A necessary litany

From one of our esteemed Professor Emertus!!

liftthescreen

 

Othering
Reflecting on Orlando, June 12, 2016

So many ways to say we’re other
different clans, not my tribe
not normal, don’t look like me
not conforming, don’t act like us
dangerous, don’t believe like me

We have special words
undocumented
goy
gayjin
leper
them, not us

We have special ways to act
put you on a reservation
offer bad schools
move you out
beat you into senselessness
make you use a different bathroom
lynch you
gun you down
je suis Orlando
je suis Omar

So few ways to say
we belong
we’re one
we’re family

Let me try

Started out
in the same
Big Bang
stardust every one

Clambered out
of the primeval soup
as one

Shinnied up the
tree of life
together
absorbed the same
Chimpanzee stock

Migrated out of Africa
together refugees
from the Savannah

The same good God
breathed life
into our clay
in the…

View original post 61 more words

What’s in a Name? #decolonizeGod’sName

An article that was just shared on the ELCA Facebook page, highlighted a shocking event where the PCUSA dared to participate in a prayer to God….simply because they spoke the name of God as..

Allah

When did we have copyright on what God’s Name should be?

I’m not understanding why we get all worked up when we use all of the expressions for God

I am a part of this movement to #decolonizeAllTheThings, specifically around religion and especially as..

#decolonizeLutheranism

Ase,

Ameen

Peace Be Upon You

Blessed Be.

 

Willing to Follow Jesus?

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

The Good News is freeing,

The Gospel is challenging

And Jesus,

Are we willing

To follow Him?

Amen.

(pause)

 

It’s been 15 years,

15 years

Since I returned from my wanderings

Back Home.

I believe I may have shared this story before,

But it is an important one,

Because we as humans,

Want God

To show us

Before we will follow

Before we will take that risk.

15 years when I walked down an aisle

At Trinity UCC

Returning to the Creator’s arms

And I thought,

Everything would be alright

That all of the answers I sought

Would be clearer

That I would be filled with the Holy Spirit

As vibrant and as grounded,

As many God-filled and fearing women

I knew in my circles.

(pause)

15 years later

I find myself irate with the Creator

Last year,

Weeping for the Charleston 9

I had the opportunity to drive out to camp,

Taking the little Gator buggy

I just raced out onto the empty prairie

Driving as fast as my grief would carry me

Why God why?

Why them?

And why don’t you God,

Do something about it?

And don’t dare tell me

I have to forgive

Or still pray for those

Who are bound and determined

To harm others,

Who are different,

Who express their faith in the Creator in beautiful ways

Don’t remind me, God

That if these people

Who have come into our communities

Wiped away lives so easily

If they come to you,

Humbled

Contrite

Remorseful

That they are forgiven?

(pause)

We as people of faith

Struggle with the knowledge

The Truth of the Gospel,

That God’s Grace

Mercy

Forgiveness

Is for every living,

Breathing

Soul.

Can we admit, beloved

That sometimes we hope

That Jesus Christ,

Just once

Would reject those

Less deserving,

Just as the disciples here

In our Gospel this morning,

Did with the Samaritans

When they seemingly

Rejected

Jesus.

(pause)

The Samaritans

Were

Despised

There was no love lost between them

And the Jews.

Why?

The Jews held Jerusalem as Holy Ground

The Samaritans, Mount Gerizim

The Samaritans proclaimed that they

Were descended from the 10 lost tribes

Taken into Assyrian captivity

That their version of the Pentateuch is valid and true,

When the Jews returned from exile,

They found strange people,

Inhabiting their land

Worshiping the same Hebrew God

But still uplifting,

Recognizing

The original gods, angels, spirits

Of their people

In other words,

The Samaritans were deemed not to be as faithful

Orthodox,

Just as sometimes

We as Christians are quick to condemn others

Simply because they do not things the right, scripted way,

And instead,

Only want to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead

Because that is where,

They

Experience

The fullness

And richness

Of God

(pause)

So it’s the same knee jerk reaction

That descends upon the disciples

Even though

They have been taught

Witnessed

The Love of the Creator God,

Through Jesus

For all people

Regardless

(pause)

But Jesus,

Sounds agitated

Right?

