Special Editorial: After One Year – Rev. Dr. Linda Thomas, Blog Editor

If there is only one blog that you subscribe to, it should be this one. Dr. Linda Thomas continues to be a voice and lift up all voices!

We Talk. We Listen.

Linda Thomas at CTS eventIt has been just a little over one year since we launched “We Talk. We Listen.” And what a year it has been. We’ve had conversations about Islamophobia, two trans authors have shared their stories with us, stories of community and sexuality from Latino seminarians – and a wide host of conversations about how the call of the Gospel takes us all throughout the world, in and out of the church. So this week I’m simply going to give my observations for the year, as well as give my thanks and issue a challenge to all of our readers. We have only just begun our work. So keep reading and keep praying and keep commenting and keep on going!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of the LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor –“We Talk. We Listen.”


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As “We Talk. We Listen.” crosses the threshold…

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Radical Hospitality 2.o

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

What is our purpose,

Our call

Towards this fragmented world?

Not just being humble,

Not just walking with God,

But extending to others that same radical hospitality

Given to us, freely

Because of the One, who loves us

Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord.

Amen

(pause)

My husband loves to tell the story of his Grandmother,

Fondly known as Big Ma.

Each holiday season,

Without fail,

Without anything in return,

She would could dinners for all of the postal workers,

Police and Firefighters

In her neighborhood on the South side of Chicago,

This was her way,

Of saying thank you,

For the service they performed, almost 24/7

For those in this neighborhood, and the whole community

And it was not just a couple of people, or maybe just the local fire house

As a child, my husband watched the stream of hundreds of people

In and out her kitchen for years!

Big Ma gave of herself, and of her resources!

These dinners were not offered at a cost

She was not a wealthy lady

She lived in a working class neighborhood

Which took care of their own

She, and many others like her

Lived out this radical hospitality

Because they had heard the Gospel,

And how the Creator God extended to them,

Without expecting anything in return

A Love without no end.

(pause)

Hearing tales such as this,

We are astounded by such selflessness

We try to quantify on the how’s

And we continue to bury ourselves in,

“But there is no way we could do that today.

We don’t have the assets,

Or the time.”

(pause)

We are not fully living into our purpose,

As people of faith, beloved.

What effectiveness,

Could we accomplish,

If we discarded the misconception

That ministry,

Only is possible,

When carefully scheduled?

Or endless access to resources.

(pause)

The Holy Spirit was definitely gaining momentum last Sunday

Stemming from many of you

Many were excited about this idea

Of not just taking breakfast to our first responders

But,

“Pastor, we need to get them to come here!”

This is ministry in motion,

Sharing this sacred space

By offering breakfast,

A simple, ordinary meal

Of pancakes and sausage,

Something many of us cook in our own homes

For our own families,

Extending to them,

These,

The Police Officers

And Firefighters

Tirelessly giving of themselves as humanly possible

Feeding them out of love

Is ministry.

(pause)

The kitchen

The dining room table,

Is where

Over Food,

Lives are shared

Stories flow

People are bonded

Stewardship of life happens!

(pause)

In fact,

The Fire Department in town was singing our praises

So delighted that we were doing this,

“Redeemer is so generous in helping us with our food drive!”

Especially mentioning our two usual suspects

Gert and Ted

(pause)

But

What if,

We,

The collective community of Christ

Not only invited those

Who have status in the communities we too are present

Who in turn would sing our praises publicly?

In those avenues of influence

Attracting a little more recognition and potential members

To come and join the Christian band

(pause)

What if we invited

“the poor,

The crippled

The lame

And the blind.”

As Jesus calls us to?

What if we invited

The homeless, who bring their invisible friends along

Those who identify as transgendered,

An existence that still is confusing and complex to many of us

Those who are still caught in the throes of meth addiction,

Because the drug embeds itself, attaching underneath of the skin

Those who give up to others their sacred bodies,

Because that’s only commodity they have to live.

What if we opened up this space,

Invited them to sit down with us

Heard their stories

Offered up our food to them?

Knowing that they could not

In no uncertain terms

EVER repay us

There would be no recognition

No recouping our time or money or food

(pause)

Why do it then,

Especially on these…undeserving…people, right?

