WWJD? He Would Protest!

  • Today’s post is borrowed from a friend of mine, Pastor Joe Kay. Joe points out that Jesus confronted the powerful leaders of his time, including religious leaders. Jesus spoke truth to power and even went on at least one protest march!

In 2004, Mel Gibson directed a film called “The Passion of the Christ.” Perhaps you’re familiar with it. The movie focuses on Jesus’ final hours, depicting his death in gruesome detail.

The rest of his life is mostly edited out.

Some of us were raised in traditions that focus almost exclusively on Jesus’ suffering and death – referred to as his passion – while skipping what he was passionate about. The lessons he taught, the love he embodied, the relationships he established are relegated to verses recited on Sunday but relegated to the cutting floor the rest of the time.

The truth is that Jesus’ suffering and death weren’t his passion; they were the price he paid for his passion. And there’s a lesson in this story for all of us about living with the same passion.

He was passionate about healing and reconciliation, not only us to God but to one another as well. He passionately announced, embodied and created a sacred space where everyone is welcomed and treated as the beloved child of God that they are.

This alternate kingdom was the antithesis of Caesar’s kingdom, then and now.

The price for living passionately

He preached about God’s deep passion for the needy, the struggling, the oppressed – woe to the rich, blessed are the poor, the least are the greatest, help anyone who is bleeding by the side of the road. He made whole again anyone who came to him for healing.

And justice – he was deeply passionate about justice.

Gospel stories describe him staging a provocative Palm Sunday procession that confronts Caesar’s values of power, wealth, dominance, violence, and militarism.

He was passionately prophetic by overturning the tables of those who misuse religion – then and now – to amass power, preserve the status quo, and ignore the needs of those they are supposed to serve.

This was his passion. He lived it. He paid a price for it. And he invites us – no matter what faith or religious background — to do the same and live in a passionate way that challenges the status quo and heals the world. He challenges us to put our passionate lives on the line for those who are being trampled by the many opportunistic political and religious leaders of our world.

Each of us can, in our own unique way, bring love, healing, reconciliation, restoration and resurrection to our world, our society, our relationships. We’re forced to choose between between living passionately or playing it safe and never truly living at all, which is an even greater price to pay.

Jesus knew there would be a cost for his passion– there always is. He lived it anyway. May we, too, live passionate lives sustained by transformative love and daily resurrection.

A Lenten Prayer

Bread from Heaven

“I will send bread down from heaven like rain. Each day the people can go out and gather only enough for that day. That’s how I will see if they obey me. (Exodus 16:4)

The scripture I chose for this Lenten reflection reminded me of a discussion I had a few days ago with several of my students about Psalm 22. We discussed the verse in which the psalmist declares that, due to Yahweh’s goodness, the poor will not only have just enough to eat but that they will have enough to be fully satisfied (v. 26: “The poor will eat and be full.”).

After the class ended, I recalled former days when I was a poor, self-supporting young student who, though usually able to gather together enough dollar bills and coins to eat a little something at most meals, often needed to restrain herself and save a portion of each small meal, setting aside some for the next morning in order to avoid going to school or work hungry. I was poor. So, I had to intentionally limit my satisfaction. But Psalm 22 reminded me that God wants even the poor to enjoy hearty meals. Exodus 16:16 also makes that clear in God’s instructions regarding the bread from heaven: “Collect as much of it as each of you can eat.”

The scriptures I’ve cited in this post reveal God’s willingness to satisfy us completely as we develop strong, close relationships with God. We don’t have to stay in situations outside God’s will for us simply to have plenty to eat. Instead, we can go wherever God calls us and trust God to provide for us in any wilderness to which God beckons us to live, learn, and serve.

We can freely engage fully in the daily life God destines for us. We can relish the provisions God sends as they come to us each day. We can believe that our God who created us and knows us wants all our needs to be fully satisfied. We can depend on God and on God’s timing.

A Lenten Prayer:   Our dear Holy God, help us focus on living lives that satisfy you. Guide us to be more and more like our brother, Jesus. Grant every desire of our hearts as you align all our hearts’ desires completely with your will. Amen.

It’s Time to Watch This Again

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

Sing Along

The hymn below was written by Catharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel in the 1700’s. If you want to hear a 21st Century rendition of this very old hymn, watch the video at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

[1] Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heav’nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

[2] Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

[3] Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the vale of tears,
then shall you better know his love, his heart,
who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
Be still, my soul: your Jesus can repay
from his own fullness all he takes away.

[4] Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Amen!

Curious about the tune? Click below and listen:

It’s Coming! It’s Coming!

The Meaning of Christmas Is Hope, According to Plan

Jesus was born to an unwed mother, and although she was engaged at the time, her fiancé was not the baby’s father. Like many of us, Jesus emerged from the womb into a messy situation of human uncertainty (baby daddy, baby mama drama). But while her pregnancy wasn’t the result of longterm human intentions, it was truly the result of God’s plan. In the same way, none of us were born–and none of our children are ever born– outside of God’s planning.

Despite Mary’s surprise at learning she would give birth to Jesus, God was not surprised. Despite her fiancé Joseph’s initial lack of enthusiasm, to say the least (He was going to dump her!), God enthusiastically anticipated the birth of Christ our Messiah.

New life and new purpose is possible for all of us because of God’s gift.

Yes, Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, just as all those bumper stickers say. And God’s great love for us is the reason for Easter. That means hope for everyone, according to plan.

It’s coming! It’s coming! Hold on! It’s coming! Amen!

Welcome, Rep. Cori Bush

A new Representative is heading to Washington. Click below:

https://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/a34671755/rep-elect-cori-bush-mo-republican-congress-breonna-taylor-mask/

Thinking of My Mother Today and Missing Her…

This morning when I was going through some bibles, notes, and other such worship materials belonging to my mother (who died in 2014), I noticed a well-worn pamphlet her lifelong best friend gave her more than forty years ago when she was facing difficulties. My mom faced and overcame many difficulties. The pamphlet is titled, Scripture Confessions for Healing: Life-Changing Words of Faith for Every Day. I’d like to share one page with you:

I Will Not Give Up

“Even though I may be surrounded by oppressors, I am never smothered or crushed by them. I may suffer embarrassments and become perplexed, and it may seem that there is no way out, but I still will not be driven to despair. Even though I may be pursued, persecuted, and hard driven, God will never desert me and make me stand alone. Even though I may be struck down to the ground, I will never be struck out or destroyed. No matter what difficulties or obstacles may come my way, I will never, never, never quit!I will not faint in the time of adversity because God is with me. I am strong and very courageous. I am persistent and undaunted in my faith. I shall never quit, and I will not yield. I will not bow my knee to sickness. I am steadfast and unmovable. I am valiant and fearless, determined and resolute in my faith. I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. I will not lose heart; I will not weaken or cave in. Victory is mine. I am relentless in my pursuit of total and complete wellness and wholeness for my body.”

Scripture references: Joshua 1:9, Hebrews 13:5, 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Encouragement for Tuesday

Be encouraged, and VOTE.

Voting 2020