From the day I first saw that black-and-white photograph until now, I continue to be haunted. Each visit from the ghost of King in handcuffs has made me feel uncomfortable about our current and unresolved human condition.
An education system that results in a marginalized people with a subordinated sense of self or an inflated elitism by those in the majority must be regarded as immoral. However, when education can inspire a critical consciousness, people gain a greater awareness of self, which engenders dignity, fuels a transforming sense of agency, and inspires hope.
The Beloved Community requires constructing a society in which neither punishment nor privilege is tied to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation and where our diversity as a community and nation is celebrated and embraced as a source of strength rather than weakness.
Readers in 2022 have the dual task of hearing King’s word to the Montgomery faithful and acknowledging how in need of this word we are as well. The work of civil rights is far from over, and the past few years in the United States have demonstrated deep rifts in the way our politics, economics, and society function.
Honoring Martin Luther King’s leadership and faithful Christian example of peaceful resistance to oppression, violence, and inequality
Now is a good time to reflect again on King’s model for nonviolent protest to bring about peace and justice to a world still marred by injustice and violence. We should not only look for ways to name the evil in our world but look for paths toward redemption and reconciliation with others. And we must do these things in love for God and neighbor, or else we will be shaped by our hatred and fear of the other.
According to a recent study by Lifeway, 49% of Protestant pastors frequently hear their congregants repeating conspiracy theories. In institutions that purport to be about the truth, and tout Jesus’ teaching, “the truth will set you free,” why are churches such hotbeds for conspiracy theories?
There was no dress rehearsal or drill for what leaders have had to manage over the past nearly two years. Pastors and lay leaders in congregations have had to learn new technology not just on-the-fly, but with an audience of people they’ve promised to serve. Furthermore, we as a society have been so desperate for Covid-19 to be brief, to be over, that we have failed to adjust our expectations of leaders.
As we politely but firmly usher 2021 out the door, what is to keep us from committing to more person-to-person contacts? Sure, we still have a pandemic going on. But I’m not just talking about in-person encounters. Instead of using social media as our perpetual online broker for human interaction, what about actually talking more with people in 2022?
Each year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus we have another opportunity to bring Jesus into the world without all the baggage of the past. The question is—will we have the courage and intention to do it? Rather than allowing Mary and Joseph to do all the work, we become midwives at the manger, each and every year, partners with God in bringing hope, peace, and the possibility of salvation and justice into the world.
We are God’s hands and feet in this world. While grounding ourselves in the manger, we must bring God’s healing to all by reaching for the stars in the farthest realms, including the virtual world of the metaverse.
Those who wish to teach children a faith that calls for civil rights, liberation and justice would do well to look through their children’s Bibles and Sunday school curriculum with a critical eye, asking “How are the Bible’s stories being used and what stories are included? Are we passing on a faith of justice and social action, or a faith of passivity and submission to a sometimes-unjust status quo?” Such questions might lead teachers and parents to adapt curricula, change how Bible stories are used with children, and include more Bible stories that call children, and call us all, to become actively faithful and just Christian citizens.
This Advent, may we recognize that Christ is already among us, already at work. We are called to proclaim it: a child has been born for us, a son given to us; Emmanuel, God is with us. God is still with us. We already know the address. The world, however, is still using outdated methods to find its way. The world is still recalculating. There is still injustice, oppression, violence, suffering, and fear—much as in the time Jesus was born—but we know the way. We have the Good News. The journey isn’t complete, but in our faith in Christ, we have arrived at our destination. Christ is among us, now and always.
The way Thomas alludes to the wise men as “three waves from afar” who kneel in their own way, “offering their gifts to what they don’t understand” sticks with me this season. This striking image suggests we are capable of embracing the truth of the incarnation, even as we are limited in our ability to understand it. To paraphrase Saint Anselm, faith seeks understanding on the way to Bethlehem and beyond.
In some Christian traditions, people reflect, pray, and enter into joyful anticipation during the season of Advent. As we focus on themes of hope, peace, love, and joy, we often invoke images of the land of the Bible alongside treasured stories that recount the barriers to—and celebration of—Jesus’ birth.
This Christmas season, we have many reasons to pray for peace in the Holy Land, whose present reality exists far from such an ideal.
Though Baptists in every age can benefit from Rauschenbusch’s theology of the kingdom, I believe his thought concerning the church contains the most fruitful paths for contemporary Baptists. The church is still afflicted by an individualism that has made us vulnerable to the acids of consumerism that would leave us unable to discern our prophetic ministry in the world.