He rebukes

Admonishes

His disciples

We don’t know what Jesus said to them..

But the word in the Biblical Greek,

ep-ee-tee-mah’-o

Suggests harsh action-

For Jesus has rebuked Peter when he spoke out of turn,

Rebuked the devil through his lies

The winds which were violently out of control,

Sickness and death,

When it attempted to take a little girl’s life.

(pause)

I wonder,

In the midst of all of the infighting,

The destruction

Of many lands

Squabbled over

Which belong to

Created by,

A Loving God

These lands where blood flows frequently

Where selfish desires are rampant

I wonder

Would they even listen to our Risen Savior Jesus Christ

If Jesus stood in the midst of the Gaza Strip

And rebuked humanity,

To STOP the convicting of one another

(pause)

But the Samaritans rejected Jesus!

Or,

Were they afraid?

Because Jesus Christ’s

“face was set towards Jerusalem”

We miss what the beginning of this passage states

The significance

Jesus was going to confront the oppression,

Because where Jesus goes,

He always breaks the taboos

Who Jesus is,

Shatters reality

Because Jesus comes

To give everyone,

ALL

A sense of Peace

And Grace

Regardless of social status

Or political alignment

Or ancestral lineage

And Jesus would do this,

Through His teachings

His Miracles

And yes,

His Death.

(pause)

And Jesus stirring up this trouble,

To the Samaritans

Meant trouble for them

So if they allowed Jesus to be among them,

Already marked as a maligned

Subjected people,

The wrath of whatever Jesus was planning to do

Would come raining down upon them

Like a plague.

They are fearful,

Just as we sometimes become, beloved

(pause)

Who Jesus is, was

And continues to be

Is frighteningly countercultural

The cross, we find

When we accept this journey

When we accept and embrace Christianity

Is not a symbol of valor or might-

But of awkwardness

Ugliness

Difficult

And treacherous.

It means that we have to drop everything

And follow Jesus

Regardless

And that is so hard!

Practicing what we preach and teach,

Leaning on Jesus Christ,

Jesus who we do not have the joy of physically seeing

Or touching

As the disciples were able

Is HARD

Doing what the Risen Christ commands us to do

Is TERRIFYING

Because it means,

We have to go against the grain,

We have to show up

Be public witnesses

Speak out

Be BOLD, right?

(pause)

Even though

There seems to be no comfort

In these texts this morning,

Jesus says,

“Follow me”

The Good News is,

Jesus does not abandon us

Reject us

But tells us

To follow Him.

Follow Him even when things are difficult

Spiral out of our control

Make absolutely NO SENSE

Goes against the status quo

Or even,

When we are rejected by others

Because we choose to walk His path

Of Love.

(pause)

The Risen Son beckons me to focus on Him and follow Him

The Holy Spirit infuses me and empowers me to never be afraid

to express my RIGHTEOUS ANGER

God, the Creator who fills my heart and shakes my spirit

Tells me its alright

Alright to get angry

With those who are not following GOD’s COMMANDMENT

Of Love

But that it is the Creator God

Who has the power

to TRANSFORM

Even

the Darkest

of

Hearts

(pause)

Thanks Be to God.

 

 

The End of An Era

It seems that the season of mass exodus is upon us,

And this time, we are a part of wave after wave 

Seven years, three apartments, one degree and immersed in sacredness,

Will there ever be a time when I am not enfolded into Creation

What awaits me?

Will my heartbeat echo always here?

In this community?

This week, my family and I said good-bye to an enriching and nourishing community of faith; a place where for seven years, regardless of what courtyards we were a part of, our children could be just that. Where we literally knew everyone around us; where community was as intentional as humanly possible.

