07 April, 2009

The take-away justice meal

This week is too big for the blog! It's like drive thru 'comment on justice', and I am ordering the 'value meal'.

1. The Fries - Employment Services: This week the government announced the tender results for the newly named Job Newtwork (Employment Services). It was a shock to many church based organisations who found they did not receive employment contracts to continue their services to unemployed people. Executive director of Catholic Social Services, Frank Quinlan, says the major church providers of social services are calling for an independent review into how the Jobs Services Australia contracts are allocated. Is there a conspiracy on the part of the government to oust churches from government contracts? What would be the motive of such a move? It calls us as The Salvation Army to stop and evaluate our role within society, and the way in which we access all supports available to us to administer our core business. Why are we helping unemployed peoples, who's responsibility is it, and how will we continue to help vulnerable people if we were to be shut out of government contracts? Interesting food for thought. Perhaps it is also interesting to reflect on the tentativeness on the part of all not-for-profits to speak out against the government. Don't bite the hand that feeds you...but in this case, did it make any difference? I am not making a judgemnet on that particular issue one way or the other. I will say that it is the DNA of the Army to be a prophetic voice and to advocate and protect those that have been muted and discarded.

2. The Burger - Stimulus package: "Bonus payments aimed at stimulating the economy will start falling into the hands of millions of eligible taxpayers this week. People who earned $100,000 or less over the last financial year and lodged a tax return will automatically receive a payout. The full payment of $900 will go to those whose income was $80,000 or less, while people who earned up to $90,000 will receive $600 and those who earned up to $100,000 will receive $250." (report from ABC)
What can I say? I am always so demanding about what we should do with our cash. We should give it to those that need it and not be selfish and excessive! And yet this week it seems that the 'just' thing to do is to spend? It is true, spending on the local economy is going to help business and save jobs. It is going to help our economy to spend no matter how counter intuitive it seems. And yet that doesn't mean we should go out and spend on ourselves! Just because the government gives you $900 bucks and tells you to spend it, you don't have to splurge on a big screen tv! If you are so keen to stimulate the economy, you could always spend the money on someone who actually needs the goods. I am sure the 150 or so asylum seekers that have just been shipped to Christmas Island this week might be in need of some new shoes. Or perhaps some of the 9000 men, women and children that are already here living on no income and no social support could use a toaster? I am just saying, be a little creative and imagine that there is someone who could need the money more than you?

3. The diet coke - OWSOMS: For those of us in Australia, OWSOMS (One Week Salary on Mission Service) is upon us. What an opportunity! We have the privilege of being in an Army that creates a way of helping us to sacrifice for the good of others. I know it can be painful. One person I spoke to this week commented that it used to take her a whole year to save for OWSOMS. But it works, and we produce an abundance of wealth that is transported to a place that will be transformed because of it. Ironic that the $900 will be released in the same week? Could God be calling you to send this money (that isn't really yours at all) somewhere that really needs it?

4. The Sundae - Easter: Speaking of major selfless sacrifice, this week we recognise that our beautiful Saviour died for our sins, so that if we repent and believe we can share everlasting life with Him. This is what it's all about. Justice is merely a byproduct of the life of holiness Jesus both enables and calls us in to. So enjoy dessert this week. Really relish and savour it, and share it around with a bunch of others. It is the quickest and most efficient way of creating a world filled with justice.

Thanks guys,
A reflective Good Friday and a happy Resurrection Sunday for you, and hopefully a whole lot more.


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