The Second Sunday of Advent: Advent Values are Labor Values
Malachi 3: 1-5 NRSV
3 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
5 Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
Advent is a time for us to open our eyes, our lives and our culture to the purifying and restorative fire present in the Lord’s coming. The prophet Malachi makes it clear that the coming of the Lord is about establishing anti-poverty and pro-labor policies. In Alabama, our history of slavery, prison labor, right to work anti-labor laws and anti-immigration policies have left us with a continuing legacy of poverty and the present reality of oppressed workers whose blood cries out for restorative justice.
This year I want to encourage all of us to not only go to Bethlehem in our hearts and minds, but to also go to Docena, Alabama and discover Alabama’s history of slavery and slavery by another name. Let the purifying fire of light and hope, in the coming of the Lord empower all of us to continue the struggle for anti-poverty and pro-labor policies in Alabama.
We know how to go to Bethlehem in our hearts and minds with our services of “Lessons and Carols” of the season. I encourage all of us to continue that tradition; but this year take an additional trip, do a Google Map search for Docena, Alabama and travel there. Go to Amazon.com and buy the book, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of African Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (http://amzn.to/1Oupc7K) and read about the #12 Pratt Prison Mine that was located there. And read about the brutal oppression of workers who died in those mines and are buried there. Then do a search on YouTube for Slavery by Another Name and watch the PBS special of the history of pro-poverty, anti-labor policies in Alabama and weep with the oppressed workers and their families. Then let’s lead the purifying fire of anti-poverty, pro-labor work in Alabama for a living wage for all Alabama workers.
Union values; a living wage, healthcare benefits, family leave, paid vacation, retirement benefits are Advent Values. The Lord’s coming calls us to continue the struggle for Anti-poverty and pro-labor policies until the Lord comes again so that we can stand at his coming.