I like you and nothing more #StayWokeAdvent

Like John so long ago, and Isaiah even before that, the voice came to me out of the wilderness. (You know, for values of ‘wilderness’ that include ‘bouncing off a few cell towers.’) “Hey Pastor Dave, we should play ‘Nothing More’ in church sometime soon. With all the horrible things in the news lately, it’s important to remember that how we treat each other is very important. Just a thought! :)”

Don’t sell yourself short, there’s nothing ‘just’ about that thought; it’s spot on. So this time the young woman birthed an idea rather than a child.

This week was our final Wednesday Night Live (youth group) gathering for the calendar year. With what message should we send them off? How might #StayWokeAdvent continue and even grow into #StayWokeChristmas or #StayWokeNewYear?

Here’s our first answer:

Do you like you? Cause I like you.

God’s incarnation into the world as a baby is God’s act of solidarity with humanity. The Incarnation shows just how much God loves you and me and everyone. God loves us all so much that God became one of us. In the Incarnation God opens up the eternal, mutual, loving relationship of the Trinity to invite us all in. We know God loves us, for God is love.

But I think it is more than that. I think the incarnation also shows us that God likes us. (Obviously there are some things that God does not like. When we hurt each other, when we oppress one another, when we fail to feed the hungry or visit prisoners or welcome immigrants or…) I’m convinced God does not look at us the way we might look at a crazy uncle and say, “Well, I love him because he’s family, but I don’t like him.” No, for God to dwell among us as one of us must mean that God likes us as well as loving us. And that is a message too many of our young people – especially our young women – need to hear in order to counteract all the messages telling them they aren’t good enough, aren’t pretty enough, aren’t skinny enough, aren’t white enough.

Our young people, and probably all people, need to be reminded that God loves us; God even likes us.

Having established who we are and whose we are – God’s beloved and liked children – we’re free to respond to the world with love. We’re prepared to let God’s light shine through us into a world that desperately needs light and life.

That song is a great reminder that treating each other well is the only way to truly demonstrate that #BlackLivesMatter; the only way to truly show the peace, hope, love, and joy of the season. Nothing more will do.

Celebrating Sabbath

The Feast of Saint Francis was this week. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t like Francis. I mean, really, who doesn’t love him? (Well, I suppose war mongers and gnostics don’t. But I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone who openly self-identifies either way.)

The famous prayer of peace attributed to Francis is beautiful and powerful. I’m glad it is in song form in the United Methodist hymnal The Faith We Sing. We try to sing it in worship about as often as we can get away with.

Since he is a Franciscan friar, it is no surprise that this week’s meditations from Father Richard Rohr focused on brother Francis. As I am in the midst of a sermon series I call Redefining Liturgy, this reflection from Rohr seems especially appropriate:

This is the change of perspective that became our alternative orthodoxy—although it should have been mainline orthodoxy! He was merely following the movement of the Incarnation, since Christians believe that the Eternal Word became “flesh” (John 1:14), and it is in the material world that God and the holy are to be found.

Francis recognized and took to the logical conclusion the implications of the Incarnation. If God became flesh in Jesus, then it is in the world, the physical, the animal, in the natural elements, in human sexuality that God must be found. Speak of embodiment, physicality, and the world—use whatever words you want—these are the hiding places and the revelation places of God. This is how Christianity was supposed to change everything. Most of us just kept looking up, when God in Jesus had, in fact, come down. (This is the foundation of Franciscan mysticism.) On this day in 1226, Francis died at sunset and asked to lie naked and exposed on the earth as he died. The friars were embarrassed, but conceded to his wish. Now you know that it made total sense. […]

Peace be with us all.