Monday 20 August 2018

Love Mercy

A friend asked me to record a short video on what 'love mercy' means in my own life for her to use in a sermon on Micah 6:8:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

The sermon has unfortunately needed to be postponed, but I thought I'd share what I came up with here:

If the video above doesn't work for you, the text (more or less) of what I said is printed at the end of this post - or you can watch it on Youtube here.

The information that I hope to direct interested members of the congregation to is as follows.

In terms of financial value, the dominant things we buy that are likely to have been produced by slave labour are computers and mobile phones, clothing, fish, cocoa and sugar. [source]

I'm hoping to blog soon about what to do about computers and mobile phones, as I've recently come across these four sets of rankings that rate companies in terms of various ethical issues in their supply chains.  Surprisingly, it seems like buying from Apple is probably your best bet!

For information about certifications and brands that will help you be merciful to your global neighbours in those other areas, check out my existing writing on clothing, fish, cocoa and sugar.  I also cover a number of other purchasing areas in my blog post on Shopping for human rights.  I cover how you can be merciful to your global neighbours through your financial investments in 'Ethical' Kiwisaver schemes  (which is, sadly, a bit out of date) and Investments that support human rights.
In terms of showing mercy to lonely people in your neighbourhood, if you would like to initiate a 'Neighbours Day', Neighbours Day Aotearoa has resources to get your started.  You can see pictures of Neighbours Days in our street over the years and read about what we've done here.

And finally, the text of the video is as follows:
Good morning, church.

In Micah 6 we see God, through Micah, talking about how the people are living.  They’re bringing sacrifices, but they’re also violent and full of lies, plus they’re cheating each other by using false weights and measures.

In the face of this, he calls them to love mercy (also translated as kindness).

Over the years I’ve realised that I’ve been benefiting from something very similar to what these Israelites were doing.  False weights and measures are a tool that help you avoid paying an agreed price.  Many of the goods we buy today were produced by people who have been tricked into jobs that are much worse than they expected - or even into slavery.  They aren’t being paid the price they agreed.

God has called me to love mercy, and I’m now trying to do that by trying to make sure the people who make my stuff aren’t being treated like that.

I first became aware of how this applies to what I buy when I learned that roughly 10% of all the cocoa in the world is grown by child slaves.  Children who have often been trafficked away from their home country, who work completely without pay and have no way to get away.  I was really shocked when I first learned that!

I now only buy fair trade or UTZ certified chocolate.  That’s pretty much guaranteed to be child and slave labour free, and there’s a fair bit of it about if you look.  If we all only bought such chocolate, the market for people trafficking kids into cocoa slavery would collapse and the practise would stop.

I’ve since realised that similar things happen in many industries - clothing, electronics, heaps of different kinds of food.  I believe God wants us to have mercy on the people trapped in these situations.  In many areas there are certifications that let you know the workers who made the stuff were properly paid.  I’m happy to tell you more by email if you are interested or you can talk to Martin after the service.

Of course, we’re also called to be merciful and kind towards people living nearby.  My illness limits how much we can do this in person - even having extra people in the house is very draining for me - but we have had people in need to stay from time to time.

I also think a big source of misery in Auckland today is loneliness.  We live so far from our relatives and we often don’t even know the people who live next door.  I don’t have enough energy to be a friend to every lonely person on my street, but I still want to show kindness to them.  So, when the lady who used to organise an annual Neighbours Day party in our street moved away, I took over coordinating it.  It’s a great forum for people in the street to get to know each other and has led to a number of long term friendships.

However, my main focus has generally been showing mercy to my neighbours far off who are suffering so much just so we can have cheap goods.  Their suffering is hidden and needs to be brought to light and ended.

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