Friday, May 1, 2009

Give a day - JUST ONE DAY - for justice!

Welcome to the official talk-back blog site of NY Faith and Justice.

We are launching this talk-back forum in tandem with the launch of the Just One Day campaign!

Imagine... New Yorkers and people across the country joining hands - not throwing up their hands.

Imagine... relationships healed, individuals and groups empowered, and neighborhoods brought to life again.

Imagine... thousands giving one day to help "make things right."

Will you join us? New York Faith & Justice is asking New Yorkers and people of faith across the country to join us as we do four simple things:
  1. Give a day - Just One Day - of your salary to support the work of NY Faith & Justice.
  2. Give a day - Just One Day - of your time between May 5 - June 30 to do justice in your neighborhood or city. (go to our website homepage to download a list of 100 ways to do justice in a day.
  3. Tell us about it right here. (must sign in to post)
  4. Tell 10 friends to give a day - Just One Day - for justice! Click on the envelope icon below to get started.

How do you plan to do justice in Just One Day? Once you've completed your day of justice, tell us how it went! Any big ah-ha moments? Any unexpected laughter or tears? Any new friends made? We want to hear about it.

Personally, I'm fired up to break out of my usual mold and do something different for Just One Day! I already know how I plan to spend my day of justice. My half-sister lives in a nursing home in the South Bronx. I see the same people on her floor each time I visit. They seem so lonely and bored. I'm going to do a spoken word poetry performance for the floor. Then, for the rest of the day, I'll go from room to room and read to the folks who like that kind of thing.

How will you help to "make things right" for a day? Decide, do it, then tell us about it. Then tell 10 friends to give a day - Just One Day - for justice!

Can't wait to hear your stories (pics and video welcome)!

It's Time!

Lisa Sharon Harper
Co-founder and Executive Director
NY Faith and Justice


  1. How can I sum up my experience last week attending Sojourners Mobilization to End Poverty? I can try to do it in two words with a hyphen in between: “life-defining.” As a result of God’s work in my heart and life in D.C., I can say with conviction that I know the purpose and direction that my life must take as long as my Creator lends me breath. I am to seek first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s justice.
    I know that we generally quote the verse as “seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness.” And because of the conservative, evangelical, holiness-tradition church that I grew up in and ministered in for nearly 25 years, the concept of personal piety (righteousness) trumped all considerations of doing justice in God’s world. To make matters worse my family, cultural, religious, and political background allowed me to sanitize and sanctify the American dreams of democracy and capitalism. I’m not here to condemn either, however I have come to realize that neither is a true expression of the Kingdom that Jesus shows us in the Gospels, rather they are systems that we are called to do justice in.
    You would have thought that 15 years in Latin America living in a city and country grappling with poverty issues would have truly awakened me to the issue of poverty. I am ashamed to say that I went to Peru with my theological, cultural, yea even political framework and assumed that the only responsibility I truly had was to make sure that I preached salvation (very important) that would give rich and poor a ticket to the next life. In that framework I hoped that the rich would show some mercy and the poor with a gospel boost would become more upwardly mobile.
    Over the seven years I have lived in New York City it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile my formative paradigm with the realities around me. I have struggled to understand God’s call to justice in the light of inherited political convictions. I have gone from fully embracing those original political convictions, to complete disillusionment with the political process, to a conviction that I am first and foremost a citizen of God’s kingdom and I have a responsibility to bring kingdom principles to bear on the systems in which we live our lives.
    The conference in D.C. was a clarifying experience for me. It was a time of expanding the conversation, instead of chatting with people of similar backgrounds and experiences (basically having a conversation with myself), I was hearing the Word spoken and practiced by children of God whose experiences were different from my own. As Richard Stearns reminded me on Monday morning of the conference, “I have had a hole in my gospel.” In his book “A Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer that Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World,” Stearns gives his version of Jesus’ words to the church in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.”
    During those three days in Washington the presence and brooding of the Holy Spirit was so evident! I found myself weeping uncontrollably during the messages and even later as the Spirit continued to impress upon me the opportunities, responsibilities and challenges ahead. Even on the bus on my way back to New York the tears continued to fall.
    When Jesus announced his mission statement in Nazareth he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” How can the mission of my life be any different? In the power of the Spirit I desire to live in the way and in the mission of Jesus, not only to make justice my way of life, but to take seriously my call to raise up a generation of people to seek first God’s kingdom and his justice.
    Since January I have been Pastor of Justice and Care at Trinity Grace Church. It is a pretty daunting job title. I confess that early on I thought that my responsibility was to develop programs to enable the church to participate in justice, but since D.C. I realize that I have the unique opportunity to be an instrument to see that justice is in the very DNA of Trinity Grace.
    Because I’m a white guy over 50 I tend to live with a lot of guilt—some of it not too far off the mark. Yet I would love to be part of a community that lives by their conviction and not one that acts out of guilt. Living out of conviction is powerful and has staying power, whereas guilt robs us of the power to do justice as God’s image bearers.
    I can truly say that as a result of my time in DC I am more in love with God, with His church, and with this world that He has given to us and calls us to be the answer to His prayers!
    Sisters and brothers, I can think of no greater privilege than to walk with you, learn from you, be corrected by you, and participate with you by the power of the Risen Christ to bring God’s kingdom to this city that we all love.

  2. So Lisa asked me to post what I have done / plan to do for the "Just One Day" campaign, and since I go to church with her, I figured I'd better oblige ;)

    That being said, I really enjoyed rading through the list of suggestions and would love to do them all. So as to not overcommit myself (and thus end up doing nothing), however, I limited myself to 2 for now.

    The first is to pray for the children that I tutor and their families. Since I tutor through an SES provider, all of my students live in poverty and go to failing schools. While my job can be extremely frustrating, it has been a definite eye-opener as to how various New Yorkers living in poverty regard education and "the system", and as to how that system treats them (and those trying to serve them) in return. I already have prayed for them twice now, but I will be trying to remember to continue those prayers for some time.

    The second item is still a little up in the air. I am rather torn between getting my church involved in Jeremy Del Rio's 20/20 vision and "adopting" a local public school, and "donating" some writing/ proofreading/ researching/ admin services to a charity. In either case, it will center around writing and/or education.


  3. Ok, here's what I'm doing to do...all in the "Show Some Love" category. It won't all happen in one day, but will add up to more over time.
    1. I love the ideas about smiling at people. A step further,and an important discpline for someone like me who can be quite a grouch: give people a soft place to land. Surrender judgement and dismissiveness, embrace support. Disagree, even vehemently, with kindness. Encourage people, especially people who are trying to repair the world. Treat people the way I'd love to be treated. (hmmm, sounds familiar)
    2. I love the idea of sending notes to organizations thanking them for their work. I'll do it, and I'll ask my church to do it once a month.
    3. Community outreach for FUN in a time of stress. I will organize events through my church: maybe community charades. My favorite idea so far, and great for someone like me who can play piano and guitar with gusto and mediocrity, and who can't sing very well but LOVES to play music with people: I'm going to organize the " 'Everybody' String Band and Sing-Along Choir" (Songs you love, chords you know!!!) People can bring their guitars, banjos, ukelele's, etc. I'll supply songs and chords. A range: folks tunes, oldies, contemporary - popularly-known. Suggestions welcome.

    Annie Rawlings

  4. These are so awesome! Keep the ideas rolling and please let us know how it goes when it's over. ;p.