The Invisible Becomes Visible-Wisdom from the Ancestors

Turn to your neighbor

And say

“Because of Jesus Christ

I am

Responsible

For

You.”

(pause, wait for the laughter)

Now what does that mean, really?

(pause)

We hear in our Scriptures

That we will always have the poor

But,

I don’t think that Jesus,

Nor our Creator God

Wanted poverty to become

Tangled and obtrusive

Into the fabric

Of our collective lives

(pause)

Life,

Its algorithms,

Which are supposed to follow some mysterious formula

To make our living easier

Is out of sync

(pause)

This country boasts of its coffers

That are overflowing with wealth, riches and resources

Yet,

Beyond the glitter of the spotlights

Lie destitute, famished bodies overflowing

At the gates

(pause)

My children have, on our routine errands to the grocery store,

For example

Question and wonder about what happens to all of the produce,

If they can’t sell it all,

Even if its still good.

Well, not sure you are aware of this

But after seven to ten days

If the bananas you have been seeing each time you pop into the store

If they have not been touched or bought

They are forced to throw them out,

So they can get a fresh shipment,

From their warehouse

(pause)

When humanity refused to peer out beyond the border,

Past the walls,

Too sedated and comfortable awash in a sea of purple

Those who had not been invited through,

This is when those who had little status,

Seeing the heartbreak, acted

In the 1970’s, for example in San Francisco

Organizations such as Food Not Bombs were formed

Rescuing good, unspoiled and healthy food from dumpsters

Cooking and providing a meal,

To the homeless and forgotten

And the response of the authorities?

Many of these volunteers were arrested

(pause)

This trend continues even now

People, who have answered the call,

“Jesus, when did we see you hungry,

And feed you?”

Embolden because of the Holy Spirit pushing, encouraging, empowering them

To walk beyond the gates,

And DO SOMETHING!

Instead of immersing themselves in apathy

And the excuses of the principalities and powers

Blaming the poor,

For

They share of themselves,

From their Table

Bringing meals, and comfort to those out in the streets, or parks

Or even, into the safety and the sacredness of their own spaces

(pause)

One Woman of Color,

Owning her own small diner

Did just this

She invited,

She welcomed the homeless midweek,

From 6-9am,

To eat and relax and just be recognized just as another customer

Freely!

Instead of businesses around her, applauding,

Opening dialogue for discussion

Pushing back the gate to begin

Many complained,

They didn’t want to see the poor

SO CLOSE TO THEM

Inside the gate

These

Vagrants,

Pungent

Unkempt

Scaring away paying customers

So because of the complaints to the powerful

She was forced,

To stop

For fear of her business being shut down,

Because of rules and regulations

(pause)

And it does not have to stop at just food justice issues,

Regardless,

Whenever we as people of faith see a need,

When we understand the responsibility of stewardship

We have for one another,

Whether we are feeding from our own coffers

Or immersed in viable solutions about housing the homeless

Building tiny homes,

Which in fact, has been proven

To save local governments monetary resources,

Instead of scattered temporary solutions that treat the poor as an infections problem,

To be eradicated.

Or encouraging children, who don’t understand why the adults in charge

Are so thoughtless and heartless

To treat another person,

With

When we create unique and even yes, unorthodox ways,

To create new communities, and care for one another

The rich, wealthy, powerful intrudes

As if suddenly,

Doing for others,

As God has done for us

Is taboo

(pause)

There is no way,

You can not see

The poor

And just not those without money

The poor also means those,

Who have nothing,

No access to employment, to housing, to citizenship, to freedom

The ex-felon,

Who it is pressed upon,

That they must have a job,

A position

That society is NOT going to care for them,

That they must work extra hard to return back to society

Win back trust,

And maybe be welcomed just on the margins

Of the inner circle

(pause)

But, see

What we do not see,

And sometimes not made aware

That their fate and success of transformation

Lies in human hands,

In the hands of companies,

Who have the power,

Of whom to hire

And more often than not

The word ex-felon guarantees

Their resume will wind up in the trash

And so the powerful

Avert their eyes

At the gate

As the poor are begging for that second chance,

(pause)

Or,

The Migrant worker

Who is doing jobs that,

Let’s be honest

Many of us would refuse

Feel it beneath us

Wouldn’t be caught doing

Because we know our rights

What our citizenship entitles us to

And so instead,

These corporations

Only see them,

As a commodity to be exploited

While their gaze is fixated

On their profit margins,

And stock portfolios swelling

And so they refuse to hear the poor begging

Outside the gates

For fair wages

Just so they can live!

