Will there come a time when greed and violence cease? Will there come a time where the world is at peace?
As Voices for Justice Day 2 began we sang these words together. It’s such an incredible privilege to worship together with such a diverse group of people from a tapestry of Christian faith traditions. As has been mentioned many times already at Voices, the sense of Church unity that pervades this gathering is beautiful. And as I reflected on these words throughout the day, I could not help but be filled with hope for we know the resounding answer to the questions above is “Yes!”
As Tom Wright so eloquently writes in his book Surprised by Hope:
"The church is called to a mission of implementing Jesus’ resurrection and thereby anticipating the final new creation… What you do in the present – by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbour as yourself – will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether, they are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom."
Day 2 was another day filled with worship. There was teaching, listening, learning, planning, eating together and even singing together. Sef Carroll began the day by sharing her perspective on the theological and practical implications of climate change in the Pacific. Sef brings her incredible wisdom and deep heart for justice to bear on the complex issues that a warming climate brings, especially with regard to Pacific women.
She also shared a wonderful quote from Ed Stetzer on what an ‘abundant life’ entails:
Abundant life is not about what we have. It’s not about what we get. It’s not about what we claim. Ultimately, abundant life is about what we receive as a gift from the Lord and to live knowing we are stewards of the blessings of God.
The day absolutely flew past in a flurry of logistics briefings, planning in our lobby groups, 3 great workshops and a wonderful opportunity to join with Hughes Baptist Church for their night service with Graham Hill sharing from the story of Jonah. I will remember that when we find ourselves surrounded by storms while participating in God’s mission for justice and rightness in this world, that He is always with us and will redeem us even as we are tempted to become self-righteous and limit God as Jonah was.
Tomorrow we move from our adopted home at Hughes Baptist Church (thank you Hughes Baptist!) to big house itself, Australian Parliament House, to continue to worship through more learning, more listening and heaps of great conversations with our elected representatives. As we go, I’ll be remembering a fantastic challenge from Brad Chilcott on being a Jesus shaped advocate. Brad spoke about the importance of friendship, of literally making friends with our MPs and Senators, the importance of focusing on areas of agreement and remembering to listen and to encourage where steps of progress are being made. Love it.
We are ready to storm the gates of Parliament House with truth, hope and love.
Benton Wecker is a committed Micah Australia campaigner and Climate Justice advocate