Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday 29 December 2008

I will be taking a break until Monday January 5. Have a blessed beginning to 2009.

We will start again with a new source for the daily reflections.;

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday 23 December 2008

A personal reflection by Cornel West.

When I went on that operating table for cancer surgery, I was thinking of all the unbelievable blessings that I've received in my life. I didn't know whether this was going to be my death or not. I had to wait to see what was going to be. But I refused to let death come in like a thief in the night and steal the joy and love I had already given and received.

It is wonderful to see someone who approaches death filled with joy. That doesn't mean "happiness." It means a sense of fullness and wholeness. Death, we are told, cannot steal that from us. Death cannot steal the love and joy we have experienced in our lives and it cannot deny us the love and joy that is promised. That must be why we say death has lost its sting. We never know how we will entertain the possibility of our own death or the death of those close too us but we are encouraged to walk into this day without limiting our lives because death is drawing near in some shape or form. West writes of having to wait to see what was going to take place with his surgery. We are reminded that we wait in hope...we wait with hearts open...we wait knowing the end of the story...we wait in the presence of love that abounds even when we are alone. One of the great gifts we can give one another as death is to be present and stand alongside and help love and life and hope endure even as death plays out its hand.

Connection: I've always thought death does. And yet, the love and joy that is remembered causes a smile to burst across my face within a moment of a fond memory or promise.

Lord of Eternal Life, as we are showered by your grace, remind us to soak up your presence and keep your love close at all times. When we are afraid - be our comfort and our strength. Amen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday 22 December 2008

Some days Cornel West is just good for me.

Gratitude always pushes out ego. When all these other folk are coming at you tooth and nail, you can look them in the face and say, "You're not going to make me bitter. You're not going to make me bigoted. I have work to do in the little time I'm here. I have a smile on my face because I've been so blessed." Thankfulness and praise don't provide the self with a whole lot of space for the ego to operate.

There are so many things that can pull us down and make us throw mud and never see the light of day. And yet...we are blessed - we are the beloved of God. With that on our side, all the powers of evil and hell cannot have the upper hand on us....unless of course...we give it to them. We are invited into a life of thanksgiving. When we take up that invitation, all the times of our lives become opportunities for change. Change that can happen to us and change that can happen to others and change that can happen to every relationship we enter. From gratitude and thanksgiving come avenues of peacemaking - justice - forgiveness - kindness...the ways of God's Reign.

Connection: Some is much too easy to bitch and gripe than to give thanks and be surprised by what is handed to us.

Stir up our hearts, O God, and open us to your living presence. Amen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday 19 December 2008

The week ends with a powerful piece by Cornel West.

One reason whey the Garden of Gethsemane is so very important is because, even thought God comes into the world in human flesh to love, serve, and die, even God had to choose.
Jesus said, "Let this cup pass from me." He still had to choose to have his will conform to the will of God. The greatest living preacher - Gardner C. Taylor - has a grand sermon called "Gethsemane: The Place of Victory." Once you get humanized, fleshified, and concretized in space and time, you are in a choice-centered reality. To be human means choosing to have the courage to think, love, hope, and fight for justice and freedom.

I may use part of this quote for Christmas Eve. The act of becoming human brings the fullness of God into this context that is call our home. God comes home for Christmas and enters into all that makes us family, neighbor, nation, enemy, friend, companion... Along the way - even in the place that appear to look and feel like Gethsemane - we like our God-in-the-flesh - must choose where we are to go and how we will get there. Both parts are quite important. We work together to understand where it is that God is bidding us to come. And then, we must wrestle with how we get there. It is not going to be like the way the powers of the world will be within the Reign of Peace. Together we choose to go that way. Alone it is quite difficult. With others, the Spirit whips around us that through us to clarify who we will become so that we do not fall into the ways that are so easy for us to stumble - violence, unrest, despair...

Connection: This God who comes to be "with us" make our humanity a special gift. What bit of that special-ness in you will you let loose upon the world today? Your choice.