(pause)

Or,

The outcast,

The outcast that has so much heaped upon them

On their shoulders

Because maybe

They have accumulated this massive debit

That society refuses to forgive

Because their status is not enough

Because they are not willing to work to with them

To wipe out this huge deficit

That their bodies are saddled with.

The poor are the transgendered and disabled

Or single parents on the brink of a breakdown

Or even

The poor are those trapped in the inner cities

Added that they are identified by the tinge of color

Lovingly painted on their skin,

By the One,

Who many seem to forget,

Was also an immigrant,

Of Color.

(pause)

These poor are perceived to be a threat to the well ordered society

Even though

Quiet as kept

Neither the authorities

Nor the politicians

Have faithfully lived out their pledge

To work for the people

As they were elected by the people

To protect the people

So that the people

REGARDLESS

Can live a life of freedom

Liberty

And

Peace.

So instead,

Sheltered by their wealth

They step over the bodies outside of the gate

Broken.

Who are begging to be seen

As an essential part of humanity

(pause)

Meanwhile,

We, the rest of humanity

On the other side of the gate

Ignore the teachings in our sacred texts

Ignore the stories of our Elders

Ignore the WORD

Cherry picking

To what is acceptable,

And will not stir us out of our comfort zone

Instead of adhering

“The first shall be the last,

And the last shall be the first”

Clearly calling for us

To be responsible for

ONE ANOTHER

ESPECIALLY

We fall,

We suffer

We are cast out

And we are dying at the gate!

(pause)

And because the Creator truly cares,

God continues to send endless Prophets

To tell us

TEACH US

And we in turn

Refuse to listen

Until it is,

Too late

(pause)

Very curious that we do not know

The name of this rich man

In our Gospel this morning,

(pause)

He has the assumption

That because he had the privilege of living the good life,

Access to resources of wealth

To a fault believing that Lazarus

Is still in a position of slavery

The rich man is shocked

That he is left

In darkness

Abandoned

Beyond the gate,

The abyss

Removed from the light and love of God

And the security of being in the presence of the Ancestors

(pause)

As our Gospel text was being discussed in various places on Facebook,

Someone debated that even as the rich man was in this chaism,

That the chaism was not big enough

That God could not traverse it

That God would close the gap

As if salvation would still be warrated

For this rich man

Who still was not understanding this lesson

(pause)

And yes,

Our God

Beloved Creator

Has the POWER TO CLOSE ANY GAP

That would keep us away from God

But when we are the ones

Who CREATE THAT CHAISM

That GAP

When we cling to selfishness

Greed

Humanity made wealth

Because we refused to HEAR the Good News

We refused to SEE JESUS

Hungry,

Tired

Broken

Poor

(pause)

And yet,

We forget

When we were hungry

Tired

Broken

Cast aside by the very society we cling to

To keep our status,

Jesus Christ DID NOT IGNORE US

Regardless of our faith,

Our status

Our lack of resources

Or wealth.

(pause)

Jesus Christ did not step over us at the gate

Jesus Christ,

Offered His Hands

Of Healing

Offered His Words

Of Forgiveness

OFFERED HIS LIFE

SO THAT WE CAN LIVE!!

(pause)

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Money Makes the World Go Round?

Not sure about where you sit,

But for me,

This week’s Gospel

Is like a complicated riddle

Or a trick question

That Jesus just throws out there,

And no matter how much we study

Or contemplate

We would fail, miserably

(pause)

And I questioned,

Just as perhaps you are

Of where the Good News is in our text this morning?

There are contradictions

What is Jesus signing onto?

What is Jesus approving?

This could be fodder for the prosperity gospel crowd

Then again,

People hear what they want to hear.