This Christmas when I sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” I’m going to be thinking of the song and the town as a metaphor for seemingly unsolvable situations in my life and in the lives of people I know and care about.
We celebrate holidays because they are a sign and a foretaste of a future realities marked by resurrection, love, and the New Heavens and the New Earth. But that leaves us needing to live into those future promises here and now. We can live lives of joy, tending to the small plants of hope planted during our holiday festivities. This is the work between celebrations: living into the realities of the present by nurturing lives and communities that bear fruit we will harvest, ferment, and drink in celebration the next time the holiday season comes round.
The question we should be asking, and singing, is not “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?” Instead, we should ask why Mary would not be welcome in many pulpits, and why other women whom God has called, remain excluded from the pulpits and leadership of so many churches.
The trauma-informed community movement is an emerging social movement in the United States. It has received remarkable attention from many professional fields and has catalyzed collaborative efforts among community organizations.
During this Advent season, I invite you to spend less time pondering your problems, and more time counting your blessings. Count the blessings God bestowed upon you in the past. Count the blessings God is bestowing on you right now. Then consider all the blessings God is holding in store for you in the future and even into eternity.
Amid bleak and uncertain reality, how could Elizabeth experience an inner surge of joy? How could Mary sing of her soul magnifying the glories of God—of a divine power who had done great things for her and for humanity? I imagine that the rituals of their religious tradition, intentionally enacted through storytelling, singing, and Shabbat, placed the realities of the world in a greater context, affirming the presence of the Divine, their identity as a chosen community, and the promise of their future.
In this time of pandemic, what would it look like to visit the sick and imprisoned, to provide food and water for the hungry and thirsty, to welcome the stranger, not because we have something to offer, but because we know that in doing so we meet Jesus?
The growth of cities, with more than half the world’s population now living in urban areas, means the prevalence of artificial light, or light pollution, blocks the ability of many to enjoy the splendor of the night sky. Increasingly, people live under a blanket of darkness rather than a curtain of stars.
Agrarianism is a way of life that teaches us how to till and keep God’s life-giving garden (Genesis 2:15). Although most of us aren’t farmers, we are all called to work, eat, play and celebrate in ways that honor God and preserve the gift of creation.
God has a way of breaking through walls and into the spaces of darkness and grief. It is in those spaces where God meets us most fully, where we wrestle with God in the darkness of night like Jacob did. The spaces where God punctures the darkness that surrounds us and allows the light to shine through, like the stars in the night. These puncture wounds are my source of hope.
Here’s an Advent calendar of daily ideas for adults, beginning December 1. If you think chocolate would help, buy a bag of Hershey’s Kisses (or your favorite candy), and have one a day, after you do the suggested activity.
Not to put too fine a theological point on it, but perhaps getting back to where you once belonged is as much about where you are going as it is about where you have been.
So often, ministry is treated as something that ordained people do, but the priesthood of all believers tells us that everyone is called to ministry, and that churches ought to spend considerable time developing everyone’s gifts in ministry and helping them articulate their various vocations. That commitment is centuries old, but it is only in this present pandemic that I am seeing its promise truly come to life. It continues to enrich my own ministry to see it as a shared endeavor with congregants, and I am finding new contours of my own call in the wake of the pandemic. For that, I’m thankful.
The Thanksgiving holiday gives us the opportunity to pay attention collectively to what we are thankful for. Thanksgiving automatically puts your attention on what is right, rather than what is wrong.
Once a year is not enough, however, for communities or individuals to practice shifting attention to the many things that are right. Even in this challenging time, every day can give the opportunity to gratefully notice what is working—in the world, in your communities, in your own life. This doesn’t mean ignoring challenges or the suffering of others. Our brains automatically register the negative, however, so it takes extra effort to notice the positive.
Practicing gratitude is linked to physical health benefits, including improved sleep, lower blood pressure, motivation to exercise more, better control of glucose levels and improved immunity, to name a few. Studies have also found mental, psychological, and spiritual health benefits of gratitude, including increased self-confidence, resilience, optimism, and patience.
I have thought about many futuristic stories from my reading and watching science fiction, and the maxim “faith manages” (from the 1990s television show Babylon 5) might just be the thing that has got me through the pandemic to date.
Without the full participation of women in decision making and policy making, there exists no balance, which is needed to maintain a healthy existence. This is the Creator’s natural law. When men take away women’s rights to participate in the decision making within the home, the balance of that home is no longer equal, and both natural law and the sacred circle are broken. Chaos in the home is usually the outcome.
