jigsaw puzzle

It takes a while for me to piece things together. Or things that I see and read fit together in odd ways.

Today I was handed another piece of a puzzle, and I don't particularly like how it fits. A priest-friend was telling me about his "bring an atheist to church" day planned for next week. There's an atheist gentleman in town attempting to raise money for the local free clinic. He does so by agreeing to attend a religious service/event for a $20 donation. I'm a little floored at this, because it sounds to me that this gentleman is trying to "trick" Christians into doing something I think they should be doing already. *Long sigh*

A couple weeks ago, I was in church, and one of the readings was the parable of the Good Samaritan. I mused that the Good Samaritan was an interesting metaphor for social workers and public health professionals - condemned by the vocal, prideful, self-righteous religious people. Likewise, the social workers and public health professionals care for the needy the religious people overlook. Passing random observation. Huh- didn't really give it much thought.

My last Sunday in Belize, I attended a service at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in San Ignacio. This was Emancipation Sunday- the celebration of the end of slavery in British territories. The reading was instantly familiar to me- Luke 4. Jesus is in the temple, and he's reading my favorite passage from Isaiah.
“ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

And then Jesus says "Hey guys, this is me!"
For the past ten years, this has been the Scripture passage I've identified with most strongly. If we slip into the goofy Christian college lingo- this is what I see as my vocation. Liberty, healing, caring for the poor, speaking truth: these are things that come together, in Christ. That this is how Christians should spend their time. That Sunday's homily mentioned Wilberforce, and hopped over to Philemon, and noted the admonition to love the slave. I left with the sense that it had been a watershed moment, showing how deeply intertwined my passion for the rights and well being of others and my faith are.

It seems like an obvious connection to me. Why is it not obvious to others? If it is, why am I not seeing it? Why can I think of so many examples of people who act as though the lives of some people are more valuable than others?


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