(pause)

This Gospel does not lift up,

Any examples of repentance

Or Forgiveness

Just it seems,

Money.

Wealth

Mammon, in the Greek

In one of my favorite musicals,

Cabaret

Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey sing about

Money

Money makes the world go around.

Money, as the lyrics go,

Is the answer to all of the rejection

We experience in this life.

Hilariously, Liza sings this line-

“When you go to get a word of advice,

From the fat little pastor

He will tell you to love evermore

But when hunger comes rapping at the window,

See how love flies out the door”

The answer then,

Is that Money makes the world go around

Money also stifles

Chokes

Stresses the world out,

(pause)

I wonder then,

If Jesus shared this parable with the disciples

Not for their benefit

But for others.

Perhaps Jesus was planting seeds of freedom

To break the roots of the oppressive society

That had embedded itself into the hearts of those,

Who were controlled by money.

What is left out of this Gospel reading,

Is verse 14

“The Pharisees,

Who loved money,

Heard all of this…”

Knowing that,

Because of who He is,

And knowing He was under scrutiny

By those who were shaken,

Disturbed

Challenged

By Jesus Christ

The only way to get to hard headed people, sometimes

Is pushing them into that uncomfortable zone

Where who they are

And what they cling to

Would be tested.

(pause)

This parable

Smacks of self interest

Of getting what you think you deserve

Of survival

Of shrewdness

And yet,

Not even this manager in our Gospel text

Has that privilege,

Even as he was as shrewd,

As his employer,

No wonder then

Tax and debit collectors were on the same low level

As other sinners

Eschewed in moral decay

Remember that from last week,

The same Pharisees were grumbling about Jesus

Eating with tax collectors?

(pause)

In this era of a Roman occupied Galilee,

The only ones who could actually get away,

With manipulating the system

Were the wealthy

They had the power, and unfortunately the law behind them

To charge exorbitant interests rates

So that they could acquire more land,

Regardless of whom it would end up displacing.

Sort of reminds us,

Even now

Of the struggle going on

At Standing Rock

In North Dakota.

Sacred lands were purchased,

Rather illegally

Hundreds of years ago

Pushing off Native peoples

Displacing,

Invading

And Damaging Creation,

In the name of progress

(pause)

There are those who would argue

That in Genesis it states,

God created man-listen to the language

God created man,

To have lord and dominion

(pause)

Over everything,

That man

Deemed

Insignificant,

And even

Weak

Ignoring what the Creator God clearly expressed

About stewardship,

Just as those who claimed they upheld Biblical convent law

Dismissing those commandments that call us to be in relationship

To care for the vulnerable,

The orphan

The immigrant

As if they were blood-related

(pause)

Exodus 22 states

“If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy,

do not treat it like a business deal;

charge no interest”

Charging interest on loans,

Was forbidden

Interesting.

We pray,

Forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors

But,

Humanity misses the mark,

We don’t live this commandment out

Money,

Wealth,

Mammon

Rules society

Both then

And now

Money,

Makes the world go round

And causes headaches

We are told the only way to establish ourselves

Is through monetary means

Establishing credit,

Meaning applying for credit cards

With high interest rates

Thereby granting us access to be approved

For a mortgage home loan

Securing a safe place to live

Access to resources,

As I alluded to last week

For ourselves,

And our families

Access so that our children could go to the best schools,

Which sometimes means taking out high interest loans

And when we are over our heads,

Applying for predatory pay day loans,

Just so we can get through the week,

Because the powers that be,

Do not understand what it means

To live within our means.

(pause)

And that is what is facing this steward,

In our Gospel text this morning.

He’s been living beyond his mean

Through the hard work of the working poor

He’s been fattening his own wallet,

Even as his employer,

Has been overcharging

Exploiting

These fellow people of faith,

Denied an ample living wage

Struggling to thrive

To get a foothold in this society

Wanting to remain authentic

But every day,

Drawing closer to that golden altar dedicated to the idol

Mammon.

(pause)

And I think this is what Jesus is stressing here-

That clinging to such an idol

Or converting to this economic “religion”

Where the theology is based on greed debt, in many forms

Individualism and selfishness

Having financial resources to live and breathe,

Is not what Jesus is against,

But as Jesus states later on in verse 15

“You are the ones,

Who justify yourselves

In the eyes of others,

But God knows your hearts.