When you stir up our hearts, O God, we are transformed and we are awakened into a new life that reflects you Peaceable Reign. Stir us up again this day. Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday 18 December 2008

Here's one that may stir us up. West on The Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

As the right-wing political Ice Age begins to melt, the prophetic possibility inside the black prophetic church may begin to erupt. Reverend Jeremiah Wright is one example. He terrifies the white mainstream. When he says, "Not God bless American, God damn America. That's in the Bible, for killing innocent people." The white mainstream only hears, "God damn America."
They say, "He's so unpatriotic, he's so ungrateful...he's a hate-monger. Why does he hate America?"
Any God worthy of worship condemns injustice anywhere. To be anti-injustice in America is not to be anti-American! If to condemn injustice in America is to be anti-American, so be it. To be Christian requires being maladjusted to injustice, which is the bottom line.

When we are caught up in our flag waving - for any country - we may find ourselves walking farther and farther away from the way of Jesus. Too often, in the name of country, we lose respect for some people and forget the need to honor all. When that happens, we can easily enter into a life of injustice even when we are not directly responsible for the injustice. From a prophetic perspective, the God of liberation and justice does not tolerate injustice even when those who are involved in the way of injustice think that their ways are the saving ways for the world. West is right in reminded us that most people only hear "God damn America." When we only hear that, we are able to condemn his words from the perspective of the state...we can lift up words like "traitor" because our flag has been offended. And yet, what is really most alarming is that the words uncover how we have become a people who live in a way that is contrary to the ways of our God...and yet, in line with the ways of a flag-bearing people. Rather than yell at Wright's would be good for us to pause, go back to the Scriptures, and try to get a feel for what he was saying and why their was such heat to his spoken word. It would be responsible for the Christian community to hear his words as words that make some parts of the church comfortable at the expense of others. His words, I hope, were meant to sting the people in his parish just as much as they would sting any one else.

Connection: It is important to be able to hear stinging words and begin to wonder why they sting and what must be out of line in the lives of the faithful community.

Come, Liberating Lord. Come and remind us of the invitation to be a light that brings justice and peace to this day. Remind us of how your light exposes that which is not a part of the vision of your Reign. Amen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday 17 December 2008

A different way to look at church and state...and the cross - Cornel West.

Since America is well-adjusted to injustice, the flag is no longer subordinate to the cross, the cross has become subordinate to the flag. In the end, the blood at the cross that ought to serve as a critique and judgment for all human beings becomes Kool-Aid. It serves as a refreshment for those in search of the American dream, of living large in some vanilla suburb, and enjoying a certain kind of status and power.
Any time you make the cross subordinate to the flag, you have idolatry. Americanized Christianity is shot through with forms of idolatry, making it difficult for people to keep track of the blood at the cross, the need to love, sacrifice, and bear witness to something bigger than nation, race, or tribe.

I often return to the phrase "strangers and aliens" to describe the life of Christians in any country. We can never be completely at ease and at home because just as that becomes the case, the flags of our countries will seduce us into leaving the way of Jesus for a way that will give up all things for the welfare of the flag. West points to the blood at the cross as the Kool-Aid for those in search of the American dream. He links it to life within a "vanilla suburb" and living with a "certain kind of status and power." I would add to that picture the 'hip-hop culture' that also subordinates the cross to the style of an idolatrous trip through life. It is another side of an American dream that is just as distant from the blood at the cross as is the "American vanilla Dream." As strangers and aliens, Christians are invited to be willing to live within a tension between the vision of God's Reign and the ways of a world so caught up with itself - it serves no one - loves selectively - sacrifices only when there is something to gain - and must keep up walls that restrict community.

Connection: The blood at the cross it not some magic juice that will juice up our lives and make things turn out on the winning side. It is a complete identification with all that confronts our humanity every day.

