Today’s Author: Deacon Kari Alice Olsen, Mission Developer and Director of Shobi’s Table

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
Luke 1:51-53

In Mary’s Song, she seems to be holding a kind of joy that is both like a seed and already like an entire forest, both heavy and light, both intimate and public, both now and forever.   In knowing of the tiny child still growing in her womb, known at that moment to only a few people, she is given a prophecy that will affect the whole world, from generation to generation.  She is given a picture of the future that is now, already, and not yet.  He has already shown the strength of his arm, he is scattering the thoughts of the proud, he will bring down the powerful. He has filled the hungry with good things! 

This can be hard to believe. It is especially hard to believe when we see hungry people who are not filled, and hope feels far away that things could really change.  I admit that even when I have begun a day in gratitude, I still wonder if the meals we serve can possibly do any real good. Are we actually doing the work of justice in our neighborhood? Our city? Our country? Our world?  There are so many hungry people and too many food deserts to count! 

The work of orienting the world towards justice can be incredibly overwhelming.  How can it be that everyone gets shelter, food, water, safety, respect and love… let alone a life that has capacity for rest, laughter, joy?  How can it be when we see so many who do not have what they need?  How can we possibly continue to work for the well-being of our whole community when we continue to see the same problems stagnate and new ones arise?  

And yet… and yet, there are other times at Shobi’s Table when I get caught up in the picture before me, a still life of the busy kitchen or the food truck, and I feel a seed of joy.  A joy like Mary felt, like a seed of the tree to come, like a prophecy fulfilled now and not yet.  A joy that anticipates being too deep, too wide, too overwhelming … to be held in this one moment, or even by one person. 

Question: In our culture, especially where we approach time as mostly linear, how do you understand God’s justice to be already and not yet?