Marriage and Singleness – a reminder.

The other day in church, we prayed for a couple that is getting married soon. The pastor said something that really struck me – he prayed for the couple “as they are answering a calling to marriage.”

A calling.

callingA calling.

Somehow, in these two simple words, I found two important reminders that I needed to hear:

1) Marriage is a calling. It is a calling by God for two lives to become one. Marriage is not simply a choice by two people who are “in love”; as Christians we believe that marriage is a covenant between two people, a covenant that exists to model for the world the covenantal love that God has for us. In marriage Christians show the world a different narrative: one of steadfast love in spite of sinfulness and faithfulness in the face of hardship. In the words of one of my professors, “Marriage is a mission.” (Holla at me, Dr. K’s Book Group!)

2) Marriage is not the calling. God does not call everyone to marriage; sometimes it is “not yet,” and sometimes it is “not ever.” Only time will tell which of the two it is in each person’s life, but regardless of the answer, singleness is a calling too. Let me say that again. Singleness – for now or for ever – is a calling too. In singleness and celibacy Christians show the world a different narrative: that sex and love are not what this world says they are, that the love of God and the Church is more than enough, that singleness is a calling both to radically serve the Church and to radically be served by the Church. I preach here what I have to preach to myself, sometimes: singleness is a calling.

Much of this reflection comes from a wonderful little book by Stanley Hauerwas that I had the chance to study in a small group with one of my (favorite) professors in college, so I will leave you with a quote that I loved:

“Both singleness and marriage are necessary symbolic institutions for the constitution of the church’s life… that witnesses to God’s kingdom. Neither can be valid without the other. If singleness is a symbol of the church’s confidence in God’s power to effect lives for the growth of the church, marriage and procreation is the symbol of the church’s understanding that the struggle will be long and arduous. For Christians do not place their hope in their children, but rather their children are a sign of their hope… that God has not abandoned this world.”

– Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character (p. 191)

Why We Celebrate Passover

Today the house-church I am a part of will meet to hold our yearly Passover Seder. Over the years, this tradition has come to be really important to me (as best we figure, this is our 10th year to celebrate it), and I think that I ought to explain why. This tradition means different things to all of us who participate in it, but this is what it has come to mean for me.

First, some clarifications. Passover is a Jewish festival, and I am – obviously – not Jewish. As Christians celebrating Passover, we do not mean to diminish the importance of this festival for Jews, nor to show disrespect to it or to our Jewish brothers and sisters through our admittedly untraditional use of Jewish rituals in observing the Passover. Also, in doing this I am not claiming (as some have before me) that “Christians are in some sense more Jewish than Jews are”. Though I  recognize what is meant when people say this, I understand how this seems presumptuous and (justifiably) offensive to those who do not.*

There are Christians who have made a sort of identity out of practicing Jewish customs. (Here I am not  talking about people who are part of the tradition of Messianic Judaism, a tradition that I respect a lot and do not know enough about.) I have one word of caution for these people. Though I have found a lot of value in celebrating the Passover, as I will explain later, I think that this needs to be approached carefully. From the time of the New Testament, the church fathers made it clear that it was not necessary for Gentiles to adopt Jewish practices in order to become Christians. In the early Church, the debate was a major source of contention – did Gentile Christians need to be circumcised?** Should Gentile Christians observe Jewish dietary restrictions?*** At the Council of Jerusalem, these questions were answered, and the Church concluded that it was not necessary for Gentiles to come to the Church through Judaism. Jewish traditions are not an essential element of the Christian faith, and the purpose is neither to co-opt Jewish customs for Christianity, nor to celebrate them legalistically. Though they can be a helpful, informative, and spiritually uplifting act of worship for the Gentile Christian, we must take care that we do not make them into something for us that they are not.

