For the Harvest of the Spirit
For the harvest of the Spirit, thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit, thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us, for the truths that still astound us,
Most of all that love has found us, thanks be to God.
-Fred Pratt Green, Lyrics, For the Fruit of All Creation
That last line always gets me. For me this rings true–the reality that love has found me, whether love of family, of friends, of God. It is the source of my deepest gratitude. It is a reason for the strongest of thanksgivings.
It is also where I want my commitment to social justice to spring from. I want to root my action in love and in “the good we all inherit.” Analysis is important, lament has its place, and so also anger. But I hope the seedbed of my action is God’s love and goodness.
The conviction of God’s love, an ancient reminder of the goodness that God creates in the world, assures me that dreams for social justice, ecological integrity, and right relation are not naive fantasy. God’s love and goodness confirm possibility, and that possibility motivates action.
Ephesians 2:4-10 reminds us that we are alive because of “the great love with which God loves us.” We are loved not because we do good things, but because of that love, we can and will do good things: “For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” “Good works” are not required to receive God’s love but rather they are the result of God’s love. We are invited to have God’s love flow into us and over us, into our live and out into the world, as we aim to restore the goodness that we all inherit. We are imperfect vehicles but we are still called.
Marilyn Salmon of United Seminary in Minnesota describes our response to God’s love this way: “How else is there for us to respond but to love and cherish the world and every creature in it as beloved of God. If we take this response seriously, it will be an all-consuming challenge. We might take it in the direction of global warming and care for the earth. Or we might tackle poverty or hunger in light of the abundance most of us enjoy. Or advocate for peaceful resolution of differences. Opportunities stretch from our doorstep around the globe.”
When we act from love, towards goodness, it can be messy. The issues propel us out into the public sphere. Princeton professor Cornel West says it this way: “I believe in spillover love. And since justice is what love looks like in public, you can’t talk about loving folk and not fighting for justice, especially beginning with the least of these.” There is no doubt that the work of social justice, human rights, ecological care—can cause controversy. Attempts to bring about change disrupt and challenge the powers that hold injustice in place. It is not easy, but it may very well be where love takes us. And for that, thanks be to God.