What people value highly,

Is detestable in God’s sight.”

(pause)

Again,

Jesus

What are you saying?

What people value highly,

Is detestable in God’s sight.”

Yes,

Valuing things

Money

Status

Greed

HIGHER THAN THE SACRED LIFE

And LOVE

That the Creator breathed into each one of us

Is detestable

Because these things separate us

From the presence of the Creator God

It keeps us trapped

In front of that golden, humanity made altar.

(pause)

He raises the poor from the dust,

and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

 to make them sit with princes,

 with the princes of his people.

He gives the barren woman a home,

making her the joyous mother of children.

Praise the Lord!

Hear the joyous words of the Psalmst!

Hear the Good News this morning!

Greed disguised under the mask of wealth and status

Demanding of us our very soul,

And giving us nothing in return,

This is not what God wants for us.

God gives us, pours into us

Everything we could ever need!

(end with giving a visual example about what greed would look like as a person and use the Grinch in the Christmas story-what if greed came and removed everything we held dear, so that we would have to come crawling back to that golden altar, living our lives for simply amassing more wealth, no matter whom It hurt. And what if greed was hovering , waiting to hear our cries that next morning, and instead-in the midst of the dawn, Jesus stood in our midst, and all we could do is SING, and DANCE and PRAISE THE LORD-for the ultimate DEBIT HE PAID so that we would never be alone, never want, never question, never feel unloved. And that, is something, that NOTHING HUMAN MADE CAN EVER, EVER REPLACE.)

Thanks Be to God.

 

I Believe I’ll Testify, While I have the Chance

“I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance

I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance

I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance,

For I may not have a chance,

Anymore.”

(pause)

I’m not sure why this gospel tune,

Popped into my head this week

Especially for this sermon,

But maybe I imagined,

The least of these,

Marked and identified for their sins

Running back to the outcast communities where they existed

TESTIFYING!

LISTEN! I actually was invited to sit,

And eat today!

With that Rabbi whom everyone is talking about

That Rabbi, who heard and looked into my eyes

Who heard my cry

Who told me that my sins are forgiven!

Who shared bread, broke bread,

Sat with US!

“I believe I’ll testify…”

And so they were witnesses

Sharing the Good News

That regardless of how humanity

The self-righteous

Had rendered their existence, invisible

God had not

(pause)

God had sent God’s Son

To share LOVE.

And maybe, just maybe,

They were able to experience a little selfish joy

Because while Jesus acknowledged them,

The Pharisees were grumbling!

(pause, share with them the story about the time when during testimony sharing at my childhood home Lutheran church, my mother had stood up to give her testimony, and if you know Mother-she is not shy about sharing the Good News and how the Gospel is proclaimed in her life. I don’t remember the specifics about what Good News she was sharing, but as my Mother was a deacon in her church, she was sitting at the front of the church, speaking. My sister Jessika and I were sitting at the rear of the church, and earlier a woman had come in right behind us. We didn’t recognize her and greeted her as a guest. So as my mother was speaking, suddenly we heard this woman start to criticize and grumble about my mother’s story! My sister and I jerked and froze, as this woman kept mumbling under her breath, so absolutely amazed that someone would be angry about hearing a testimony! When mother finished, and as the church said its amen’s, this woman walked out of the service. It was only then did we turn around to watch her retreating figure and looked at one another in utter astonishment. It also took every fiber of our being not to turn around and defend our Mother. We were in utter disbelief.)

Why do we grumble,

When we hear Good News,

A praise report?

Why do we open our mouths

To fix words of harshness

Grumbling and mumbling under our breath,

While that one which was lost,

Is sharing joy.

And instead of joining into the amen chorus

We are speculating!

That they are just perpetrating,

Because nothing is ever going to change:

They will still be out on the corner begging,

They will still be out on the corner, relapsing

They will still be out on the corner, getting arrested

That they can never get their lives right,

(pause)

Although we have never been in their situation

So we clearly do not understand

How the darkness of violence, addiction, self hate,

Does indeed have the power

To render our souls, dry and decimated

Until all we can be identified as,

Is the curse we bear on our scarred bodies

(pause)

If we are going to be truthful with ourselves

We are jealous, envious

Of another’s transformation,

That we felt that they weren’t worthy

Their sin was too great,

Although our apathy,

Is far worse

Than any sin that they could commit.