Clarifications and qualifications aside, celebrating the Passover has become a meaningful tradition for our house-church community. Here are some reasons why:

1. Celebrating the Passover helps us to understand the context of Christ better. 

  • It is not a coincidence that Christ’s death occurred at the time in the calendar year that it did. Passover is arguably the most important of the Jewish festivals, commemorating the miraculous deliverance of Israel from the oppression of slavery in Egypt. To celebrate this event every year in a time when Israel was again oppressed – this time by the Roman Empire – was not only a religious but also an innately political act. It was a time when emotions ran high, when Jews celebrated liberation and all the while were brutally reminded of the oppression of their occupation. 
  • Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the event that we celebrate on Palm Sunday, occurred as the city was filling with people coming to the temple to celebrate the Passover. In this time of high emotions and political frustration, is it a surprise that the people saw in Jesus the Christ that they wanted to see – a conquering king who would free them from their present-day oppressors? And, when it became clear that this was not the kind of messiah he came to be, that public opinion swung rapidly and violently?
  • A symbolic note: in the Seder, traditionally a lamb was sacrificed at the temple and eaten. According to Mosaic law, this was to be an unblemished male lamb. The lamb was to be chosen four days before the Passover feast, and was to be taken into the household to live among the family. As our Seder script says, “After four days, when the lamb had almost become one of the family, and as the children had come to love the lamb, the lamb was taken to the temple to be sacrificed, for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus’ triumphal entry – Palm Sunday – occurred on that day, four days before the Passover, when the people were to choose the lamb that would be sacrificed.****

2. Celebrating the Passover is a way for us to better observe and understand Maundy Thursday, the day on which Jesus ate his final meal with the disciples, washed the feet of his disciples, and instituted the sacrament of Communion.

  • The Last Supper, Jesus’ final meal on the night before he was crucified, was his celebration of the Passover feast with the disciples (Matt 26:17, Mark 14:1-2, Luke 22:1-15). We have found that, when given the context of the rituals of the Passover meal, Christ’s actions during that meal take on even greater meaning. 
  • From the radical humility of washing the disciples’ feet to the symbolic placement of the breaking of the bread (the afikomen) to the meaning of the cup of wine that Jesus called “my blood, shed for you” (in Passover sometimes called the Cup of Redemption) to the gesture of giving Judas the bread (traditionally a token of affection) – celebrating the Passover gives us the opportunity to once every year be reminded of the deep significance of the Last Supper, which we celebrate throughout the year in a much-abbreviated form.

3. Celebrating the Passover has become an opportunity for us to celebrate the tradition that has become ours “through adoption,” as adopted sons and daughters of Abraham.

  • As it is written, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)

4. Celebrating the Passover provides us with an opportunity to be reminded of God’s desire for justice, and our responsibility to be doers of justice.

  • Passover is a time when Jews celebrate the liberation of Israel (the nation of antiquity) from the oppression of slavery to the Egyptians. At the time of Jesus, it was an ironic celebration of freedom during a time when the Jews were under the oppression of the Roman Occupation. Today, Passover is an ironic celebration of freedom at a time when the current political nation of Israel (not to be confused with the ancient religious  nation of Israel, which it is neither identical to nor continuous with nor the same as the current state) is the oppressor in the region, illegally occupying Palestine and subjecting the people to foreign, unjust rule. Passover is an opportunity to remember that irony, in solidarity with the oppressed, and a call to stand against that oppression.
  •  Passover is a time to remember Israel’s oppression in Egypt, which was the foundation upon which God built His commandments to His people. “You shall not oppress an immigrant, since you know the heart of immigrants; for you too were once immigrants in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9)  In our community in inner-city Chicago, Passover is a reminder that we ourselves are to identify with the immigrant, for as it is written, “On that day tell your son, I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:8)  God tells us that we observe the Passover as though we ourselves were immigrants, oppressed in the land of Egypt. How might this reality change the way that we interact with our immigrant neighbors in the year to come?
  • As part of the Passover meal, Jews look for the arrival of Elijah, for it was foretold, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:4-5)  We as Christians know that Elijah has already come (Matthew 11:13-14), but it seems that we have not yet seen the hearts of the fathers turn to their children. In our community in inner-city Chicago, it is estimated that 90% of children live in a single-parent home, and 1/3 of fathers in the community are in prison. In a time such as this, what would it look like for the hearts of the fathers to be turned to their children? And what are we called to do? After all, “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.” (Deuteronomy 24:17-18)

I look forward eagerly to our celebration of the Passover, as I have every year for the past ten years. But this year, I hope I am doing so in a spirit of thoughtfulness, as we seek to worship God and learn the lessons he would teach us as we remember the Passover as a community.

.      .      .

