Dreaming Desert Dreams

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I’m sitting in my office just six miles from where Justine Damond was shot and killed by police late Saturday night. Turmoil’s slick fingers have grabbed hold of the city. Some see clearly the issues of fear-based policing and inadequate training for officers. Others feel conflicted because the officer is a Somali Muslim and the victim a white Australian. Few want to admit that the system is corrupt and built on issues of power and control aimed at keeping white supremacy alive and well. It’s a mess. The angry, pain-filled cries for justice are met with angry, fear-filled assertions of terrorism or still more angry endorsement of  fear-based policing. There’s no easy, simple solution. I am desperately searching the texts for a word of hope.

If I had my way, Jacob’s ladder would encompass the whole of creation and everyone would see angels ascending and descending, going about holy business. We would also hear God’s promise that our descendants would inhabit this world for a long time to come and God will continue to be present everywhere we go. While I wholeheartedly believe these are messages God would like for us to hear and live by, the whole of creation isn’t likely to have this dream. This doesn’t negate the validity of the message, though. We are to be caretakers, stewards of the land (all of it) and trust that God is present everywhere we go. God is present even in the turmoil, the grief, and the fear. There are no depths deep enough to blot out the light of God.

In the meantime, there’s a whole lot of groaning going on. Paul speaks of creation’s groaning while waiting for redemption. Those of us who claim Christ, ought not to be groaning quite so much. Are we not the redeemed? Are we not the ones who have entered into a life in the Spirit so that we might live in loving relationship with God, self, neighbors, and creation? Then why is it so hard for us to acknowledge that we are not living into God’s dream for creation? Why are we unable to acknowledge how the United States is full of racist systems built by our white supremacist ancestors and maintained by the silence of so many citizens who fear change? People are dying and Christians silently or vocally continue to support murderous systems. Surely this is not the way of Christ any more than it is the redemption for which Paul hoped.

While I’m on the subject of redemption, let’s be careful with our interpretations of Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the weeds. We are often so sure who the weeds are, that we forget that it is not necessarily our job to judge. It is true that actual weeds in a field remain weeds throughout their growth cycle; they don’t miraculously change into grain. However, we need to remember that when it comes to human beings, God can transform the most stubborn, invasive weeds into bountiful harvest. Our job is to tend ourselves, to ensure that we are not weeds. In addition we are to care for the whole field – nurture it, water it, love and tend all that grows in it. Weed plucking is not our job because in the end it will be God who determines which are the causes of sin and which are doing evil. Justice means tending the field, the whole field, weeds and all.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of cries for justice going unheard. I’m tired of the excuses that come when a police officer shoots an unarmed person. I’m tired of POC victims being criminalized while white victims are canonized. Jesus was not a white blue-eyed, blond-haired, U.S. citizen and would be horrified by the conflation of nationalism and religion that allows white supremacy to thrive in this country. The truth is that Jesus was brown-skinned, brown-eyed, dark-haired Palestinian Jew who confronted the power-hungry, oppression-supporting people of his day. Jesus sought to empower people through the love of God, self, and neighbor. Isn’t it time we actually follow as Jesus taught and love as Jesus loved?

Jacob had a beautiful dream out there in the desert. God has the same dream for us and racism, fear, hatred, and violence have no place in it. We are those whom God has redeemed and we are the ones who are supposed to be engaging in the holy business of justice for the whole of creation. Let’s stop worrying about weeds vs. grain and start worrying about why the crops are failing and what we can do to change this. Creation is indeed groaning under the weight of our sins. Isn’t it time we put an end to these needless deaths? Too much blood flows in our streets and too many heads turn away. Paul had hope for things unseen. May we join together to be that hope.

