To Act Justly? - Jon Fryer

Once upon a time… actually, forget that. This ain’t no fairytale. So, there was this fascist dictatorship that invaded most of Europe, and the Middle East, and most of northern Africa. With their armies came oppressive laws, unfair taxes, summary executions. The people suffered in silence because no one could stand against the might of the invaders. Eventually the invaders wanted to tighten their grip on the people they had conquered, so they ordered that every single person should travel back to the town where they were born to register with the tax office and to make sure all of their biometric data was properly recorded. Every single person on three continents travelling at once, uprooted from their homes, slogging on foot, sometimes for hundreds of miles, all at the bureaucratic whim of their masters. Our story focuses on one man, a craftsman, probably middle aged, definitely not rich. With him travels his fiancé, a teenager who is heavily pregnant. They slog for miles through the dust and the heat of the day, and huddle for warmth in the cold of the night. She’s crying ‘cos she’s so damn tired and she just can’t cope anymore. He’s frantic, trying to get them to the town before the baby arrives, but trying not to push her too hard. There’s no one to help them, ‘cos they haven’t got many friends – his family think he is crazy for marrying her; her friends no longer visit ‘cos the rumours have gone round that she puts it about a bit, and that the baby isn’t his. People cross the road to avoid them, and they travel alone. When they get to the town, its packed solid. The hotels and the B&Bs are all full. There is nowhere for them to go. He’s desperate. She starts to cry again. The priests have barred the doors of the churches to keep the vagrants out. The religious lady down the road peeps from behind her curtain, and then pulls it tightly closed, shutting the world and the scruffy looking couple out in the cold. He bangs on the door of the sleaziest motel in town, the very last place left to try. There is still no room, but for an extortionate price the dodgy landlord lets them stay in the shed out back, which is slightly better than nothing. And there, amid the damp, and the mould, and the smell of cowshit, a baby was born… and though the world didn’t know it yet, everything changed.

I’m sure you vaguely recognise the story. This isn’t going to be your typical Christmas message, and so if you’re expecting angels and carols and ickle bubby Jesus then unfortunately you’re in the wrong place. You see, life isn’t sanitised like the Christmas card images – real life is cold, and dirty, and dark. Here we’re going to talk about God’s passion for justice, and about how God gets angry at the way we treat each other. That may sound like an odd choice of subject for a Christmas message, but it is very relevant. The good news of Christmas that we will celebrate in various places only makes sense in the context of the truth about the world that Jesus came to save. The light shines in the darkness, and it shines even brighter for us if we understand just how dark that darkness actually is.

CrucifixionJesus came into the world to change it. the Bible tells us that the baby born in Bethlehem grew up to die on a cross in order to reconcile all things to God – in other words, to put right all of the stuff that is wrong with the world. All of this was accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross, and in his return to life, but we haven’t seen all of the final results just yet. Jesus did not die to make us nicer people. He didn’t come to die just so that we can get warm fuzzy feelings when we pray. No! Jesus came to change the world, to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the captives, recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to comfort all who mourn, and to shatter every burden as the year of the Lords Favour is proclaimed and the day of the anger of our God draws near. (Isaiah 61).

And why? ‘Because I, the Lord, love justice’, says Isaiah 61 verse 8. An amazing thing about Jesus’ mission is that he invites us to take part in it. Jesus wants us to change the world with him. And to tell us how to do it, to tell us how to live the life that He wants for us and from us, He gave His instructions in the Bible. And what are those instructions? Quite simply, ‘To act justly every day; to love mercy in every way; to walk humbly before your God’ (Micah 6 verse 8). This is the very heart of God’s instructions to his people – this is what God wants from us: to act justly, and to love mercy. If you’ve been reading the Bible and have not recognised this then I suggest that you have missed the point. Listen to this: ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress’. (James 1 verse 27); ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, or the foreigner or the poor. In your hearts, do not think evil’’ (Zechariah 7;9-10); ‘The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no-one; He was appalled that there was no-one to intervene’ (Isaiah 59;15-16). Justice, mercy, compassion – these are things that the Bible is all about. The Bible is a hefty book, but if you take out every page that talks about these things… then there isn’t much of it left… and if justice and mercy do not play a central role in your faith then I suggest that you have only a 10% gospel, for what good news is there without hope for the poor? To act justly. To love mercy. To walk humbly.

