This year I attended the 2012 Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) is a conference and lobby day of Christian groups and organizations that gather in March to raise our ecumenical voice in addressing social injustice to our congressional representatives. This year, which is the 10th anniversary of EAD, the coalition chose to focus on the federal budget and our call was to advocate for a moral budget that funds essential services and programs to protect our poor and low income community both here and internationally.
The theme for this year was “Is this the Fast I seek.” It comes to us from the book of Isaiah and our opening keynote speaker on Friday night, Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer, took the EAD participants on a theological journey that set the tone for the weekend conference. Rev. Aymer placed this prophetic passage in Isaiah within its historical context and powerfully preached on how this message must resonate with our present social reality and our budget priorities. Isaiah reminds the Kingdom of Judah that God does not seek an empty fast that is merely symbolic amidst social and economic injustice. After critiquing this empty fast the God of Isaiah tells Judah (and Rev. Aymer reminds us):
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? – Isaiah 58:6-7
This was the message that was before us as we considered the budget issues in our other talks and workshops. This was the message that we brought before Congress on Monday the 26th of March when we visited our congregational representatives. Our message was simple yet strong. Our budget is a moral document and we the faith community are urging our congressional representatives to prioritize the fundamental Judeo-Christian morality that Isaiah articulates here and Jesus Christ reaffirms as they consider developing a responsible budget for this coming year.