Too busy for justice?

I was brought up short and rightly reprimanded by a lady the other day, when I said I had to leave a Lent lunch early “to go back to work.”
“But,” she said, “This is your work. These are your congregation.”
I floundered around making excuses about another appointment, but the comment stuck with me. I saw that I had thought of the Lent lunch as something unimportant, that I had to squeeze into my day between the ever present mountains of administration. Being alongside the nice people who are my congregation wasn’t work: listening, sharing, laughing. It was a hiccup in my day but something I had to do, and I did it as meanly, so I saw after my telling off, as possible. I was unjust in my attitude and in the use of my time and person.
If Christ’s life, death and resurrection are about anything, it is justice. Jesus chose to live and preach his message of God’s love, faithfulness and forgiveness, mainly to the rural peasant class of his time. These were the poorest people for whom life was full of injustice and threat. Into their hard lives, Jesus spoke about the Kingdom values of God: peace, forgiveness, mercy and justice. He had time for them. He was for them. He spoke of a God who was familiar to them through the words of the prophets.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5: 24
Jesus’ fundamental message does not change though the world goes through various epoch and cultural changes. At the moment the Western world is overwhelmed with the idea of 24 / 7, the notion that not only must everything be open and available 24 hours a day, but that we have to work harder and play harder and longer than we have ever done before. There is real anxiety in our culture and most markedly amongst our children. We are charging around working for something, but what? A house in the sun? An escape to the country? A time when we won’t have to live like this? And all the time, as the UNICEF advertisement on television tells us, there are children as young as 3yrs old living parentless on the streets of some of our major world cities. There are young people so disenfranchised and so disillusioned by what our culture offers, that they find the message of IS attractive and at the other end of the age spectrum, the elderly receive the impression through the media that they are a burden to society.
We all need, to speak in American slang, to wake up and smell the coffee, meaning we need to be realistic or aware; to abandon the naïve and foolish notion we have that an over busy life is somehow a moral life, or a more fulfilled life. It is our busyness that makes us blind to what is happening in our world and to us. You need time to see with your heart and your mind as well as your eyes. When we race from one thing to the next in a fluster of anxiety to get things right, we do not see how the opposite happens: we shortcut our loved ones and ourselves as well as the needy people of this world.
Jesus, we read, took time out. I don’t know about you, but I certainly need to do more of the same.