So what does justice mean? What is mercy? Let me put it this way: God is passionate about people. He cares about them deeply. God gets angry if people get hurt, or are treated unfairly. For example, there is enough food on the planet to feed six billion people. Coincidentally, there are six billion on the great planet Earth. You would think that this would mean that everyone will go to bed tonight well fed and happy. Instead 779 million people will go hungry tonight. 1.1 Billion people do not have enough water to drink. And why? Because we in the West are rich, and we have too much. Its not fair. And that makes God angry. You may not like the idea of an angry God, but its actually kinda comforting. When I read in the papers about a teenager being hit in the head with an axe just for being black, I want God to be angry – what kind of God is He if He doesn’t care? When I hear about genocide in Rwanda I want God to be angry, for how could I trust in a God who wasn’t interested? … but that also means that we have to face up to the fact that God is angry with us here in the West for the things we have done to the poor, for the way we have desecrated the least, the last and the lost in pursuit of material gain.

Listen to this: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’ (Matt 25; 31-46). ‘What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ (James 2;14-19).

God will hold us responsible for how we have used the good gifts that he has given us here in the West. If you have a bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, food, drink, and freedom to come and go as you please then you are rich compared to most of the world, and God will ask you what you have done with that wealth. But what can we do? Its all so big and complicated and far away, so what difference can I make? To act justly. To love mercy. To walk humbly with God.

Let me put it this way. In the Book of Amos it describes hoe God is angry with the nations of the world. At each instance of sin it says ‘The Lion roars’ – He is not a tame lion. But for each of the sins committed by the nations there is something that each of us can do – there are ways that each of us can be the good news of Jesus to the poor and downtrodden.

‘The Lion roars from Zion. This is what the Lord says: ‘For this sin I will not turn back my anger, because the nations have threshed the lands of others with iron teeth, showing no mercy’ (Amos 1 verse 3).

Shanty townWhat does that mean? It means that God gets angry when a nation ruthlessly exploits the natural resources of another country at the expense of the poor. God is angry with the rich corporations of the West that exploit the poor in the developing world, and He weeps for the lives that are destroyed by the greed of the West. Most recent example: In the news a few months ago Coca-Cola was in the news for its activities in India. Not only are Coke’s bottling factories allegedly using all of the water in the local area, forcing the women to walk for miles to collect fresh drinking water, but the company was also accused of giving away toxic sludge to the local peasant farmers by pretending that it was fertiliser. The result: entire regions where the land is poisoned; whole villages going thirsty except for the bottled water sold to them at high prices by, you guessed it, Coca Cola; children exposed to the long term effects of toxic waste in their food. The slogan for the London 2012 Olympics, which will probably be sponsored by Coke amongst others, is ‘What have you done today to make you feel proud?’. Are you proud of the fact that the fizzy drinks that you buy every day make the lives of some of the poorest people on Earth even harder? Are you proud of the fact that your drinks mean that Indian children go thirsty?

But what can we do? Some of these firms are so rich that they wont notice or care if I stop buying their products – as an aside, did you know that each of McDonalds, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Burger King and KFC make more money in a year than the entire country of Bangladesh? (Mmmm, they're lovin’ it!) Anyway, the first thing that we need to do is to WAKE UP! Rather than just going about our lives without thinking, buying and consuming whatever the ads say like mindless zombies, we need to start paying attention. We may not be able to affect these billion dollar companies on our own, but we are not on our own. Check out websites like NoLogo who keep an eye on what the big firms are doing and won’t let them get away with hiding their dirty little secrets. Part of walking humbly before God is to do as little harm as possible, and in order to do that we need to understand the impact our spending habits have on the world. Wake up to what your spending is doing!

