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

Too many people are thinking, “Maybe someday, maybe a few years from now we can do what we know in our heart is the right thing to do.”

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

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. 

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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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