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Advent - Justice

Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11

My two questions last week were “Who are we waiting for?” and “How should we be waiting?”. Proclaim, Isaiah said “get you up to a high mountain, lift up your voice with strength.” it is like we are preparing for a wedding, we announce, we invite, we plan. Isaiah has been decked with a garland as a bridegroom or even as a bride, adorned with jewels for her wedding day. {In modern day Pakistan brides are supposed to wear gold bangles all the way up each arm from wrist to elbow}

We are waiting for an exceptional day of joy when God will bring justice to the earth for “The Lord loves justice.” But be careful for the justice that the Lord loves is not simply that of justice and punishment that we so often mean when we use that word. The Lord’s coming shall not be like the South African courtroom that gripped that nation for most of last year. Yes there is some of that “I hate robbery and wrongdoing, I will faithfully give them their recompense.“ but this old testament prophet is anxious to tell us about the Lord’s restorative justice rather than retribution.

“The Lord has appointed me“, he says to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty and release, to comfort all who mourn, to give them a garland instead of ashes. We are waiting for a God who will put things right, who will take the world that we have broken and continue to break and restore it to the wonder and beauty of creation as was intended.

There seemed little of this kind of justice in the Grand Jury who decided that there was no case to answer, no truth to be sought either in the case of an unarmed black schoolboy shot in Franklin nor in the case of a man illegally selling cigarettes in New York who was smothered. These decisions were made thinking about rights, in that country a policeman has a right to bear arms and to use them in defence, they were not thinking about freedom.

God wants us to be free, he wants to free us from oppression (and I am thinking about the young coloured population of Franklin who believe they are oppressed) he wants to free us from poverty (so I am thinking about those using food banks because of ineffective administration of deserved benefits), he wants to free us from pain and death (and I am thinking about Jesus who whenever he encountered illness he healed, when he met Lazarus in the tomb, he raised) Here is the God we are waiting for the one who will restore justice so that we can all be free. He will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

And of course we are not to wait passively, inactive until the day he comes but are to be awake and alert, to lead, provoke and enable this restorative justice in our small way in our community where we live and work and no more so than in this Advent season as we reflect on His promises for like Isaiah we too have been anointed to do these things.

Amen

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