. So I’ve been starting to read and look into the Scriptural roots of justice, precisely so that I have a firm foundation to stand on – even if things begin to return to “normal.” If they are based in Scripture, they can’t be pushed back under the rug, but will only help us return to “true” normal, true north. As Fleming Rutledge wrote in her 80s:
if, when we see an injustice, our blood does not boil at some point, we have not yet understood the depths of God. It depends, though, on what outrages us. To be outraged on behalf of oneself or one’s own group alone is to be human, but it is not to participate in Christ. To be outraged and to take action on behalf of the voiceless and oppressed, however, is to do the work of God (The Crucifixion, p.143).
It is easy for “outrage” to become the property of a certain political party, or subgroup. It is easy for “outrage” at injustice to justify further injustice. But this quote calls us beyond human outrage (and there is plenty for us to be outraged about!) to a really strange “mystical union” with Jesus.
… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, being conformed to His death – Philippians 3:10
(See also 1 Peter 4:13, Philippians 3:10, Colossians 1:24)
If you are wanting to go deeper in Scripture, here are some entry points with Tim Keller & John Piper, who have both been involved in race relations for decades. Their reflection comes from not only having done deep digging in Scripture, but also having lived this for years. I’m also going to throw in the Bible Project’s video on Justice for those of you who missed it (love these guys!) This is not “official church position” but just where I’ve been digging over the past weeks, and I have found that others are digging too, and it is nice to dig in Scripture together during these disorienting times. And finally, an article from David Taylor highlights how many of the Psalms are oriented precisely toward justice – not just our current crisis in America, but the injustices that go unnamed, unsung, unreported and have done so in our broken world for thousands of years. He says that from the Psalms, he learned that “no true account of God makes justice an afterthought to his redemptive work in the world.” So God help us! Jesus to lead us! May we be able to discern our human outrage from that of the Holy Spirit. May all the upheaval of the past few months direct us to participate with Christ in new ways. May our participation in the eucharist, to which we drive weekly (weakly? 🙂 ), lead us to participate with Christ in deeper and deeper ways. Learning alongside you all (and thank you to those who continue to teach me, and cause me to re-examine my “certitude” again and again), Julie PS - Many of you are asking “when will we start meeting again?” because pandemic fatigue is hitting an acute level. We are pioneering a Saturday “Evening Song” (Evensong) Service for those most vulnerable in our congregation. (Evensong is unique to the Anglican tradition, similar to our Sunday morning liturgy with an evening twist). PPS - My friend Paul Hardy is a fashion designer in Canada, and has set up a tailoring school for children of the Rwandan genocide who lost both their parents. He graduated his hundredth tailor a few years ago. The current women learning the sewing trade have put their gorgeous Rwandan fabrics and skill to COVID19 masks. 100% of profits goes to Paul’s tailoring school if you are in need of more masks! (Note that the US dollar is stronger, so take about 25% off of your purchase).