(pause)

“This man welcomes sinners,

And eats with them.”

(pause)

The Pharisees and scribes

Did not get it!

For all their intelligence and knowledge of the law

They just did not understand why,

Once again

Jesus was breaking the rules

And being that relentlessly rebellious guest.

Sitting with sinners?

Sinners had a different connotation and meaning then,

Sinners equaled an unforgiveable outcast

Undesirable

Untouchable

Defined by the LAW

Being in the company of sinners was an abomination

So excluding them from the wider community

Was sanctioned by the LAW

And so Jesus sitting down

And sharing a meal,

Spoke volumes

Because sharing a meal was not just this fast paced,

30 minute race before continuing work

Sharing a meal

Was, is and always should be

A moment of building community

Of immersed in important relationships

(pause)

Jesus uses this moment of relationship building,

Even to those who are grumbling,

Who consider themselves the never lost,

To teach,

Reminding both them and us

How truly connected we are,

Beyond the status and the class we created, to divide us

(pause)

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep

And loses one of them,

Doesn’t he leave the 99,

And go after the lost sheep?”

Many of us are familiar with this parable,

Of a loving God who will not abandon us

But we,

Miss something VITAL in this story,

Lost in translation:

The shepherd leaves them

In the Greek it reads,

EN TE ERAYMO

This means

In the desert

In desolation

Defenseless, out in the open

(pause)

It is not the idealized version

Where sheep are quietly grazing in green, pristine pastures

And the shepherd is only going as far as the treeline,

To the border of some property

To gather back one lone sheep.

The shepherd abandons the flock

In an uncultivated area

For an unspecific amount of time

Fending from themselves

In order to seek

In order to rescue

This one who is lost

(pause)

I wonder if we realize,

When we sit in those places of privilege and judgement

That at one point in our lives,

We were that ONE

Who had been abandoned

Pushed aside

Seen through humanity’s lens as just a waste of life,

And time

(pause)

But Jesus,

Jesus recognizes us,

As children of the Creator God

Damaged

Hurting

Sorrowful

And Jesus Christ, Our Risen Savior and Lord

LEAVES THE FLOCK

TO COME SEE ABOUT US!

(pause)

Perhaps,

We can understand it more this way,

A quote, I came across in a commentary

“If the one is sacrificed,

In the name of the larger group,

Then each individual in that group

Has no security

That their lives mean nothing.

When the shepherd pays a high price

To find the One,

He thereby offers

The profoundest security

To the many.”

In other words,

The Good News of Jesus Christ for us

Is that Jesus is constantly

Coming,

Searching

Finding

And Saving

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US!!

Because God does not rest

Until all of God’s Children

Regardless of our sins

Our failings

God created us whole!

God seeks to keep us whole!

God actively extends forgiveness

Mercy

Reconciliation

Grace

And LOVE.

(pause)

And because time and again,

Jesus is going out,

Bringing home those who are lost-

And by the way,

Let’s be clear

We are going to stray, wander and lose ourselves

MULTIPLE TIMES.

We are both saint and sinner!

So when Jesus goes out,

To bring our sisters and brothers in Christ, in Faith and in Love home,

While Jesus is out,

Extended the grace and forgiveness from God

We are called to be GOOD STEWARDS and GOOD SHEPHERDS!

We must welcome those home with joy!

We must join in their rejoicing

And then we are called to CARE for them!

Enfold, envelop and encourage them,

Because it is NOT EASY.

Battling the darkness and the sadness in this life IS NOT EASY

But,

The Good News is that,

When we come home

Jesus opens His Arms,

Feeding us

From the Table of LIFE!

Here!

So then when we leave this place,

We can’t help but sing,

I believe I’ll testify!

Thanks Be to God.