Stir up our lives, O God, so we do not fall for a cross that leads us in a victory lap in life. Rather, keep us on the way of the cross that is seeking the welfare of all no matter what the consequences may be to our lives. Amen.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday 16 December 2008

More from Cornel West.

People tend to think that religious talk is different from political talk. You can talk about the kingdom and say it's just a metaphor. But actually, it's very real. You have to have deep, deep religious faith to stay in the struggle for a long time. Ask anybody who's been in the struggle for the long haul. You have to have deep faith. Faith is our primary source of empowerment. If you haven't dealt with the bondage of death and despair, then you're going to be disillusioned after the first laps. This is not a sprint. This is a marathon.

Whenever we talk about real life situations...things get political. The great prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures talked about vision and the glorious rule of God. But don't think for a moment that they were not talking about real life. The prophets were all about the life within the Reign of God - that religious talk. Then again, they did not see any difference between the life of the Reign of God and the life into which we are called to live. If the Reign of God was just a far-off place that could be isolated from the real day-to-day world I would expect that the prophets would have never lifted their voices. But they did...and the way they called the people into a new life -here and now- was as though their every act reflected the reign they followed. Injustice in the land was injustice within the Reign of God and it could not be tolerated. This reality of the Reign of God being as real as the day-at-hand demanded a grounding that help God's beloved people to prevail as the image of God's Reign in, with, and under the very life of the world. To remain grounded is to remain faithful. To remain faithful is to have a place from which we can act as a beloved community and a place in which we rest until we act again.

Connection: Another Advent word would do well here - patience - the time to act will come and you will be ready.

Reigning God, as you invite us to live within the homeland of your Reign, guide us so that we will become aware of how it is to blossom around and through us. Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday 15 December 2008

This week we continue with Cornel West from "Hope on a Tightrope."

The very notion of humane treatment is inseparable from the historic struggle for love and justice. Humane treatment four hundred years ago was very different from what it is now. Thus, the Christian has a mandate to identify with the downtrodden, the dispossessed, the disinherited, the exploited, and the oppressed.
To be a Christian is fundamentally to live a sacrificial life, a love-informed life, a life of caring, and a life of giving.

I some ways, the Advent admonition to "Stay Awake" and "Keep Alert" are one that demand that we bring into view and keep in view those who are in our day - the downtrodden - dispossessed - disinherited - exploited - oppressed. If we only look back at older views, we will miss those who are so close to us now...we cannot or will not see them. Humane treatment is nothing more than the simple and yet profound life of not letting anyone go - not letting any person be see or treated as an object - not turning our back from one person so as to build a community of exclusion. As we act from that which is truly human, there can be nothing that separates us from the humanity of others. In fact, as we are caring and giving and love-informed and sacrificial, we give shape to the fullness of our humanity. Within such lives as this, the world begins to get a picture of who we each can be and what such a life does for the well-being of all - no exceptions.

Connection: Just a few Advent words: Stay Awake! Keep Alert!

You call us to be the beloved you have be truly be a witness to the glory of your creation. Inspire us to walk in our own shoes and identify with all who are called your beloved. In such an inspiring day as that, we may find ourselves living within a promise. Amen.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday 12 December 2008

I used this quote in a sermon a few weeks ago - from Cornel West.

A Christian should be able to go to the White House, a crack house, their momma's house or any other house and come out with their integrity, vision, compassion, and commitment to justice intact.
If the Kingdom of God is within you, then everywhere you go you should leave a little heaven behind. People will know you to be a heaven leaver. You can learn to love your crooked neighbor with your own crooked heart because you're connected to a power and grace greater than your ego.

I really like the image of being a "heaven leaver." This is not a better than thou adventure. Rather it is living as though the vision of the Reign of God is truly at hand and you are walking around as a part of it as you move through the day. Leaving a bit of heaven means people will be touched by your presence. This does not mean some grand show of religiousness. It is the living presence of a compassion and kindness and peace and pursuit of justice that makes an impact on others. When we are heaven leavers, it is good to think of the reality in which other may pick up a bit of what is leavers - leave. For then, more heaven leavers begin walking around within the vision of the Reign of God as a daily reality. The more - the merrier.

