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Forget about over-reach; legislators should do now what we know is right

Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services
Justice demands that we lift up the poor and lowly and that we do it now.

Probably the single greatest warning that we heard at the very beginning of the current legislative session was warning about over-reach. Don’t try to do too much, don’t assume that just because we, the people, have the opportunity to change things this session that we should expect much change at all. Let’s be real; let’s be cautious.

vinge photo
Rev. Mark Vinge

Maybe someday, maybe a few years from now we can do what we know in our heart is the right thing to do. Maybe someday we will make sure all our children are getting the best education possible. Maybe one day we’ll reform our tax laws so that large corporations and their stockholders, and the wealthiest pay their fair share. Maybe someday we’ll agree on a transportation system that truly serves the whole state. Eventually, we’ll protect homeowners instead of the largest banks in the country. But not yet.  Not now. We really can’t afford it, after all. Maybe someday, though, … soon – hopefully. Soon. 

Several times Jesus concluded by saying “the first will be last and the last will be first.” Here, too, we might hear that as a far-off promise, that one day there will be a great reversal — in heaven — on judgment day. But Jesus wasn’t talking about the far distant future or the end of time. He was describing what justice looks like and how we get there. He was telling his disciples — that’s you and me, by the way — he is telling us to live like that now! Don’t give people who have all the advantages and those who are wealthy the greatest opportunities, don’t coddle them, do exactly the opposite: Lift up the poor and the lowly. Give them the best seat; give them the biggest slice.

I for my own part am committed not only to leading my congregation in a ministry of justice, but to also to leading by example. That’s why I am working with the Robbinsdale School District to help it be a leader in racial equity. That’s why I testified last week at the House Tax Reform sub-committee hearing. That’s why I along with others have spent time visiting with legislators at the Capitol. That’s why we are part of ISAIAH, which allows us to do so much more together than we could or would ever do on our own. 

We know that the kingdom of God is more than a promise of what will be — it is the promise of what is — right now — whenever and wherever we are living the love of God.  So may God not only give us grace to live it and but also the passion to serve others. Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.

The Rev. Mark Vinge is the senior pastor at House of Hope Lutheran Church, New Hope.


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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/03/2013 - 09:51 pm.

    It Is Inspiring to Hear the Leader of a Large Church

    Write as if he cares to know “the mind of Christ,”

    and allows God to inspire him as to how to live his life in the present day and time.

    It is sad that so many other self-righteous “Christian” leaders ignore Jesus’ life, ministry, teaching and attitudes,…

    and the current inspiration constantly provided by the Holy Spirit,…

    creating for their own purposes, in their OWN image, a jealous, bloodthirsty “god” who loathes change,…

    constantly seeks to force human society backward into the past (rather than leading and calling us into a building a better future);…

    a God who sent “Jesus” into the world with only one paltry, purpose: to die in order that they and their followers might get a free ticket to heaven.

  2. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 05/03/2013 - 11:14 pm.

    If I only knew for sure

    What is right. Yes, I know that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have the same chance of getting into heaven as a camel passing through an eye of a needle, but I also know that anything is possible with God.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/04/2013 - 10:29 am.

      The Wrong Question

      The question is NOT “what is right.” The question is what is FAITHFUL.

      What is faithful to my being the person God created and designed me to be (which is, quite likely, a bit different from every other person on the planet).

      What is faithful to God’s inspirations, whispered into my thoughts, painted in my imagination, nudged into my heart, or bubbling up from deep within me,…

      to which I must apply the life, ministry, teachings and attitudes demonstrated by Jesus in his life among us as a plumbline,…

      because some of the things that might SEEM to be inspirations can arise from my connections to those I love and trust, and to charismatic leaders (whether good or evil),…

      and from my own (unacceptable?), unacknowledged, unmet wants and needs,…

      even true inspirations being very easy to ignore lest we feel that God is pushing us around and our very natural human resistance to such things be invoked;…

      what is faithful to God’s inspirations for me, with my own unique gifts and talents, to bring into the world so that this world might become closer to becoming a place where we live as if God’s love reigns among us.

      The problem of looking for “righteousness” is that, as was the case with our ancestors in the faith, some of what God inspires in us, and some of our faithful responses, to God may seem to be very wrong to people who are using their desire to be “right” as a shield against responding to God,…

      or even allowing themselves to sense God’s presence and guidance.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/04/2013 - 11:17 am.

    Self sabotage

    I’ve seen this my whole life with Democrats. They win and then they talk themselves out of doing all the stuff people voted for because of self inflicted anxieties about “over-reach”. They just don’t seem to realize that if they produce results, they build public confidence. They end up losing public confidence by self sabotaging their own efforts and handing elections back to republicans. At the end of the day it’s just impossible to avoid the conclusion that you just can’t trust this party.

  4. Submitted by rolf westgard on 05/05/2013 - 07:09 am.

    Keep it up Rev Vinge

    Getting through to legislators and their public is not easy, but we need your lead on these issues.

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