3 The Lord proclaims: Do what is just and right; rescue the oppressed from the power of the oppressor. Don’t exploit or mistreat the refugee, the orphan, and the widow. Don’t spill the blood of the innocent in this place.
And now, please stand as you are able for the Gospel reading
16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. 17 The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
19 and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.[a]
20 He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him.
LEADER The Word of God that is still speaking.
ALL: Thanks be to God.
MESSAGE Let Justice roll like an ever-flowing stream Amos 5:2a
Justice Is a Biblical Value Pastor Donna Goltry
Every eye was fixed upon Jesus. And then he delivered the punch:
Luke 4:21 Today this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.
By this verse, he had announced that he was the one sent by God to fulfill bringing justice to the land. He would act boldly as nobody had ever done before. Justice was on
his mind, in his heart and was his agenda. And he was about to start doing it.
How was this proclamation received in his hometown synagogue? At first they were ecstatic.
But, as is often the case, it is what he said next that got him into real trouble. Sometimes if we want to stay out of trouble, we just need to shut our mouths; stop while we are ahead to take the easy way out.
And if we don’t, we can expect some fall-out.
Jesus wasn’t sent to stay out of trouble, he was sent to bring change, to usher in the kingdom of God, to bring long-awaited justice to the needy, even those who were outsiders. He continued on. He didn’t shut his mouth.
And it got him in trouble with the hometown folks.
He reminded them of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. When many widows were hungry in Elijah’s time, who did he help? The widow Zaraphath from Sidon across the border. When many among them had skin diseases, who did Elisha heal? Naaman from Syria. He had a point to make: he had come to bring justice to the needy, even those who were outsiders. That angered the good people of Nazareth, and Jesus fled the city to spare his life.
Jesus knew the scriptures and that they were being ignored especially by some who thought of themselves as righteous. Here’s a sample.
Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 16:19-20
I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. Psalm 140:12
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17
And from Amos, I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5:21-24
Take a look at this word cloud. Each of the biblical values are shown in proportion to the times they are mentioned in the Bible. 
What two are biggest? Is this shorthand for God placing greatest importance on justice and love? See the attached diagram for an illustration of the importance of biblical justice.
Rev. Tony Campolo, a well-known Christian speaker observed: “There are more than 2,000 verses of Scripture that call us to express love and justice for those who are poor and oppressed.”
Rev. Martin Luther King’s letter he wrote from a Birmingham jail, after being arrested protesting for seeking justice for Black Americans, said he had been called an extremist in his actions to seek justice. But he said, he was in good company. 
“But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ … So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or the extension of justice?’”
But today, when I drive the streets near here, something is not right. I see:
- Unaddressed mental illness, dire shortage of mental health care for the poor.
- Many are unhoused.
- Many are unhoused.
- Low-cost decent housing? Not enough of it.
- When people are lacking housing, mental health care and/or decent housing, the chance of going to jail increases. Vagrancy. Petty theft. Etc.
- Lacking documents, like IDs to be able to work. A problem for citizens and residents alike.
- Lacking access to affordable banking. Maybe relying on payday lenders which can rack up more debt and end up on the streets.
- Learning to live with good choices in life and good household management.
That’s my shortlist. What have I left unsaid that troubles you?
I can’t solve these issues alone. You can’t solve, alone. St. Paul’s can’t solve alone. It takes the city. It takes the community to wrestle with structures, attitudes, policies that perpetuate it. If awakening justice in our city makes me an extremist for love like Jesus, then so be it.
How can the citizens of Wichita awaken a vision of justice addressing problems like this? How can we awaken our citizenry and leaders to long term cultural and social change? Good news – there are movements afoot already. City hall is looking into housing. Police have special programs. A myriad of agencies doing different things to help, though sometimes I wonder if it is possible for the average joe, let alone the average homeless person, to figure it out. We do our part – meals, clothing help.
And a city-wide faith initiative is blooming, offering the promise of laser-focused solution to one aspect of the problems the needy face based on biblical justice. You will be asked to add your voice to what you see as the problems of justice in our city.
Williams notes, “Our God has always pleaded for the oppressed. Our God has always pleaded for the marginalized. In Isaiah 5, the writer says woe to the one who lives alone, but will take up all the land and build houses on the land, but not share it with someone who has nothing.” 
Rev. Walter Wink perhaps summarized the biblical reason for justice. When he uses the word “Powers,” he is referring to the systems that are gate-keepers stifling people from rising from what is holding them back. Or think of it as institutional sin.
“The gospel is not a message of personal salvation from the world, but a message of a world transfigured, right down to its basic structures. Redemption means actually being liberated from the oppression of the Powers, being forgiven for one’s own sin and for complicity with the Powers, and being engaged in liberating the Powers themselves from their bondage to idolatry. The good news is nothing less than a cosmic salvation, a restitution of all things (Acts 3:32), when God will ‘gather up all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth’ (Eph. 1:10). This universal rectification will entail both a healing and a subordination of rebellious structures, systems, and institutions to their rightful places, in service to the One in and through and for whom they exist.’ 
That grand vision described by Walter Wink is the essence of Christ’s grand vision. I see it, but feel a starting place is to look locally here in our city. Here is where we are most called to live out our Christian charge.
Here is a story about a woman was in extreme mental distress, suffering from nightmarish hallucinations. What she needed was not clear, but it was very hot. She was given a drink of water and some cooler clothing. But that wasn’t enough. As her shouting continued, the people who were trying to help saw they could not do it alone. They had to look for professional help. Begrudgingly, she responded to their help. And went on her way. But it did nothing to help her with her true problems.
Too often, this is the kind of situation we face when we think a bit of mercy will solve the needs. It is deeper than that. And it is why we must work together with our faith community and the wider community on justice issues. Amen.
 Taken from handout at DART meeting, June 15, 2023 held at First Methodist Church, Wichita, KS, Doing Justice is a Biblical Value Section, 2.
 Ibid. 6.
 Ibid. 3.
 Ibid., quoting A Letter from a Birmingham Jail:, 7.
 Ibid. 7.
 Ibid. 11.
 Ibid. 3.