Devotions from the Big Easy: “Excuse Me, Mr.”

Our first full day at the Youth Gathering was spent on “Justice Day”. One of the songs that really hits at my sense of justice is this older Ben Harper tune called “Excuse Me, Mister.” Before we go any further, listen to the song.



One of the things we’re looking at down here on justice day is trying to pinpoint what is justice? Is what is just for someone, just for everyone? Last week in church we read about the beheading of John the Baptist. Where’s justice in that? Or when you think back to the fact that Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans 7 years ago — 7 years! — and this city is still reeling from that storm. There are people who are still trying to put their life back together. They’ve spent the last 7 years trying to get back to where they were in 2005. Where is our sense of justice in that?

I think the thing that sticks out with this song, is that it puts the responsibility back on us to help each other. There’s no single person that’s designated as the “Mr.” in the song. But it could be anyone. So many of us, myself included, did nothing in the face of that storm. And not even Katrina, but so often when bad things happen, we feel so detached from each other.

So I think “Excuse Me, Mr” is actually about getting reconnected to ourselves and our responsibility to do what we can to help our neighbor. In Micah 6, we hear about how the prophet is trying to find new ways of atoning for his sins, through different sacrifices and other things like that. The prophet gets a new command that lasts through to our time as well. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

So today we focus on justice.


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