Amidst a Torrent of Injustice,

the Hope of Advent & the Promise of Human Rights Day

While the world faces an unprecedented refugee crisis, our government is slashing a program to welcome a small fraction of those in most danger. Although a commission of global experts confirmed the dangerous racism of our policing system, last week Atatiana Jefferson was inexplicably, fatally shot in her own home by a police officer—adding to the litany of unjust killings of African Americans. Our President proposes to make life harder for the suffering homeless by treating them—rather than the lack of affordable housing—as the problem, even though a federal court has prohibited the criminalization of homelessness.

The injustice that we’re witnessing and that far too many are suffering is graphic and grave. It’s difficult to overstate the scope and the magnitude of threats to basic human rights in this country.

Anticipating Advent

And yet, as people of faith, we hold on to defiant hope that a more just and peaceful horizon lies beyond the one we see presently. The Christian Church will soon begin a new year in the life of our faith, with the anticipation of Christ’s birth and all the promise that comes with it.

December begins the season of Advent, a time of watching and waiting for light to emerge from the darkness. Our anticipation is heightened by the wonder of an ancient story: a baby born in a humble manger is king of kings and lord of lords. A Prince of Peace entered a world plagued by violence and injustice. Love incarnate, our promised Savior has come.

Preparing for Human Rights Day

The Advent season coincides remarkably with another occasion for hope the world over. On December 10th each year, the world celebrates Human Rights Day, commemorating a singular promise made by nations far and wide to advance peace and justice through respect for human rights. On this historic date over 70 years ago, powerful world leaders acknowledged a truth known in Christian tradition—that the sacred value of each human person should command the respect of nation states. Although some denounce this commitment with demands for unrestrained national sovereignty, respect for individual human rights remains our duty under international law, and certainly our moral obligation as Christians.

Human Rights Day is a blessed occasion to reflect on how our hope in Christ leads us to be people of justice and reconciliation, equity and peace. It is a time to celebrate the way that inspired Christian leadership, collaborating with others from diverse traditions, bore noble fruit through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Our Selection of Worship Resources

Last year at Justice Revival, we brought you a selection of the best available resources for congregations to use in marking Human Rights Day. This year, we add to that resource library with a special liturgy composed by Justice Revival founding board member, Rev. Erin Grayson. Based on the lectionary texts for Sunday, December 8th, we hope this might inspire you to recognize Human Rights Day in your worship services. If you’re not involved in worship planning, consider sharing this resource with those who are, and letting them know why Human rights Day matters to you.

You’ll also find abundant inspiration in the lectionary texts themselves. Psalm 72, from which the Call to Worship is drawn, reflects how justice, righteousness, peace, prosperity, and flourishing are all intertwined, a truth acknowledged in the founding documents of the United Nations and in the Universal Declaration. Isaiah chapter 11 promises “he shall decide with equity for the meek of the earth,” echoing a call for the fair sharing of resources, which is inscribed into human rights law in a way that has thus far eluded the United States.

Share Your Human Rights Day Service

We hope that your congregation will include Human Rights Day in your Advent worship this year. Please let us know when you do—we’d be pleased to share your worship video, photos, or other resources with the Justice Revival community.

Though we may live in an age where news of injustice surrounds us, we have a holy opportunity each year to recommit ourselves to greater justice, equality, equity, and peace in Christ’s name. And we have hope that our living in to the promise of justice matters, to God and for the world.

As you continue to walk in paths of justice and righteousness, we pray this word from yet another December 8th lectionary passage, Romans chapter 15, will uphold you:

“May the god of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (verse 13)

Justice Revival Human Rights Day Liturgy

Sunday, December 8, 2019 (2nd Sunday of Advent)

Rev. Erin Grayson

Call to Worship (based on Psalm 72)

Shower the earth with your justice, O God, that we might live justly.

May righteousness flourish and peace abound.

Let the mountains yield prosperity, that all your children might live abundantly.

May righteousness flourish and peace abound.

Nourish us that we may bear good fruit, defending the cause of the poor, and delivering the needy.

May righteousness flourish and peace abound.

For as long as the sun endures and until the moon is no more,

May righteousness flourish and peace abound.

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.

Unison Prayer of Confession (based on Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12)

O God of steadfast love, we confess that we do not live in harmony with our siblings in the human family. Instead of peace, we sow discord. Instead of unity, we are bent on division. Instead of welcoming each other as you welcome us, we turn our backs on the stranger, the immigrant, and the other in our midst. We do not live justly; instead we discriminate, denying the worth of your beloved children. We fail to see your image reflected in the faces of our neighbors, and silence the voice of your glory. Forgive us, O God of hope, when we do not bear good fruit. Forgive us, O God of mercy, when we do not follow your Way of love. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Friends, hear the Good News. The shoot of Jesse deeply is rooted in love. With a spirit of wisdom and understanding, Christ has come to set the captives free throughout all generations, to usher in the day when no one shall hurt or destroy. In his abundant mercy, we are forgiven. May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that we too may abound in hope.

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