Tag Archives: black lives matter

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An Administration of Bandits

The African Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, writing in the dusk of the Roman empire in his book, The City of God:  “What are kingdoms without justice? They’re just gangs of bandits.”

Mr. Trump meet Bishop Augustine.  America, meet your Congress that is dedicated to obstruction and falsification and yes, burdening the poor while enriching the wealthy.  How does one live faithfully in a kingdom of bandits?  By refusing to sacrifice the assembling of one another in worship; by resisting evil by what is right and just; by rallying around those at risk and certainly, by all means, being willing to name the gansters and bandits, Diabolus.  The Congress could begin to redeem its soul by naming a Special Prosecutor to pursue Russia’s entanglement with the Trump campaign and our national election.  The judgement of God is not always swift. Sometimes it is a slow train coming around the bend (thanks to Dylan).  I can hear the click-clack rumble of that train.

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Christ: A Stranger in the United States

Christ is always coming toward us as a stranger.  Soon, we’ll read post-resurrection texts and included in those will be a  passage from John’s Gospel where Jesus stands upon the shore, peering out to the lake where his disciples –soon to be apostles—are fishing as some kind of cathartic exercise in response to despair.  They will see a figure on the shore but he is shrouded by fog and distance, unrecognizable until that distance is closed by their urgent race to the shore. They leave their boats again to run to him because while they cannot see him, they can hear him.

John’s Gospel begins by saying that Christ came into the world and the world, though made by him, did not know him.  He came as a stranger. He was perceived as a stranger both by his own family and neighbors and the Romans who killed him.  Christ is always coming toward us as a stranger.

That truth is likely why we end up with the admonishment from scripture to “not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” since you might unaware end up entertaining angels …or the Christ. Certainly we see this in the famous story in Luke’s Gospel about two disciples on the road to Emmaus who have no idea that the person journeying with them is the Risen Christ. He remained a stranger to them for their entire journey until at table, he blessed bread and then their eyes were opened. That is, they recognized him.

Once you are recognized or known, you are a stranger no longer.  This should be the point, or at least a point, in any religious response to the world and its residents:  close the distance, recognize one another as brothers and sisters.  The stranger who arrives in your midst may be the Christ coming toward you.  You should treat him or her as such.  Yet the early Church lived as strangers in the world—perhaps this is why the Gospels depict Jesus as a stranger and why the scriptures encourage kindness toward the stranger.  Hebrews 11 says that these people of faith “confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth..”  That word “foreigner” gets variously translated as “alien” and “exile.” But it has the sense of illegal aliens, persons who arrived in a foreign country and sojourned there.

Many Christians –not all of course—feel especially alienated in the United States at this moment in history.  The Senate is about to have its remaining leg of bipartisanship removed by a man who single-handedly obstructed the Constitution and stole a Supreme Court seat; the Attorney General is about to roll back civil rights by obstructing reform of police departments across the country, this despite the fact that extrajudicial killings of African-Americans is a travesty in this nation and Gov Scott of Florida is reprising the role of Pontius Pilate with a vengeance; laws to protect the water and air are being rolled back despite the facts of and danger of climate change and a renewed effort to deny healthcare to the elderly and poor and sick is under way.  For Christians who believe in the Prince of Peace, who extol justice and protection of the stranger and immigrants, who believe the bible teaches stewardship of the earth and “creation care,” who know that the stranger Christ was brought into line by the police and soldiers of Pilate, this is madness that resembles the horrifying world of early Christianity.  Christ is a stranger in the United States.

My encouragement to you as we move toward Palm Sunday and Holy Week is to recall what Jesus told his disciples, “In the world you have tribulation but take courage.  I have overcome the world.”  This Sunday, close the distance and cross the threshold of recognition so that we may no longer be strangers to one another and so in the coming days, we might work together to shelter as many as we can from the coming storm.  ~ See you Sunday.