Provide a safe place to talk. Don’t be afraid to inquire and to ask them to share, but do so on their terms. Incorporate them in your ministry to give them a reference that will help them to concretely see what it means to be part of a loving community. The experience of combat often generates a real sense of belonging and intimacy rarely felt elsewhere, but a loving church with an incarnate message of hope can fit the bill. Nurture them back to the land of the recovering, for we are all recovering in the hands of the Great Healer.
For months now I’ve been preaching to church leaders about the importance of building email lists rather than relying on social media platforms to engage people. My own advice has come home to roost, and today I’m sharing about my experience so you might not tread down the same path and end up in… (cue the dramatic music) Facebook jail.
Intercultural ministry calls us to perspective transformation, which entails learning to see in each new cultural context opening up to us values and symbols of culture, interaction with and internalization of the stranger, as with Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10). It is a journey through which we learn to reflect on the ways in which we engage with persons different than ourselves. It is a process by which we also deepen our faith.
How would you continue to spread the good news of God’s kingdom if you no longer had a church (as we have come to understand them) from which to minister? Who would be your audience in the here and now? Whether one is lay or clergy, the question beckons us all.
What began 25 years ago as a print publication focused on lifting voices for biblical justice, is now a digital-first publication speaking to issues of justice, mercy, and faith.
With the new lectionary year approaching with Advent soon at hand, preachers have an additional resource to consider in planning their worship and sermons. A new series, “A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church,” by Dr. Wilda C. Gafney, published its inaugural volumes earlier this year.
Poet Robert Frost was remembered into eternity for having a quarrel with the world, but even more, for loving the world. God grant that we too might be remembered, not so much for the inevitable quarrels, but for our love for the church… for Christ’s church.
Ancestral theology, for those of us who have ascribed to and practiced it, can help define the experience of a comforting, informative visit from ancestor to descendant that opens the descendant’s eyes and heart to God in new and meaningful ways. We are at our best when we are open to the ways and means God uses to restore our souls.
The good news is that we have finally come face-to-face with so many systematic fault lines in our society. I also believe that we as a people are less polarized than our political leaders and news media portray.
The future doesn’t depend on whether progressives or conservatives win. It depends on whether uniters or dividers win. I want to be a uniter. I’m ready to form the first chapter of Dividers Anonymous. I’m ready to change. Anyone want to join me?
When my father was in the last few months of his life, we bought him a clock. This was a date-and-time clock, intended to help keep him oriented as his dementia worsened. It cycled through the date and time, day after day, until one day in June, it suddenly changed to read “It’s Monday Morning.” No time. No date. Just a day and a general time of day. As my dad’s concept of time faded, somehow this clock changed to this very basic way of orienting to time.
Rather than partnering with Facebook, churches and other religious organizations would do well to maintain a critical distance and a healthy line of separation between themselves and the social media giant. Just as the separation of church and state contributes to a healthy flourishing of faith in physical space, perhaps maintaining a separation of church and social media will likewise contribute to a healthy flourishing of faith online.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the United States, 20 people are physically abused every minute and an estimated 1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner. Given these statistics, we should expect a number of women and men and children in our congregations dealing with current domestic violence situations or recovering from the trauma of them. What then shall we do?
The church has been significantly affected by the lingering impacts of COVID-19. The COVID era and its related impacts are here to stay. We would do well as pastors to understand how we can be most effective as we lead.
While we live in a democracy where we are entitled to exercise our “unalienable rights,” public safety has not registered on the hearts, minds, and souls of some Americans. While our rights are indeed important, we need to be alive and healthy to fight for these rights. May we find it in our collective hearts to truly be our brother’s keeper in our efforts to keep one another safe. May we look beyond the narrow view of “rights” to see the broad perspective of public safety.
The most natural way to make restoration possible is to carry the sacred discoveries found within the Eucharist to one’s neighbor as a matter of course. The forgiveness that can come so easily at the table is transferable to each person within one’s purview during the course of the week. It might take special effort to follow through, especially during our current pandemic times, but it could be the only way to fully realize this ordinance of the church. Jesus certainly managed to do it, and humankind has been charged to imitate him.
What happened to Gabby Petito is unquestionably tragic. But so is what has happened to over 700 Native American women and children gone missing in the state of Wyoming.
A Quaker philosopher at the Earlham School of Religion instilled in me a principle which has stayed with me throughout my life, and which ceaselessly inspires my thinking about world and individual events. He taught: “Always favor the oppressed, and if the oppressed become freed from oppression and become the oppressors, favor the new oppressed.”
