By Rev. VICKI STIFTER
In the Christian tradition it is Holy Week. It is a time when those who seek to follow in the ways of Jesus are invited to journey with him into Jerusalem.
We are invited to follow him as he confronts the fearful and unjust political and religious leaders of his time. We are invited to accompany him as he teaches of the just and loving ways of God, even when it upsets the status quo, even when it challenges the forces of violence and greed, even when it results in his execution by those who fear him.
As we walk with Jesus this week, we do not need to look far to see the forces of violence and greed in our midst: More and more people are being crushed by poverty; more and more children are hungry; more and more of our neighbors are struggling to find work that provides a living wage and access to health care; and more and more people are isolated and lonely, staring at screens that numb the soul.
Meanwhile, the planet groans under the weight of our society's endless consumption. The skies weep. The glaciers melt. The forests fall. And the world's best and brightest scientists warn us that global warming is a clear and present danger to everything we love, and everything God loves.
Yet, not everyone is hurting. The rich are richer than ever before. We spend more on weapons and war making then any nation anywhere at anytime in the history of the world and
Wal-Mart and Exxon make more money than any company in the history of money.
It is into this reality during this Holy Week that the God of life again enters into our community offering a profoundly different vision - one where there is enough for every beloved being to thrive. God's entry into our lives offers us an unsettling choice: will we continue on the well-worn paths of violence and greed or will we choose the daring, alternative ways of justice and compassion?
Will we continue to take more than we need from the planet in the name of comfort and profit, or will we learn to walk gently and care tenderly for what God has given to us freely and with great love?
April 24 is Easter. It is a day when we are invited to embrace and celebrate God's victory over death. It is a day when we are invited to rejoice in the promise that God's tenacious ways of love and life will always overcome the forces of fear and death in our world.
On this day, and on every day that follows, God yearns for us to participate in this victory by choosing paths that deepen the love and justice in our neighborhoods. God yearns for us to turn from all that seeks to separate us from one another and the whole of God's fragile, precious and holy creation. As children of God, one and all, God invites us to boldly and courageously choose life so that all might live.
Vicki Stifter is pastor at Riverside Community Church, United Church of Christ, located at 4th and State streets. Faith Frames is a regular column in for local faith leaders.