Notes:

* If this is you:  The saying, “Christians are in some sense more Jewish than Jews are” is a Christian-ism that, like other Christian-isms, bears meaning in our community that we often forget that those outside our community do not know. It is a simplistic and as such ill-advised way to express meaning-laden sentiments that demand a much more nuanced explanation out of respect to our Jewish brothers and sisters. If you have felt insulted or offended by anyone who said this or something like it, I apologize. We as Christians have a responsibility to be less careless and more sensitive to the way that we are understood by others, and we often fail in it. (If you would like an explanation that gets at what is meant by this at it’s best, I’m willing to try.)
** See Galatians 3 for Paul’s response.
*** See See Acts 10 for Peter’s dream.
**** via Dr. Kalantzis.

Link: Erin’s Passover Recipes

Why I love “Call the Midwife”

Call the Midwife

Babies. Nuns. Bicycles.

Sometimes, I have a hard time explaining why I love this TV show so much.

At face value, “Call the Midwife” doesn’t seem like it could be the epic, thought-provoking, heart-warming, on-the-edge-of-your-seat-intense TV show that it is. Now, I’m entirely willing to admit that this show is not for everyone. One of my friends described it as “a lot of screaming”; I’d be the first to acknowledge that. If you don’t want to see lots of babies and bodily fluids, this is not the show for you.  

(Fortunately for me, this is right up my alley. I’m working in healthcare administration right now as I get ready to apply for graduate school in Nursing, and as I decide exactly what route I want to take. Midwifery has always been on the table for me, and I’m not going to lie…it’s a little bit hard to tell if my life plans are being influenced by a TV show. Because I’m majorly leaning midwife right now. But hey, correlation does not equal causation, right?)

But but if you can handle the birth-related bits, “Call the Midwife” should be the next thing you put on your Netflix queue.

1) “Call the Midwife” is story for today.  An idealistic and naïve young woman sets out to save Poplars (a neighborhood in the slums of East London), one home-birth at a time. Though she finds that the problems are bigger than she ever knew or imagined, that she is more naive and unaware than she’d care to admit, and that there are things she cannot change, time and again she also finds that she can change a life, and that that is enough. It is a coming-of-age story, a story for my generation.

2) It is a story of women. Written and produced by a largely-female production team, based on the memoirs of a real woman, with all-female lead roles – it is by women, about women. A story about a young, newly-certified midwife who moves into a convent to work with other nun-midwives and non-nun-midwives, much of the story is driven by the relationships between these women – women with different histories, different places of faith, different struggles, yet with the same mission. It is a story of community, as each brings her own baggage, but finds freedom and healing and identity in community.

3) But it is still also a story for men. This is not a platform for angry feminism, for anti-man angst, for gender rants. Men are not overly vilified, nor are they overly glorified. There are some fantastic male supporting characters – the selfless doctor, the lovable best friend, the prickly but tender-hearted groundskeeper – that show you that women can still write some of the best men. Yet there is also very honest engagement with the reality that – then and now – there are some very broken gender dynamics in the world. But the point remains, though this TV show is still a story for men, it is not about the men. The show is always honest about being a story of women.

4) Nuns. Need I say more? Nuns are fly.

5) It’s secretly all about social justice. Though set in 1950s London, the real power of the show lies in the timeless, universal problems and truths it explores. It explores problems and inequalities that are as present now as they were then: urban poverty, healthcare access in under-served populations, gender violence, wealth and lifestyle disparities. It deals with the issues of missions – savior complexes, ignorance and naïveté, guilt, disillusionment, hope and despair, success and failure.

6) In a world where many avoid talking about God and religion, it is incredibly well-handled in this show. It would be hard to get around God in a TV show where half of the major characters are nuns, and “Call the Midwife” wisely doesn’t try. Yet the religious elements are not overplayed either, nor used divisively. God is a quiet presence, an almost unmentioned character, but not unseen. He is seen in the lives of worship of the nuns, and modeled in their actions. He is in the intentional community of the nuns and the midwives, living together in the community they serve. The nuns’ faith is a rock to the other midwives in times of pain and uncertainty, even though most don’t claim the faith themselves. It is a faith that is shown, not preached.

Need more convincing?

Why I Love Call the Midwife

“Call the Midwife” has it all: nurses and nuns, boys and babies, romance, friendship, faith, and social justice. It is honest and sincere, touching, sad and hilarious in turns, and chock full of some of the most compelling characters in television right now, with a story that is as relevant as it is engrossing. Just give it a try.

