What might be three essential faith practices we should take with us on our 40-day journey toward Easter?
On the Sunday before Lent at my congregation, I suggested these based off of Micah 6:8: justice, kindness and humility.
Justice is such a hot button word in faith communities these days. Religious folks of all kinds call out “justice” as the reason why their faith seems all the more political.
Justice, many say, is the reason why people who’ve never protested before line up in front of Congress, down Pennsylvania Avenue or in city centers all over our country.
Justice is why many some folks make the choice not to dine at restaurants or buy specific products or travel to specific cities.
Justice is the reason sited why my friend, Alyssa, was arrested recently during a nonviolent protest of how potential new laws might separate families one from another as immigrants to this country.
I am a fan of justice. God calls us to use our voice, to use our time, to use our funds to stand up for those who are being mistreated or do not have a voice to speak in our cities.
But, next comes kindness. Micah says the Lord asks us to “love kindness.”
Some translations of this text insert the word “mercy” instead of kindness. I like mercy too. For living a life of mercy means acting in compassion or forgiveness toward others.
And I believe there’s a reason we’re called to kindness after our call to justice.
For if we want our messages to have any chance of shining through to hearts who need to hear them, we always must remember to be kind.
We always need to remember it’s not our job to make any other person less than if they don’t believe or think like we do.
I recently saw a protest sign simply stating “Make America Kind Again.” I think it’s a message we can all agree on.
Kindness can look like stopping to have a conversation with someone who thinks differently than you.
It can look like smiling. Opening doors for strangers. Going out of your way to lift someone up who is discouraged. Most of all it can look like listening.
I picture justice and kindness as social activism twins. We can’t have one without the other and be effective.
And lastly, we are asked to “walk humbly with our God.”
In a journey of faith, humility is an essential virtue, we’re reminded. Because after all, God is God and we are not.
And if this is true, sometimes we’re going to be wrong. Sometimes we’re going to miss the mark. We’re going to speak too soon or not soon enough.
We’re going to make a mountain out of a molehill and cause more damage than the goodness we bring.
So, if our justice wrapped in kindness work is truly going to be what God wants from us, we’ve got to walk humbly.
We’ve got to stay connected to our life-source. We’ve got to take time out to pray, to think and to refocus.
We’ve got to move in the spirit of Thomas Merton’s famous prayer: “The fact that I think I am following your will doesn’t mean that I am actually doing so.”
May the prophet’s call to seek justice, love kindness and walk in humility guide us not only during this season of Lent but each day as we seek to follow God’s calling.
Elizabeth Hagan is senior minister of The Palisades Community Church in Washington, D.C. Other hats she wears are as a preacher, author and executive director of Our Courageous Kids, a foundation dedicated to orphan care. A version of this article first appeared on her website and is used with permission. You can follow her on Twitter @elizabethagan.
Elizabeth Hagan is senior minister of The Palisades Community Church in Washington, D.C. Other hats she wears are as a preacher, author and executive director of Our Courageous Kids, a foundation dedicated to orphan care.