A Letter To: Corporations, Psycho-pharmaceutical Companies, Controlling Moms and the Almighty US Government

Dear sirs / ma'am,

I would like to thank you foremost for brainwashing me. Thank you for telling me what I should like, eat, and buy and listen to. Thank you for constructing the American Dream. Thank you for murder, death, and institutions and academia. I thank you for feeding my mental landscape in such creative ways via the medium of advertisement in buses, bus stops, huge billboards, subways, product placements in movies, etc. I would like to say that I don't have a voice since I am poor and marginalized; Cash Is King like you always told me and it rings so ever true. I worship thee (that reminds me what are my lucky numbers today for pick 6?) Thank you for your greed and the vast amount of richness that other countries don't get to enjoy. Thank you for the convenience of fast foods and obesity from your delicious McGriddles, I am lovin' it. Thanks for helping me see the light by selling me anti-depressants whenever I felt like consumerism wasn't making me happy. I am sorry I sometimes feel dissatisfied. And thank you so much for freedom of religion and our christian heritage. I love the idea of getting to heaven and watching all the sinners in agony as they descend to hell (burning up slowly in sulfuric acid forever and ever hehe) This revelation has made me a happy Flanderian Camper. Praise the Lordy! Thanks for the power of knowledge to bash others who don't share the same views as me. I just love having the epistemic upper hand! It's the best feeling in the world! Oppression and Manipulation Oh my closest allies! Thank you for guns and nuclear weapons we shall rain down as gods among the heathens who come to us with spear and arrow. Thanks for teaching me how to hate homosexuals and exploiting lowly immigrants who help us daily to pay for our expensive cars and our fine 5 course meals fettuccini and veal. And how can I forget about MTV! You have taught me what sex appeal is all about! I just love watching you.. Feeling insecure and starving myself and standing in front of the mirror for 5 hours straight it's now my reality T.V. show. I would like to end this letter by saying that I have become what you have always strived to instill in me. A god. A self sustained/ self made /self adored /self important/ self absorbed person. I hope you are proud of me. Oh But I am feeling a little lonely at night after work. oops there is pornography of all sorts, bondage, teen, big breasted, small breasted, Asian, lesbian action. how did it slip my mind?

I am indebted to you and forever grateful, Your loving product,
________________.
PS- I adore Oprah! Who doesn't?

by Pablo Sebastian Ko


Sweatshop‘The Lion roars from Zion. This is what the Lord says: ‘For this sin I will not turn back my anger, because the nations have taken captive whole communities and sold them into slavery. They sell the people for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals’’ (Amos 1;6 & 2:6).

Not our problem you might think, we abolished slavery 200 years ago. Officially that might be true, but unofficially people are still smuggled into this country illegally and forced to work off huge debts to their smugglers, and this happens all around the world – at least 20 million people around the world have sold themselves into bonded labour by taking a loan to cover the cost of medicine for a sick child, for example. to repay the debt they are forced to work long hours, seven days a week, 365 days per year. Often they receive only food and shelter as payment for their work, and so never get to pay off any of the debt, which is then passed on to their children when they die. Over 179 million children around the world, many of them younger than you guys, are forced to work long hours in order to support their families on a wage that is effectively slavery. The average pocket money of a teenager in this country is £1.20 per day. Half of the worlds families have less than that per day with which to feed themselves. But why is this our problem?

Take a look at the logo on the football that the boy is sewing. Nike, Adidas and the rest of the fashion labels are the worst offenders for building their sweatshop factories in the poorest parts of the world in order to buy cheap labour. What have you done today to make you feel proud? Are you proud of the fact that the expensive trainers and track suits that you wear mean that kids younger than you have to work 14 hours a day and sew until their fingers bleed, just to earn a couple of quid a week?

