A Different Kind of “MeToo” ?

https://psmag.com/social-justice/segregations-constant-gardeners

‘SEGREGATION’S CONSTANT GARDENERS’: HOW WHITE WOMEN KEPT JIM CROW LIVE

 

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Is Kavanaugh the problem, or is it apathy? The NCC speaks, asks for action.

https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/ncc-calls-for-withdrawal-of-kavanaugh-nomination/

It is not too late for us to expect more of ourselves and others.

It is not too late for a good man, who may not have started out that way, to do the right thing now: Withdraw.

Today, Let’s Please Watch this Again

http://digg.com/video/oprah-golden-globes-2018-times-up-recy-taylor

A Borrowed Blog

The following is borrowed entirely from a recent blog written by my good friend and ministerial colleague, Joe Kay, Associate Minister of Nexus Church, a United Church of Christ, in Hamilton, Ohio:

Some self-described Christians are refusing to serve gay people.

The president’s spokeswoman was denied service by a restaurant owner with deeply held beliefs.

Our society is fraying. The refuse-to-serve mentality is spreading, leading us to a dark place.

As Gandhi taught, an eye for an eye and soon the whole world is blind.

We don’t have to continue down this road blindly. We can light another way. But if we want to be that light, we can’t reject, shun or demean anyone.

We must do what Jesus did. We must love, serve and respect everyone without exception.

Last weekend, a group from Nexus participated in Cincinnati’s Pride Parade. A man walked through the crowd carrying a sign that said “Jesus Is Coming.” He told us we were doomed.

We had to decide how to respond. Do we ignore him? Argue with him? We chose kindness. We smiled, said hello and offered him a bottle of water. He was free to turn it down, but he accepted it.

We didn’t attack his views but respectfully explained ours – Jesus is already here, calling us to love everyone. We then wished the man a blessed day as he went on his way.

Serving others doesn’t mean endorsing their beliefs; it’s about recognizing and respecting them as a child of God.

To refuse service is to deny the image of God within each of us.

Some self-described Christians argue that living their faith means shunning those who believe differently. They’re flat-out wrong. If love is your core value, then every act of kindness and service is an expression of faith, not a rejection of it.

There are many ways to advocate for our beliefs. Demeaning others isn’t one of them.

Shunning doesn’t help anyone grow or change. Only love can do that.

Refusing service doesn’t fulfill our faith. Only love can do that.

We don’t vanquish darkness by bringing more darkness into the world. Only love can do that.

That is the way, the truth and the light that can lead us to a better place.

Coming Soon

On this Memorial Day weekend, The Well of Dyersburg introduces its publishing arm, Resources for Diversity (www.resourcesfordiversity.com). Publications will soon be available for review and purchase. Some resources will also be accessible on the site as free downloads.

After Christmas

How fortunate for Mary, pregnant with Jesus, that she knew nothing about what her unborn child would grow up to endure: terrible temptation by the devil in the midst of great hunger, defection of close friends near the end of his life, ridicule, wrongful arrest, torture, and a death penalty monstrously enforced.

What a blessing of innocence, of not knowing, of simply enjoying whatever wonder and delight could be eked out of an uncomfortable ride to a barn on that first cold Christmas-card night with warmth from the animals, an attentive mate, and visitors bearing gifts.

But we know.

So it is not possible for us to simply shop ’til we drop— from the after-Thanksgiving-dinner starting bell to store-closing the night before Santa’s arrival— scoring presents for our loved ones. We are too aware of what happens after Christmas.

We cannot be too comfortable with the Hallmark version of the Savior’s birth because we are too mindful of the reason for Jesus. Yes, we know Jesus is the “reason for the season” but we understand more: the reason for Jesus was change.

Though many adored the sleeping babe, the powerful enjoyed the status quo. The babe born to save us all from being comfortable simply donating to Christmas baskets for the poor was in immediate danger.

Because his birth required the overturn of cultures of dominance in which increasing the wealth of the wealthiest is easier than securing living wages for workers, where healthcare— even for children of workers— is viewed as an arbitrary removable privilege.

While we exchange gifts and hug family members and share lovingly cooked food after we pray, holding hands around our tables, we don’t forget what the birth of Jesus means to us.

