Perhaps there should be quotation marks around our title for this week. “Is it fair?” Or a pouty face emoji—something to indicate that this title is not aspirational, but descriptive. This is not who we should be, but it is often who we are. We claim to want fairness, or at least we want fairness in a way that benefits us. Fairness in our favor, we might say. Deep down, however, the truth is that we don’t really want fairness; we want mercy. At least that is what we want from God. At the same time, we want to deal fairly and be dealt with fairly as we live and work in the world. So, our theme can be aspirational in terms of how we relate to those around us – as long as we don’t get too whiny!
How do we deal fairly with our neighbors? What ministries can we celebrate or launch as a sign that we are engaged in relationships of fairness? Do we acknowledge our privilege over those who have less in terms of access, goods and services, and in terms of treatment by those in authority? This need not be a source of shame, but rather an opportunity to use what we have to be fair, to be gracious and merciful like the God we follow, in our dealings with the wider community. Where are those opportunities? What stories can we tell that inspire us to do good in the world? What testimonies can we share that open our eyes to the possibilities and realities of how the world works? At the same time, as we worship, we give thanks and praise to God who has gone beyond fair in offering salvation and grace to all of us sinners and gave us a way where there was no way. God loves us even when we haven’t been all that loveable. Let our praises be sung and spoken with grateful hearts as we acknowledge the gifts of the Spirit and the blessing that service brings.
Let our worship be a reminder that we often see the face of God within us. Worship can be a time of encouragement as we celebrate how we have moved closer to the kingdom in how we live with one another, how we praise and rejoice in one another, and how we challenge and then support one another. When we are truly seeking the face of God, we go beyond fair and move into grace manifested in love in all our relationships.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.