BlackspotSo what can we do? The second thing that you can do is SIGN UP! Slavery was abolished 200 years ago because the Christian church decided to put a stop to it, and so put pressure on the governments of the world to make it happen. To celebrate this 200 year anniversary Anti-Slavery International want you to sign up to support their work which includes putting pressure on our government to tighten up our laws on people trafficking, and to pressure multinational corporations stop using child labour. Sign up and do something about it – become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

There is a third thing that you can do. Amos said God is angry because the rich sell the poor for a pair of sandals. We sell the poor for a pair of trainers – nothing has changed in over three thousand years! Well, God challenges you to make a change. God challenges you to act justly. So what can we do? The third thing that we can do is to GIVE UP! Give up being cool. Refuse to buy products from the worst offenders. It is possible to buy trainers that are produced fairly – they may not be as cool, but how cool is it to exploit a ten year old Indonesian child anyway? One company that is doing their best to make fairly made trainers cool is Black Spot. All of their trainers are produced fairly by workers who own shares in their own factory. The other cool thing they are doing is annoying Nike by encouraging people to black out the swoosh logo on their trainers with a black spot to ‘uncool’ them. You want to start a conversation with someone at school, or to make a statement that will get people talking? This is an easy one...

 

Womb‘The Lion roars from Zion. This is what the Lord says: ‘For this sin I will not hold back my anger, because the nations have ripped open the pregnant women’. (Amos 1 verse 13).

The most oppressed of the least, the last and the lost, are those with no voice at all. God weeps for every child who suffers starvation, or slavery, or abuse. He weeps for every child whose life has ended because our culture places a higher value on convenience and sexual freedom than it does on the life of a child. Since abortion was legalised in this country for the purpose of convenience, one in four pregnancies have been terminated. One in four. That means that for every three people here under the age of forty or so, one person is missing. One, two , three… someone missing. One, two, three… a friend, missing. One, two, three… a life ended because we as a nation are too selfish to face up to the consequences of our behaviour. The scientists may say that the 190,000 aborted pregnancies this year are not really alive, but God says differently in Psalm 139. Listen to this: ‘You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious towards me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!’ The voice of God speaking through the Bible is not pro-choice.

What’s my point here? My point is that God commands us to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’ (Proverbs 31;8), and ‘Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.’ (Proverbs 24;11), and yet when the time came to make abortion legal in this country, the Christian church gave up and went away quietly. The Sunday Telegraph described in an article in January this year as ‘Our Own Holocaust’. God cried, as He cries every night when He counts His lost children, and the Devil only laughs, because one in four of us who was supposed to be here tonight, isn’t. While the church is sleeping the saints are weeping, because what we call dead hasn’t even yet had the chance to be born.

So what can we do? Make sure, as a follower of Jesus, that you STAND UP! If there is something you believe in then make sure that you stand up for it – don’t rely on other people to do it for you, ‘cos if everyone thinks like that then the battle is already lost. If you are a Christian then you are supposed to stand up for God’s morals, God’s opinions, God’s laws, and you are not supposed to ever go away quietly. If God asks you to stand up for something, then make a noise about it and refuse to go away quietly, whatever the politically correct brigade think about it. I’m not going to say any more about this one, but if you are at university then come and speak to me afterwards, because there is something very specific that you can do to stand up.

We were going to be twins
my brother and I… What attracted us to one another initially
was that we shared the same womb
albeit the unconsidered products of flippant passion
Anyway, we were pre-natal room mates
checking each others progress
transfixed by the budding of tiny fingernails
and the rhythm of miniscule chests
rising and falling like pale pink bellows
My brother, for that’s what he was now becoming
had a curious almost whimsical shape
his head leaning to one side
as if he were always about to ask a question
He used to poke gentle fun
at my by now rapidly expanding feet
I only had two
but on occasions because of the space they took up
they seemed to number far more
I cant remember exactly when we were terminated
My brother went first
in plunged a knife
ended his life
with a slish and a slash and a silent scream
I proved to be a more unwilling participant
like an irritating piece of dust
in the very corner of a skirting board
a long thin nozzle entered my sanctuary/death cell
and I was sucked into oblivion
along with bits of my brother
all courtesy of the National Health Service
In California some beloved dogs
when they expire
are buried in oak coffins with gold handles
Respectful mourners attend and weep accordingly
We poured into a black plastic sack
not a hymn nor a prayer was heard
We were going to be twins
my brother and I.
(Stuart Henderson)

