Justice of the Peace

As I read Isaiah 11:1-10, I get a beautiful sense of peace and hope. The poem promises justice and peace to a world filled with injustice and discord. I love the way Eugene Peterson translates the verses in The Message.

“A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump,
    from his roots a budding Branch.
The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him,
    the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength,
    the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.
    will be all his joy and delight.
He won’t judge by appearances,
    won’t decide on the basis of hearsay.
He’ll judge the needy by what is right,
    render decisions on earth’s poor with justice.
His words will bring everyone to awed attention.
    A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked.
Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots,
    and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.

The wolf will romp with the lamb,
    the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
    and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
    their calves and cubs grow up together,
    and the lion eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
    the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
    on my holy mountain.
The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
    a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.

 On that day, Jesse’s Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious.”

I hear a beautiful correlation between justice and peace. When true justice reigns, there is peace such as the image of animals living in harmony and children not knowing fear. It is a reminder of what life was like in the garden before sin entered the scene and brought a terrible discord to God’s world.

Christ’s righteousness and faithfulness changes everything. He is the green Shoot that promises a new world as His justice becomes the instrument through which peace returns. I never thought about Jesus being the Justice of the Peace before reading Isaiah this morning, but it is a fitting title for a king Who is unlike any this world has every known.

Advent is a time of hope that brings with it a promise of peace. When Christ returns, He will bring justice that reveals the living knowledge of God that is deeper and wider than all I can imagine. Until then, I pray we will seek justice for the poor and the needy and love others in a way that brings all of us a little closer to one another and His Son’s precious love.


Laws and Locks

Laws and locks are for honest people and do little to deter those determined to break them. If you’ve ever spent one a day in a courtroom, you know it bears no resemblance at all to the dramatic scenes depicted on the big screen. It is a waste of time designed to wear down those who follow the law.

My wallet was stolen from my car two years ago, and I got a taste of the judicial system at work. A former student stole my wallet which had fallen out of my purse and on to my front passenger seat when I stopped by the drug store earlier in the day. I worked in the church office, and two men had come by to talk with the pastor. When I noticed my wallet was missing, I stepped in to tell the pastor it was missing and that I was going to retrace my steps and would be right back. I wanted him to know it was gone, but I didn’t want to accuse anyone without evidence. He understood my message and took note.

I called from the drugstore to let the pastor know my wallet was indeed missing. By the time I returned to the church, I found him waiting for me in the parking lot. What happened prior to his waiting was something I really wish I could have seen. After my call, one of the men drove by the church and waved at him. Well, that was too much for the pastor, so he hopped in his car and took off up the road. It’s a dead end road, so he knew they would have to come back out the way they came in.

He found one of the men at a worksite and pulled his Prius sideways in the drive to block the exit and got out. I would love to have been a squirrel in a nearby tree and watch the action! After the pastor finished talking, the fellow was contrite and decided to throw the other under the bus. He told the pastor where he could find him. The police were notified, and the pastor returned to the church parking lot to await my arrival.

When I heard the story, I couldn’t help but grin even though it was very serious business by the time I got on the scene. All I could think of was the pastor in his Prius blocking the road and confronting the suspect. The policeman was also a former student and had found the culprit and my wallet by the time I heard the story of the dramatic capture. He confessed to the crime and took the police to the places where he had hidden my credit cards and wallet. Unfortunately, the cash had gone to buy pizzas for his friends. I got a call from the policeman saying that the culprit wanted to come by the church and apologize to me. I love that about being an old teacher:) They drove up in the squad car, and I reached in the back seat and gave him a hug and thanked him for telling the truth. I also told him all was forgiven.

I turned my attention to my former student who was wearing the uniform. I asked him what would be the best thing for me to do. He quickly said I needed to press charges to teach him a lesson. So, I filled out the necessary paperwork and began the complicated process. It seemed like an open and shut case to me, so I figured I’d have my things back quickly and not even have to cancel any credit cards. That just goes to show how little I knew about laws or locks:)

I appeared in court as summoned and expected the process to be very simple. He had confessed, apologized, and taken the police to the stolen items. He even cried because he was ashamed he had stolen from me. How hard could it be? Well,  I learned the answer to that very quickly. Delays are the order of the day in a courtroom. Keep putting it off and eventually folks will just lose interest or give up on getting justice. I stayed the course and continued coming for three more appearances. Lawyers got involved; DA’s were called in, and justice was dying a slow, painful death right in front of me. I spent three days sitting and waiting and wondering what in the world was going on.

On the last day, my patience was worn thin. I decided to just quit and walked out of the courtroom. As I was walking down the steps in front of the courthouse, I was telling myself and God that I had tried; that was enough, wasn’t it?  I passed some men sitting on the steps smoking. They starting making disparaging remarks and using profanity. I thought to myself surely they aren’t talking about me. Are they?? Then I noticed the sheriff’s van heading around to the back entrance.  I threw caution to the wind and took off after the big black van. I should add that I know and love the sheriff.  I knew he would hear my plea for help and sympathize with me, and I could use some sympathy.

The sheriff invited me to join him as he went in back entrance of the building, much to the dismay of those with him. He listened patiently to my story and told one of the men with him to take care of me. It’s amazing how those slow wheels began to spin. I found myself in a room being asked what I wanted. I stated that I simply wanted the truth to be told. Either my former student or his lawyer or both of them were going to have lie in front of me. It was their choice. I only wanted the truth, my wallet, my credit cards, and my money returned. They agreed to pass along the information to the defendant and his lawyer.

In a few moments, I was told the defendant had agreed to plead guilty. I could go back to the church and not worry about it anymore. That process took almost a year, and it has been over a year since the guilty plea. I still don’t have my wallet, my cancelled credit cards, or my $34.00, but I did get a lesson worth much more. Laws and locks get in the way of honest folks, but they don’t really bother those determined to break them.

God would say, “Welcome to my world dear:)”

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