I wish everyone could experience this.

I wish that communal living was not seen as something hippie or twisted.

I will miss the Seminary Community as a seminarian.

As an Alumni, there is so much more to give and I am thankful for the transformative role

that only the Creator can give, and has, to me.

So now,

Onto the next!

ASE

ASE

AMEN!



Speechless

O Lord Hear my Prayer

O Lord Hear my Prayer,

When I call

Answer me

O Lord Hear My Prayer

O Lord Hear My Prayer

Come and Listen to me

(pause)

This song resonated with me

This song remained with me this week

This is the only thing that my heart could muster

I am speechless, beloved

Because

The cries continue

A voice cries out in the bleak wilderness

A cry is heard in Ramallah

It echoes in Charleston

And in Orlando

Deep anguish

Bitter weeping

Rachel weeps,

Mothers weep

Fathers weep

We as a community weep

For our Children

For our sisters and brothers

And we cannot

We refuse

To be comforted

Because this sickness of violence

Is warped into the fabric of our everyday

It has been one year,

Since Charleston

It has been one week,

Since Orlando

And beloved,

I cannot ignore the cries

As Called and Ordained

As a Follower of Christ

I cannot stand here

And tell you

That I am not affected

I cannot preach

A feel good Gospel,

The Good News of Jesus Christ,

Tells us

Reminds us,

That we are LOVED

Through all of the persecution

We as followers of Christ

Have experienced

But,

Our response

To these tragedies

Is not

APATHY

Our response

Is Prayer

Our response

Is through Prayer

Our response

Is Love

Through Action

Our response

Is to do,

Something

Our response

As Christians,

Is to be public with our witness

Professing

Proclaiming

We serve a mighty God

Whose omnipotent presence,

And everlasting love

Knows no boundaries

And, yes

Who weeps

(pause)

In the movie,

Passion of the Christ

As Jesus gives up His life,

There is this one stark scene

Where a single raindrop

Hovers

Falls

As if God is weeping

As if God is mourning this devastating loss

Isn’t it Good News to know

That just as the Creator weeps for Jesus,

That God weeps for us?

For every life lost

For every life taken for granted

For every time

Humanity submits to the demonic

(pause)

Is it strange to hear

God’s Lament

Here in Isaiah?

I held out my hands

All day long

To a rebellious people

Who walk in a way

That is not good”

The Creator God is lament as God’s People

Return from exile

Establishing order,

And community

Would not be easy for a people who had been oppressed,

Enslaved

They were faced with

Famine,

Economic downturn

Political jockeying for power

And forgot whose they were

Instead relying on faith, they turned inward

They stopped listening to the whispers in Creation

Messages from God

They wore masks and appeared holy

While rejecting their responsibility to one another

Deeming themselves and their status to being too important

Creating and enjoying privilege at the cost of others

(pause)

Martin Luther warns us in his writings

That we as humanity

Routinely bend inward

Away from God

“A people who provoke me,

To my face continually”

Because we are prideful

Spiteful

We attempt to be our own god,

the ground of our own existence

Severing ties,

And bit by bit,

Unraveling the beloved community

(pause)

Therefore then, its easy to refuse

Those who come into sacred spaces

Whom we do not know

A meal,

The Table

Simply because they are different

The peace

Simply because they look different

We are stingy with this precious gift of Agape

We judge the “other” as being unworthy

As if we had the power and authority!

(pause)

Or that we misuse our self perceived rights

Simply because Jesus Loved us,

And died for us

Therefore Jesus Christ and all His power

Selfishly belongs to the “in crowd”

But we forget that the word “rights”

Means stewardship

The responsibility for one another

The joy of serving, working

Community

Aren’t we, as God’s Beloved

Supposed to do because of Love?

