All in Justice

When we moved away from Franklin, I said we’d never be able to return to such a small town with its small thoughts, but that was before I was so tired. I still wrestle with feeling like I sold out. I still don't know exactly how to live out the Isaiah 55 call in a small-town context. It's not as clear. The real dramatic, tension-filled moments of triumph or defeat are not as visible. Here, the beauty and affluence shadow the brokenness.
My hope is to spend my waking hours working on something I’m connected to — something that is excellent and meets needs beyond myself. I want to work alongside creative people who are making a larger impact on the world around them. I want to help them thrive. My desire is to have the freedom to invest my waking hours exhausting all of my faculties — my strengths, my skills, my passions — on behalf of a cause I'm passionate about. And yes, even a cause that needs me.
History is watching. The story of how we are reacting to disease and extreme poverty and hunger is being written. How are you using your imaginative and creative abilities to tell a good story? Art is about making, but it is never better than when it accompanies a life well made. Set your compass toward living a seamless creative life where the full weight of your gifts are offered to the great needs of the world, from the need for beauty to the need for vaccines for the poorest children. This is the just and artful life.
One of the places I felt most welcome in Canada was church. After leaving our first church in Ontario, we attended four different churches over seven years, but I felt at home in all of them in different ways. In all of those churches, worship included singing songs from all over the world, and we often sung in different languages. I heard the story of a world promised to us, where all people have a home and family.
To be sure, we don’t strive for proximate justice. Who wants to strive for an incomplete or imperfect Kingdom? By its very definition shalom means all things as they should be, in right relationship. But we do need an understanding of proximate justice to help us wait until then, even as we strive daily toward shalom in all corners of creation.
I’m hardly the first person to point out that the semantic confusion between “worship” and “music” has been damaging to both “worship” and “music.” This is not to say that the relationship between the two must be severed. On the contrary, I believe worship and the arts are linked in essential ways. But I also believe a third idea must be introduced in order for us to come to a fuller understanding of that relationship. That idea is “Justice.”
In recent years, institutional kidnappings and "show" trials of American citizens by anti-Washington governments, such as the Andrew Berends matter in Nigeria, the Euna Lee and Laura Ling case in North Korea, the Roxana Saberi case in Iran, and my case in Nicaragua have either become more common, or news desks have simply started reporting them with increasing frequency. As each of our cases played out, we were referred to as "criminal defendants" by the host country's government, but in reality, we were hostages — valuable leverage chips in the eyes of our captors.