Rev. Chris Pollock
Ordinary Time is the “season of simply trying to survive.” Usually, we think of it in regards to the duties of everyday life (kids to feed, chores to do, bills to pay), but in light of the events over the last couple of days, it has taken on a more serious and literal meaning.
In Ordinary Time, we remember that this is the ordinary way of the world: Bullies have their way.
The good news for us is: God is a God of justice.
In I Kings 21, God saw the bully tactics of the King of Israel, Ahab. He murdered a man named Naboth, who had the vineyard Ahab wanted. After the murder, Ahab claimed the vineyard as his own.
God saw this, and His blood boiled.
So, God called to his servant, the prophet Elijah, and told him to go to Samaria. “‘Say this to [Ahab]: ‘God’s word: What’s going on here? First murder, then theft?’ Tell him, ‘God’s verdict: The very spot where the dogs lapped up Naboth’s blood, they’ll lap up your blood—that’s right, your blood.’” (I Kings 21:19 MSG)
There’s a deep sense of satisfaction me when I read this.
I want to shout:
“God will get you for that!”
“What goes around comes around!”
“You’re gonna get what you deserve!”
We desire Popeye kinds of moments. We like it when God yells, “That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more.”
The Apostle’s Creed says, “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” In other words, there will be a day when finally, God says: “Enough is enough.”
We all know that the world has gone off the rails. When it is set right, it will be satisfying. We all long for justice; for the world to be made right.
We are satisfied when someone takes victory over a bully. It could be Jason Borne. It could be Luke Skywalker. It could be Tony Stark. Avengers (no pun intended) help us to psychologically, tie the loose ends together.
God is a God of justice.
This is good news. Unless … you are the bully.
If the scriptures are the written word that point to the Living Word (Jesus Christ), they sometimes make me VERY uncomfortable.
“When Ahab heard these words [from Elijah], he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.” (I Kings 21:27)
Ahab was sorry for what he had done.
“And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: ‘Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day…” (I Kings 21:28)
In God’s justice, God sets things right by FORGIVENESS and HEALING.
God is a God of Justice. While it might not seem like it, this is good news. We need to be reminded of this because in the midst of chaos, it can become cloudy.
We say we want justice… but let’s be honest… we really don’t. We don’t want justice. Justice is about things being made right GOD’S WAY.
What we want is REVENGE.
We want the world to be made right OUR WAY.
We want the Ahab’s, the elected officials that have stolen their seat, the comedians that have abused, the swimmers that have raped, the terrorists who unload their weapons, not just held accountable. We want them destroyed!
God wants justice.
And the most just act God could think of was giving his Son over to violence. He gave his Son over to tyranny – to terrorists.
The cross – this symbol of violence – is a symbol of terror. It was an instrument of death that belonged to bullies.
By giving his Son over to violence, God’s Son actually claimed victory over violence and his enemies. God, in Christ, suffers with us!
While I want revenge, God brings justice. His justice is “salvific.” There is a “saving-the-world-nature” to it.
As Ted Grimsrud says:
“By ‘the justice of God,’ [Saint] Paul has in mind a cosmic transformation that brings together the personal and social in a unified transformative intervention by God to bring healing to all aspects of creation (see especially Marshall, Beyond Retribution).
Paul links ‘justice’ closely with ‘salvation.’ In the Bible, God’s ‘justice’ describes God works to bring healing in the face of brokenness—‘restorative justice.’ Paul understood God’s ‘justice’ to be the characteristic of God that leads to salvation (not punishment) for God’s enemies (see Romans 5:1-11).
Paul announces that God’s ‘justice’ has now been ‘revealed.’ The term translated ‘revealed’ (apokalypsis—the word from which ‘apocalypse’ comes) in many cases in the Bible indicates an epoch-defining, transforming message from God. For Paul, God “reveals” that in Jesus the kingdom of God has been made present. Those who receive this revelation will never see the world the same again.”
Today, we pray:
We pray for the President of the United States.
We pray for the governor of Florida.
We pray for the FBI, state, and local law enforcement.
We pray for medical personnel.
We also pray for ALL spiritual leaders as they minister and try to carry out peace.
We pray for the victims and their loved ones.
We pray for the people of Orlando.
We pray for our brothers and sisters of the LGBT community. We stand with them in solidarity and love.
Like Jesus, we pray for our enemies.
And, we pray for justice. God’s justice. It’s the only satisfying way.
“Let justice roll on like a river; and righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:24, NIV
Ted Grimsud, https://peacetheology.net/restorative-justice/7-justice-in-romans-and-revelation/