Ministry, charity, advocacy – we are committed to building a community that embodies Shalom.
As a community of faith, we are called to do more than just make a place at “our” table for others but rather to co-create brand new “Tables of Shalom” where all are equal and all have a voice. To do so means we must break down the walls and systems of injustice that prevent true equality at the table. Injustice is manifested in two forms: “particular injustice” that is specific to a particular person or event, there is an identifiable offender, and there is a legal means for restitution and “structural injustice” which is systemic and institutionalized in our economic and public policies.
Victims of structural injustice are targeted by their social position, there is no conventional “bad guy” and it is redressed through collective action. Examples of structural injustice include the “isms” such as racism, sexism, genderism, social structures such as poverty, work place discrimination, inequality, and things such as pollution, inadequate health care, substandard education, etc. For example: a police officer who specifically targets a person of color based on their color is practicing particular injustice. The prevailing culture of law enforcement and our legal system that fosters this particular injustice and even allows it to continue is the structural injustice.
Our new tables of shalom have three supporting legs: Ministry, Mission, and Advocacy. All three are equal and essential in our efforts to confront injustice and build new tables of shalom.
Ministry is something that all of us as followers of Jesus are called to do and is not limited to just the clergy and ordained. On the cover of our bulletin we proclaim that the “Ministers” of Mountain View are all of us. Ministry is the act of being present with the other can take numerous forms such as story sharing, prayer, visitation, listening, etc. An example of ministry is those who sit and share a meal and conversation with the women at the Woman’s Homeless Initiative. Mission addresses the effects of injustice by providing for basic human needs and survival. It takes two forms: “Relief” which is generally one-time or short-term assistance in the form of food, clothing, or money offered to a person or group of people in crisis. Some examples of relief at Mountain View are our special offerings for disaster assistance, One Great Hour of Sharing, Crop Walk, etc.
The second form of mission is Charity which is a voluntary act or gift contributed to those in need, given out of compassion or love. Examples are our burrito mission, food bags, Women’s Homeless Initiative, Knitters for Peace, and Piece Makers.
Advocacy addresses the root causes of injustice and through action co-works to change the systems, process, institutions that marginalize people or groups through such things as education, vigils, letter writing, demonstrations, dialogue, canvasing, legislator visits, etc. An example of this is the letter that we signed and delivered to Senators Gardner and Bennet calling for action to address gun violence in our communities.
When we think about building new tables of shalom we must remember that ministry is not justice. Advocacy is not justice. Mission is not justice. All three are essential components of creating justice leading to shalom, but they are not a synonym for justice. The work of building new tables of shalom through ministry, mission, and advocacy is holistic. If one component is missing the table cannot stand. All must be present and working cooperatively in supporting each other. We are not to choose one over the other but rather recognize and embrace our unique calling, gifts, and talents while still embracing the other things that God calls us to in a lifestyle of justice.
In our bi-weekly study “Live Justly” we began a dialogue on “Justice, Charity, and Advocacy.” Recalling earlier newsletter articles “Biblical Justice” is defined as state of wholeness due to all God’s creation. Justice is required for Shalom and Shalom is defined as Peace, Completeness, and Wholeness. Where there is justice, there will be Shalom.