(pause)

We’ve heard this mantra time and again,

Pushed out by society as propaganda,

Punishing them for taking the drugs or the alcohol

Although not acknowledging

That not having a healthy family system

Or accessibility to community resources towards healing

Is probably a huge factor for them

Not emerging from that hellish darkness

(pause)

Punishing them for not having enough strength

To leave an abusive situation

Although not acknowledging that neither the system

Nor the laws

Are enforced to protect the vulnerable

To protect and shatter that wall of silence and shame

And that there is an absence of places of safety

And yet people picket and proclaim

They are pro-life

(pause)

Punishing them for being lazy

Not getting up and finding work,

And a home

Although not acknowledging that the absence of radical hospitality

And this system of inequality imbedded in our society

To where people don’t get a living wage,

So they can get 8 hours of sleep in a clean bed

So they can look presentable when we invite them to the table…

And we,

Who stand in these greener pastures

Who are jockeying for a place of honor at the table

Are shocked when a guest,

Named Jesus,

Begins to call us out

To something deeper.

(pause)

In this Gospel passage,

We as sisters and brothers in Christ,

May have been exposed to a superficial message-

If you are seen as humble

And you give up your seat

Your host will surely see you,

And reward you

With an even better one!

This is sometimes where,

The Gospel starts,

And stops

Do good,

So you can profit.

Jesus delves deeper,

Challenging those who were gathered,

Once more breaking the rules,

As He just has done,

Healing on the Sabbath,

Now,

Dispersing with proper guest etiquette.

Jesus teaches them

And reminds us

That this hospitality

Goes beyond our understanding

Speaking

“When you are invited by someone

To a wedding banquet”

(pause)

The wedding banquet

Where families,

Extended communities

Friends

Gathered together to celebrate

New beginnings

Fellowship

Reconnect,

And yes, even a little vanity because we are human,

To be seen.

But how many of us have caught ourselves grumbling,

When we do not have a prominent or favorable seating place

When our table is all the way in the back of the banquet hall,

Especially when,

We broadcast how much we have spent

Or how many wedding gifts we have brought.

(pause)

How many times,

Have we seen among churches,

On Sunday mornings

A sacred time to come together,

To worship,

To celebrate Life

And yes,

To be seen.

Especially when we hear people grumbling

When the guests or visitors sit in the front pews,

That clearly belong to so and so’s family,

Whose family founded this church

Or whose family funds this church.

Worse even,

We scrutinize who can,

Who is deserving enough

To be called to the Table,

As if we are in control.

We stand at the doors of the church,

Not to welcome,

But to criticize

Seeing if they pass our test

We want to see what they are bringing,

what they are offering

Rather than going beyond our comfort zone,

Our church doors,

Inviting those who are discarded by others,

Into a place of honor in our sacred space

We shut the doors,

In so many ways.

Rather than following Jesus’s instructions

Following Jesus’s footsteps,

We ignore what He has called us to,

And we seek those places of honor

Because in this life,

Sometimes sadly it brings us comfort,

Because it’s something we are able to hold up

Or hold onto,

(pause)

The wedding banquet

The day that the kingdom of God,

And this broken Creation

Will be melded into One

Who then, will have that place of honor?

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Remember the two sons of Zebee-

“Jesus, which one of us will sit on your right and your left?”

Will we be arguing about this, even on that day of days?

About who should enter first or be seated first?

Is it by the number of days we performed charitable tasks?

Or how much we have given? Will we have receipts or spreadsheets to back this up?

(pause)

“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled,

Those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Good News is,

And what we have forgotten beloved,

Is that Jesus Christ,

Gave up that place of prestige,

And honor

Gave up something most precious

Himself

Offered up Himself AT THE TABLE,

So that we,

Children of God,

Would be able to be fed,

Nourished

Healed

Made Whole

So that we would have LIFE

We forget that Jesus Christ,

The Son of God,

Lived out a radical hospitality

So that we might forever be connected

With the Creator God,

Because of God’s Love,

And Mercy.

But the Good News is,

Jesus becomes that guest once more-

Jesus teaches us,

Instead of discarding us,

Because we are unworthy,

Unlovable

Undeserving at times

But Jesus does not see us marked by our SINS.