How to Church Shop

One of the worst things about moving to a new place has to be the task of finding a new church.

Or actually I should say, one of the worst things for people who grew up in a non-denominational or independent or quasi-independent evangelical church. I can’t tell you how many times throughout this whole process I thought, “Man, this would be so much easier if I was Catholic! ”  But in all seriousness, this is the reality of the fractured Body of Christ of which we are all a part: people shop for church like it is car insurance, trying to find a favorite brand or company – or even a custom package.

But there is another side to this coin, or there can be. This doesn’t have to be the way we “church shop.” What if church shopping were less about looking for the ideal product, and more about the diversity of the Body of Christ, and learning about what your own faith?

From my experiences, here are a few thoughts on navigating the church hunt with grace…most of which were learned by trial and error!

1) Start with realistic expectations.

There is no such thing as a “perfect church.” Coming to terms with that reality fast is going to cut down on the pressure and stress of the situation. If you loved your previous church, you will not find one identical to it. If you did not love your previous church, you probably won’t find a church that has everything you’re looking for. If you do find that one church that “clicks,” I guarantee that eventually you will realize something or experience something that makes you frustrated or disappointed. We are imperfect beings, and our flaws are exhibited sometimes in greatest contrast in our communities. That’s part of what being the Body of Christ is: loving one another in spite of our sinfulness.  Don’t go in expecting things to be perfect.

2) Start with some criteria. 

I know a family that decided going into it that they would only visit three churches. After three churches, they would make a decision. Now that’s a bit excessive for me, but the point is a good one. Start with a set stopping point. Knowing that there isn’t a “perfect church,” decide when you’re going to stop looking for it. Maybe that means deciding to only look within a certain distance from home. Maybe that means doing some Googling ahead of time – making a list of places to check out, and then deciding from that list.  Maybe it means setting a certain period of time for the church hunt, and committing to making a decision by the end of that time. 

Whatever the stopping point is, the purpose of choosing one is not to have an arbitrary deadline. Church shopping is a hard process – the times I have spent without a proper church home have always coincided with some of the driest times in my spiritual life. During this last stage of Church shopping, I don’t think I realized how much of a role in my spiritual stalemate my lack of a church had. It was not until I found a church and drank deeply that I realized how hard it was to live off only sips. No church is perfect, but Christianity is a faith that can only be lived in a community – in spite of and including the inevitable imperfections. Don’t let yourself be separated from this kind of community for too long.

3) Use this as an opportunity to learn.

There is an incredible diversity in the Body of Christ, but most Christians never experience anything beyond their own tradition. Don’t let this be true of you. Try something new. Church shopping is a remarkable opportunity to experience churches and church traditions that are unfamiliar and possibly out of your comfort zone. Embrace that as a chance to learn more about the Church – one, catholic, and apostolic. Who knows? The experience might even open your eyes to God in a new way.

4) Identify things that you like and appreciate in the churches you visit.

As I was visiting churches to look for a new church home, I realized something about myself, very much to my chagrin. I found that I was developing a tendency to be very critical and disparaging, I might even say judgmental, of some of the churches that I visited. Though there is certainly a good and necessary element of critiquing that one must do while looking for a church, there is a difference between thinking critically and being critical. Churches are not perfect. There may be churches you will visit with which you have significant disagreements. There are certainly some valid critiques and even criticisms that could be applied to churches you will visit. But do not forget that these are your brothers and sisters in Christ. (Believe me, sometimes I have the hardest time reminding myself of this. Some churches just make me want to *grumblegrumblegrumble*.)

A tool that has helped me counter my tendency toward fault-finding is to intentionally identify things that I value in the church I have visited. Whether it be the friendly welcome that was offered, or the music, or the nice family down the aisle, focusing on the good has helped me to better walk the line between analyzing and judging.

5) Figure out what your deal-breakers are.

The above being said, it is completely valid to have disagreements with a church, whether that be in theology or leadership or practice. This time is an opportunity to figure out what your deal-breakers are – to figure out what you think is important and essential. This can be a chance to gain some eye-opening self-awareness, and can teach you a lot about your own faith. Sometimes, you don’t realize something is important until it’s gone.

6) Listen for the Spirit.

There may not be a “lightning” moment; there may not be any kind of moment. There doesn’t have to be one. But let this be a meditative process. If God does have a specific place for you, let him guide you to it.