The struggle to care for the integrity of our creation cannot be waged and sustained apart from the struggle for justice amongst people. Biblically, justice and a spirituality of ecology are linked to each other in one ecosystem.
Those of us who have tried to give our all to Christ and to Christ’s church face a conundrum as to how we should encounter our brothers and sisters (and our children and grandchildren) who are spiritual but not religious. Let us be like the parents of Emily Dickinson, who affirmed her, embraced her, and welcomed her at the table.
When will Christians stop believing the lie that we are self-sufficient? When will we understand that collective responsibility for creation, for the vulnerable, is more Christ-like than personal freedom and choice? Will it be when the number of children dead from a disease, which could be controlled by a vaccine, starts rivalling the number of adults? The American evangelical church will find itself with blood on her hands unless we do better.
From churches to restaurants and government officials to family friends, I hear lots of people saying, “everyone is vaccinated, now we can do things in-person!” But when I bring up my asthmatic four-year-old or pandemic-born one-year-old, I’m met with blank stares or dismissive comments about them “not getting it as bad.” Do my kids not count as everyone? Does our immunocompromised friend not count as everyone? What about our neighbors who couldn’t access vaccines until very recently? Or those in communities where the vaccine is inaccessible? Just who is “everyone”?
Some hurts never heal, some wounds cut too deep. You carry them to the grave, and they wake you when you try to sleep.
There is a balm in our current coronavirus situation: cleansing, covering, community mitigation, and vaccination. Let me connect the scientific with the spiritual. Congregations prayed for a vaccine; that’s spiritual. God gave us a vaccine; that’s God working through science.
Woodstock looms large in the cultural memory of many Americans. However, the footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival (also known as “Black Woodstock”) largely remained forgotten in its film canisters until a recent documentary, “Summer of Soul,” directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots.
We do not have to submit to the de facto slowdown and spiritual stagnation of the doldrums of the summer months. There are things that we can do in our congregations during the seasons of Pentecost and Ordinary Time that can, in fact, strengthen our spiritual vitality and health. If the post-Pentecost season of Ordinary Time is a season set aside liturgically to give the church the opportunity to reflect on its mission and purpose, how can you cultivate a spirituality for the summer doldrums?
The American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh lawsuit that reached a settlement in 1991 resulting in NACARA provided a measure of justice that allowed hundreds of thousands of people like Luis Marcos to have their cases heard. Luis was granted asylum and later received full U.S. citizenship. His story is but one example of how American Baptists fight for justice and extend mercy, because of our faith.
Books have been wonderful companions through these isolating months. Here are some books I have found to be particularly helpful in the last uncertain year.
Rethinking what it means to gather for worship—One Baptist church considers not returning to the building
At the South Yarra Community Baptist Church (SYCBC) in Melbourne, Australia, moving worship and congregational life online during our city’s four-month hard lockdown proved so successful that there is now a serious conversation about the possibility of continuing it and not returning to physically gathered worship.
“As we gather at God’s holy table, the table is not our table, not the church’s table, not the denomination’s table, but it is God’s table, and God’s inclusive hands extend a welcome to all.”
The dominant powers in this country have set the gameboard where different communities are pitted against one another with myths that we tell of “the other.” Contrary to the model minority myth, many Asian Americans suffer from the same racist system that hurts all communities of color. Following the Atlanta massacre, I saw a God-given opportunity to build solidarity as so many allies, especially from the Black community, raised their voices in support.
This beautiful tension of unity and diversity was on full display during the 2021 Biennial Mission Summit. Women and men representing a variety of ethnic, social, and theological perspectives provided inspiration and encouragement for participants to imagine the kingdom of God in their contexts.
Remember: if it’s fun, that doesn’t mean it’s not work. It could be that’s exactly the place you are called to contribute right now. Could you do more of what is fun and easy and less of what is hard and a struggle? It’s not cheating to exercise your greatest gifts.
I return again and again to the power of ever-so-brief children’s sermons. They cannot eradicate generations of racism, hatred, and narrow-mindedness, but inch by inch they can influence attitudes and values for good.
The Church has been waiting for nearly two thousand years for God’s Kingdom to be fully realized. Where are we now? God never promises when we will see the kingdom, only that it will come soon and very soon and that we have work to do in the time between now and then.
Now is the time, with the world watching and holding relevant parties to account, to work towards a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine. The underlying core issues of the conflict must be addressed—for both the sake of Israelis and Palestinians.