Jesus sees us as beloved children of the Creator

Jesus has lived His life as us,

And Jesus Forgives US

And then extends that radical hospitality-

HERE

Empowers us RIGHT HERE

At the TABLE

Jesus is host,

And transforms our unworthiness,

Our emptiness

Into life sustaining mercy and grace.

(*Disclaimer* The following ending to my sermon was ad libed or rather flowed as the Holy Spirit pushed me, but the following words are my thoughts…

end with the story about being immersed in a sabbatical moment last weekend with the BFF and company, and how this homeless person was asking for money…and then asked for leftovers seeing we were carrying food. I had a couple of knee jerk reactions-Giving someone who hasn’t eaten and has no access whatsoever to good food, to give him something that I had eaten-was a horrible idea, and treating that person as if they were nothing more than an animal. My husband, seeing the meal I had purchased for him and our daughter to share, full of tacos and refried beans and rice-handed this untouched and ready meal to this nameless person. And I experienced my second knee jerk reaction-for a moment I said to myself, but I bought that for…see there exposed is our weakness. And as we walked away, I was thankful of my husband’s example of radical hospitality without a thought-and now I had to strive to exude that hospitality to others, because of the love that has been shown to me, in all of us, in so many ways. Yes, sometimes we don’t know what we are doing or if we are doing the right thing or how do we work through being uncomfortable and the knee jerk reactions because we are human. BUT the Good News is that Jesus walks with us, and opens up the Table to us, and shows us, and gives us LIFE so that we can live out our lives, not for ourselves, but for what the Creator.. So, whose with me to live out radical hospitality? (if show of hands, say awesome!)

 

Thanks Be to God

Caught in the Words – Rev. Tuhina Rasche

The community of faith sometimes is not just the ones you can touch, but it is those whose hearts are connected through faith and through struggle. Tuhina is one’s of those #decolonize16

We Talk. We Listen.

Picture 002The flesh is messy. It needs food, love, caresses and correction. When it doesn’t have flesh – when it can’t feel, can’t weep, can’t bleed you start to have problems. It is the, of no wonder that Jesus left us a physical reminder of our bond to him – the eucharist. From this point, then, Rev. Tuhina Rasche (ELCA) shares with us why something even so simple as a constitutional resolution for the ELCA absolutely must have flesh – accountability, solidarity, and money – if it is to accomplish it’s goal. Read, comment, and share, friends!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of the LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor –“We Talk. We Listen.”


“My name is Tuhina Verma Rasche. I am the Associate Pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Oakland… and I offer myself as tribute from District C.”

13310323_1334998296516679_439464265965981285_n.jpg Rev. Tuhina Rasche speaking…

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In Search of Authenticity – Rev. Priscilla Paris-Austin

This is one of the Sistas that I am fiercely proud to call as a friend. She is one of the Voices that this institutional church and the systemic broken ass system of this society needs to adhere and listen to.

We Talk. We Listen.

Linda Thomas at CTS eventCan bureaucracy provide a path toward justice? Like secular institutions, mainline Christian denominations use bureaucratic procedure to move toward change and transformation. However, unlike secular institutions, the Church is called through the Triune God to offer grace and strive for justice. With the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly recently completed, Rev. Priscilla Paris-Austin gives us a snap-shot of her activities during the week-long series of meetings and votes, and how she and others continue their tireless efforts to call the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to confess, reassess, and deal with the reality that after 28 years it’s racial composition is still 96% white. Reverend Austin reminds us that God created racial diversity and calls the ELCA to redouble it’s efforts to make good on its commitment to diversity. Read and be inspired, friends – and don’t forget to comment and share!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology…

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Transforming our broken world, doesn’t get a Sabbath

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Walking in the Living Light

Of the One who has conquered death

Is never ending

Never ceasing

Because there is always need for the Gospel

To be Proclaimed

As we pray without ceasing

And move and act and live out our call

Because we follow His footsteps,

Jesus Christ,

Our Savior and Lord

Amen.

(pause)

What would it look like,

If our Sabbath time

And Serving moments

Were one in the same?

Because transforming the brokenness of this world

And our collective journeys through this life,

Seemingly does not get a moment of rest, or pause.

