I don’t always get to preach two weeks in a row, so when I do I try to connect them, to make them into a mini-series at least. This time however, we are doing a series on the book of The Acts of the Apostles. So the sermon I’m posting here from May 13th (Mother’s Day) on Acts chapter 11 follows naturally from this sermon on Acts 10. Or at least I intended for them to flow together naturally. Ultimately, whether or not I succeeded in that is up to, dear reader, to decide.
No added visuals this time. But this sermon is longer because it includes my conversion story (as promised in the previous sermon).
Here’s what I attempted to say: “Listening to God’s Spirit changed the church. Excluding LGBT is ruining UMC’s reputation. Listening to LGBT Christians changed me, and could our church too.” Let me know what you heard though.
The sermon series on Acts of the Apostles (which I first wrote about here) continues. I preached on May 6th and May 13th on chapters 10 and 11, respectively. Many others have said this many times, but the story told in Acts 10 & 11 is the most significant story the church has. As I argued a few years ago, Acts 10:35 should be our “leadoff hitter, our first responder, our top go-to text”:
God has just shown me that I should no longer consider any human being unclean or profane… God accepts every person regardless of background or culture. God welcomes all who revere Him and do right.
How much better would Christianity be if that was our main mantra?
As I keep reiterating, sermons need to be heard not just read. So here’s “The Best Worst Buffet” on Acts 10 from May 6, 2018. Visuals I used are below the audio.
My intended thesis was, “God seeks to subvert our penchant for exclusivity.” Let me know what you hear though.
This seems long enough; I’ll give the May 13th sermon it’s own post.
That racism exists in our world, in our country, in our community, in our systems – social, economic, and political – is irrefutable. But as a middle-aged, middle-income, able-bodied, cis-gendered, straight, white, Christian, male, layers of privilege afford me the possibility – the comfort – of not noticing that racism. Or, if I do notice the racism rampant in our systems, those layers of privilege mean I can keep that knowledge at a distance. I’m protected from the violence in, of and from our systems.
Advent, the season of the church year that calls us to prepare for God’s incarnation in Jesus, began on Sunday with the gospel writer exhorting us to “Keep awake!” Mary’s song reminds us just what we need to keep awake for: the healing and justice Jesus brings for the blind, sick, and oppressed. One of the protest chants in Ferguson, MO this summer was, “Stay Woke!” Remaining alert to injustice is the most faithful way to participate in Advent. That’s why I’m eager to connect us with the #StayWokeAdvent movement.
One of the best uses of privilege is to make room for those who are less often allowed a seat at the table. That is, to share any platforms I have with those much closer to the violence than I. It is time for me and for us to listen to the painful stories of those hurt, crushed and even killed by our cultural systems: people of color.
Start with this introduction to #StayWokeAdvent from Micky ScottBey Jones: #StayWokeAdvent is a project of people interested in exploring the depths of the darkness and interaction with light through the time of Advent. It is an experiment in spiritual honesty during a time of the year that is often covers up the pain and struggle of the world with a giant glittery bow. The night is not silent. We are not asleep. [read the rest]
MJ: How do we react to anger being viewed as negative, or wanting to avoid it? We want people to “calm down” or “get over it”.
WB: We live in a bourgeois cocoon of niceness and anything that breaks out of that is very threatening and disruptive to people. We have to work towards having honest speech with each other. When we have honest speech we have to speak out about the things that are unjust and unfair. [read the rest]
But the real rage smolders in meetings where officials redraw precincts to dilute African American voting strength or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment. It goes virtually unnoticed, however, because white rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble [read the rest]
The men who peddled contracts in North Lawndale would sell homes at inflated prices and then evict families who could not pay—taking their down payment and their monthly installments as profit. Then they’d bring in another black family, rinse, and repeat. “He loads them up with payments they can’t meet,” an office secretary told The Chicago Daily News of her boss, the speculator Lou Fushanis, in 1963. “Then he takes the property away from them. He’s sold some of the buildings three or four times.” [read the rest]
Especially for we who are white, I’m convinced we are incapable of having an honest, informed conversation about Ferguson, New York, or Cleveland – that is, a conversation about race in the USA – unless and until we’ve been reminded of (or taught for the first time) our national history.
Jesus announces that his purpose is to heal the sick and release those bound by the chains of injustice. We who would follow him, we who would be his disciples, must have a #StayWokeAdvent.
It’s no secret that U2 is my favorite band. So naturally I thought about posting their tribute to Dr. King, “Pride (in the name of love).” Then I came across this cover by John Legend. It is a much different take on the song, but it is hauntingly beautiful.
Watch this and then let’s redouble our efforts to bring justice, equality and goodness into the world. You and me. Together we can and should and must do that.
“There’s nothing like having a daughter for turning you into a feminist,” remarked a parishioner after a sermon I gave sometime ago. While I remember neither the specific statement I made nor exactly when this exchange occurred, I vividly remember thinking, “I really hope I was a feminist before we had a daughter. Maybe I haven’t been as strong and vocal an advocate for and with women as I thought?”
