December 13, 2021
Day 16: Activism and Volunteering
When I hear the term activism, I imagine a lot of things. I can see some friends and acquaintances marching against gun violence or against racist policies in local or national government. I can see my friends Rev. Marilyn and her co-workers advocating against food insecurity and opening their community kitchen every day (365 days a year!). And, I think of the many times I drove the church bus for a prison ministry at a church I attended, before and during the time I went to seminary.
Some Christians today just don’t get involved. They don’t speak up, or step out, or drive, or welcome, or do any of these loving, caring activities. Sure, it involves some effort! And, sure, it shakes Christians of today out of their comfort zones. Social justice and righteousness is a divine mandate.
This is the message of Jewish prophet Amos. “God demands something more revolutionary than festivals and sacrifices and worship songs. And that ‘something more’ is social righteousness, impartiality in judicial decisions, equity in business dealings, justice for the poor and the oppressed.” 
From what Amos said, the Lord did not want God’s people to stay sequestered in their religious silos. According to this prophet, social justice goes hand in hand with liturgical life and practice. This is further echoed in the gospel of Matthew 25:40. The Son of Man says to the gathered people about acts of compassion, kindness and service: “This is the truth: whenever you did this to anyone— whenever you cared for anyone ignored or cast aside—you showed that same kindness to me.”
When I drove a bus to take children and families of incarcerated moms to the penitentiaries downstate in Illinois, I felt a direct connection to the strong words of Jesus. Our Lord told us – in no uncertain words! – that we all have a responsibility to take care of prisoners; to show succor, compassion and welcome.
The extravagant welcome clearly stated in the United Church of Christ is another way of stating what Jesus told His followers to do. In activism, volunteering, and in words, too. Just do it.
Dear Lord Jesus, this is a challenging thing to do. For some people more than others, some will find it more difficult, or scary, or completely out of the realm of what they have ever done. Please, Lord, help all of us be willing. (Or, be willing to become willing.) Thank You for Your urging, Your caring, Your encouragement. Help all of us to step out, reach out, and sing out – for You and in Your name. It is in the powerful name of Jesus we pray, amen.
Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.
 Foster, Richard J., Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (HarperCollins: United States of America, 1998), 151.