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Posts Tagged ‘Social Justice’

“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.” -John 21:17

I wanted to share two stories that I came across yesterday about churches that, on the verge of closing, persevered, understanding their mission and commission was to do God’s work for God’s people.

St Alban’s was faced with a very public schism, as I am sure many Episcopal churches have been over the last decade. Their inspiring, and educational for all of us, experience can be found here, as can the first part of their story.

Christ Church in Biddeford Me experienced a radical transformation into the second Diocesan Jubilee Center. This story is nothing short of amazing, and embodies what I think of when I read the Gospel.

Both of these stories are inspirational in their own way. Do you have any inspirational stories about how your parish has transformed itself from parochialism to a central part of your community? Comment away!

Peace

Chris

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“Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” 1979 BCP – Rite I

“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” -Matthew 22:34-40

Every Sunday, I hear this Scripture before the Kyrie, as it is part of the Rite I service in the Episcopal Church. Some who read this Scripture might not realize the utter brilliance of Jesus in his response to the lawyer. I wonder sometimes if people just gloss over this Scripture, but that is a different matter for a different day. Back to the point at hand: Jesus deftly plucked one-half of a verse from the book of Leviticus and installed it as the second commandment, or great command. In fact, not only did he install it, he recast the “great commands” into two, and made the second a requirement for the obedience of the first.

1 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

2 – You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. Period.

One cannot skirt these commandments and focus elsewhere. This is not a parable, it is Christ casting into His own stone the two tenants of the new Covenant. Don’t let anyone tell you different, or distract you. If we want to follow Christ, we will heed these two commandments and we will do well to recognize that our neighbor is all of God’s creation, all of it. We will feed, clothe, care for, befriend, and comfort everyone. We will look to Christ as the divine example of our humanity, a fully human and fully divine being who sacrificed Himself to show us how to live. To show us that he was not about power, wealth, or domination on Earth as Earthly kings were. No, He commanded love, charity, humility, and selflessness in us all. Through faith we must follow these commands. We must always consider these two commandments where reading Scripture.

All the Law and the Prophets hang on them from age to age.

“We love God precisely by loving our neighbor” -Martin Luther

Occupy Wall Street

Peace

Chris

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“So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” -Luke 15:3-6

“‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.” -Matthew 18:10-14

While considering the 99% movement, and the 1% who hold the wealth, the parable of the one lost sheep out of the one hundred came to mind. As with any parable, this one is not a black and white definition of those who are lost and those who are not. Many of those in the 99% strive to be the 1%. Many of those in the 1% are philanthropists and would gladly pay their fair share of taxes, like Warren Buffett.

The lost sheep are those who value wealth and power above the welfare of their neighbor. Whether they are in the 99% or the 1%, we need to go in search for those that have gone astray. When we find them, and bring them back, we will rejoice.

“We love God precisely by loving our neighbor” -Martin Luther

Occupy Wall Street

Peace

Chris

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“‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” -Matthew 5:13

“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?* Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’” -Mark 9:50

“‘Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’” -Luke 14:34-35

Let anyone with ears to hear listen indeed. The salt of the Earth are occupying Wall Street, Boston, and numerous other cities and towns. Long live their saltiness!

Peace

Chris

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“Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers.’ And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.” -Mark 11:15-18

Social justice. Equality. Caring for and healing the poor, the sick, the outcast. Everything Jesus did and ordered us to do more. Driving out the money changers from the temple was and is His hallmark of righteous anger. I am convinced, and galvanized, that Jesus is there at all the Occupy sites, and He stands with you all.

May your souls rest in God alone. You are the blessed and you will bring the Kingdom to Earth.

Peace

Chris

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“‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’” -Matthew 22:11-14

I am impressed and inspired by the sermons that I have heard and read today, particularly after learning that Martin Luther did not like to preach on this Gospel, calling it the terrible Gospel. My favorite one, at least in the title, came from Bishop Stephen Lane of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, titled “God’s grace demands a response”. I also heard a wonderful sermon from Fr Paul at St Peter’s Episcopal Salem that was summed up by the proclamation that empires have come and gone, but the Kingdom of God has been a constant, thus we should abandon the golden calf, or the bronze bull, and embrace God’s call for the love of our neighbor and God.

In Rev Nash’s sermon, she speaks to the anxiety that we feel, and the focus that we have on the not so pleasant outcome of the silent man who was not wearing the wedding robe. I can certainly relate to her words. I have yet to be able to overcome that banal anxiety in my journey, and I know that it keeps me from serving God to the fullest. Sometimes I feel like I am dangling on that precipice of faith, that edge of feeling the need to keep everything in my purview, as opposed to trusting that God will provide what we need. Some days my faith feels like a gamble, despite the ways in which I do see God in so many things. Perhaps I classify my faith as a gamble some days because I not willing to accept the challenge that my faith puts forth to me.

Regardless, I know what God has called us to do is the right thing to do. I want more who are called to listen and do it, even if it is just a small step. We are not here to serve ourselves, we are here to live and love in community and share our gifts. I will proclaim that message in the streets, on the social media airwaves, and I will reflect that message in my daily life. Then, perhaps, just perhaps, I will let go of the edge of that precipice and fall into the bounty of God’s love and my faith.

Peace

Chris

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“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12

I have always had a problem with getting crazy passionate about issues in places where I have very little influence.  I often find myself frustrated that I can’t make a clear and present difference right this instance, despite always hearing my father’s instructions to work locally.  Last week, it happened again, as it has happened so many times before, I became aware of the brutal murder of David Kato in Uganda and the disgusting manner in which the Anglican Church of Uganda conducted his funeral.  No priest was sent and the lay leader who was sent began a diatribe against homosexuality.  Equally frustrating, a very lame response from the Archbishop of Canterbury that while denouncing the murder of Mr Kato also made no mention of the despicable acts of the church in Uganda.  Perhaps more depressing, the Archbishop stated that this kind of violence was denounced throughout the Anglican Communion, which in light of the Ugandan Anglican church’s refusal to denounce the violence is, well, a mistruth.  Some backstory here, the Episcopal Church of America and a few other members of the Anglican Communion were censured by the same Archbishop last year for ordaining gay and lesbian Bishops despite a request not to by said Archbishop.  Whatever ABC Rowan.

Were my spirits broken by this nonsense?  Was my faith shaken?  Did I think that the concept of organized religion was defunct?  Not at all!!!  In fact, I was galvanized to continue to support local and global efforts to eliminate these injustices, because that is exactly what Jesus did.  Jesus challenged the religious authority, and commanded them to change.  He commanded all of us to Love Our Neighbor as We Love Ourself, second and equal to Loving God.

I was further galvanized by the Bishop of the Episcopal Church’s sermon at the meeting of the Anglican primates in Ireland and my own priest’s sermon about the importance of working for the community to grow the Kingdom.  Thousands upon thousands “organized” in their unity of faith.

I was grounded in the reality of what needed to be done again.  Give in the manner that I can locally, make known the injustices I am aware of everywhere to all who will listen, and give in the manner that I can globally through organizations like Episcopal Relief and Development.  And most importantly, strive to spread the Good News of the Kingdom in every word & action.  As my priest relayed to us in her sermon as said to her at a conference, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”.

Build the case to be convicted of being a Christian in all that you do.  Amen.

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