AmnestyThe Lion roars in Zion. This is what the Lord says: ‘For this sin I will not turn back my anger, because the nations have sold whole communities of captives, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood’ (Amos 1;11). Another way that we are rich in this country is that our human rights are protected – the government can’t come and throw you into prison without cause, or torture you, or make you vanish in the night. There are international laws to protect you and your rights. Many countries these laws every day: Algeria, Turkey, Eritrea, Indonesia, Pakistan, and even the USA. For example, in Eritrea in 2002 the government decided that Islam and a few state Christian churches were the only religions allowed in the country. In the last three years over 1,000 Christians from churches like ours have disappeared, and are believed to be held in concentration camps run by the army. There is evidence to suggest that some of them have been tortured. But what has that got to with us?

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

Jesus says ‘Defend the cause of the weak, maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hands of the wicked’ (Psalm 82;3-4).

So what can we do? If we love justice as God loves justice, then we need to wake up / sign up / sell up / stand up, but most of all we need to SPEAK UP! Amnesty International is a fantastic organisation that will help us do just that. Amnesty keep track of governments around the world and make a huge fuss if they find a government breaking international law and behaving unjustly. Amnesty arrange something very specific that you can do very easily - Amnesty would like you to each send a Christmas card. That’s all. I know it sounds daft, but its very important.A mnesty provide lists of people who have been illegally arrested by their governments, including at least one lady from Eritrea. Amnesty want you to send them Christmas cards – their information will give you the address, and even what to write in some cases. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it lets these struggling people know that others around the world are thinking of them. Just as important, the more cards that they get, then the more their governments can see that the rest of the world knows about them, and that we will not allow them to be quietly disappeared. By sending a simple Christmas card and paying the price of a stamp you could save someone’s life. What have you done today to make you feel proud? Do something now.
Forever Your Kingdom Reigns? 

Ok, last thing... in 1984 a news report went out on the BBC news, and if you read the blurb on the Live Aid DVD, they say it changed the world: After that news report, Live Aid went on to raise $80 million for Africa, which went to help people in Ghana, and Ethiopia, and the Sudan, and Niger. These photos were taken in Niger last month. Last month.

StarvingStarvingTwenty years on, and nothing has changed. Why? Because we all forget. Because we got bored. Because we got ‘compassion fatigue’. Compassion fatigue? How can you get tired of loving? No one gets ‘loving fatigue’! God in particular doesn’t get tired of caring. God never gets tired of loving every single person on this planet, and He weeps for these guys, and his question to us is ‘How can you stop? I don’t stop. How can you?’

Which leads me to the last thing that we can do. WAKE UP to what’s going on. SIGN UP to help. GIVE UP your cool and do something radically different. STAND UP for what is right. SPEAK UP for the last, the least and the lost. But in the end, COUGH UP as well. We are rich, and what we have belongs to them – almost every year the EU destroys nearly 2 million tonnes of wasted food when there are 30 million starving people in Africa tonight. What have you done today to make you feel proud? In the end, the only thing that immediately helps is cash. There are plenty of great charities like Christian Aid or Tear Fund who are still working tirelessly to solve the problems in Africa – a donation of just a fiver can feed a whole family for a week. What have you done today to make you feel proud?

HomelessIf Africa is too far away for you, there are problems closer to home that desperately need attention. There are over one million children in this country, your age and younger, who are either living rough on the streets or are in housing so dodgy you wouldn’t keep your dog in it. One million. That’s every single person in this room multiplied by 20,000. You’ve seen the weather in a British winter – people die sleeping rough. In fact, each of you teenagers can reasonably expect to live an average of another fifty years or so. If you were living rough, you would only have 20 or so years left at most. Pete would have five. Anyone older, would, on average, already be dead.