(pause)

Each breath,

We exhale,

Is our souls

Reaching outward

To the Light

Towards the presence

Of the One

Who has the Power

To wipe away all tears

To heal us

To exorcise us out of darkness

The darkness

Which overpowers us

In our weakness

In our sins

Seduces

Traps

Binds us

Until we can not hear

“Go in Peace”

Until we can not hear

“You are Loved”

Until we can not hear

“You are forgiven”

And instead,

We are lost

And we cannot wipe away the scales

Plastered to our eyes

So we don’t see

The reflection of the Christ

In one another

And we find ourselves

Possessed

Damaged

Unsalvageable

(pause)

And suddenly,

We somehow see,

Just as this unknown man saw

Just as that which was poisonous within him

Knew,

Recognized the One

Who had, Who has

POWER

RESURRECTION POWER

Over death

Over evil

And COMMANDS IT

TO LEAVE US

BECAUSE WE ARE GOD’S.

Because there is nothing on this Earth

That has the cure,

Like Jesus Christ

NOTHING!

(pause)

But,

Sometimes,

The demonic refuses to let go

And suddenly

One person

Is lost in that darkness

Goes into a church

Violates Holy people

Goes into a school

Violates innocent lives

Goes into a place of social gathering

Violates sacred bodies

(pause)

But the Good News is,

God does not give up

On us

As the wine is found in the cluster,

And they say, do not destroy it

So I will do for my servants’ sake

And not destroy them all.”

(pause)

Holy Spirit moved at this point to charge the congregation not to judge but to embrace; reminded as just as there were 49 places in various pews in our congregation that were empty, these stood for the 49 people who were murdered because of who they were and who they loved

 

Thanks Be to God.

 

A Change is Gonna Come

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Let the faith of those

Who have nothing to lose,

Shake us loose

Bringing us closer

Into the fullness

Of the One,

Who practiced radical hospitality

Of being vulnerable

On the Cross

Amen.

 (pause)

Stories are effective snapshots

Weaving our collective experiences together

Until we are not sure where the individual strands of our lives

End, and the community begins.

(share the story about how during Advent services three years ago in the midst of MIC at Prince of Peace, a homeless man came into worship and sat among the faithful. In the midst of the prayers of intercession, he got up and wandered down the aisle, with this bundle in his hands. He approached the figures of Mary and the infant Jesus, and placed this bundle at Jesus’s feet. His face was a mixture of emotions, as if he was trying to express even in the midst of his pain that he was thankful for who Jesus was and is, and remains to be. As he walked back up the aisle, he reminded me of my husband’s grandfather-who during our visits to Kentucky and to his church, when the spirit moved him, he would raise his hands in glory, praising God.)

 We,

As the pastoral leadership did not stop service,

Or pause in our praying to correct him

Allowing this expression of faith to blossom in that sacred space,

As if exposing our fears,

Our doubts

Our hurts

Was natural.

(pause)

How would we react today,

If someone came down this aisle,

In the midst of service,

In the midst of prayers,

Lingered at the communion rail,

Wept before the cross,

Disrupted the normalcy that we come to expect in worship.

Who are we, beloved?

A church of saints, welcoming sinners?

Or

A church of sinners,

Welcoming our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ?

(pause)

The Gospel this morning,

Another example of expressing true faith

From someone who has no status

No citizenship

No community connection

No name worth remembering

No credentials

Nothing to loose,

By coming before the throne of grace

Before Jesus Christ

A woman,

Who has nothing,

Except for her love and respect

For this Son of God,

Called Jesus

A woman,

Who would be uplifted more in Jesus’s presence

Than even the disciples,

Who were chosen by Him

Than even the Pharisees

Who were highly educated,

Well versed in ritual

Privileged through the law

To be in that space with Jesus-

But Jesus sees her

“Do you see this woman?”

Knows who she is

That her life,

Her existence

Is just as essential

As everyone else

In Creation,

And because of who He is

She is empowered

To break the social taboos.

