I begin each day with the morning service from Iona Abbey Worship Book. Today’s reading was Psalm 82, which talks about God standing and speaking in a divine assembly. God says,
“How long will you defend the unjust, and favor the cause of the wicked? Rather, defend the poor and the orphaned! Render justice to the afflicted and oppressed! Rescue the weak and the poor! Set them free from the clutches of the wicked!”
But, continues the Psalmist, the assembly “knows nothing, understands nothing. They wander about in the darkness while the world is falling apart.”
I can’t help but see that divine assembly as the assembly of Christian believers. I am horrified at those who call themselves Christian, yet defend businesses whose practices concentrate wealth, enslave people, and leave increasing numbers destitute. I don’t understand those who chastise the poor, ignoring their long work hours and desperate need.
Every morning, in the Service, I affirm “God’s goodness in humanity, planted more deeply than all that is wrong.”
I need this affirmation. I need to know that even those who wander in the darkness are at heart, good and holy. That goodness is deeper than the pain and suffering they ignore, that goodness is buried under their blindness and their apathy.
I need that assurance to give me courage to act. Because every morning, I also vow that I will not offer God “offerings that cost me nothing.” I will not relegate God, creation and my fellow humans to a secondary role and tertiary effort.
Am I successful? Most days, I feel I am not. But I strive toward that vision. God has granted me the gift of words, both written and spoken. So I speak, even if my words will not be popular. Even if they cause me to lose clients and friends. Even if they open me to a bitter volley of response from non-believers and believers alike.
It’s not much. It’s not a great cost, especially not compared to those who starve, who shiver, who suffer. God grant me vision and courage to do more.