Tag Archives: peace and justice church

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Remembering Who We Are

I’ve been thinking about name tags.  Like when I was five years old and my mother sent me off to school the first day or week.  Was the idea that I might forget my name?  Or was it verification of who I was for the teacher?

Hospitals of course are quite meticulous these days with those wrist bands.  From patients to visitors they want everyone identified.  We get this and it’s not hard to figure out why a name tag or identity badge is important.

It becomes especially important however for persons who no longer have a clear memory.  Anyone who has had a loved one enter some phase of dementia or suffered an accident and is unconscious wants their loved one to be identified and people to know with whom they are working.

So I have a simple suggestion.  In these days of madness when the White House is now tainted by the President of the United States having invited a murderer to visit him, the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who delights in extrajudicial executions, let’s wear a name tag so we can remind ourselves who we are. And maybe we should write beneath our names, “I love justice.”  Alas, this may be so much jousting at windmills. But I do know a way to remind ourselves who we are each week and month after month.

Every Sunday in a middle school auditorium, we gather to create the beloved community. Frankly, there may be no greater counter sign to the madness of a world in love with death than to place oneself within the community of those who believe that God expects justice and righteousness and whose dream is to see these flow down like mighty streams. Worship as counter-cultural, non-violent resistance.   I invite you to remember who you are with us as we remember who we are in the presence of God, who loved the world so much… ~See you Sunday

 

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40 Days, Not 100, Are Sufficient

There is a fascination politically and in the media with the first 100 days of the Presidency (or any given presidency).  I can’t account for it though I’ve read a few pieces about this, one tracing it to the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  No matter, consider this:  there is a fascination in scripture with 40 days.

For example, in the Flood narrative in Genesis, it rains for 40 days.  Moses and the Hebrew children wander the wilderness for 40 years.  Years!  But there is that number again, 40.  Moses went into the Cloud on the Mountain for 40 days.  And later, when Moses is on the mountain inscribing the Ten Commandments, he is there 40 days and nights and does not eat or drink.  Moses sent spies into the Promised Land and they remained there 40 days.   In the temptation narrative of Christ in the Gospels, Jesus is said to have remained in the wilderness for 40 days.

I suppose what is going on here,  not only with the 40 days in scripture but with our own country’s fascination with the first 100 days of a presidency,  is that the number more or less represents a sufficient amount of time for accomplishing a task or revealing what needs to be unveiled.  The character of a person or of an event needs some time to unfold before we can assess its meaning—so 40 days or 100, by then you can gather what the significance of an event means or what the nature of the character of a person is.

We don’t need 100 days to determine this for the current occupant of the White House.  40 days was sufficient for us to realize that there is a level of intense hostility aimed at those who are at-risk in our country.  You can name it what you want, but “repeal and replace” is an effort at deny and damage.  40 days has been sufficient to unveil a level of ineptitude not only with regard to governance but with regard to a basic appreciation for how our democratic institutions function.  40 days has been sufficient to recognize that not only is this administration oblivious to climate change science, but it is intentionally dedicated to polluting our air and streams.   And of course, the mixed signals with regard to both allies and adversaries has signaled to us all that the concern that a narcissist and pathological Orwellian has his finger near the nuclear button is not over-wrought but legitimate, rational concern.

The country does not need 100 days to figure this out.  40 was sufficient.  We are in a wilderness.  We are, however, not led by Moses, but we’re being led by ruthless, duplicitous politicians whose singular goal is power, not patriotic duty.  In the mean time, we should take this lesson from scripture:  whether it is 40 days, 100 days or 40 years, the princes of this world pass but the Kingdom of God is enduring from everlasting to everlasting.  Come out of the wilderness wandering this Sunday and rest a while in a place of peace.  You have a place at the table with us.  My hunch is, if you linger with us for 40 days, you will discover a source of strength and courage for the living of your lives.

~ 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
Riverside Church Cherry Blossoms

Why I Don’t Go to Church … and why I do

I don’t attend church in order to find God. I attend church because God found me.

I do not enter the church to be entertained. Instead, my hope is that in telling the truth about my life, our world and measuring these beside the great Truth of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ, I will be challenged to live an authentic life.

I don’t attend church to have my political ideas confirmed or the platform of the Republican, Democratic or Libertarian parties stapled into my bible.  I attend in order to hear about God’s rule, sometimes translated as “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven.”

I don’t attend church to “sow a seed” in order that I might become “prosperous.”  I worship God who has blessed me already, gifted me with life and is worthy of my praise and thanksgiving.

I do not enter a church to hear a preacher denounce and berate people, spew hatred or pick on persons who are already at risk in our culture at large. I enter the church to hear about faith, hope and love since, as the Apostle Paul wrote, these three endure when everything else passes away.

I do not enter a church to gossip, text, Facebook or check email.  I turn off those devices and turn my back on gossip in order to fellowship, deepen the bonds of love and friendship between myself and God’s people.

I step out of a mad world in love with violence, stoking revenge, fixated on guns and enter the church for peace, peacemaking and justice.

There is a place of peace. Go there. Be found.  Embrace truth. Be filled with joy.  Be girded in faith.  Hold your head up in hope.  The love of Christ sustain you.  ~See you Sunday