School may be out for summer and given vaccinations and increased immunity, the pervasive need for virtual learning may decrease. However, the persistent gaps and inequities uncovered must be addressed. We have a collective responsibility which rests with all who care for and want to see the success of our children. May we be moved to get involved and advocate, lest we find that the cost of school being out is too great to bear.
Annually, the United Nations designates June 20 as World Refugee Day. The UN encourages member countries to highlight the situation of refugees, advocate for their rights and needs, and celebrate the contributions refugees make to their new locations once resettled. The recent Ben Sharrock film “Limbo” invites its audience into the deep uncertainties of a refugee.
The Cherokee Freedmen: what does true liberty mean nearly 160 years after the Emancipation Proclamation?
The observance of Juneteenth provides an avenue for a broader understanding of the concept of liberty, especially within the context of African American and Native American relations.
Trauma’s impact is not restricted to the individual that endured the trauma, it affects those who perpetrate the trauma and the descendants of both. To heal from a traumatic experience involves dealing with not only the symptoms that are manifested because of the trauma, it involves reconciling with the source of the pain. This is not work that has been done concerning racism in America.
The church may become informed on resources for poor families, such as federal aids, and become a part of collaborations to create resources for immigrant families since they do not have access to federal aid. The church may also create informal networks among congregations and social agencies, and work with social services to stay in touch with children who have had to go into foster care.
Informándose sobre recursos para familias pobres: ayudas federales, etc. Siendo parte de colaboraciones para crear recursos para familias inmigrantes ya que estos no tienen acceso a ayudas federales. La iglesia puede crear redes informales entre congregaciones y agencias sociales. También podemos trabajar con servicios sociales para mantener contacto con niños que han tenido que ir a cuido de crianza.
Being truly grateful to God most merciful and kind for a fruitful and satisfying ministry, my desire is to be a friend to younger men and women in Christian ministry, and to encourage them and hold them up in prayer so that they may reach their potential in Christ, balancing their prophetic and priestly roles.
I, and the Christian community of Minneapolis, cannot resurrect George Floyd, but we can do everything we can to create a community where BIPOC neighbors have lungs full of breath and where they live long, happy, fulfilling lives.
Listening evaluatively is the mark of a thinking mind. After the wars of disinformation which we experienced in the past half decade, we must rethink how we listen and how we think. I crave evaluative listening skills for my grandchildren, for my neighbors and friends, for all who sit in the pews, for all who vote, and for all who watch, read, or listen to the news. But I cannot wish it for another until I engage in it myself. So, may I practice what I preach, and may all of us desire to grow in our skills as people who think critically and listen evaluatively.
As ministry leaders look to guide congregations through and past the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are beginning to think about what the Church will look like moving forward.
If part-time ministry supported by secondary (and sometimes tertiary) employment is truly “the wave of the future,” we desperately need to face the elephant in the room. We need to have honest, straightforward, and faithful conversations about clergy compensation and how the church can lead in economic justice.
As we pray for peace in Israel and Palestine, as many churches are currently doing, that does not mean sitting in the middle and avoiding making moral judgements.
From cowardly to courageous, from frightened to fearless, from denying to defending Jesus—Embracing the power and purpose of Pentecost
The best way to think about Pentecost is to consider that without that event the church would have no power. Pentecost is the day when churches all over the world pause to remember the moment in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit swept into the upper room where the disciples of Jesus were still in hiding, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. Up to that point, those men barely ventured outdoors for fear that what had happened to Jesus might also happen to them. Up to that point, there was no preaching going on and no healings occurring in the name of Jesus. There was just a group of frightened people not knowing what to do next. Christ may well have been risen, but before the Day of Pentecost “the church had no power!”
Mental Health Awareness Month, a good time to start or expand a mental health ministry in your church and community
Speaking and preaching about mental illness with directness and compassion will only take a congregation so far. Real and sustained progress requires a change in cultures that demand people hide a part of who they are.
So this day, we hope to remember the day of Pentecost, as the Spirit of God breathed life into the Church, and remember that we are not at the end of that holy fire, as if we are the dying embers at day’s end. Instead, we dare to think of ourselves as the continuation of that story, with the desire to live our lives together as a spiritual community, responsive to the Spirit kindling within us, prompting us, pushing us, beckoning us to reach beyond our boundaries, beyond these four walls, and out into the world.
