peak out on behalf of the voiceless,
and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.
Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.
When I worked my first summer of college for the District Attorney in my home town, her office brought a case against a teacher who had hurt students. As a part of her office, my duties as intern included caring for the students and parents until it was their turn to testify. I heard and overheard their stories and pain. I also watched the process from jury selection to when the judge threw it out. I knew the truth. I suspect the jury did. The defense attorney mostly proved his case by the testimony of students who had NOT been hurt. It seemed obvious to me that the teacher prayed on the most vulnerable kids who found it hardest to speak up and testify. This passage, like the parable of sheep and goats reminds us that our highest calling as believers is to see the downtrodden and hear the oppressed. And even in a good system with fair laws and righteous lawyers and judges, justice can be elusive.
I think of that case often, how those students weren't heard. Not really. Not in any way that brought them meaningful justice or change. I think of it every close election, and every landslide. No matter who wins, some group of people do not feel heard, don't receive attention or justice. It is why I admire leaders who acknowledge first and foremost not that they won, but that many people didn't vote for them, and they still have a voice and should be encouraged to participate. And as believers, we are all called to hear the voices that might be silenced or ignored.
Whether this election is decided this week or the weeks to come, we are citizens of the kingdom of God first and America second. We must be able to hear our brother or sister of another stripe. Christ tells us the peacemakers are blessed. Those who seek to hear the voice of the voiceless are God's children. So no matter what leaders are now in charge, our calling is to serve, to listen, and to help those who feel ignored to make their voices heard. If it's farmers and rural laborers or factory workers, teachers or frontline healthcare workers, first responders or refugees, let's listen and hear. Let's do that work together, recommitted to peace and hope and justice for all.