A new (to me) Christian perspective on gun control

In the wake of the Navy Yard killings and the shooting today on Capitol hill, and reminded of what I recently wrote about violence in my own home-city of Chicago, I’d like to share a Washington Post op-ed by Rev. Henry G. Brinton, a Presbyterian pastor in Virginia. Though my views on gun control come from a very different theological basis, I think that the principle that he suggests has the power to re-frame the issue in a way that could restart productive conversation among Christians who for so long have been at loggerheads.

“The religious community needs to unite around a message that will keep guns out of the hands of people who will use them to do violence to themselves and others, whether they are depressed young people, delusional shooters, or children who stumble across guns in the home. I’m not talking about new gun control laws, but instead a new consensus on the proper place of firearms in our society.”                    

                -H.G. Brinton

On Angsty and/or Angry Feminism

Every once in a while, I begin to trick myself into thinking that people aren’t at sexist as I think they are. Every once in a while, I start to think, “Maybe this isn’t such a white man’s world anymore.” Every once in a while, I start feeling safe in the affirming community I have built around myself.

But every time, eventually something crashes through my walls. And then…dang, does the angst come out.

This last time, it wasn’t even because of things that happened to me*. A few days ago, one of my roommates came home with a frustrating story from the church College ministry in which she is a leader, about issues with a college freshman-theology major who is a volunteer under her. (I do have to say, give this kid a tiny bit of grace. There should be a syndrome for theology major freshmen…they have been in it long enough to pick up some big words that make them feel cocky, but not long enough to have their unquestioned assumptions and beliefs dashed against the jagged rocks of theological academia. Boy, does this kid have some rough seas ahead of him. I can’t help but be a bit wickedly excited for this.) He has undermined her authority and been disrespectful to the point that my roommate, who isn’t an egalitarian, and is part of a church that is about as complementarian as you can get, and hates conflict, has had to tell him that he will not be leading anymore this year. (Of course, this conversation went much differently than it would have had I been the one talking, but I am very proud of her!) And then, the very next day, my other roommate who works with a high school ministry came back from a leadership meeting practically steaming at the ears. She was leading the meeting, and had a male co-leader first act disrespectfully by being blatantly flirtatious, and then when she ignored him he began to make comments about the administrative issues the group was having, saying that it was “because all of the staff are women.” “You came from my rib,” he said, as if it excused or explained his behavior. My roommate was professional, putting off a direct conversation for later when the leadership staff could be present, and when she was not in a position where she needed to maintain her composure with the rest of the group**.

I’m not such an angry feminist as I used to be; I’m beginning*** to be more measured in the ways I express myself. I have found a community that affirms me in my womanhood. I have taken ownership of my beliefs, and am beginning to be able to express them better. I am still working with some questions, and I am realizing that I have even fewer answers than I thought I did…and that this is all good. I have found people I respect who have built me up in more ways than I probably even realize. I have come to some measure of peace with this up-hill battle.

But every once in a while, something breaks through the buffers I have put around myself. This isn’t always bad – I need to be shaken out of the complacency that comes with comfort. You can have my complacency. But if you disrupt my peace, don’t be surprised when the angst comes out. There is always a reason for angry feminism.

So when one of us gets angry, don’t think, “It’s just another angry feminist.” There is no such thing.

Here’s a productive alternative: ask yourself why we’re angry. And if you can’t figure out the answer, ask us. Believe me, we’ve all got stories.

. . . .

* Let’s not even talk about the fact that both of these stories are about men in ministry demonstrating their sexism and behaving disrespectfully towards women over them in leadership.
** Good thing it was her, because if it had been me, I probably would have gone all feminist ape-shit on him. And not  in a God-honoring way. Clearly, I’m still working on this whole thing.
*** “Beginning” may or may not be the key word here.

So it turns out Dad was right…

Recently, I came across a blog post by a favorite blogger of mine, one which struck a cord. And one which led to another great post, and another… Pretty soon, I was down a rabbit trail that showed me something that my dad has been trying to tell me for years.

You really ought to read those posts, but let me give a quote from the first one, which stopped me in my tracks, because of how well it describes me.