Connection: Go ahead, heaven abounds - be a heaven leaver...there is enough to go around forever and ever.

When your Reign comes down upon us, O God, we are moved into a life that is new. Wet from the waters of baptism our days are full of opportunities to share the life into which you invite us. Encourage us with your Spirit that we will walk with a gait that show that your Reign is indeed at hand and among us. Amen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday 11 December 2008

More from Cornel West on Christianity and democracy.

Democracy goes hand in hand with Christian faith. You have an ethical obligation as a Christian to fight for equal rights for all. Prophetic thought has to do with putting your life on the line, with the help of your faith. True faith means you are not looking for a quick fix or a victory overnight. You do the right thing regardless of the consequence - because you want to be a decent and compassionate person before you die.

Well I liked this until we move to the last sentence. Christians are not people who want to be seen as a "decent and compassionate person" before we die. We want to follow Jesus. We want to be the beloved of God as we already are in the eyes of God. We want to live within that image. Nothing has to "get done" before we die. We are free to live a new life now and always. I do think that we are, as West notes" a people who are not looking for a "quick fix or a victory overnight." In fact, we are a people who are not afraid to live in times that are full of tension when many things are unresolved. It is in those times that we are reminded of the true place we play in the world. We take the powerful healing and liberating promises of our God and we live within them even when the world does not. In fact, our living becomes a contrary life - a revolutionary life - a prophetic life. This is simply a part of who we are when we follow Jesus.

Connection: Don't worry about the victory....enter into the Reign that is already at hand today.

Stir up our hearts, O God, and carry us into your Reign. Amen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Cornel West comments about evil in "Hope on a Tightrope."

For Christians, the problem of evil means: How does one respond to, and resist all forms of evil, especially institutional evil? Christians must seriously consider sin on both the personal and institutional levels. In fact, grappling seriously with institutional sin has allowed me to arrive at some very radical democratic values - such as the need for accountability for all of us.

Sounds like a good way to look at the "bailouts" or "loans" that have been thrown out at some of the biggest institution in our country. We must make them accountable. I often wondered why it is that we make small time criminals pay so heavily for crimes. A good example is the three strikes and your out laws that have thrown small time criminals into prison for long times - long times in a brutal system. On the other hand, corporate business folk seem to be able to get away with ruining the lives of others and nothing is done to them. To make matter worse, we simply give them the go ahead to keep marching to their tune. Even the way institutions are held accountable is different. A blue collar industry is vilified and their worth as a segment of our society is drawn into question and they must make sure that each of their next steps is closely watched. And yet, we simply threw funds to the banks and Wall St. without any accountability.

Connection: Evil comes in many forms. There are some aspects of evil we can never touch as individuals and yet, we must always be listening and watching and working with others to make our whole society just.

Lord of New Life, it has been the flow of the story of your commitment to you people to demand that both individuals and the systems in which we live will be just and fair and honorable. Inspire us to work for justice and shalom even when we think our own lives are settled and in place. Amen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Again from the West's way of looking at the world and hope.

In the 60s, we saw Christians engaging in anti-racist struggle, as with Martin Luther,Jr., and later with various black liberation theologians, like the great James Cone. In each instance, Christians were called forth to plunge to the depth of their understanding of the Christian gospel, which affirmed the dignity and sanctity of each and every individual. But these kinds of Christians were always a minority.

To press and affirm the dignity and sanctity of each and every individual is a path that is narrow. Too often, we are knocked off course because we are so fixed on our own self-interests that we fool ourselves into believing that others are not like us. Truth is, others are not like us. This doesn't mean that we are not to affirm their dignity and sanctity. Instead, as followers of Jesus, we are a people who never stop pressing on and seeking the welfare of all. The arms of the Reign of God are always wider than our own. We need to remember that grace will trump our arguments for a narrow inclusion or a limited embrace. If we look around at the church today, there really are few instances where the followers of Jesus never cease to "plunge in to the depth of their understanding of the Christian gospel." It is too easy to stop short and settle with something less or become content with the battles once fought.

