Vicar Mollie Hamre
Midweek Lenten Service, Week 5 Year A
Texts: Amos 5:18-24, Psalm 15, Romans 12:1-13, Mark 12:28-34
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Work for justice and peace.
That is the last statement of our Affirmation of Baptism liturgy that holds the promises we have with our Triune God, with one another, and with the world. Working for justice and peace are simple enough words, but words that also carry weight, responsibility, and an obligation to one another. As we know, describing justice and peace can range from reaching all corners of our world to the day-to-day relationships we have. So, if we want to work for justice and peace, what does that even mean?
Looking to the Gospel, Jesus gives us a starting point.
He tells us that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And then, take that wholeness embodiment of love, and show that to your neighbor too. Jesus asks today we live that kind of life. The one that reminds us that we are dearly beloved and the one that reminds those around us that they are dearly beloved too. Although the statements appear as two commandments, they turn into one as we live our lives together. In order to love God, we must love the neighbor too. Working for justice and peace looks like emulating Christ and following the example of Christ.
To go further, the Psalm even gives us direction.
Psalm 15 was used as an entrance liturgy before going into the temple. These words describe the characteristics of people that were thought worthy to enter. The people who do what is right. Who speak truth from their hearts. Who do no evil and who do not reproach against each other. These were the people that are seen worthy enough to dwell, just for a short amount of time in God’s “holy hill.” Working for justice and peace looks like living among God’s faithful people and holding one another accountable.
And we hear Paul calling to us too.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Paul is not asking about a change of thought in one’s mind, but a bodily renewing transformation. Note that I did not say a completely new transformation, but one that starts from where we are as our whole selves. One that embodies God’s call as the body of Christ with our gifts and our struggles. All called to the same table. Working for justice and peace looks like sharing an ever-growing table, gathering and being transformed.
Hearing all of this might feel like a big ask.
Because we are not perfect. We will not walk into worship each day with clean slates. And yet, in our baptismal promises, seeing our imperfections and struggles, our Triune God comes as Jesus, God with us, to be with us. To show us how to love God and one another in the Gospel. To dwell with us, not only for a short amount of time, but to walk with us in our daily lives. Be among us in community, that wherever we embody Jesus that is what makes places holy. To call us to be renewed and transformed.
Do you see the connections?
Jesus is telling us about proclaiming the good news of God in Christ to one another and serving one another. The Psalmist is talking about living together among God’s faithful people as we enter into our worship communities. Paul is talking about being renewed by hearing the word of God, sharing together in the Lord’s Supper and our own bodies being renewed. They all work together so that justice and peace may abide within us.
Working “for justice and peace” is at the end of promises in baptism because if we are up holding the responsibilities that we trust God and one another with, we will be working towards peace and justice. Growing together as a faith community, sharing in scripture, sacraments, proclaiming the Gospel, and following the example of Jesus. They all connect together. Work together. So that we are constantly called back to the waters of new life.
Hear these words of your Affirmation of Baptism one more time.
As you receive the gift of baptism, you are entrusted with these responsibilities for yourselves and for one another:
☩ To live with God’s faithful people
☩ To bring the word of God and the holy supper, teach the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments
☩ To hold the holy scriptures and be nurtured in them in faith and prayer so that we may learn to trust God
☩ To proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world God made
☩ To work for justice and peace
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.