(share with the congregation that God’s Work Our Hands once more is coming up this year, and it falls on a day where we collectively as a nation remember the horrors of September 11th. We as Redeemer have already gotten ahead of the game by partnering with LSSI and doing our own GWOH-providing much needed supplies and backpacks for children who need to be equipped and prepared for their first day, week, months of school! How awesomely thrilled was LSSI that congregations like us participated! And as I thought to September, there was still this drive to do something for GWOH because being involved in ministry, doing for others is awesome. So your Pastor has a crazy idea-what if, what if we took pancakes over to our First Responders at the Fire/Police station here in town? Just hold that thought because, yes-we will have a pancake breakfast going on, and Rally Day, right? And we’ve already done the GWOH for this year, right?)

 

But perhaps it could be framed this way,

That carrying over a meal to those

Who put their lives on the line for those they are called to serve

Is not only own mission,

But a way to share the Good News,

That this place,

Regardless of the day or time,

That we are also here for them as well,

That we open our doors

Inviting them in

Even if all they have time to do,

Is to hear the sermon,

Pass the peace

Getting fed from the Table,

Because of the One,

Who was constantly doing for all of God’s Creation,

Jesus,

Even in the midst of Sabbath.

(pause)

Sabbath,

Can be seen as this moment of release

Release from the overwhelming and demanding presence

Of this broken world

Sabbath is a day of celebration,

Whether you are saint or sinner

Whether you are comfortable

Or you are struggling

Whether you are among the faithful

Or perhaps, lost and yearning for that faith.

Sabbath is a time to come together,

Sabbath can even be a teaching moment,

When it is both a time for rest,

And a time for actively living out the Gospel

(pause)

But there seems to be some disagreement among those gathered

In our Gospel this morning.

Have you noticed that Jesus goes against the laws quite frequently?

The status quo

Because see, there’s no Sabbath

From suffering,

From a painful

Even shameful existence.

I wonder how visible this nameless woman was

To those who kept the Sabbath

Or rather,

How important was her existence

To the community who she should have been a part of,

Instead of being kept apart,

Because somehow,

It was shameful.

(pause)

Shame, unfortunately

Has been used as a weapon

By institutions of religion

As a vehicle for control and suppression

So when this woman,

“with a spirit,

That had crippled her for 18 years”

Dares to make herself visible,

In the presence of Jesus

Jesus stops His teaching

And HEALS HER

REGARDLESS of her status,

Position

Belief!

And this moment of release from whatever gripped her,

Instead of joining in her praising God,

The leader points fingers,

Shaming her,

Shaming Jesus!

(pause)

It seems,

It was more important

That the Sabbath,

As required by the law,

Remain holy,

Free perhaps,

From the daily reminders

Of how screw up this world

And how horrible we can be to one another,

The cause and effect resting squarely on our shoulders

We have gotten away from what Sabbath means,

Because we have fallen away

From loving one another

From being in relationship with the Creator

This woman,

In our Gospel

Serves as a reminder

That there still is hopelessness

And pain,

That affects us, beloved

That affects our sisters and brothers in Christ

That she,

Like so many others

Are ignored

Because,

We just want a break

From seeing this heartache,

Can we get one day, Lord?

Especially when its insurmountable

And we have no idea how to handle it,

Or cure it.

We miss what it says,

“A woman with a spirit”

(pause)

How many times have we come across someone homeless?

Who is struggling with mental illness?

The commentaries elude to the fact,

That this woman’s ailments were due to a demonic possession-

We scoff at that now, right?

Easily modern medical science could attribute this to any muscular disease

Or osteoporosis

Bone cancer

And that she was probably suffering from dementia,

Or worse.

But this spirit?

Even now we still do not have a grasp on mental illness

And even today,

We whisper,

And blame the sufferer

With our own misconceptions of why

We avoid those who are unfortunately burdened with mental illness

Even though our society has refused to advance mental health,

That affects especially those who have served in our armed forces

Or who have swam through seas of domestic violence and abuse,

Or even,

Because life has been harsh,

And they are lost,

They have enveloped themselves into the darkness

With the help of drugs

We avoid those on the street corners,

Because we are afraid,

Because they will be begging for food

Rambling, wanting someone to hear and see them as a human being

Pleading, for release from the endless cycle of agony

And for a beginning towards healing

For someone to invite them into sacred and safe spaces

Crying, because they have no hope

They too,

Are possessed by a spirit

A spirit of emptiness

That has weighed so heavily upon their person,

That they too are gnarled,

Bent over

That whispers to them,

“No one wants you

You are not worthy

See, they shun you.”

