WITH SO MANY dust-collecting pews, judgment is not the theme on most religious leaders’ lips. The audience that took seriously the “signs of the times” is typically in nursing homes and cemeteries. Millennials and Gen-Xers find the subject distasteful at best, a fairy tale at worst. I’m not sure there’s any way to shirk the theme in this season. Judgment is on the lips of God. We better find ways to take God’s word seriously. And this word of judgment is for all people, no matter your generation.
God’s judgment is always twofold: a word against those who withhold justice and equity from communities on the margins, and a word of blessing promising those on the margins that shalom is already here and yet to come.
Still, God’s judgment is never abstract or vague; it is directed to particular people and communities. We have to search for those places in our own communities where justice and equity, where God’s shalom, is held hostage for the few.
Focused on one set of the many injustices in our world, the Black Lives Matter movement has sustained a witness for justice and equity for four years now. This movement is part of a long tradition and contemporary global movement for the liberation of black and brown lives. Calling out white supremacy is a prerequisite to taking God’s word seriously. White fragility and guilt will have to be exorcised. Black and brown assimilation to whiteness will need to be lovingly named. The vision of God’s future will keep us on this path. Our work in these weeks is continuously to call forth God’s vision of shalom for all people through the flourishing of black and brown lives.