“Let yourwork be shown to your servants,and your glorious power to their children. Let thefavorof the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”
A few weekends ago all the Fellows packed up the infamous and unreliable Trinity bus (insert saga of the Lexington Bus Breakdown) and headed to Eagle’s Landing Retreat Center near Roanoke, Virginia for the annual Fellows Initiative Retreat on Social Justice. We found ourselves in the beautiful mountains of Virginia, unpacking our belongings in quaint, log cabin-style accommodations, and ready for a weekend of fellowship, learning, and fun. Seventy Fellows gathered in total, representing programs from Falls Church, MeClean Presbyterian, Raleigh, Charlotte, Kinston, and Knoxville.
Gideon Strauss, President of the Center for Public Justice, prepared several “conversations” on his walk as a believer in pursuit of biblical justice. As a native South African speaking both English and Afrikaans, he found himself serving as an interpreter for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee after the fall of apartheid in South Africa in the late 1990s. These experiences provided Gideon with deep insight into the brokenness of humanity and the pain, heartbreak, and rage that God’s people experience in the face of great injustices. Left to his own devices, the weight of these emotions would have crushed his soul and his marriage. Gideon found that the only adequate response to the brokenness was to pray through the Psalms, expressing these deep emotions in the safety of the hand of the Lord. He invited us to do the same and to consider what it would look like for us to act justly in our everyday lives; including the clothes we wear, the food we buy, and our politics.
As a group of seventy, we each entered the weekend with a different understanding of justice and its relevance to our lives. What does the call to do justice in Micah 6:8 really mean? Is it only for my cousin who serves as a missionary in Uganda, my friend who teaches at an inner city school, or my neighbor who runs the soup kitchen at our church? What does it look like for us as twenty-something Fellows and for the businessmen, lawyers and museum curators that we may become? Gideon avoided any speculation and provided us with a biblical framework for understanding the call to do justice. He suggested that the call to do justice is a thread in the fabric of the biblical narrative. It is not optional, but rather, essential and interwoven, it is part of what it is to be human. What a bold statement! Throughout the weekend we heard from Gideon about ways that we could begin to “do justice” and had great discussions around our tables with the other Fellows.
The weekend was filled with great food, fresh mountain air, an Ultimate Frisbee tournament victory for the Trinity Fellows, and much laughter. We returned to Charlottesville grateful for each other and aware of the friendships that the Lord has established. Conversations on the ideas Gideon presented still linger and can be traced in g-mail threads that relate articles about justice to one another and uncover areas of injustice that we participate in by nature of our consumerism. I think we will continue to see the fruit of these discussions in years to come and each in our own spheres of influence. For now, we will pray and ask God to establish the work of our hands and open our eyes to the world around us.
--Ally Jaggard, East Stroudsburg Pennsylvania