Do we, beloved

Also hear those empty spirits,

When we are burdened by sins that we continue to carry

Until we too,

Are bent over.

(pause)

Evil,

Is not a concept

Evil,

Is a true opposition

And rebellion

Against the Creator God’s will

And purpose for us

For our lives

Evil preys upon us,

Dividing us from one another

Throwing caustic acid upon our souls,

Until we are blinded from seeing

God, Our Creator

Our Parent

That LOVE and Light in one another.

But the Good News is,

Jesus Christ,

Spoke to this woman’s shame,

And said simply

WITH A WORD

“You are set FREE

From your ailment”

Jesus,

Overcame this evil spirit within her

Pushing back the darkness

Telling this evil,

The demonic

That it has no claim upon US

PROCLAIMING

WE, BELOVED

WE,

Are set FREE

From our sins,

Our faults,

And suddenly

Just as this woman,

We can’t help it!

Every day is a day of thanksgiving!

Every day is an opportunity for service

That’s how I see it,

Because for me, beloved

This is what God has given me.

When I was on the brink of walking away

Because how shameful Christianity had been spoon fed into me

By those who did not come with a loving spirit

Who used the laws, twisting them

So that people would conform to their standards,

That people would be ashamed of who they were

Or shamed that they did not have enough faith

God whispered to them,

God whispered to me

God whispers to us,

“YOU, beloved

US, beloved

We are FREE

From our sins!”

The darkness is absolved

Every day is a new day in God’s eyes,

And so,

We can’t help ourselves, right?

I can’t!

But, as Pastor

I cannot do this important work,

Without YOU

As people of Faith,

We are called to do this ministry together!

(pause)

So,

Whose coming with me

To take breakfast of 9/11

As we do God’s Work,

With our Hands?

(pause)

Let’s share a little Sabbath joy,

With our sisters and brothers in Christ.

Thanks Be to God.

Gatherings are Transformational: An invitation to #decolonize16

From my fellow troublemaker and Sister in Christ…

dowdsermonizing

fergusonoct Photo credit: Heather Wilson

 

I had been in Ferguson since Mid August. I showed up not knowing exactly what I was doing or what my role was, but I felt compelled to show up anyways. I would like to say that I have always felt the urge to fight for Black liberation. I would like that to be true, and in some ways, yes, I have always felt a certain whisper urging me towards solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed.

But things were different now.

Now I was the mother to a Black daughter.

Now my responses were less driven from a theoretical or academic headspace. My response was less a measured response to an ethical or theological dilemma and more a lump in my throat, a brick in my gut, an inner scream that won’t stop.

A visceral response that Black mothers for centuries have known all too well

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Today’s Gospel sounds like a Johnny Cash tune

“If we truly believed,

In the doctrine of reformation, 

The question we need to ask ourselves, 

Do we want to be safe or reform?”

Words from Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee

To the entire community of faith,

Of the Churchwide Assembly this week.

Being Bold.

We just learned that summer camp song,

But being bold,

That, if I am not mistaken,

We cling to as Lutherans.

It’s in our DNA, right?

Bold equals Martin Luther, right?

Luther stood against the oppression

Of the Catholic Church, in his time

A Church which seemed to revel in this newfound power,

Thanks to Constantine

And somehow lost its purpose

And delved into the darkness,

Locked in their souls

Instead only in reaping the rewards

Of earthly power

Desires

Riches

Instead of being connected

Of what the Creator God requires of them, and of us

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 

(pause)

Luther was appalled at the lack of the spirit of stewardship

From his fellow brothers in Christ

From the leadership,

And then,

Luther was thrust into the fires of Pentecost

By the Holy Spirit, who loves to meddle!

The power of the Gospel

THAT is what drove him,

That fire shut up in his bones

Breaking away from the status quo

And boldly starting this revolution

In her address to the Churchwide Assembly,

Leymah issued the challenge

“We must do the work of the Reformation

And it might mean we are excommunicated

In many places”

(pause)  

Being Bold

Where would we be today,

If Luther had not been bold enough;

If Bonhoeffer had not traveled here

Immersed himself into the culture of Harlem

Spoken out against the atrocities of Hilter

If Dr. King had not taken that first step

Fighting for Civil Rights, Human Rights

If Rosa Parks had not refused to move,

Because she was simply tired of being abused

Misused

Mislabeled as 3/5th of a person

If Gandhi had not continued speaking truth to his people

If Malcolm X had not pushed the envelope towards freedom

Where would we be, beloved

If there were not those nameless, collected voices

Who push against the grain,

Shouting into the darkness of human sin,

Of greed

Of violence

Of Racism

Of oppression

Of Torture

Of SILENCE.

