Jesus is talking about God granting. Proper 24 C justice to those who ask. Let s be very clear right from the start,

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1 Proper 24 C 2016 Let s be very clear right from the start, that the widow was not badgering the judge for something she particularly wanted and Jesus isn t saying that about prayer, either. The widow was not asking for a Mercedes Benz because her friends all had Porsches and she had to make amends. The widow was asking for justice and Jesus is talking about God granting justice to those who ask. But justice at what time and at what price? I love the quote: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. That was said, btw, in 1853 by the Rev. Theodore Parker who was a Unitarian minister in the Boston area. He was speaking specifically about the abolition of slavery. 1

2 All throughout history, we have seen groups of people being subjugated by others. The topic of slavery is talked about throughout scripture with both the Israelites taking slaves and then being slaves. During the Abolition movement to abolish slavery, which began well before the Civil War, the support of slavery was preached in pulpits throughout the US, with only a few voices like Rev. Parker being heard. Did slaves pray for their freedom? It seems as if they did. Many of the hymns our hymnal Lift Every Voice and Sing call Negro Spirituals were actually coded messages. The hymn Swing Low Sweet Chariot was telling people the underground RR was coming through that night. 2

3 The Hymn Let us Break Bread Together was a code telling people that there would be worship that night: When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun, O Lord have mercy on me. The slaves prayed for freedom which is another word for justice. And it took hundreds of years. Recently I saw the movie Suffragettes about women fighting for the right to vote in Great Britain. The movie Mary Poppins makes it look like a joke, but this was very serious business with women committing acts of civil disobedience and going to jail for months. When they got out of jail they receive a ribbon showing that they had been arrested for the cause. The struggle went on for years and it wasn t until 1928 that all women got the right to vote in Britain. This was an issue of justice. 3

4 Did they pray to God for justice? One would think they did. And yet, in something as important and yet, in our minds, simple, why did it take so long for God to answer those prayers. During the horrible pogroms in Russia where Jews had their homes and their land and their livelihoods taken away by force and violence under the idea of might makes right, Jew alike, prayed for these people for whom justice was not existent. Gay and Lesbian folk in the US have been praying, marching, even rioting for equality since the 1960 s. After 50 years we thought we had it, and then North Carolina and a political platform came along and in some ways we feel we ve lost it or it is, at the least, in jeopardy. we know that people, Christian and 4

5 Even on a personal note, we might pray for a well-deserved promotion and someone less qualified who doesn t work as hard gets it. And you feel an injustice has happened to you. Didn t God listen to your prayers? Was God ignoring the slaves and the women and the gay and lesbian folks? Keeping with the gospel for today, we can concentrate at this time only on issues of justice but you can extrapolate for all things that you ask of God in prayer health and healing for yourself or a loved one, decrease of anxiety, relationships, patience, a job if you are unemployed or underemployed. All good things. And usually pretty immediate. But when it comes to justice issues, we are looking at years and years of prayers by a whole people. 5

6 Millions and millions of prayers being lifted up to God with no results. In Fiddler on the Roof, as they are being forced out of the village in Russia, someone asks the wise old Rabbi, We ve been waiting for the Messiah all our lives. Wouldn t this be a good time for him to come? To which the Rabbit replies, I guess we ll have to wait someplace else. And yet Jesus says in today s gospel: And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. Perhaps God s idea of quickly doesn t quite coincide with our idea of quickly. Yes, we live in an age of instant gratification, but waiting hundreds of years doesn t sound like quickly. 6

7 The whole message today revolves around the notion of prayer. The parable is introduced to us with these words: Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. Jesus is comparing the widow going to the unjust judge to us going to God in prayer. Could there be any doubt that praying is the single most important thing that a Christian can do? But the act of prayer is not simply repeating mindless words while thinking about all you have to do next. Prayer is conscious communication with God. God knows our needs, wants, and desires before we even ask. God knows the condition of the world. So why do we need to ask? It is certainly not to get God to change his mind or to point out something that maybe God doesn t know. 7

8 Prayer is opening ourselves to one who will never judge us harshly. Prayer is going to a friend to tell him about what is happening in your life good and bad. Prayer is going to a friend to ask for something which you need. Prayer is sending a Thank You note for a gift that no one else could possibly give to you. Prayer is us knocking on God s door not because God needs us to do that but because we need to beat a path to God s door in order to be in constant contact with God. Whether we use prayers that have been written by someone else or just pray the words that are in our heart, and those are always the best, we are actually responding to God reaching out to us to tell us that he loves us and cares for us and wants the best for us. 8

9 That may not be the answer that we want to hear from our prayers, that might be too abstract and certainly not gratifying in the immediate sense, but it might be all that we need at that moment. Prayer is the language of relationship, and we need to be in that relationship with God always. Jesus tells us time and time again, keep on praying, do not stop. hear, or it s the exact opposite that we ve been praying for, it is what God knows we can use in that moment in time, somehow, even if it is to grow stronger. Even if you feel God is deaf to your righteous prayers, know that God hears you and that mysteriously, at some point in time, God will surprise and delight you, and your prayers will be answered. Even if it is not the answer we want to 9

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