To act justly. To love mercy. There is stuff that you can do. Shelter and Crisis are two of my favourite charities that look after homeless people. If you have cash, sign up and make a donation – you could save someone’s life. Another thing you can do – Crisis are running a Winter Walk on 29th December – for eight quid you get to wander around the touristy bits of London with a tour guide, and you also get to be out in the weather that these guys sleeping rough are living in – all the money goes to providing homeless people in London somewhere to stay over Christmas and New Year. – if you are interested, let me know and we’ll make a Legacy trip out of it! Or if you still need a last minute Christmas present for someone why not buy a Crisis Pud – for £35 quid Harrods send your loved one a Christmas pudding, but more importantly, the rest of the cash goes to provide a full Christmas dinner for a homeless person – fantastic idea. Even if you have no cash to spare, there is something here that everyone can do. Crisis run shelters over Christmas for the homeless, and for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve they want to decorate the place with prayers and good wishes – Crisis are asking churches to get their members to each fill in a star with a prayer or good wishes just to let these guys know that God’s people love them, and by extension, that God loves them too.

Ok, coming in to land now. What I’m saying to you tonight is that there is something that you can do. God doesn’t want you to feel guilty, He just wants you to be awake to the consequences of your lifestyle. Jesus doesn’t want you to feel sorry for these people, ‘cos that doesn’t make a blind bit of difference – instead, He wants you to be angry with the anger that He feels, ‘cos its all just so unfair, and He wants you take that anger and do something constructive with it. Jesus doesn’t want you to any of this stuff because you feel like you have to, instead he wants you to take up His challenge with a passion, to make it part of your worship to Him. He doesn’t want you to give to charity and then forget it, He wants you to love justice and mercy every day, in every part of your life and every part of your lifestyle.
Please do some, any or all of the things that I’ve talked about tonight. Especially the easy ones like the cards or the stars – you will make a difference. We change the world the same way Jesus did – one life at a time. And the first life that you need to change is your own. Of course, you’re free to ignore everything I’ve said tonight, and to walk away and do nothing, but if you say that you love Jesus, how can your life look just like everybody elses? Do you know what God thinks of faith without justice and mercy?

Listen to this: ‘I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your services. Even though you bring me offerings of song and prayer, I will not accept them. I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to your music. But let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ (Amos 5;21-24).

Is this the kind of worship I have chosen, for a man to humble himself only for one day? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for singing songs? Is that what you call worship, a day acceptable to the LORD ? Is not this the kind of worship I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? If you do these things, then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail’ (Isaiah 58;5-11).

If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done? (Proverbs 24;12)

You do know. Its not about charity, its about what’s right. This isn’t a liberal thing, or a conservative thing. Its not about Black, or White, or Latin, or Asian, slave, nor free, nor Jew nor Gentile. Its not about political correctness. Its about the blood soaked cross of Christ. Its about the true meaning of Christmas. The biggest challenge for the church in the coming year is not ‘What do we do about gay bishops?’ or ‘How do we fix the church spire?’ – the challenge is ‘What have we done to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the broken?’ As a church, at Legacy we’re going to keep this stuff on the agenda – its not going to go away. I’m not sorry if that’s going to make a few of you feel uncomfortable from time to time – you’d be far more uncomfortable in Niger, so tonight thank God its them instead of you.

One of the ways we’re going to keep this stuff on the agenda is we’re looking for a person to be our justice co-ordinator – to be Legacy’s conscience, to keep saying ‘What about this problem in…’, to keep saying ‘Here is something we can do…’ – we want to make things like the stars and the Christmas cards part of our regular worship.

One other thing we will be doing is this – in 2009 Soul Survivor are intending to do a Soul Action / Soul in the City project in Durban in South Africa. 25 million people have died of Aids in Africa so far. 25 million more have HIV. South Africa may be a civilised country, but it still has thousands of Aids orphans that it pretends don’t exist, living rough on the streets. Soul Survivor is going to do something to help. Legacy is planning on taking a team as part of that project in 2009. Why am I telling you now? ‘Cos its going to be expensive. If you want to come and be part of that, and I’m convinced that it will be the adventure of a lifetime, then you should pay your own way, and in which case you’ll need to start saving now.

