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Sermon at St Johann Kirche, Davos, Switzerland

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit spoke on 16 January at the Peace Vigil for Justice at Kirche St Johann, in Davos, organized by the Committee of Christian Churches in Davos, in support of International Bridges to Justice.

17 January 2017

Justice

Sermon at St Johann Kirche, Davos, Switzerland

16 January, 2017 – Martin Luther King Day 2017

Justice is a gift from God. It comes with life. God affirms each one of us equally by giving us life. This is life in the image of God, representing the presence, the dignity, and the love of our creator on this earth. This is the gift of being human: the relationship to God as an image, as an identity, a humanity that nobody can take from us, whatever ignorance, hate speech, injustice, humiliation, discrimination, or violence are aimed at us. There is no partiality in God.

Even we ourselves cannot by ourselves remove it, this image of God that makes us human, with all the dignity and rights of any other human beings. Our failures, our mistakes, our ignorance can never undo that we are created in the image of God. But we have hidden, sometimes even tarnished, the image we are given by ignoring the image of God in others.

Therefore, the responsible life is the life that answers, responds back to God the creator and “sponsor” of all.  We respond by caring for the dignity and rights of, and justice for, the others. No matter how different they are from ourselves, no matter how far away they live from ourselves, no matter how much they are on the other side of the wall or the border that somebody has put up to divide us, no matter whether they are poor or rich, no matter what gender or age or orientation they have, no matter their religion or belief: They all have the dignity we are given by the creator God. They all deserve the same universal human rights, for freedom, for food, for health and education, for the rule of law. They all deserve being protected and being treated with the same dignity and justice—from everybody. From all of us. From the local communities to the whole of humanity. No one is excluded from this dignity and justice, and no one is excused from deviating from this responsive and responsible attitude.

We all, and particularly those in power, have to exercise the gift of justice by working for it, respecting it, caring for it, and by sharing the resources of our common home.

Some institutions have this as their particular responsibility. This is the role of the state with all its institutions—for all, every day.

Therefore we have to demand more from those who are given more power than others, whether by virtue of their money, their position, their birth place or family, their position in an organization, a company, or a country.

We all need to live in the life-giving environment of justice. God’s justice is faithfulness to all human beings, all created in and carrying the image of God. This faithfulness is our hope when we look to ourselves and the mistakes and miseries we are creating. This faithfulness to life and the giver of life is what we should bring as a life-giving stream of justice, restoring and renewing life every day, everywhere.

Therefore, on the Martin Luther King Day, we recall the words of the prophet Amos: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (Amos 5:24).

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary
World Council of Churches