Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pardon the Interruption

Tomorrow's sermon begins with some info I learned this week about Old Testament prophecy. I'm showing a keynote presentation. (Hopefully the other congregation's instruments will be out of the way.) After that intro and what I hope will be a productive discussion with plenty of congregational input, I will end with something like this:

I read many things this week, and listened to others. I’m sure you did too. I struggled to reconcile some of what I heard. I agree that like the editors of Christian Century said, “For black Americans, the abuse of power by police is a familiar pattern, not an aberration—and it is that reality that must be acknowledged and addressed.” (Christian Century: - editors)
@Dunker Punks Tweet

I recognize that given the way our legal system works, that the grand juries likely are directed to limit their observations to certain testimonies and facts of the case before them. YET, sure we are observant enough to see there is a bigger problem here. That is lived out in the way our systems work. 

Perhaps you are thinking you struggled enough with these problems this week and were hoping for a break at church. Yet do not the prophecies that influenced Jesus and his own life of righteousness point to our task?

Are we not Christians tasked with revealing God’s priorities for justice and righteousness in the world?
congregational discussion: are we? - what do you think?

On Thursday I listened to WHUR. The DJ spoken quietly saying today he was not a comedian, or a DJ, but a - 57 year old black man, who wants his 3 sons to stay alive. 
So he said when each learns to drive, he tells them, if (or when) you are pulled over (for any reason, which doesn’t begin to address the reasons) Turn the dome light on, put your hands on steering wheel, long before officer gets to your window. It could keep you alive.

Were any of you given that advice when you learned to drive?

You may have read, In one of many powerful confessions evoked by the shooting, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post recalled how his mother used to tell him “not to run in public, lest I arouse undue suspicion. 
How I most definitely should not run with anything in my hands, lest anyone think I stole something. 
The lesson included not talking back to the police, lest you give them a reason to take you to jail—or worse. 
And I was taught to never, ever leave home without identification.” 

What white children are given such instructions?

It is important for us to bring the discussion into the pews and to do it today. First because the pain and loss demands us to respond and, as a friend who is preaching this morning said, “maybe the church’s role is to be a place where the truth can be heard. 
a place where all the stories are told AND listened to.

For a whole bunch of reasons to do with our society, the truth isn’t being heard in courts and it seems like justice isn’t being administered by peers.
We aren’t courts or police - altho we take our turns making up those bodies which administer justice - should we not be listening to the stories of pain? 
Shouldn’t we be putting ourselves in the shoes of others?  - as much as we can. 
I don’t pretend that I can understand from my position of privilege, but as Rev. Alan Cross wrote this week, “We should consider what people in the black community are saying, what are they going through, what is their experience.”

(option) “Author Barnabas Piper chose to post what others were saying about Ferguson and Garner on his blog, saying as “a young white man” he wasn’t in the best position to explain it all. “Put yourself in the shoes of the authors and immerse yourself in the experiences they describe,” he wrote. “You and I need to do so if we want to contribute anything to stopping injustice and closing the racial gap that exists.”

Young Adults recently read about the ‘New Jim Crow’. We live in a world where business opportunity for some means lobbing for strict imprisonment for drug and alcohol convictions so the FOR-PROFIT prisons can make more money.

congregational discussion:What would you share today - here in this place where we listen in order to hear God’s prophetic call to us?

I believe we are called to reveal God’s righteousness just like the prophets and just like Jesus. 
YET, like Mary, we may experience this call as a SIGNIFICANT interruption in our lives. It isn’t what we had planned for Advent or the New Year. 

I find myself agreeing with an unlikely partner, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore, who said, “It’s time for us in Christian churches to not just talk about the gospel but live out the gospel by tearing down these dividing walls not only by learning and listening to one another but also by standing up and speaking out for one another,”

What if one tweeter is right when he said, “’Love your neighbor as yourself’ means you picture yourself being choked and surrounded by five men while you say, ‘I can’t breathe,’”


Isaiah’s words commission God’s people to prepare the way for his justice and righteousness. They weren’t waiting for the end of time for it to arrive, they were returning home to Israel and a chance at a new life.
What would new life look like for us?

congregational discussion Tell me your vision of how God’s righteousness and justice would change the images you saw on TV and on the streets in Washington dc this week? Instead of what you saw, what would justice look like?
. . . (encourage!)

congregational discussion what can we do to reveal this vision? to bring the truth to light? (or light to the truth?)

from Dunker Punks (NYC Began..) “But we aren’t extremists, we’re radicals. And as radical Christians, we must look at the roots of our faith, where we see Jesus, who very clearly condemns violence, especially in response to injustice. Follow Jesus at your protests..”
Isaiah’s words bring a message of comfort from God that it took a long time for people to feel.

John the Baptist invited his audiences to be washed clean of their sins, their failings. . .  John called the people to repent, not in the sense of saying that they were sorry so much as in the sense of turning back to God and to the way of life that God called them to.

Living Our baptism vows may cause an interruption in what we planned as individuals and as a church.
. If we are the people we claim to be..
. . .If we will ‘continue the work of Jesus’

..then we had better plan for an interruption. 


 ibid Banks quoting tweet Scott Slayton, a white Southern Baptist pastor in Chelsea, Ala.

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