There is always something that you can do. To act justly. To love mercy. To walk humbly before God. You can’t do everything, but you can do something. Do something! Do anything! What have you done today to make you feel proud? …What have you done today to make Him feel proud?

 
Jesus the Man
What was Jesus like?

The Character of God
How do we know what God is like?

The Authority of Scripture
How should we obey what the Bible teaches us?

The Wise Mans Tragedy
What can we learn from Solomon?

Obedience
What can we learn from the mother of Jesus?

Cain and Abel
What can we learn from the first murderer?

Aslan
Who is Aslan? Who is Jesus?

When the Fire Burns Low
How do we cope when we have grown tired of God's way?

Fix Your Eyes
How do we look for God?

Stewardship
Why should we look after the world God has given us?

Stability
How do we know who we are in God?

Lent - Pride, Doubt and Jealousy
What is the period of Lent all about?

Doorkeepers
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the House of God than dwell in the tents of the wicked...

Close Encounters
How do get to have intimacy with God?

Air
Can we feel the breath of God?

Hearing From God
How can I hear what God wants to say to me?

The Story We Find Ourselves In
The Bible tells the story of all creation - what is my part in that story?

Passover
What does Passover mean to us as Christians?

Life
What does it mean to say that Jesus is alive?

Fruit
What is the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Wait
Teaching for Christmas Eve...

Authority
What does it mean to have authority?

Tired
What can we do when it all seems like too much?

I Will Be With You
What does it mean to say "God is with us"?

Angels
What are angels, and what can we learn from what the Bible says about them?

Fire
A contemplative service for Pentecost

Water
A creative/contemplative baptism service

Guidance
How do we know what we should do?

Stones
A creative prayer/worship service

The Holy Spirit
Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does (s)he do?

A Relationship With Jesus
What does it mean to have a 'relationship' with the Son of God?

The Pilgrim's Progress
If we keep our eyes on the prize, what a journey it could be!

Heroes, Promises and Trust
How does our relationship with Jesus realy work?

Warrior's Confession
A liturgy for masculine prayer

Living Life to the Full
How do we get the most out of life?

Abraham
What is so speacial about the faith of Abraham?

The Presence of God
What does it mean to say God is present?

How Do I Know My Faith is Real?
We all wrestle with doubt, so how can we cope?

Who is Jesus?
...and what does he want from you?

To Act Justly Every Day...
What does the Lord your God require of you?

Sex and Self Image
Don't you know how beautiful you are?

Obedience
Will you let Jesus be in charge?

Recognising Jesus
Would you know him if he met you on the road?

The Person of the Holy Spirit
Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does (s)he do?

The Passion of the King
What does Jesus really want?

Joy
How can we really 'count it all joy'?

More Than Words
"... but words can never hurt me"?

The Armour of God
What tools does God give us to protect us from the Enemy?

The Heart of the Gospel
The Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near to you, therefore...

Following Jesus
Do you really want to follow him?

Preaching Skills
How should I prepare to give a sermon?

Healing
The gift of healing comes from the Holy Spirit, but how does it work?

Church
The People of God

The Bible
What does it mean when we say that the Bible is the Word of God?

Jesus Part 2: The Deity of Christ
How can Jesus be God and Man at the same time?

Jesus Part 1: Who Do You Say I Am?
Who is Jesus, and why does He matter?

Temptation
How do we resist?

Holiness
What is holiness and how do we try to achieve it?

The Art of Spiritual Warfare
We're in a constant battle, so how do we try and prepare to fight?

Forgiveness Part Two: Forgiving Others
What is forgiveness and why do we need to forgive others?

Forgiveness Part One: Forgiven by God
Why does it seem so often that God is a million miles away?

Prayer Part Two: Receiving From God
Why does it seem so often that God is a million miles away?

Prayer Part One: The Lords Prayer
We look in detail at the Lords Prayer

Prophecy
It's one of the spiritual gifts, but what exactly is it, how does it happen?

Becoming a Christian
What is a Christian, how do you become one?

Basics of Christianity
Here we delve into the Nicene Creed