Connection: Plunge in to the depths and see what takes place around us.

Faithful God, your inexhaustible grace is the power that brings us together as your people. Within that power comes the ability to enter into the works of love that make up the face of your people. Continue to nurture us in the pathway of this work. Amen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday 8 December 2008

From "Hope on a Tightrope" by Cornel West.

American Christianity, in many ways, is a market form of Christianity. It's all about identifying with a winner. That's why Easter Sunday the churches are full, but Good Friday they're empty. Constantinian Christians like to show up when the victory is won.
Don't tell them about the main protagonist - Jesus - being treated like a political prisoner by the Roman Empire. Don't tell them about a senseless death based on injustice with greed, hatred, and fear trying to crush the truth and love!

Another picture of this market Christianity is the "finger pointing" to the heavens after a praise to God or Jesus for a victory over the other team. I want to (and I often do) shout out or stand up and say God and Jesus has nothing to do with your athletic successes. What if you were the one who could not play as well as you play or what if you were not a part of the best team? What would be your attraction to Jesus? Jesus was a loser when it comes right down to how he fit into the societal and religious manifestations of success. That's why the dude was executed. I love the fact that Easter worship is full - as long as we who gather remember what God raised up on that day. It was life that was not in sync with the prevailing powers or values or definitions of success. Good Friday is not a day that is comfortable for many people because of the death and the violence of the act of crucifixion. It is also not comfortable because "picking up one's cross" does not mean that we make the best of the "hardships" in our lives. Rather it has to do with voluntarily entering into the life of pursuing justice and standing for peace and being compassionately involved with the outcasts.

Connection: I like to win. I also know that it is vital for us to make sure that life is fair and just and honorable for all. This is not so easy to balance. Winning and being successful has a seductive edge to it. We must simply be aware and help one another through the day.

Lord of Compassion and Hope, in all things you promise to lead us forward into the ways of your Reign. When we move away from you, we move into only the things we are able to control and that is so often so far from the character of your Reign. Guide us. Amen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday 5 December 2008

Today's selection from "Hope on a Tightrope" contains language that was difficult to read and even more difficult to share - but it comes from Cornel West a prophetic voice in the the U.S. and among African-Americans.

The priestly black church tended to be a highly niggerized black church where the black pastor, although often eloquent, was so scared and intimidated by the white supremacist power structure that he was subordinate to it. this is why when King started his movement he knew that he would only get roughly 10 to 12 churches out of 85, because the other 75 were just scared. They'd been niggerized to the core.
They said, "Look, you don't mess with the white power structure. These folk will crush you. We're not going to win. We can't work together." They said all the different things that come out of the colonized, niggerized mentality. It's understandable, but it's not justifiable.
The prophetic tradition that Martin was trying to galvanize in Montgomery said, "No, we're going to fight this thing. We want to de-niggerize Negros. We're going to shake the nigger out of them. Quit being scared. Walk. Quit being intimidated. Stand up. Quit walking around laughing when it ain't funny and scratchin' when it don't itch. Be a human being."

