A Time for Justice

“It’s good to be back. Thanks for letting me take 3 months to refresh my soul.” So began a sermon by MaryAnne Hermes, Pastor of a mega church in one of the plains states. I spent my 3 months exploring the issues of shelter in our community. “In our scripture this morning, we learned about shelter as a spiritual protection, but I wanted to know more about shelter as a reality here on earth.”

“In 1964, the U.S. passed the Fair Housing Act to ensure access to decent housing for all Americans. Sadly, that Act hasn’t fulfilled its potential. I saw deplorable housing with almost 100% occupancy by citizens of color in our community. I also saw wonderful housing with no diversity in who lived there. I met with our new Chief of Surgery who came to America from India. He was not able to buy a home in the neighborhood of his choice.”

 “I also visited the local reservation. The housing there was abominable. I saw one home which had three rooms for the 21 people living there. Virtually no homes on the reservation had water, indoor plumbing, or electricity.”

 “We cannot speak of spiritual shelter unless we also have a mission of providing for physical shelter. I’m challenging each of us to spend a year devoting our time and resources to providing better shelter for our community brethren. Next week we will hold a special collection for our shelter mission. I’m asking every one of us to also do with our hands what our hearts demand of us. I’m asking our local Habitat for Humanity program to make the reservation a special emphasis. I’m pledging to spend two days a week to build new homes on the reservation. I’m asking those of you in the congregation who are in real estate or banking professions to work with me to finally eliminate discriminating housing practices.”

 “No longer should anyone in our community have to worry about shelter. We will create shelter assistance funds. We will work with homeless shelters to provide for transitional housing. We will create a shelter sharing network to invite those who have a need for safe housing to live with us until we find more permanent arrangements. We must bring shelter justice to our community. It’s time”

 Justice is often associated with laws, regulations, enforcement practices, etc. Just imagine if justice became a personal calling for each of us. Just imagine if justice becomes less focused on “you must” and more focused on “I will”. Just imagine a community where justice is a product of our souls.

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“If we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing, and shelter.” – Mata Amritanandamayi (Hindu spiritual leader, guru, and humanitarian)

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