“St. Luke is where I can bring not only my gifts, but my great concerns, tears, anger and uncertainty when I look upon our world. I need to be here because I know that left alone this would all seem too overwhelming. But I’m not alone. Because of this community, I know that my voice, my vote, my actions and advocacy are extended and multiplied. And so are yours. When I pledge my money, my time, my energy, my tears and my hope, I know that they each join with a pool of people who are listening and longing and working for future fit for all.”
“We remember how things used to be done. We have electronic records of the histories easily forgotten about in generations past. Where powerful rich men - and women, but mostly men - could do whatever they want, with whoever they wanted, and still go out and eat in peace. No longer. There is no war on men, but the old earth, where powerful men ruled and could get away with anything, has passed away.”
Our faith does not exist in a vacuum. So we must inevitably deal with the problem of wealth as we go about our lives and ministries. And I want to use this phrase this morning, the “problem of wealth” because for most of our lives we’ve probably heard about the problems of wealth inequality and poverty through a lens that places poverty as the root issues of the problem. But we rarely hear about what lies on the other side of that coin. As one anthropologist puts it, “social sciences very seldom ask the question: 'why are the rich wealthy?' in the same way that they ask why the poor are poor?” That’s our task today: to talk about the problem and opportunity of wealth.
“I want to lift up the courage of [the Canaanite woman’s] persistence and the strength that so many survivors shared this week, but before before I do, we need to stop and ask: Why did she have to persist in the first place? Why do women everyday, everywhere have to push and persist just to be seen and heard? Why do we put up with a “boys will be boys” culture while forcing victims and survivors swim against a sea of distrust, blame and disbelief - often alone and without help?”
Healthy justice and peace work is grounded and guided by solidarity and the love it inspires. Not by the guilt that comes with wealth or white privilege. Not by a desire to make ourselves look righteous or good. Solidarity. Love. A genuine conversion to one's neighbor. These are sustainable and humanizing motivations. Guilt and shame are not.
“Much of [the Bible] is so entwined with patriarchy and racism, it’s almost impossible to think of what it would be like without it. So why not just ditch it? Well, quite frankly, being utterly entwined with patriarchy and racism is something we can say about our country too. But I refuse to ditch it, because of the principles it was founded on. And for the same reason, I can’t ditch the Bible.”
Friends, this is our work as we Come Together: to find our critical edge, ward off apathy, and dig into action. We are people with big hearts and passions. It’s a beautiful thing. But we must resist the temptation to run from fire to fire, injustice to injustice. We must form deep roots in our commitments and, in turn, root out those invasive influences of distraction and despair. We’re not called to blaze every trail, but we are called to discern and then do our part.
“This table of grace calls us to a mindset of abundance, rather than scarcity, and to the act of sharing, rather than protecting that which we have. It calls us to be fed and nourished, while challenging us to feed and nourish all.”
“We all want to be humble, lifelong learners. Who among us, though, wants to be truly humbled by learning? Such is the call for those who seek to follow in Jesus’ way. We are most truly disciples in a 'biblical sense' when we are actively learning."
“Our calling is not to conjecture and speculate about what’s next. Our calling is to care and cure what’s here and now. The former is grounded in fear, while the latter is grounded in love.” -Brennan
“I consider heaven and hell to be real…When I hold my daughter in my arms and she lets out a huge laugh. That’s heaven. But when a mother, seeking refuge from violence, has her son ripped from her arms, who is then lost by the United States Government. That’s hell on Earth.” -Colin
“When I am unable to do justice. When I am unable to love kindness. When I am unable to walk humbly and seek out the cause of the widow and orphan. When my assemblies are worthless, and my offerings are meaningless. When I fail God. I need to acknowledge the failing on my part, seek forgiveness, and offer repentance, then, God’s divine love can shine through the dust I kicked up, because God’s grace has room for all our failings.”
So, is God real? My answer is… I hope so. And maybe that answer; maybe the feeling of hopeful longing or the discipline of willing learning is what this faith thing is all about. Not the assurance of certainty. But the assurance of a beautiful question worth exploring with people you love.
"Depending on the ethical code, one can truthfully say, ‘good people can be white supremacists.’ That’s how flexible ethical theories can be. But it cannot be said truthfully that Christians can be white supremacists.” Colin P. Elliott
“When deep joy or sorrow arises, or even such large scale injustices as we are witnessing today, I know that I will have resources to draw upon and a community of people in which to trust and turn.” Brennan Blue