Grace and Peace to you,
My sisters and brothers in Christ
We sacrifice for the world,
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
(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.)
What chain that is would around your feet,
Trips and keeps you
From following Jesus completely?
That’s a tough question,
And our answers do not flow as easily,
And we hesitate to identify
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.)
What are we willing to give up
Knowing that the Creator,
Regardless of how life falls,
Will still cradles us?
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 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
What it means to be a good disciple?
Or are we willing
To allow the things that fester within us,
“Whoever comes to me
and does not hate father and mother,
wife and children,
brothers and sisters,
and even life itself,
cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry the cross
and follow me
cannot be my disciple”
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,
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
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
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,
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
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,
Because of the abandonment of the Empire
And the brokenness of this world
As Dr. Cone states,
“God encounters US
In the human condition
Of the poor,
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,
Because of what Christ gave up,
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
From one another,
Following Christ, as His disciple
Means that we are called upon to act,
Because of the Creator,
Who indeed forgives us.
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.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
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.