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Archive for May, 2015

Festival Wisdom

In the continued stream of wisdom from the Festival of Homiletics, which I attended in Denver….

Barbara Lundblad, a seminary professor, who always has incisive and searing analysis of preachers and their craft said this:

All lives matter but it’s especially crucial at this moment in our country to say “Black Lives Matter.” It’s important to fore-ground the lives that have not always been seen to matter.

She went on to recount many of the realities of discrimination and prejudice that we have not yet rooted out of our systems (many of which I shared in my sermons). These are things that I often don’t see on my own– it is my privilege not to have to see them and yet it is our call as disciples of Christ to pay attention to the experience of the least, lost and left out. Michelle Alexander’s well-researched book “The New Jim Crow” is a great start at opening our eyes to America’s history and our present realities of racial inequalities.

I have police officers in my family so when Professor Lundblad said what she said, it stopped me short. But she wasn’t saying anything against those called “to protect and serve” our communities. She went on at length and it was clear that she wasn’t even implying that blue lives don’t matter. I compare it to the discussion we had in our Reconciling process about why we had to explicitly list lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people as those who are welcome here. Isn’t it “implied” when we say “All are welcome”? And we wish it were a reality that “all” really did mean “all are welcome.” But the harsh reality is that lots of Christians say they welcome “all” but when they say it, it doesn’t include LGBT folks. So we decided it’s critical to name who the “all” is in the statement “all are welcome” because LGBT folks continue to NOT be welcome some places, and when the UM denominational policies have sadly been singled out LGBT people as not welcome in ordination or marriage, it’s important for to state LOUDLY and PROUDLY that we disagree.

So since we believe that ALL LIVES MATTER (Black lives, blue lives, queer lives)– let us say “Black Lives Matter.” Let us affirm that we will value those who have historically been considered less than fully human and we will stand with those who continue to face discrimination.

As we recognize the value in each other, we recognize God.
We embrace God’s good gift of diversity and believe all persons are of sacred worth.
Therefore, we welcome people of every age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic condition, family structure, and physical or mental ability into the full participation of this congregation. We are called by God to raise the level of hope for those who have been marginalized and singled out for exclusion, including our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers. Our passion for a wide welcome of all God’s children moves us to participate in reconciling and justice ministries so that we might truly open minds, open hearts, and open doors.

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Top 10 list

David Letterman signed off the air this week after 30 years in late night television. Apparently, we have him to thank for Top 10 lists…. so here’s one from last week’s Festival of Homiletics conference where 1750 tired and weary preachers gathered to be inspired by fabulous preaching, convicted by the insight of the best religious minds, and renewed by the fellowship of all those who feel the tyranny of writing a sermon every week.

The Top 10 Wise and Provocative saying from Walter Bruggemann. Actually it’s a top 12 list because 10 just isn’t a biblical #.

Number 12. We are in profound crisis (as our culture drifts toward fascism, monopoly, de-humanization) and so we, the church, meet regularly to see if there’s a word in the wilderness.

11. The world makes “control” a value but our God insists that true value is found in relationship not in commodities.

10. Jesus says: I’m so grateful that you’ve kept the big truths out of hands of powerful, the smart, those who value self-regard, and are in control.

9. We don’t know how to talk about Emmanuel: we confuse poetry with argument.

8. We have to keep learning it [the gospel truths] over and over because powers and principalities keep making us better offers.

7. It is simply exhausting to measure up and succeed, to strive and control. Jesus says, “If you want rest, come to me, in vulnerability, in trust” – so that the world is more like Sabbath than a brickyard.

6. The Bible offers a script of fidelity in a culture that craves certitude. It is a wonder and vexation because it does not fit into our culture.

5. The Bible maintains a critique of the gods of certitudes: the non-fleshed gods of silver and gold, of consumerism and empire–they are scarecrows with no ruah [breath] in them. If they can’t go “ahem” [to interrupt whatever folly you’re doing] you ain’t got much of a god.

4. Are we broken because we’ve been unfaithful or because God is unfaithful?

3. Over and over again, the bible vetoes our certitude.

2. Do not treat God’s violence lightly or explain it away.

1. May you be blessed with rest, even in a world of toxic restlessness.

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I subscribe to a daily devotional blog based on the Narrative Lectionary…. it helps me place my life before scripture and infuses the text in my life. Since I was in Denver this week at the Preaching Festival, I’m trying to catch up. Thursday’s entry asked what would our life look like if death no longer had dominion over it?

I’ve seen what that looks like in many faithful people. I’ve seen it in Gil Caldwell, who marched with MLK, and has stood at countless General Conference protests and still writes about anti-racism and overcoming homophobia though his body doesn’t allow him to travel to be on the physical front lines much any more.

I saw it Don Wood, who passed this week (his service is Monday @6). After his beloved wife died, Don lived as if death had no dominion over him because he knew when he died he would be passing into the nearer presence of God and Georgia.

This week in our Draw the Circle Wide series, we look at the ripples of joy as we consider Romans 6:1-14. And we ask what difference has faith made in our living?

Check out the Living God’s Story blog for a daily dose of inspiration.

http://livingingodsstory.com/2015/05/14/thursday-may-14-2015/

“We are alive to God in Christ Jesus – Hallelujah!!! But, wait. What does that look like? How in the world are we to live?

God makes it very clear what is expected of us throughout scripture. We are to love justice, to do mercy and to walk humbly with our God.

The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

When these virtues are apparent in our lives, we may be confident that we are allowing God’s Holy Spirit to work through our everyday words and actions.

It is not easy to always follow these guidelines. How are you doing? What steps might you take this week to turn to God’s ideas for a happy and peaceful life? It just might lead to a happy and peaceful world if all of us took one step in this direction.

Prayer:

Lord of grace and mercy, thank you for giving us your Word. Help us to live everyday alive in you and know that you are alive in us. Amen.”

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