I love the story that the author tells in the... Doing Justice, in the On Our Way book.

Alissa Kretzmann
Feb. 4, 2011
Scripture- Micah 6:1-8
I love the story that the author tells in the beginning of this month’s chapter,
Doing Justice, in the On Our Way book.
The story is about a misunderstanding between an American student
and a student from Namibia, which is located just above South Africa.
While at a buffet the American student casually says,
“I guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach.”
This confuses the Namibian and so the American student asks,
“Don’t you have a word that means taking more than you can eat?”
and the Namibian responds,
“Yes, we call it stealing.”
I can identify with the American student in this anecdote in more than one
First of all, I tend to frequently take more food than I am able to eat. And
further more I had the privilege to experience miscommunications
similar to this last fall during my semester abroad in Namibia.
In our cultural sensitivity training, we had been told that it is indeed rude and
disrespectful to not finish food given to you by Namibians. And so
when I left for my homestays, I kept this is mind, trying my hardest to
finish what I could.
But almost always, I would find myself bloated and uncomfortable with
food remaining on my plate.
At some point I picked up on the fact that not everyone had been served as
much as me and so I tried to find creative ways to offer my leftovers
to my host mother or siblings.
To my surprise my offering of leftovers did not offend or disgrace my family
at all.
In fact, since I had frequently been served the best and finest cuts of
meat, they would accept my offer immediately.
I was amazed at how they would finish off food, tearing the ligaments
and cartilage from bones, leaving nothing edible on their plates.
Needless to say, after this realization, mealtimes were a much more pleasant
---------------------------------In this way and many others, last semester, I frequently found myself saying
“I didn’t ask for this.”
I became acutely aware of my
Privilege, wealth and coveted status as an “American”
But unlike the student in the author’s anecdote, I didn’t serve myself these
That was the portion I received.
I didn’t ask for that much food.
It wasn’t my fault that I had more than anyone else.
Sound familiar?
Isn’t that what we are told when we find ourselves with blessings, resources
and riches bestowed upon us?
Sometimes we start to even get frustrated…saying things like,
“Well I didn’t ask to be privileged, I can’t help it, in fact I don’t even
want it.”
But I think this is where we get ourselves in trouble.
We start out saying,
“I didn’t ask to be privileged” and we quickly find ourselves saying…
-I didn’t make you poor
-I didn’t take away your land
-I didn’t kill any Jews
-I didn’t own any slaves
We transfer the blame, forgetting that regardless of if we dished out our
portion or not, others have less when we have more.
And somewhere deep down inside, I think we feel a bit guilty.
Because, for most of us, we are a little bit aware that when we have
more, others have less.
And so we ask God what we can do, and like the people in today’s passage
from Micah, we attempt to offer sacrifices to God
For those people the sacrifices were burnt offerings, year-old calves and
What is it for us?
--------------------------Regardless, today’s passage reminds us that God does not require these
things, but rather requires that we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly
with our Lord.
When we hear the word justice, we cringe though, and get defensive,
claiming no responsibility for the welfare of others.
We assume that justice can only take place in the courtroom, and that is not
a place many of us want to willingly go.
But this understanding (or rather, misunderstanding) of justice reminds me
of what the Jews expected the awaited Messiah to bring.
The author of our text reminds us that they,
“longed for a messiah who would establish a reign of justice. They had in
mind a godlike warrior on a thundering steed who would break the chains of
their oppression with a sweep of the sword. What they got was a poor,
naked, vulnerable baby, born on straw in a drafty stable to an unwed,
impoverished young woman”
Instead of bringing about justice on the battle-field or the court room,
Christ surprised his people.
Instead of punishing the Roman oppressors he offered blessings to the poor,
the hungry and the mourning.
In fact, these blessings almost seem naïve…
in Luke, 12:29-30 Jesus says,
“Don’t always think about what you will eat or what you will drink, and
don’t keep worrying. All the people in the world are trying to get these
things, and your Father knows you need them.”
We find ourselves asking…
“Come on Jesus, can’t you see the suffering? If you know we are in
need, Aren’t you going to do something about this?
And so we could write this off as Jesus just trying to offer superficial
comfort in the midst of clearly tough times.
But I think that Jesus meant what he said.
Because Jesus wasn’t talking to one person.
He wasn’t consoling an individual, letting them know that there would
be enough, for clearly, there were individuals who did not have
No, Jesus was talking to a crowd.
He was urging a community not to worry. He was telling them, all of them,
that there would be enough for everyone.
It is in nations like Namibia, the country with the highest level of inequality
in the entire world, that I think Christ tells us these same things.
It is in places where the extreme wealthy and the extreme poor live
beside one another that Christ asks us…
“Come on…don’t you see the suffering?”
Because when Jesus came, he did not come on a thundering steed bringing
justice with a sword.
And so, like the people of his own day, sometimes we are surprised at
Jesus’s approach to justice.
Because, we know that God is big enough that he could do this without us
but he chooses not to, he sent his son to come and dwell among us to
hand deliver the invitation, to invite us to do justice with him.
Jesus gathered people from the battle field and the court room and
personally invited them to the table.
Where he told them, all of them, to take and eat of bread and body, of
wine and blood.
And then, he leaves…just as unexpectedly as he came.
And they were confused…wasn’t Christ supposed to do justice here?”
And then 3 days later, Christ rose from the ashes, and in his resurrection he
offers grace, that we didn’t expect. A grace we didn’t deserve.
Kind of like my moments around the table in Northern Namibia, we are
offered grace that we didn’t ask for, a grace we have trouble receiving
and a grace that we are hesitant to share.
And that’s the defining moment.
Christ did not come to earth to establish justice, he came to offer
A grace that personally invites us to be seated at a table where
we don’t belong.
A grace that urges us to take and eat of bread and body that we
don’t deserve.
And a grace which invites us to offer that same bread and body
to others who are just as un-deserving as we are.
And so, humbly, we accept the call to do justice, not with a sword or a gavel,
but with both hands, beckoning others to the table of the Lord.
In the name of the Father, The son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.