 

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Beyond the tweeted trifling nonsense: Now is the time to worship

It is storming and you’re outside in it.  Rain in sheets and at times metal pellets of water.  Lightening, thunder, flash flood threatening you. There is a small, warm shelter nearby. What do you do?
You enter that warm shelter.
The office, the train car, the world around you is toxic.  It’s hard to breathe.  It is hard to see.  Nearby is a transparent tent.  You can see the air inside is clear and clean.  The toxic vapors are repelled and flow past it, a vapor trail.  What do you do?
You enter the clean air of that tent.
 Weariness grips you in a bone-deep ache.  Despair like shadows descend.  You see people exiting a building who seem invigorated, empowered, full of courage and hope.  They point you to the building, saying that each week they enter it and are filled, their humanity and dignity repaired.  What do you do?
Every Sunday a group of us, approximately 70, sometimes ten more sometime ten less, enter a middle school auditorium in SW Washington DC. For an hour we make that space a sanctuary of peace and a refuge, a safe place free of toxicity and hatred, a place of empowerment to all who would work for justice and peace. We sing. We pray. We listen to scripture and the Word of God is proclaimed—a Word that endures beyond the tweeted trifling nonsense of our culture.  You can taste some of this by clicking on a sermon and listening to it. Try, for example, this past Sunday’s sermon, “The Joy Formidable.”
You know when and how to get out of a storm.  You know you prefer peace to toxic rhetoric.  So what’s keeping you?  Get out of the rain.  Come, now is the time to worship. ~See you Sunday
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Again: Race & Violence in America–A Compilation of Sorrow

Iterum

Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.

Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy

Terence Crutcher.

How many times must we turn to one another and ask that the violence stop?  Race and violence in America is a problem. That is an understatement.  Gun violence continues to strike at the heart of our nation and yet, the idol worshippers of Moloch insist on feeding our children and their future to the Gun god.  Lay down your sword. Do not give your allegiance or your hearts to those who divide, hate and insist on violence.  There is no way to peace, peace is the way as the Fellowship of Reconciliation chants it.  Below is a compilation of statements made over the last few years that speak to these issues.

Open Letter to White Christians

The Mocking of Christ

Guns + Hatred in America

The Scourge of Gun Violence

Defying Injustice, Speaking Truth

Ferguson

Orlando

Shame on Jerry Falwell

Charleston

Baltimore

McKinney, Texas

Paris

Mourning Brooklyn Police Officers

Mr. Beck & Some Lives Matter

Order the Flags at Half Staff

Refuge in a Profanely Violent World

The State of Race in America

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The Conscience of the Nation Must Be Roused

Alton Sterling

Philando Castile

The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

~Frederick Douglass, 1852, “July 4th?”

Dallas Police Officers

Michael Krol
Brent Thompson
Patrick Zamarripa

Michael Smith

Lorne Ahrens

Our nation is in the grip of madness, a violence stoked by a variety of groups and individuals from right wing radio talk show hosts to hate groups.  Our Congress refuses to act while the citizens of this country are armed to the teeth.  Legislation is important.  Community policing is important. As, or more important, is a change of heart, what the bible calls repentance.  As we mourn yet more lives taken from their families and friends, we pray that a spiritual awakening ensues and we turn from violence as a solution to our differences and our problems.  Christ have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

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The Scourge of Gun Violence

Gun violence in America is a scourge.  Had an invader killed as many of our citizens, we would be demanding a declaration of war from our Congress. Instead, we hear the NRA talk about the “right to carry and conceal” and our Congress cowardly shirk before the Gun sellers.   Had a virus or plague killed as many, we would demand the CDC and other government agencies coordinate a multi-pronged effort to arrest the virus and find a vaccination.  Instead, we are subjected to lies and half-truths about the Second Amendment.

It is not patriotic to stand by as fellow citizens are murdered and wounded.

It is immoral, even if it be legal, to sell assault weapons.

Jesus told Peter to put up his sword.  Christians, stop supporting the blood soaked NRA.  Start asking your congresspersons to pass sensible laws that register and control what can be sold. Gun shop owners, stop selling assault weapons.  Put away your guns. We are reaping the whirlwind.