It was the final sentence that convinced me to use this piece. Be a human being. That is - be who you were created to be. Biblically I would argue that this means be one who is the beloved of the Creator. Be that one that no one can treat as something other than God's own - because we are each God's own and we are made in the image of God. Being a human being can be a ruthless creature if we do not remember that we are shaped to be God's image that is made recognizable in the shape of humanity. When we are these "truly human ones" -ones Walter Wink connects to the image of the son of Man - humanity becomes what it is intended to be. Within that reality created by God, there is no separation - we are one people reflecting the image of God's Reign. But remember, human beings can be ruthless. The white supremacists were human beings not animals. Only humans can attempt to elevate themselves to gods who think they have the right and privilege and obligation to judge others and take away life as they choose. Only humans can be so full of themselves that they would eliminate millions in order to come up with a world they thought would be good for their own kind. When we are the truly human beings in the middle of a world that would like to make new gods, that new humanity West speaks of will be a witness to something greater than the powers of bigotry, bias, and oppression. Today we must listen again to such a call to be human beings created as the beloved of God and in God's image. I was just reading about a woman used "God language" to make sure that LGBT people were people who could be treated as less than the humans beings they are. She categorized them by what she said they do and what they choose to do. She missed the point. She missed their humanity. Her fear-filled humanity has not allowed her to see and touch the fullness of humanity of members of this community of people within the fabric of our humanity. We will always be looking for the truly human one to come...and as promised that one does come again and again and in being a human being there is great cost.

Connection: Sometimes the greatest idol is that which we say carries the truth. Unfortunately, the truth will set everyone free - not just some - everyone - no exceptions - ever.

Come down, O God, and encourage us to be the beloved you see in us for as we live within the realm of your vision, we will begin to see how beloved our neighbors and enemies really are. Forgive us for attempting to rule over our brothers and sisters who also are gifted to be creatures call human beings. Amen.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday 4 December 2008

More on faith and the spirit from Cornel West.

The spirit of the Lord still empowers those who have been cast aside to struggle and not lose hope. It is this spirit that supports those who care for the socially invisible and politically marginalized.

Being cast aside is like being thrown into the refuse pile. Once it is thrown - it is forgotten - it is gone - it is out of sight. This is not a hope-filled place to be when you are the one who is going through the experience of being cast aside. Too many people have this happen to them on a regular basis. Some live tossed-aside lives and it seems unbelievable that than can go on and live. And yet...they do. Hope is a gift for those who find themselves put out and put away. Hope works from is that blessed assurance that binds up wounds and lifts us up when there seems to be nothing more. Hope also works through external sources - like the people who do not turn their backs on those who are cast aside. Here, hope is a hand that is there to assist - hope is a word of support and encouragement from the lips of another person who cares - hope is an advocate who faces the reality of being cast out for being in solidarity with those already cast aside.

Connection: Hope...a gift for this day...a gift that may be - you.

By your Spirit, O God, you uplift those who have been knocked down and you bring home those who have been cast aside. We give you thanks for your mercy, justice and the hope of your Reign. Amen.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday 3 December 2008

From Cornel West in "Hope on a Tightrope."

Black people were moved by the image of the God of history who sides with the oppressed and the exploited - a God who affirms one's own humanity in a society that attacks and assaults black intelligence, and black beauty, and black moral character through white supremacist ideology. This message spoke to black folk very deeply.
There was also a political reason that black folk held fast to Christianity. Through its message, black people could engage in a critique of slavery, of Jim Crowism, of second-class citizenship, while holding on to the humanity of those whom they opposed. This is the great lesson that Martin Luther King, Jr., who is a product of this tradition, taught us.

This is not my storyline. And yet, it is important to hear how the Good News was and is "good" in and through lives that were not seen as "good" by the dominant culture. Behind the strength to love is the God who promises liberation. Within the act of liberation is the gift of seeing the other not as someone to destroy but someone who must be seen as another part of the humanity that is within all of us. It is not an easy way - this way of seeing the humanity in the other when the other is an oppressor. And yet, it is a part of following the way of Jesus. It is a way that may end at the cross...end at one's stand with and for and alongside others...end and become a part of the promise of resurrection. New life is always waiting to break loose. New life breaks loose each time we do not act like the old us or in them.

Connection: We are always being invited into a life in which we re-view all things. In that action we are never sure of what we will see...and yet it may be a part of the promise that is always available to us.

Come, Lord God, and stir up our hearts. Just as you have promised to lead us to the promised land of your Reign, remind us in this day that your Reign is at hand and you have promised to to abide with us in and through all things. Amen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday 2 December 2008

From "Faith" in "Hope on a Tightrope" by Cornel West.

