I have been asked on a number of occasions why I speak so much about justice and peace. “Aren’t you being political, and besides, the Church has no business in politics?” This is a question that I get, sometimes with the implication that I should just stick to spiritual matters.
My sense of spirituality, especially as a follower of Jesus, compels me to speak to issues relating to power, oppression, injustice and exclusion. The Jesus that I follow was a non-violent resister of that which would oppress; in Jesus’ time and place, that meant resistance to the empire of Rome. For Jesus, and for progressive followers, we cannot separate out our politics from our spirituality. It is all entwined and requires a commitment in seeking the common welfare of our planet.
Many who have been outspoken about the injustices of the world have highlighted that as we do to the planet and to others, we do to ourselves. We are all linked and as we seek the common welfare of all so the welfare of the planet is also sought. For me, this is spirituality, and this is progressive Christianity.
The Church is entering the season of Advent, a time of waiting; we wait for the blessing of Christmas, yes, but more importantly, we look forward to the blessing of peace with justice, the wellbeing of all people, creatures, and our island home. As I come to this season of Advent, I am compelled to renew my commitment to the birth of justice and transformation, which are wrapped up in the Christmas story. I am compelled to resist the commercialization of this season, and to stand in solidarity with those who seek justice for the climate.
In this season of Advent leading into Christmas, there is a renewed focus on Bethlehem as we hear that ancient story. Our common quest for justice leads us back to Bethlehem and the call for justice for the Palestinian people and renewed hope for the birth of distributive justice in the world.
This article will be published in the November 25th edition of The Nelson Star.