(pause)

And yet,

Here we are

Now more than ever

We need to be BOLD

We need to speak to the systemic pain

Heartache

Suffering

In this broken world.

(pause)

We need to RISE UP,

Not just in bold prayers

But in BOLD ACTION

And this week,

Those waves of renewal

Of resurrection

Rumbled onto shores littered with the fragments of our existence

Our Church,

Pushed those waves forward towards healing

Boldly proclaiming

Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, Because it was “an example of the “improper mixing of the power of the church  and the power of the sword” 

Acknowledging this church’s complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas,  which continue to harm tribal governments and individual tribal members”

That is important to me,

Because part of my extended family

Are proud and sacred Native people And I could not be a part of a Church,

That ignored their existence.

(pause)

Our Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Continued in their bold proclamation

That they would stand with refugees, immigrants and migrant workers

Approving a new strategy,

“the Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy,

Representation and Opportunities 

Responding to the needs Of the migration of children and their families around protection,

And advocacy,”

It is important to me,

Because we hear the call to care for our neighbor,

And if we claim we follow Jesus,

Then we can not erase their needs and their suffering

As Leymah reminded us,

“Injustice anywhere

Is Injustice everywhere”

(pause)

These collective people of faith,

Boldly proclaimed

Standing with our neighbors,

Especially those who are seen as outcasts,

Our Palestine sisters and brothers in Christ,

Reaffirming as ONE VOICE

That we “continue to accompany and advocate on behalf of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine;

Advocate for protection of the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis 

Opposing all violence and actions

That deny any people their basic freedom

Dignity

And human rights”

As someone reminded the gathered community of faith,

Jesus Christ

Was a Middle Eastern Rabbi

A refugee

With no documents.

(pause)

And this Church,

Proclaimed that they

Would stand as allies,

For People of African Descent

Because, yes,

Our lives do matter.

Acknowledging for “complicity in systemic racism, chattel slavery and it’s hand in not speaking out

And against the abuses of our civil rights

For so long.”

Social media binds friendship,

And as my new sister in Christ,

Pastor Tuhina stated,

“There needs to be an intertwined system of accountability  to *ensure* a real and diverse church.” What truly spoke volumes,

Is when our Presiding Bishop

Elizabeth Eaton

Stated in her report

The conversation around racial justice needs to happen

And if people had questions,

Or concerns,

To bring them to her,

Because she is the one,

Who is dedicated to this conversation of community,

Of unity

An ally to many in this Church,

Who were forced to be silent

And assimilate

(pause)

And yet,

There was dissention,

Even in the gathered community of faith

A disagreement on how we would collectively speak boldly

To the world

And I am sure,

When confusion surfaces,

Not surprinsgly we turn to our sacred text,

For comfort

Or for answers

But what comfort is found here,

In our Gospel today?

Jesus proclaims

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

(pause)

Johnny Cash’s lament,

God’s Going to Cut you Down,

Seemingly is embedded in this Gospel.

Surprised your Pastor likes The Man in Black?

(pause for laughter)

I have been drawn to his later work,

Because in his music His deep faith was plain,

Open.

Johnny Cash sang of his imperfectness

His sinful nature,

Warning the listener,

Other people of faith,

That Jesus,

Was about being bold

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?

 No, I tell you, but rather division!

(pause)

It’s uncomfortable to hear Jesus

Angry

As if His plan is to cut us down

But I don’t think Jesus Christ is speaking

Of harming us,

Beloved

I think Jesus is speaking to the darkness

Which is always lurking

Attempting to mask itself over our features

Jesus wants to destroy what keeps us

From a relationship with the Creator God

And so,

Sometimes it means

We have to walk through the fire

In order

For God’s Work,

For our purpose in this life,

To be accomplished

(pause)

Clearly,

In our Hebrews text

We see the trials of fire,

The acts of faith

The examples of people being BOLD

Because of their faith,

The walls of Jerico crumbled

A people found freedom beyond the boundaries

Of the Red Sea

Because of their faith,

They withstood a raging fire And cheated the certainty of death, From the jaws of a lion. But sometimes their boldness

Came at a cost.

