I know, I know: I just said I was done writing for a while. But I have had something on my mind lately and I’ve decided to write this post, so maybe I’m pulling a Barbra Streisand…

What has caught my eye lately is all of the political fuss over Geraldine Ferraro and the Clinton campaign—the allegations of sexism and racism and the furor it has generated. It seems to me that much of the same stuff gets roiled up in church politics: secular advocacy rolls over into the church because we don’t (and shouldn’t) compartmentalize our lives between what happens in the public square and what happens in our houses of worship.

Perhaps what should happen, though, that doesn’t happen as often, is that we should take our gospel values into the public square (keeping the separation of church and state distinct, for reasons I’ve discussed elsewhere). Those values, I think, shed some light on the problems that have been raised in the recent political campaigns. Namely, inequality in power and the resulting injustice cannot be solved by obtaining and using the same kind of power that originally created the inequality. To do so is a little bit like using the military to oust a military dictator in a coup, and then putting another dictator in his place. Perhaps the new dictator has a different face, but he is still a dictator. It does not fundamentally change the dynamic of the power structure. Read the rest of this entry »

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Signs of Truth

March 30, 2008

A sermon preached at St. James Austin on the Second Sunday of Easter, 2008.

Lessons for 2nd Sunday in Easter 

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be aligned with your love, oh God, our courage, our saving health, and our freedom.

You wouldn’t know it from reading most of the press reports, but the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church actually did talk about some things besides the Bishop of New Hampshire. They approved some changes to our liturgical calendar, and this past Monday we celebrated one of those: we honored the former Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero. The Archbishop was gunned down by an assassin in his cathedral shortly after giving a sermon against the anti-humanitarian junta in El Salvador in 1980.

That regime ruled through all of the typical methods of domination—fear, intimidation, and dehumanization: stealing hope from any source it could imagine. Death squads of the government hired thugs to rape, torture, and kill any who opposed their system. The poorest—the peasants of El Salvador—were the most persecuted. By 1980, 3,000 people a month were being killed. Corpses were tossed in shallow graves, and in trash dumps.

But the junta could not imagine the kind of hope that Archbishop Romero brought to life. The Archbishop spoke loudly against the injustices, and worked for nonviolent resistance to the oppression. Shortly before his death, he said, “I do not believe in life without resurrection. If they kill me I will rise again in the people of El Salvador… if God accepts the sacrifice of my life, then may my blood be the seed of liberty and a sign that hope will soon become a reality.” The Archbishop, of course, knew of a living hope that is imperishable. Read the rest of this entry »

I saw For the Bible Tells Me So last night. What a great and well-needed movie!

It combines personal stories with just about all of the relevant facts and talking points that are needed in today’s struggle for equality.  It does well what I have tried for so long to do here– to articulate the connection between the persecution, injustice, hate crimes, high suicide rates, and downsides of LGBT life and the church’s persecution of us.  It even touches on the fact that the church at her worst has historically looked for an “other” to be the scapegoat for her fears and insecurities– Women, Jews, Blacks, and unfortunately that “other” happens to be LGBT people at the moment. Read the rest of this entry »

Phillipians is currently in the readings for the Daily Office.

One of Paul’s concerns in this letter is that the audience be of one mind.

I have heard this used in our current situation to describe a certain requirement for uniformity of doctrine within the church.  What a mistake. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Office   The Daily Office Gospel for today is Mark 2:23 – 3:6.  What struck me this morning were the following two verses:

Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?”

It reminds me of several posts (this one sums it up) from a few months ago in discussing why Jesus died.  The bottom line is that I don’t think the Gospels proclaim a message of sacrificial and substitionary atonement.  Using less “seminary-ese,” I just can’t accept that Jesus died on the cross so that we might be saved– this line of thinking emphasizes Jesus’ divinity, de-emphasizes his humanity, and emphasizes the separation between us by emphasizing our (humanity’s) sinfulness (Paul’s writings seem to me to be the basis for much of this kind of theology, not the gospels).

Rather, what I think the Gospels say are that Jesus died because of our sin– namely that the Romans executed Jesus and that was not good, to say the least.  But that God’s response to that sin was to do what God always does, and create life from death in the resurrection, to go about shining light in the face of darkness, to go about the business of restoration when things seem about as un-restored as they can be.

And that is exactly what I think Jesus affirms in today’s Gospel.  Not that God wants us to think of ourselves as evil, lowly, creatures, who need some kind of substitionary sacrifice to make up for all of the horrible things we have done.  No, rather what Jesus shows us is that the Son of Man came not to be distinct from us by being so completely divine and distinct from us, but by being so completely human that we would be transformed by understanding just how wonderful humanity can be in its fullest– and then we would strive for that in our daily lives. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Office For the Daily Office today, we get the introduction to David and Jonathan.  I wrote one of my Bible papers last year on this love story between two men and posted it some time ago, but if you missed it you can find it here.

j

Daily Office The Daily Office for today includes Acts 10, one of my favorites in the whole Bible. 

I’m off to one of my last Greek classes for the summer so I don’t have a lot of time to comment, but this one of the clearest places in the Bible where an apostle has an “a-ha!” moment that God loves everyone, that nobody gets “left behind”, that everything and everybody is loved, accepted, and embraced by God.

Read it if you have a minute.

j