The Common Good

3rd Sunday of Lent: Unpredictable Hope

Bible readings from the Revised Common Lectionary: Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2: 13-22

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Circle of Protection for a Moral Budget

A pledge by church leaders from diverse theological and political beliefs who have come together to form a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world.

The Ten Commandments dispel the spirit of slavery and fear in our relationships with God and humanity, allowing our actions to honor God's faithfulness. In the kinship of the human family, the commandments, along with precepts, guide our deeds by affirming the dignity of others. We must also remember the other scriptures which extol helping those in need. The orphan, widow, and alien -- the most vulnerable members of society -- were afforded respect and support.

When we move beyond instinctual self-interest, we find that the law of the Lord is refreshing to the soul. It transcends the wisdom of the wise. The world did not come to know God through worldly wisdom, but the message of the cross. The cross -- a paradigm that is anything but predictable -- appeared to represent darkness, but led to hope of the resurrection.

As you perceive your work in peace and social justice, look beyond the status-quo consensus and discern where new initiatives can bring hope. Seek organizations with common interests; form synergistic alliances to address social needs. Unite diverse ethnic and faith perspectives for the common good, and see what might seem like impenetrable walls of hopelessness crumble.

For your sacred and social responsibilities to complement each other, you must avoid a treadmill of work -- your commitment to social justice must be energized by consistent spiritual renewal. Stopping each week to observe the Sabbath allows your physical and mental beings rest from unending labor. And, in the holiness of worship, you gather to honor the rhythm of creation's time. Hearing of God's mercy and compassion, your soul is refreshed. Then, with a renewed spirit, you can share these blessings in your work for social justice.

Lenten action: Share the activities of your social justice group with someone in another organization. Network about an alliance to work on a project of common interest.

Barbara Born, Ph.D., is a freelance writer and volunteer, with interests in urban public policy, the environment, peace, and social justice.

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