She’s Going to Harvard Law

This week she starts Harvard Law School. I remember when she spent the summer with us in Burundi, walking the dusty neighborhood, trying out her Kirundi and lovin’ on my kids. She wanted more than the American dream, she hungered for God’s dream for the world and her place in it. She left the comfort of Arizona, inviting instead confrontation with a different reality lived on the African street. She saw injustice, she had eyes to see those living in its shadow.

A few years later she still hungers for something more than great ease, high earnings and an endless supply of tortilla chips and salsa. (Well, that last one is up for debate…) Whatever the arc of her future, the pursuit of justice will shape it. Her direction will never veer away from hurting, invisible, misrepresented people. Her life, she’s determined, will be lived for the sake of the neighborhood.

So as she enters Harvard’s campus today for orientation, I think of God’s own orientation toward justice. How often does He decry deceptive scales that weigh in favor of the rich, or show anger when the most vulnerable (orphans and widows) and marginalized (foreigners and non-jews) are excluded from justice? It was the treatment of the poor that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Low wages, exploitation of workers and quarreling invalidated the holy fast according to Isaiah. Unfair marketplace practices caused Jesus to turn tables upside down in the temple. God clearly says (and shows) He hates injustice. He tells us to maintain justice, and promises those who hunger for it will be filled.

No doubt Sarah’s syllabi will send her to the library to learn a new vocabulary for justice – property law, family law, criminal law, patent law, maritime and environmental law. She will learn to question, probe, parse, analyze and argue. She might become adept at litigation, mediation or advocacy. She certainly will succeed, emerging as a great legal mind.

But for my friend at Harvard I hope her feet remain rooted in justice as God defines it. I hope she remembers the places she has walked and the brokenness witnessed where no one else was looking. I hope her hunger for God’s rightness and goodness in the world will never be quenched and that she will never tire of following Him to the hard places. (I imagine there will be times she tires of a string of late nights in the library with piles of books and, knowing Sarah, stacks of flash cards. But that kind of tired is not what I am talking about here.)

Sarah, you are a Harvard Law student now. I pray you will know the deep contours of justice. I pray that you will hear the cries of the poor and the groaning that comes from the margins and never let your heart grow hard. I pray that each day your imagination for God’s shalom will increase, that you will be fine tuned for connections and insights as if by the Spirit. May you have eyes to see and ears to hear how God would move you forward to be a beacon of justice in a world riddled with imbalanced scales and unjust systems.

May you follow the path of Isaiah – assisting the hungry, homeless, naked and families of the neighborhood. God promises a praxis of justice like that will get His attention every time. And then He will give you a new name, better than that of Harvard Law Graduate. He will call you ‘repairer of the breach and restorer of the streets.’ May your pursuit of this law degree equip you to be all God has destined for you to be in this world, sweet Sarah.

I am so proud of you, so excited for you, so in awe of you!

What are your prayers for the students entering Harvard Law School this week?

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All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.