Lent is a Christian season of fasting that lasts forty days leading up to Easter. It is a time of reflection and repentance during anticipation of Jesus’ crucifixion. This reflection by Pastor Ron Adams, Madison Mennonite Church, invites us to consider workers and worker justice during Lent.
In the gospel reading for the 4th Sunday of Lent (John 3: 14-21), the author describes the coming of Jesus as light coming into the world. But, the author notes, not all welcomed that light. For some, the coming of the light was not good news at all. “For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.”
Much injustice is done in secret, hidden away in the dark. Sweatshop owners depend upon their ability to keep the exploitation of workers out of the public eye. Corporations count on the same when stealing labor from their employees by forcing them to work off the clock. Much evil is done under cover of secrecy.
Change can only come when unjust practices are brought out into the light and revealed for what they are. Only then can employers be held accountable. Only then can workers be protected from exploitation. It is only with the coming of the light that justice can be done.
As people of faith, we are called to be light-bringers. We are called to shine the light in otherwise dark places, and so reveal the truth of what goes on in secret. We are called to expose injustice and to insist that employers behave in ways which don’t require closed doors and dark corners. We are called to demand that workers be treated fairly, and that they receive a just and living wage.
As John writes: “Those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” As light-bringers, we not only serve those exploited in dark places. We also call unjust employers to “do what is true” and so offer a word of hope even to those whose works are done in darkness. We offer them an invitation to come out into the light.