Embracing My Unique Identity: Sofia Garfias-Yi

Our experiences in life, and who we are must be decolonized. There is a richness in these paths which intertwined to create another beautiful child of the Creator

We Talk. We Listen.

Picture 002Sofia Garfias-Yi, our next feature, was asked by a friend to write the following reflection on her life for the Asian Pacific American Coalition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As you might guess by her name, Sofia is both Chinese and Mexican – and in this reflection she shares what this means to her as well as how she has dealt with racial stereo-typing.  So as we both begin the new school year, as well as begin reflecting a bit on the complexity of Latinx identity, Sofia’s piece is an excellent way to begin. Read, comment, and share!


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


“Oh, you’re Mexican? Why don’t you just get back over the border? Or are you too busy mowing lawns?”

11062676_199182920422135_1855919109313165322_n Me.

It was an unexpected statement for two reasons. One, it was…

View original post 653 more words

Jesus Rocking and Disrupting…

 

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

We sacrifice for the world,

Better positions,

Better status

But in the end,

Those always fail us.

The only sacrifice,

Which sets us free,

Which gives us life,

Is the One who took up the Cross,

And Liberated all,

Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord

Amen.

(pause)

(talk about how Facebook’s algorithm for remembering our memories, and our posts for the past couple of years, sometimes has a funny way of reminding us, why we are called and what we are called to. Last year, this time, the world seemed to be riveted, shamed and shocked at the plight of a Syrian family, and the little boy that washed up on the sandy shores, where he should have been playing in the sand, instead of laying there, lifeless. Suddenly, regardless of what you thought about Syria, its people, its politics, its perceived threat-this should have been a reminder that this child represented not the principalities and powers, but the people locked unfortunately in the ugliness of war and greed, held hostage by those who were more concerned with self-interests, instead of the foolishness of living not for oneself, but for all. So many innocent people, whose only concern is the self-sacrifice they do on a constant basis, such as you and I, to provide a safe space for their families to live and grow and work to sustain them, so many people, wasted, should have finally been this collective wake up call for people of faith, to demand, to question, to pressure to do something for these, our neighbors. And churches did begin to pledge to open up their doors and homes, whole communities and even cities here began to say, “we have room!” and yet there were people, who wear the banner of Christianity but their actions are a far cry and reflection of who Jesus Christ was is, and calls us to be. Compassion, yes was and is, a part of Christ, but many of us lack it because of the broad brush we have been conditioned and trained to paint people. We assume that the reason they are in the situation they are thrust is because of some sin they have committed that is unforgivable. The Palestine people because of their heritage; the Syrians because of their culture, Muslims because how they connect and what name they call God-which is the same Creator we serve, by the way; People of Mexican descent because of home grown chaos, the undocumented, because they are attempting to be sneaky and get over the government by not paying their dues, all the while, there are yet, powerful others who continue to pilfer resources that never reach the people who (word/line). Empathy, beloved and I said this before, is lacking among the faithful and the questioning.)

So,

What chain that is would around your feet,

Trips and keeps you

From following Jesus completely?

(pause)

That’s a tough question,

And our answers do not flow as easily,

And we hesitate to identify

Our burden

(pause)

I’ve experienced an exercise,

Most often in seminary settings,

Where the large crowd of participants,

(….were asked to line up and the questions were read, anything from if we had attended private school, if our parents had been able to afford to give us a car, to whether we had ever been followed in a grocery/department store based on our age, race, gender status and the list went on. At the end, when we looked around the room, there was a great divide-many who had great privilege were way in the front, and many who had none in the back. What made this exercise different, were we were asked to hold hands, and as each question was asked, if we experienced anything negative, we had to step back and anything positive step forward. As we went through the exercise, we tried to hold onto each other’s hands, but soon lost one another, leaving folks behind. That part shook people, and left some fatigued-because although some of us had privilege, we were still left behind. There was almost this-silence at who was far ahead and who was left behind. One participant stated that he experienced the guilty pleasure, of having had access to all of these things, and at the same time mindful that many people he would consider friends did not. But also he was honest that he was afraid to give up the access he had.)

So,

What are we willing to give up

Knowing that the Creator,

Regardless of how life falls,

Will still cradles us?

