Archives for November 2016
Here’s a brief video from the #NoDAPL protest outside of Wells Fargo in downtown Raleigh on November 15, 2016. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been re-routed through Native American lands, so this is not only an environmental issue. This is about the rights of Native People, their safety and their sovereignty. As a nation, we have taken nearly everything from them. No more.
Texts: Isaiah 65:17-35, Jeremiah 17:7-8
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
for I will be near thee, thy trouble to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
Like so many of my colleagues, I have struggled this week with what to say this morning. Today, I believe, calls for both a pastoral word as well as a prophetic word. And while that sounds like the right thing to do as a pastor, it has been a struggle to discern how to balance the pastoral with the prophetic and the prophetic with the pastoral. In writing this sermon I have called on the saints of Pullen to guide me; the likes of Bill Finlator, the former and sometimes (most often) beloved pastor of this church. I have thought a lot of Bill this week—the way he could hold the tension of being both prophet and priest. Bill had a way of disturbing the comfortable while comforting the disturbed. Today, I imagine, we are the disturbed who need comforting and we are, still in many ways, the comfortable who need disturbing. I imagine you understand. The balance is delicate and dangerous—much like walking a tight rope. And while I want to be true to my own conscious and convictions in what I say this morning in the wake of our presidential election, I also want to be compassionate. While I want to offer a word of comfort, I also want to stand with the prophets and boldly proclaim what happens when God’s people turn from God’s ways—from God’s justice-love. But honestly, what I want most in these moments is to be with you, and for us to be together and affirm boldly and courageously our commitment to being a community where all are welcome; and a people who are committed to making a difference in the world. [Read more…]
By the waters of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
demanded our songs,
and our tormentors requested mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of those songs of Zion!”
How shall we sing this Divine song
in a strange land?
This morning, at the dawn of Presidential results, I faced a harsh truth: Babylon is here. Honestly, outside the Psalm, language seems hard to grasp, making my understanding of the writer’s seemingly incapability for song more palpable. As a person of faith , the sinew of my spirit stretches toward a Zion, that pinnacle of aspiration where all receive abundant welcome and care. I see this in our own congregation as our doors and our lives have been open to people of color, people with differing abilities, the LGBTQIA community, Buddhist, Hindus, Jewish people, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, agnostics, atheists, laborers, the undocumented, the refugees, women, men, and children. Our communion at Pullen, as witnessed this past Sunday, is rich, and it provides a glimpse into the Divine Community. But what happens when a strange land is oppressive and our persecution is at the merriment of our captors? How do you grasp for a land of milk and honey when the earth is crumbling? How do you shoulder one more move for the kin_ship of God in the dawn of imminent threat?
This morning, as most mornings, I opened the Hebrew Bible. This morning, I suspended my reading of Ezekiel or Job for the Psalms looking for a hope to answer the questions that are coming and unknown. My eyes lingered on the last line, “’Êḵ, nā·šîr ’eṯ- šîr- Yaweh ‘al, ’aḏ·maṯ nê·ḵār.?” The verb tense grasped my attention: a simple future modality. Simple future modality. Most often translated, the NRSV uses the conditional verb tense rendering “How Could we sing?” The conditional tense implies a futility where the song ceases and the melody can not be voiced. This is not accurate because the better rendition is “How shall we sing this Divine Song is a strange land?” This future simple modality is a continuum and implies, despite their captivity, the Hebrews could not not sing out their hope. This modality may not contain the subjugation desired by their tormentors, but the tune refuses to cease. The Divine Song has always been sung, is being sung, and will be sung again and again. The dream of freedom, the longing for that first Garden, the aching for Canaan, the yearning for the Kin_ship of God must be sung, even when the song is wordless and the melody is unknown. This is the Divine Memory that is woven in our spiritual DNA that draws us to remember a Holy Communion where all shall be truly embraced. These circumstances tonight call us to weep, but, first and foremost, this memory will always require us to sing.
Text: Luke 6:20-31
In 72 hours we will know who the 45th president of the United States will be. I imagine, like me, you are ready for this election to end—not only for our personal sanity but for that of our nation. This election cycle, including but not limited to the presidential race, has brought some of the darkest days for our nation’s politics in my lifetime. The rhetoric has been shameful and embarrassing. As a people who for centuries has set the tone for respect and civility within the framework of a democracy when it comes to electing our highest leadership, I can only imagine what the rest of the world must be thinking when they witness the incivility that has emerged among many Americans in this election. [Read more…]