We know what is next. The justice work Jesus implores us to do. The organizing. The truth sharing. The voting. The turning upside down of the marketplace mentality that has found its way even into our places of worship. The sacrifices we are called to make. How we are to die to our human self-centeredness. How we are to break down walls not build them up.

We full well know that after a short while of cooing at the babe and grinning at each other as we sing carols, we know we are called to help carry the cross of the grown-up Jesus, the smelly bearded criminal encrusted with blood.

In Mark 13:9, Jesus is recorded as saying, “You must be careful. People will arrest you and take you to court and beat you in their synagogues. You will be forced to stand before kings and governors, to tell them about me. This will happen to you because you follow me. But before these things happen, the Good News must be told to all people.”

What is the Good News that will make some so angry they will want to arrest those bringing that news? Make no mistake, it isn’t the Good News of the Hereafter that will upset some people. No. That’s not why Jesus was crucified. It’s the Good News of a different kind of life for everyone equally in the Here and Now that many in power will receive as bad news. That will anger them.

It’s the Good News of healthcare for everyone, the right to marry as one wishes, equal wages for women and men and people of all races for the same work done, and of cooperation among nations of the world no longer based on military might. They are angry, but we do not stop.

We, followers of Christ, know what we are called to do. After Christmas.

The Greatest Love of All: A Sermon*

*I acknowledge special thanks to my friends at Mt. Tabor in Jackson, Tennessee who tolerated the dreary first version of this sermon. After feedback and rewrites, it was presented again elsewhere and described by the second set of hearers a week later as “one of the best.”  Though sermons are better when heard rather than read, I offer here some main points from it to followers of this blog.

A Sermon: The Greatest Love of All

Webster defines sermon as religious discourse delivered by clergy, and Dictionary.com includes in its listing a modern take on it: long, tedious speech.

Are sermons helpful? Is a sermon a show or a teaching? Is it useful teaching? Or is it typically a soon-forgot distraction for declining numbers of us, a familiar entertainment which might just cause us to nap like we do during our favorite weekly television show?

To avoid tedium, sometimes today’s sermons are dramatic productions that include video clips, the preacher singing, shouting, or even engaging in some athletics.

The ancient sermons of Jesus were far from tedious, though I don’t think he jumped around, sang, or whooped. Yet his teachings were rousers that unnerved listeners, made some angry, and never put anyone to sleep, as Apostle Paul’s did, as far we know.

What I admire most about the teachings of Jesus is their freshness, their newness. They never fail to give hearers fresh new ways to think about whatever they’re thinking about, new ways to understand and respond to traditions, fresh takes on avoiding divisive cultures.

My favorite is his sermon on the greatest commandments. I’m awakened by his insight that while we’re not God, we’re made like God and can (must!) love thusly. And I’m taken aback by the starkness of his clarification on how we can measure our love for God.

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great, first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

In our contemporary vernacular, like is not a compelling word. Indeed, it’s a rather weak word: I like frozen yogurt. Susan likes to go swimming. Your brother, Fred, looks like my cousin Henry. A sermon is like a weekly television show.

But, on the contrary, Jesus used the word like to illustrate critical concepts. He used like to break down something he really wants us to get: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31). The kingdom of heaven is like leaven (Matthew 13:33). The kingdom of heaven is like hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44). Using their everyday language and familiar experiences, Jesus helped his first-century listeners perceive truth.

What is that truth?

The kingdom of heaven is like a tiny mustard seed which, when planted by a farmer, can grow to be the biggest of plants, even a tree, that will be a place where birds can live!

What is that truth?

The kingdom of heaven is like the smallest bit of yeast which, when a baker mixes it with a large amount of flour, will cause it all to rise!

What is that truth?

The kingdom of heaven is like hidden treasure! Like a young sheepherder whose own family doesn’t see his king potential. Like a child, born in a barn, whose vast greatest is yet to be known.

What is that truth?

We are all made by God to be lovers of God; yes, we can! But the only true measure of our success at that is the measure of our God-like love for all others: our inclusive love of all our neighbors, a love as deep as the love we have for ourselves, our own families, our own countries. Yes, we can, and we must! All right theology, all purposes of God, every aspect of obedience and honor we show to God rest on that.