Today we hosted the local World Day of Prayer service, with the theme “Let Justice Prevail!” Thanks to all the women from all the churches that made this service possible.

Habakkuk 1:2-4; 1:5; 3:2; 3:17-19; Luke 18:1-8

That was a fairly unlikely conversion story, wasn’t it? The parable is about prayer, of course, as Luke tells us, but it’s wrapped in this story of a judge who doesn’t care. That is, a judge who didn’t care. Now he does. And why? Because he finally didn’t have a better option. It finally came to him that the only way he was going to get any peace and quiet would be to give this widow her due. Maybe it’s just the beginning of a conversion story – we’d have to walk alongside this judge for a while to see how his new respect for justice changes his heart – but at least it is a beginning.

Here’s what I think the real beginning was: when the widow kept showing her face to the judge. Not just that the judge lost patience with the constant knocking, but that she gave him no excuse for not recognizing her. She took away his ability to ignore her, to pass by her on the street, to write her off as one more squeaky wheel looking for some grease. He had that ability, at least at first, because he was powerful, probably wealthy, and certainly willing to go about his own business without too much concern for the “little people” he passed by every day. But the same face at the window, the same voice at the door, the same life insisting on justice – eventually she became a real person to the judge, and that’s when everything changed.

What’s the difference between squeaky wheels and real people? Well, it has to do with how clearly you’re listening, how fast you’re moving, how willing you are to see. It’s the difference between watching some faraway place on the evening news and knowing that those places exist in real life, that people who could be your friends and family happen to live and persevere in those places. It’s the difference between throwing spare change at a homeless person and taking them out to lunch. It’s the difference between taking the edge off of problems and creating a faithful community.

When we pray with church women in Malaysia, I pray that we’re not just picturing some far-off part of the world we’ll never see or understand. I pray that we’re remembering how deeply interconnected our lives are, because if nothing else, today we’re probably praying with and for some of the women who helped make our computers. I pray that we’re seeking a connection, beyond what we’re capable of knowing and understanding, built on the fact that we and they are children of God. I pray that we’re not trying to appease the voices that call for justice, but rather listening more closely for them.

The voice that cries out for justice, the voice that is not satisfied until the world is more fair, free, and peaceful, isn’t just the voice of a widow in a story. The voice that we hear, the one that gently but urgently calls us to know and serve our neighbors everywhere, that’s the voice of God. May it call, and call, and call, and may we have the grace to see, hear, pray, and respond. In Jesus’ name, amen.