In Kashmir, Niger, Honduras, and parts of every U.S. city, the situation is urgent. Thankfully, so is God’s persistent love. It can be found in movements for positive social transformation—seen and unseen—throughout the world.
This month, words from the Word highlight the good news that God has acted first, in creation and in history, for justice and peace. Even better, God continues to act first through people, events, and movements at once spiritual and social. Those who would participate are never left to dangle from first principles and lofty doctrines. “Follow me,” says a voice, into the ongoing action.
The Creator forms the heavens, the earth, and the people—weaving them in secret and placing words on their tongues. The Christ casts out unclean spirits, teaches with authority, and overcomes law with love. The Holy Spirit blows over the waters, lowers the threshold for times to change, and amplifies the voices of a younger Samuel and an older Moses.
The encounters and events in this month’s readings give spiritual power and purpose to the great movements of faith and liberation.
In this new calendar year, try on this bias for action. Three of the five gospel lessons are from Mark, where things happen fast and the author likes the word “immediately.” Bureaucracies can accomplish important things, but just now we have to ask a different question: What makes for a movement?
Robert Roth is a writer and social activist in East Lansing, Michigan.
Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40
The lectionary verses this week elucidate the kind of naming and name-praising that emerge from intimate, honoring relationships between God and people. They are suggestive of the sorts of naming possible when human relationships emulate this respectful “I—Thou” perspective.