Girls are the secret weapon in the war on poverty. But only if they’re protected and educated. – Mercy Corps’ A Girl Can
However, on this International Women’s Day (March 8) it is all too tragically clear that simply having a daughter – or a sister or an aunt or a wife or a friend or a cousin or a mother – is not enough to transform people into feminists*:
Wold Chicago is hosting a great event today. My mom and my wife are attending it. Hopefully I can get them to share about the event in a future post. (Full disclosure: World Chicago’s Executive Director, Peggy Parfenoff, is a long-time family friend.)
A girl who can read teaches her mother to read, tells her brothers about women’s rights, and makes school a priority for her own children. – Mercy Corps’ A Girl Can
In the spirit of ONE’s idea #5: Looking back on my formative years, before I knew terms like feminist, advocate, empowerment, equality, or gendered roles, I knew that our family didn’t always fit the usual mode. Sure, Mom cooked most of the meals. But Dad did the laundry and we all helped clean the house.
Mom and Dad had the same level of education and both worked similar full-time, outside-of-the-home jobs.
Dad painstakingly worked to keep all the landscaping immaculate. He knew every flower, plant, tree, and (horrors!) weed. Mom was the one with the collection of sports trophies for softball, basketball and bowling. The Sports Illustrated subscription came to her. It was a big accomplishment the day when teenaged Dave finally beat Mom at ping-pong for the first time. Teaching me to throw, catch and hit a baseball? Mom did that. Learning proper form and release shooting hoops? That came from Mom. Scoring bowling by hand? Reading a box score in the newspaper? Correctly marking each play on the baseball score card? Mom, Mom, and Mom again.
Thank you, Mom (and Dad) for teaching me strength, partnership, and equality simply by being who you are. I love you. I hope Joann and I can pass on those lessons to both our son and our daughter.
Your turn! How are you celebrating International Women’s Day?
After months and even years of delay, the U.S. House of Representatives FINALLYpassed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – and with it the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA)!
We recognize that family violence and abuse in all its forms—verbal, psychological, physical, sexual—is detrimental to the covenant of the human community. – UMC Social Principles 161.G
The bill had already passed the Senate and President Obama has said he will sign it right away. Most of the news I saw about this focused on how the main bill protects all women, including native Americans, undocumented immigrants and LGBT women. As Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), herself a rape victim, sharply put it with a paraphrase of 19th century escaped slave and civil rights advocate, Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t they women?”
Yes. Yes, they are.
But the VAWA also included the TVPRA as an amendment. TVPA expired over two years ago; we finally have it back! What’s that mean? I’ll let two of our best anti-trafficking partners – Polaris Project and International Justice Mission – tell you.
This bill sets important funding benchmarks, encourages distribution of the National Human Trafficking Hotline number by federal agencies, establishes grant programs for state agencies to assist child victims of sex trafficking, strengthens the ability to prosecute those who fraudulently hire individuals in foreign labor contracts, and more. [read the rest]
IJM adds that the 2013 version of the TVPRA has new provisions as well:
Gives the State Department authority to partner with overseas governments to stop child trafficking in targeted areas. It’s much more specific and measurable than previous programs
An emergency response provision helps the State Department quickly deploy teams of experts into crisis areas—like the situation in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake—where disorder and poverty can leave children or other vulnerable poor especially susceptible to trafficking.
New tools to help prosecute traffickers and people who exploit the poor.
Continued support for existing programs that support survivors of trafficking both in the U.S. and overseas. [read the rest]
After this victory, as President Bartlett used to ask, What’s next?
Time to talk hunger again, that’s what.
Watch the trailer. But be careful, the trailer does its job – you will want to see the whole movie. Good thing then A Place at the Table is available right now On Demand and through iTunes. Find A Place at the Table on Facebook and Twitter.
I’d love to hear your reactions to the film in the comments.
Earlier this week, my friend, Steve Knight, shared a link on Facebook to a blog post by Ed Cyzewski. (Good grief, that’s a tortured sentence. Such is the destructive power of social media.) Ed writes:
We still haven’t sought the guidance of female leaders as if the integrity of our witness and the reflection of God’s character depended on it. [Read more]
How do we know we haven’t done this? From the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Ugh. Maybe it’s true there at Willow Creek. For sure it’s true in far too many places.
(Don’t get me wrong: Ed asks good questions, posits true statements, and is on the right side of this.)
But my experience has been quite different. From September 1995 through June 2010, I worked with female senior pastors at Woodridge United Methodist Church. Our district also had three superintendents during that time – all of them women.
It is unconscionable that this “debate” continues in so many churches.
I can’t believe this even needs saying…Of course women can and should lead churches! As pastors, teachers, superintendents, bishops, executive ministers…whatever positions exist, women can, should and must hold them.
Isn’t this beyond obvious? Why are we still allowing arguments about this? The matter is settled: women are people too.
Think about your mother, your daughter, your grandmother, your sister, your aunt, your granddaughter, your cousin, your teacher, your friend, your wife…think about any and all women who’ve ever cared for you or about you. Think about any and all women you’ve ever cared for or about…
If you can look any or all of them in the eye and say to them, “Due to your genitalia, you’re not a full human being.”…then hell, I don’t even want to know you.