“I’ve developed some bad habits. I know this is true. Somewhere along the way, I started dampening down my own voice. I started ending each statement as if it was a question, with the inflection of my voice rising a little at the end. I started couching belief statements in between phrases like, ‘Well I don’t know,’ and ‘Do you think so?'”            Hannah Heinzekehr

For years – and I mean, years – my dad has been trying to get me to break this habit. The problem was that I, like many women, didn’t recognize that this was a problem.

Some background:  I have an absolutely amazing dad. (And I don’t tell him this nearly enough.) But before I get into my Dad’s-biggest-fan speech, let me cut to the point that is crucial to this story. Ever since I can remember, we’ve been one of those families that talks about theology, philosophy, life, everything, at the dinner table. My parents have always encouraged my brother and I to think about our faith, and to talk about it with them. My parents wrestle with the hard questions, and their example has taught us to do the same. (Shoot, I need to stop the Mom’s-biggest-fan speech from coming out, too!)

But whenever we have these conversations, I do something that never fails to drive my father crazy. “I don’t know, but…,”  “I think…,”  “…but you might disagree,” “Maybe…,”  “…you know?”  “…but that’s just my opinion.”  For some reason that makes no sense to my dad, I am almost incapable of making firm statements. Without fail, I express my thoughts…and then qualify them. I express them with an inflection, like a question, or diminish them by following with an “I don’t know.”

This makes my dad so frustrated, and he always says, “Don’t say that! Erin, you do know!” I’ve never understood why this bothers him so much, always saying, “Dad, come on! I just say that to mean that I’m giving the other person the freedom to disagree with me!” But I never realized until now, just how wrong I was, and how right he was.

By using all those qualifiers, I wasn’t giving him permission to disagree – Dad always feels the freedom to disagree with me, and in fact, with anyone. What I was doing, as Hannah Heinzekehr pointed out, was apologizing for my opinions. I was practicing a pattern of speech that has been taught to me by the male-dominant society I am a part of – yes, including the church. 

I have been taught, as have women before me (including my mother, who does the same thing I do, and gets the same chastisement from my father that I do!), that women cannot express strong opinions. Women have been taught that they cannot have opinions or beliefs that conflict with those of the powerful of their society. Now this is a problem that, I am certain, is not exclusive to women. But it is the one that I have experienced, and one that I think needs to be addressed, considering the changing role of women in the church (if you don’t believe me, check out this fantastic post by Sarah Bessey), and the continuing problem of power-play in gender roles in the church. And we have to be the ones addressing it.

We women – you, women – must recognize the ways that we diminish ourselves and each other, and instead affirm our value as creatures made in the image of God, equally capable of knowing Him.

And we must let the godly men in our lives – you, men – help us to see just how valuable our contributions are, as we all walk this road of sanctification together.

So, Dad, you were right. Thank you for always affirming my authority and the value of my words…and the value of myself.

On Justice

A confession: I am not a philosopher.

And I realized this in a fairly ironic place – in philosophy class. My final semester of college, I took a philosophy class on the topic of global justice. Now, the problem was not the class, but in the first few weeks I began to feel frustrated; and the more we read, the more frustrated I became. I was frustrated with all of the explanations that were offered – all the inadequate, inconsistent, or just-plain-wrong explanations of what “justice” is. But at some point I realized the crux of the problem: I approached these thinkers asking for something they simply could not provide, however hard they may try.

When I began this class, I came with the wish to find, not simply a philosophical explanation of justice, but one I could live by. I wanted, not a system of justice that I could rationally accept, but a system that described using reason the understanding of justice that I already have.  I wanted a secular justification for a conception of justice that is founded in faith. In Christ.

It was then that I began to realize that I wanted something that did not exist. I was falling into the same trap that had caught some of the thinkers I had read: the desire for a Christian-compatible justice without Christ. But God’s justice is not man’s, for what man would choose the gospel Jesus preached?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of Jubilee.”

I am not a philosopher; I am a practitioner. I have come to the conclusion that what I as a Christian have to offer the world is not a well-reasoned, well-articulated system of conceptualized justice (though there is definitely a place for this role in the Church). What I have to offer is my participation in a body – the Church, the body of Christ – that lives according to a different narrative of justice. And the proof for this narrative does not come out of a logical system of reasoned explanation. The proof of this narrative comes from the fruit, from the physical, tangible, historical, pragmatical, practical acts of justice performed by the body of Christ. And if the world truly saw this, others, I believe, would be convinced.