(pause)

Sacrificing anything,

Any perk that we have access to,

Is one of the hardest things we experience as humanity,

This is what we are told we must do in order to survive!

It’s no wonder when I am walking in downtown Chicago,

And I pass by the faces of native Chicagoans

That sometimes there is the suffering creased solidly there

That they have made some choices they did not want to,

But had to,

So that they could have access to a safe environment to live in

For themselves

For their children

In turn have access to resources both educational and environmental

So that they could be counted as essential and vital and important,

So they would not be faced with isolation and prejudice

Life is harsh enough!

But what do we sacrifice when we assimilate?

When we bend to the will of the Empire,

And in turn, the mechanisms of the Empire,

Fails and exploits humanity

(talk about during my senior year of seminary, and my participation in the Moral Monday movement. The concentration that year was on economic plight of those that Jesus bids us to invite to the table-those unemployed, those who are under housed, those who are fighting for a paltry existence and the budget issues affecting the state, to where social services were being all but cut. And so, the wedding banquet, the feast should not be cut off, and we gathered together as people of faith, and people of justice marched as one voice and one body. This particular time, participating in an act of civil disobedience both through his word and his physical presence, Bishop Miller would march with us, and pay the cost of discipleship, by being arrested. I am sure, that as the days and weeks passed, news of his arrest filtered out, there were those who would disagree with him, and who would be angry with him with what they thought was him, wasting his time.)

Are we simply satisfied,

With abstract thinking

And believing

What it means to be a good disciple?

Or are we willing

To allow the things that fester within us,

Die,

 “Whoever comes to me

and does not hate father and mother,

wife and children,

 brothers and sisters,

 yes,

and even life itself,

cannot be my disciple. 

Whoever does not carry the cross

and follow me

cannot be my disciple”

(pause)

Jesus, what?

Hate?

What about all of those commands,

Calling us to open up the Table,

To the least of these,

To those who cannot repay?

And now Jesus,

Hate?

But we must understand,

What Jesus means by this hyperbole language.

Think about when Jesus calls to others,

To follow Him,

And one man tells Jesus he will,

But first he must go and bid farewell to his family,

When Jesus calls us,

As Bonhoeffer says,

“Christ bids us come

And die.”

(pause)

Dying is frightening,

Dying means letting go,

Dying also means a new chapter,

Into the unknown

So when we let those things that have chained us,

Kept us glued to the (word/line) of this world

Experiencing FREEDOM,

Freedom to love regardless of how ridiculous it looks

Or how counter cultural it appears

Freedom to act,

Act towards justice,

Even when there is tension,

Even when you are labeled a troublemaker

Freedom to speak,

Speaking truth,

Of the accountability we should have towards one another

Of the forgiveness we should practice with one another

Freedom to stand,

Freedom to stand firmly for justice

And against (word/line)

Stand out from the shadow of the TRANSFORMED CROSS

YES

Even the CROSS WAS TRANSFORMED

THE MOMENT CHRIST GAVE UP HIS LIFE

The theology of the cross,

RADICAL REVELATION OF GOD,

That the Creator God stands with US, beloved

Through our suffering,

Our despair

Because of the abandonment of the Empire

And the brokenness of this world

As Dr. Cone states,

“God encounters US

In the human condition

As LIBERATOR

Of the poor,

The weak,”

The forgotten,

EMPOWERING THEM TO FIGHT

There’s nothing wrong with that!

We, as followers of Christ, should FIGHT

Fight because everyone should still be holding hands,

Be equal

REGARDLESS

Because of what Christ gave up,

SO COSTLY

And a price we will never pay,

NO MATTER WHAT we do in this life!

That is Good News.

So should we then,

Shed everything that keeps us from doing justice,

Practicing mercy and grace?

Shed everything that would keep us divided

Excluded

From one another,

Regardless?

(pause)

Following Christ, as His disciple

Means that we are called upon to act,

Differently,

Counter cultural

Weirdly

But

Lovingly,

Because of the Creator,

Who indeed forgives us.

(pause)

Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of the Poor,

Offers this prayer, that could shed some light

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. 

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.

Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.

Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.

Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. 

Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. 

It was never between you and them anyway.

Thanks Be to God.