I wonder,

Why we as people of faith,

Cannot see her,

As a beloved child of God.

Because countless times throughout commentaries

And even through sermons,

It is her supposed sin,

That is recognized

Before her pain,

And suffering,

That those in the room are disgusted

By her presence

“She is a sinner”

What is her sin, exactly?

When our fellow sisters and brothers,

Don’t follow the norm,

As prescribe by humanity

So that we,

Not they

Are comfortable

Don’t adhere to the laws,

As translated by humanity

Even though we as humanity

Sometimes makes it difficult

For our fellow sisters and brothers

To even exist,

Or exercise their human and civil rights?

Don’t follow the social conformities

As demanded by humanity

See this pattern?

(pause)

Why then do we,

As humanity

Dehumanize them-

These,

Our neighbors,

Our community members

Whether they are known to us,

Or not?

Why then,

Do we rename them,

By their sin

By their supposed sin,

That we have damned them with

Until we have instituted legal ways,

To where we don’t have to be bothered

With these,

Broken

Outcast

People.

(pause)

And yet,

Her public outpouring of herself

Towards the One

Who would show the greatest hospitality

By giving up that which is most precious

His LIFE

Should give us pause,

Should even shame us.

(pause)

Because sometimes,

When we have reached that pinnacle,

Our position in life

We forget God

We are remiss in praising God

Delighting in God

It comes distasteful

With carefree abandon

To run down the aisle

With childlike joy,

Like KJ

Immersed in a moment of thanking and worshiping God

Enjoying that moment of FREEDOM

Because we are in a sacred space,

Among our sisters and brothers in Christ and in Love

Beloved,

Are we a church full of saints,

Or

A church of sinners,

Who are transformed

Through each step we take,

Towards each other

Towards the Cross

Towards the One who is WAITING

At the Table

For us.

(pause)

And maybe,

That’s it.

Maybe this unmentioned

Uninvited woman,

Who dared to become visible

In that place

Of Teachers,

Elders

Of the self-righteous

Was a reminder

Of those that they had chosen to ignore

Misuse

Reject

And in that moment

The tables were turned

Because Jesus

Without caring about her SIN

Without asking her to accept and acknowledge who he was

Without going through all the rigmarole to prove her humanity

BLESSED HER

FORGAVE HER

(pause)

Maybe,

That withered,

Homeless man

Who came in the midst of the community,

Of Prince of Peace,

That Advent Sunday morning,

Was,

Is a reminder

That humanity is horrible to one another

Too numerous times

Than we wish to confess

That we really don’t want to face that truth

That we want to shut out these very real stories

Of pain,

Of suffering

Of callousness

Of starvation

Because his presence,

Exposes our own hurts

Our own sorrow

Our own weaknesses

And that we come to the realization

That we,

Are not too much different

From one another

(pause)

And yet,

That is Good News

Because Jesus Christ sees us,

Sees our brokenness,

Sees our need,

Sees us weeping

Sees where we have gone astray,

And teaches us,

Reminds us

Uplifts us

And

LOVES US

“Your sins are forgiven”

In the midst of our lives,

THAT

That is the blessing

The affirmation

The healing

We so desperately,

Need

Jesus Christ loves us deeply,

And forgives us

Regardless.

(pause)

This past week,

In the midst of sacred community,

And conversations we were having

These lyrics from Sam Cooke’s song

Surfaced

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die

‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky

It’s been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes it will

It reminded me of this unnamed woman,

Who had experienced all sorts of negativity

In those who should have embraced her,

Who perhaps, only had heard stories about Jesus

Wasn’t really sure,

Shaking

Weeping

Hoping

Praying

For some bit of declaration

That God loved her.

Your faith has rescued,

Preserved you

Go in peace.”

She stepped out on faith, beloved

Now,

We too,

Have heard Jesus bless us

Forgive us

Now, how can we

Change

Impact,

This world?

Thanks be to God.