Constantine was the Emperor of Rome during the early years of Christianity. He took the underground religion that was persecuted and made it a state religion. Then he persecuted all other religions, and thereby forced Christianity on the population to make religion a weapon of the Roman Empire.
In these days of modern Constantinian Christianity, the blood of the cross has been transformed into Kool-Aid, and many are dipping in for upward mobility. It is a very different way of talking about spirituality. That's the truth not just for Christianity, but for religions across the board.

In a recent publicity piece for a conference in January one of the speakers seems to becoming well known and successful at what he calls getting rid of the "churchy" feeling of church. I wondered what that all meant. Was he talking about the ancient liturgical rites? Was he trying to make the music and mood of the worship or community more in step with the movement of what interests many people today? Then, what I really wondered is if this was simply a way to make church and the vision of the followers of Jesus something that will sell. I will want to ask what is being taught. I will want to ask if this un-churchy church was teaching the typical and simple morality that passes well for religion but is not the way of the cross. What does the spirituality of the church have to do with what sells in the marketplace? Better yet, what is the spirituality behind not being "churchy" and why must one spirituality be call outdated or old? I would want to see what is being put in the "Kool-Aid."

Connection: We must always look beneath the way things are packaged and attempt to anticipate the life that comes from the very core of a religious body.

When we are too much like the world, O God, we are too much like fools who run away from the simplicity and power of the Good News of your Reign. No matter where we walk in our life journey as we follow the Christ, keep us walking in the way that is defined by the cross and not the feel of the day. Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday 1 December 2008

Since we last posted on Wednesday of last week, here is the piece from that devotion with what will follow as today's - from Cornel West in "Hope on a Tightrope."

Christianity itself comes out of prophetic Judaism. Persecuted early on, Jesus ended up on the cross. This unarmed truth and unconditional love in the face of catastrophic circumstances was seemingly crushed, but the love bounced back. That story is what has attracted black folk - and others.
When we feel like we are being crucified every day like that first century Palestinian Jew crucified at Calvary, we hold on to that unarmed truth and unconditional love. It looked as though Jesus couldn't bounce back. Black folk have been locked into that long Saturday after Good Friday. We ain't had Easter yet. All we have is each other, and the promise of Easter, the promise of freedom.

Alan Lewis, in "Between Cross and Resurrection" writes about Holy Saturday - the day in the tomb...dead and gone...cold-stone death...buried and without any hope of revival. It is a place that our God must enter and does. Otherwise, our God does not know the place of humanity and the plight of those who are oppressed, forgotten, moved aside, and simply left to rot. In a place like that...from the story we tell of Easter, even those "locked into that long Saturday after Good Friday" see the promise of freedom. It may not be a reality...but it is a promise from the God who keeps promises and never forgets us. Lately I have been troubled by how easy it is to be a part of a people who simply let some people go. We forget about them or ignore them or cast them as characters who are not to be given space within our story. In my life, I am a person who is given quite a bit of space to move around and live as well as I am able. Therefore, I must be aware of Holy Saturday. I must be aware of those who are abandoned by a world that thrives on discrimination and bias and utter hatred of others who are not like them. I must be aware so that I can enter into that place even when I am not sucked their by death itself. We all arCheck Spellinge invited to be in that place for we are a people who trust that our God leaves no place abandoned and forgotten and therefore no people abandoned and forgotten. It can be too easy to "make gains" in life and then forget those who do not have life as I might have it. Oppressed people become oppressors when this circle of folly is forgotten. Holy Saturday reminds us of the story common to all of us.

Connection: Look around. It is a face of life that there are those around us who are in that place that is buried and forgotten. You and I might be the life that comes to abide with them so that we all march into a promise together.

Come, O God Who Stirs up Our Hearts. Come and lead us into and alongside the lives of our neighbors. Come and empower us to see how you see in each of us your beloved coming to life again and again in all and every time. Amen.