They did not have that standard, happy ending!

For many of the faithful,

They were exiled

Ostracized

Whipped Tortured

And for some, death was an end, All because they were BOLD.

Is this what holds us back, beloved?

We are afraid of being BOLD

We are afraid of the pain and the hurt,

Standing Boldly sometimes brings?

(pause)

Johnny Cash’s lamented this

In a song filled with agony

It spoke to where we all find ourselves

When we have been bold

And followed Jesus,

When we have not been afraid to speak out,

Sometimes,

The body of Christ is agitated

And therefore there is division

And then there is that hurt

We wrestle

To do what is right,

But sometimes

Our spirits slink back Into that darkness,

And then we cry out,

Jesus I cannot do this, What you ask of me.

Sounds familiar?

(pause)

But see,

There ain’t no grave,

That can hold our bodies down

There ain’t no grave

That could hold Jesus Christ down,

THERE IS NOTHING

That can separate US

And NOTHING WE CAN DO

NO PAIN THAT WE CAN BEAR

Jesus,

Was Bold too,

BOLD ENOUGH to speak a WORD

That shattered the sins of the law

And brought us into the light,

And because of what HE DID

And what HE SUFFERED

There ain’t NOTHING

That can keep us from the Love of the Creator God!

(pause)

So because of the Good News of Jesus Christ

This Gospel,

We can be Bold!

We must be BOLD!

Are we still in that grave,

With the silence?

The silence of not speaking our testimony?

The silence of not speaking LIFE for those,

Who are the outcasts in this world

Listen here,

Think as if you were hurting,

Feeling abandoned

Because the actions, and the Gospel that you were hearing,

Because how people reacted to YOUR presence walking through Church doors

That you were at the crossroads,

Walking away from Christianity

Because it was too PAINFUL

And suddenly,

There was a breakthrough,

The Sun rose,

And the graves open

And people came forth who were no longer afraid-

TO BE BOLD

Because they heard Jesus Christ speaking to them

TO RISE

RISE!

And suddenly,

You felt loved

In the body of Christ,

In the wider Church,

Because the people of God

No longer would be silent

Would no longer be apathetic

BOLD to PROCLAIM and to ACT

Because of God’s LOVE For US.

Thanks be to God.

A Conflicted Confession – by Crystal Solie, (M.Div. 2012)

We Talk. We Listen.

Picture 002For the first few posts of August, “We Talk. We Listen.” will be focusing on white privilege and the thoughts and struggles that our authors have had with it. Our first post, by LSTC alumus Crystal Solie (2012), focuses on her personal revelations – some not so pleasant – in the wake of the massacre at Pulse Nightclub; and how reflecting on the hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus”(ELW #346) lead her to a painfully healing understanding of how she, as a white, cisgender gay woman, could respond to the tragedy. Read, comment, and share.

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of the LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor – “We Talk. We Listen.”


Vigil_to_unite_in_the_wake_of_the_Orlando_Pulse_shooting_(27358803690).jpg

Conflict has been a friend of mine for some time now.

Feelings of attraction to women conflicting with what the world tells me is normal. Tense relationships within my family nearly severed by…

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Critical Lutheran Spirituality and the Bodies of Privilege – Prof. Robert Saler

Wise and thoughtful words from a good friend, Dr. Robert Saler

We Talk. We Listen.

Picture 002As we enter the last month of summer before classes resume at my school, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, we begin this month with a reflection on a reflection. In the wake of the shootings of Alton Sterling,Philando Castile, and attacks upon police in Dallasand Baton Rouge,my seminary’s President – the Rev. Dr. James Nieman – asked how a white institution such as our school could effectively address white privilege and racism. Rob Saler, Lutheran Heritage Researcher for the Christian Theological Seminaryin Indianapolis, then expounds on this letter – warning that if we don’t make our faith practice more embodied and visceral, we are at risk of continuing to play into systems of oppression and violence against black and brown bodies. Read, comment, and share!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of the LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor –

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