The Call to Justice Discipleship

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Archbishop Oscar Romero

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Archbishop Oscar Romero as depicted in the “20th Century Martyrs” frieze above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London. (Photo: Sara Stratton, 2007)

We have now arrived at the end of the Advent journey, but our journey of welcoming Jesus into our lives remains never ending.  Those of us who have been guided by the KAIROS Advent resource in the past few weeks have engaged in worship activities that reflect the interconnectivity of rocks and minerals, trees and plants, animals and humans.  This week, the resource draws us into the essential question of justice discipleship; who are we called to be in the midst of this web of relations?

When we open ourselves up to the question of how to be a disciple for justice in today’s world, we are certain to become overwhelmed.  It seems like every time we turn around we are inundated with news of dire situations: calls for aid for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, ongoing conflict in Syria,  the constant threat of Palestinian home destruction.  We see the faces of homeless and underhoused people as we rush from place to place without much opportunity to reflect on the reality that most of us are settlers on Indigenous land.  The call to be a modern day disciple is not an easy task; we must be constantly alert to ways in which the Spirit shows us not just any form of justice, but God’s justice.  What does God’s justice look like and how does it differ from other common depictions of justice in today’s society?  What ideas or material objects do we feel called to cast away in order to follow Jesus?  What are the barriers we face in trying to understand and create God’s justice?

However, we must also be forever grateful that God not only calls us to bring the peace of Christ to the world, but also shows us the way.  Our reading from Isaiah this week is a reminder that God is always with us. In the midst of times of trial, God provides hope which, in the case of Isaiah’s prophecy, is the coming of Jesus.    Even though we may feel lost or overwhelmed, Romans 1:1-7 is a testament to the way in which God’s power can be found within us.

Our reading of Psalm 80 this week reminds us of the importance of memory in our journeys as disciples. If we want to know who we are to be in the world, we only need to look at the stories of liberation in the Bible and hear how some of those stories are alive in many justice struggles throughout the world today.  By remembering that we worship a God of solidarity and liberation, the call for justice discipleship becomes an invitation to create peace using all the many gifts we have been given by God.  Living in this world as a disciple dedicated to justice draws us closer to God who comforts from the margins of society and loves all of creation.

Let us not forget that the word disciple originates from the Latin word discipulus, meaning student.  Do we always approach issues on injustice ready to learn?  Who has God trusted as teachers of justice on Earth?  As a member of the KAIROS companions and community network, I am grateful for all the partnerships that are sources of ongoing inspiration and wisdom that help my justice discipleship.  I am also indebted to the work of those involved with the KAIROS Growing Justice Advent Resource whose thoughts have served as inspiration for this week’s reflection.

Just-seeking God, we thank you for your presence in all the works of justice we do.  We thank you for Jesus and the many other teachers you have brought into the world to teach us of your justice which liberates and heals.  Continue to inspire and challenge us in answering your call to be disciples.


Click the link to download a powerpoint presentation on this theme for use in worship or reflection.

Michiko Bown-Kai is a Masters of Divinity student at Emmanuel College and a candidate for ministry in the United Church of Canada. Michiko is completing a contextual education placement at KAIROS this academic year.

Filed in: Spirited Reflections


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