How shall we, as people of God, demonstrate love for one another in our neighborhoods and overseas? How shall we choose to be devoted to and honor one another while we remain God’s ambassadors of mercy, hope, and love while we serve? I humbly offer that Isaiah 61 invites us all to be a greater witness of God’s love as a resurrected people breathing for truth, mercy, and love. May our individual and collective breath last for more than 9 minutes.
Tony Bennett is a wonder. I’m astonished at the way he kept performing into his 90s. Recently his family made public the fact he has Alzheimer’s. Despite his diagnosis, he’s collaborated with Lady Gaga on a second album expected out soon. In a wonderful story in the AARP magazine, I was reminded of four things I admire about Tony Bennett, in addition to his music.
Perhaps, beginning this month, we can reexamine just how it is that we might play a role that could contribute to the rising incidence of suicide among veterinary professionals, and give them our best attention and efforts when we take our pets into see them. Our veterinarians are usually giving us their best, and reciprocation is a good start to helping them, ourselves, and our animal relatives live in an abundant way.
The Black church struggles with the stigma of mental illness. Due to past and present experiences with institutionalized racism in America, Black church leadership and their members have been apprehensive to collaborate with mental health agencies. However, the Black church is positioned to be a pivotal partner in supporting mental wellness in the African American community.
My mother was the one person that I believed had not given up on me. She was the epitome of kindness and loyalty, and her gifts were heartfelt, genuine, and long-lasting. Mothers who actively demonstrate how to love others and pass that along to us–well, they are the moms for whom Mother’s Day was created, after all.
While we may be able to legislate reform, mandate equitable policies, and reframe policing, this will still leave much work to do. The model of change that helps me to continue to embrace hope in a sea of darkness is the model of love. The concept of loving one’s neighbor as oneself is where not only reform happens, but transformation occurs.
The Tatmadaw (Myanmar military), long scorned for its disregard for human rights, is pressing its full might against the restoration of democracy in Burma. The threat to the people of Myanmar has spurred Baptists from across the U.S. and parts of Myanmar toward a common message: we all desire peace for the people of Myanmar. We lift the people of Burma and the diaspora communities in prayer. We pray democracy and freedom shall prevail.
Living well in continual overwhelm is possible through intentional, creative adaptiveness. We have agonized, lost, and mourned. And we have pondered, found, and moved on with new tools and techniques forged by ingenuity and necessity. Our response to complex, unrelenting challenge can be as much transformative adventure, as it can be daunting obligation. The choice is ours.
The belief in the dignity of every individual, be they Democrat or Republican, Palestinian or Israeli, is essential if we are going to be advocates of equality and agents of justice. This is my prayer: that our engagement in political action embraces the principles of equality and justice for all people—from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Middle East. Christian witness is at stake. Might all who follow Jesus commit to denouncing Christian Nationalism and offering a more compelling witness for the sake of our faith, our country, and the world.
The way of belief—seeing God at work in the midst of things, doing something that surpasses all expectations
Father Raymond Brown suggests that the deepest belief, the one that embraces with joy the glory of Christ’s resurrection, is the one that understands what is happening beyond the most visible signs. It is one thing to see the empty tomb. It is quite another to see God at work in the midst of things, doing something that surpasses all expectations.
The problem of racism runs very deep within the soul of America, and it must be attended to if this country is to live up to its high ideal of the equality of all people.
The America I hope for requires work that cannot be completed in a lifetime. We must forge ahead to a future that better reflects the possibility of America, no matter how much it challenges the notion of who we believe ourselves to be.
We face a choice of how we will live with each other and on this planet. We can bully all of the other birds out of the feeder with greed and malice, take the seeds of justice and hope for ourselves, pollute the resources that were meant for everyone, and go down together. Or we can remember who and whose we are. We can remember the fragile balance between us and our home. We can remember that we are stewards of our planet and stewards of each other’s well-being.
The Lord’s message arrived strong to the ancient cities of Nazareth, Capharnaum, and Jerusalem; it interrupted as an agent of kindness, mercy, and transformation, that was lived not just in physical health, but also in emotional, spiritual, familiar, social, economic, and political well-being.
El mensaje del Señor llegaba con fuerza a las antiguas ciudades de la Nazaret, Capernaúm y Jerusalén; irrumpía como un agente de bondad, misericordia y transformación, que se vivía no solo en la salud física sino en el bienestar emocional, espiritual, familiar, social, económico y político.
Pastors are called to be visionary; they are asked to keep order and use tried and true formats and materials. They are called to innovate, and they are required to keep the cherished traditions of any individual church alive. They are called to take the long view; and they need to meet the day to day needs of congregants. Can one person do it all? Can that one person do it all well?