by The Rev. Edith Rasell
Minister for Economic Justice, United Church of Christ
When times are difficult -- when paychecks are inadequate, bosses steal our pay, hours are too few and irregular, and jobs are scarce – we may feel that God is angry with us. The prophet Isaiah recognized this feeling. But Isaiah knew that God, at all times, seeks only what is best for us. God’s will for each of us is to thrive, to be blessed with all we need to become the person God created us to be. And Isaiah – listening to the speaking God – knows the time is coming when God’s justice and peace will reign. “I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might” (12:2b). We wait, we hope, and we trust that a better day is coming.
But for now, we wait. These are not good times for the worker justice movement. Powerful forces are arrayed against working people and the organizations and institutions we have created. Unions have been under attack and membership has fallen. Employers illegally retaliate against workers seeking to form a union. State legislatures pass laws restricting workers’ rights. These factors and others have caused inequality to skyrocket. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and those in the middle struggle to stay there. Fewer institutions and organizations are left to fight for the common good. Many of our families and communities have been weakened by these destructive economic forces. But one thing we know for sure: this is not God’s vision for God’s people or God’s world.
And God has not forgotten us. As Isaiah said, the day is surely coming when God’s justice will prevail on earth (Is. 9:7b). “You will say in that day, I will give thanks to you, O Lord” (Is 12: 4a). So we wait with the certain knowledge that God will not disappoint us.
Advent is the season of waiting, whether for the birth of a child or the arrival of Santa Claus. It teaches us to be patient, to rely on hope, to trust in God’s faithfulness. Although the days grow shorter, colder and harsher, new light is about to burst forth. Can you see it, just over the horizon?