God, be in my head, and in my understanding,
God, be in mine eyes, and in my looking,
God, be in my mouth, and in my speaking,
God, be in my heart, and in my understanding,
God, be in mine end, and in my departing.
I am growing to appreciate the poetry of American Sign Language. Did you know that the sign for "end" (death) is the same one that is used for baptism?
After church a few of us viewed an episode from the PBS Series "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick?" The episode yesterday was called "Becoming American." New immigrants from Latin America are among the healthiest members of our society, according to this episode. Even though they often come from places of fear and grinding poverty, they come here in better health than most people who have lived here all their lives. But within a generation this changes.
As I was listening and pondering as to why this should be, I was doodling on my note pad. I wrote the word "HOPE" in big letters as I listened. And sure enough, a sense of hopefulness, a sense of possible opportunity, was one of the reasons for the good health of these new immigrants. As well, they often come with strong family systems and ties. But, as they stay, most of them experience a grinding away of their hopes and opportunities, as they also learn to work long hours and experience social isolation. Social isolation is another cause of ill health in our society. And, the program said, ultimately, family is not enough. We need community ties.
As I listened, I thought of the church, the body of Christ, the community that gathers and is sent. I thought: in this day and age people are less and less tied to a Christian community, and less and less able to see the value in that time spent together. But there is value: actually there are many values -- a strengthening of our common hope, an encouragement as we life out Jesus' values in our lives and in our world.
We come to worship to be fed and lifted up. But we also come to encourage and lift one another up. We receive and we give. And we are sent -- for the same reasons -- to comfort the grieving, to lift up the weak, to do justice, and love kindness, to walk humbly with God through all the week.
Today at breakfast, I saw a man reading the morning paper. The front page was vivid with the news of the trial for the Craigslist murder. It was a particularly senseless crime: the murder of a beautiful, intelligent, talented young woman for no apparent reason.
The thought went through my mind: The resurrection, in the beginning, was really about justice.
When the idea of the resurrection of the dead developed in Judaism, it seems to me that in part it was to answer the question: if God is just, why do the wicked prevail sometimes in this life? Why do the just die without being vindicated?
As I looked at the newspaper picture of the young woman, I thought about the justice we can do in this trial by rendering a particular verdict. And then I thought: Real justice would be for her to get her life back.
That would be justice for her -- and justice for us, who will miss her gifts, and all that she would have done in and for the world.