RCL – Year A – Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – July 23, 2017
Genesis 28:10-19a with Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 or
Wisdom of Solomon 12:13, 16-19 or
Isaiah 44:6-8 with Psalm 86:11-17
Romans 8:12-25
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

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Worth More than Bread and Stew

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Jacob’s a jerk, Esau’s an idiot, and God is brilliant. If it were up to me, neither of these brothers would receive any kind of birthright. Jacob deceives and manipulates people to get what he wants. Esau foolishly sells his birthright for some bread and lentil stew. Who would do that? Clearly, God has a plan here. Perhaps the plan is to demonstrate a few things necessary for getting through life.

Esau had the privilege of birth on his side. As the eldest his position of power was secure. He’d inherit double that of his brother and assume his father’s role in the community when the time came. Perhaps he was overconfident. Did he not notice how feisty his twin was and had been even before birth? Did he realize that Rebekah favored Jacob and taught him some useful skills like making bread and lentil stew? Did he not see that his father was growing older and wouldn’t always be there to be his advocate? Did he think he was untouchable because he was the privileged firstborn?

Are we not Esau, those of us who sit in church and feel good about ourselves? We have clung to our privileged position for so long that we hold little more than dust. We have been so sure that church would continue forever that we have neglected to pay attention to those around us. We judge those who walk different paths and pride ourselves on having the best path, perhaps, according to some, the only blessed path. We haven’t heard the clamoring of those whose birth left them grasping at the heels of justice. Our birthright is an illusion. Our privilege means nothing when there are those who would give anything for a bit of bread and lentil stew. Privilege of birth does not mean that we are better than anyone else. If anything, it means we have an obligation to pay attention and care for those around us who are more vulnerable. Imagine how different things might have gone between Esau and Jacob if Esau had been paying attention.

On the other hand, Jacob let nothing slip by him. He was painfully aware that he had no claim on Esau’s birthright. He would not be walking in his father’s sandals any time soon. He would be living a quieter life as the second son. Jacob was having none of this, though. He waited for the perfect moment and then stole the birthright from his brother. Esau was fool enough to exchange his birthright for a simple meal. While Jacob wasn’t exactly a nice guy or playing by the rules, I have a hard time saying that he should have just accepted his place as second son. By breaking the social rules, Jacob changed the course of history. He went on to become something that his birth order would have prevented him from doing. Imagine our history without Jacob. Esau might have been able to father the Twelve Tribes of Israel, but he did not have the drive, the fierceness, of Jacob.

When we insist on following traditions and social rules, who are we denying? In fact, we may be actively going against what God has planned. If we continue to think about church as something that never changes and social norms as something to be maintained, what revolutionary leader or movement are we supressing? If Esau represents the old, steadfast ways of being and Jacob the unpredictable, unknown ways of the future, shouldn’t we be baking bread and stirring the lentils? Esau needs nourishment and Jacob has it. Yes, it means that Esau will have to give up what he thought was his and his alone, but isn’t that better than dying?

Now we come to God’s brilliance. God chose Jacob, not Esau the predictable choice. God chose to disrupt the order of things to create something entirely new. God chose fierce and feisty Jacob who would not willingly submit to God or anyone else. Jacob who had a tendency to think of himself first and worry about others later. This conniving man is the one whom God chose to father the nation promised to Abraham. How cool is that? Seriously! If God could choose Jacob, whose life was constantly filled with struggle and imperfection, to become Israel, then there is hope for all the rest of us. There is no promise of perfection and an idyllic life here. Follow God and you will still be you and God will transform you into something you could never have imagined. Passive perfection and docile obedience are not required. This is good news for the rebelious among us.

There’s a lot in this familiar story. Much could be made of the sibling rivalry, the strife between nations, and the human tendency to be self-focused. At this moment in history, I find it much more interesting to look at this passage in terms of tradition and privilege and God’s capacity to do the unexpected. It’s likely that church will go on being like Esau for quite some time as we are reluctant to let go of what we think is ours and ours alone. However, we ought not be surprised to find that Jacob has grabbed hold of our heels and will not let us go until he can look into our eyes and be acknowledged as an equal. God is not done with us yet. God will continue to use the fierce and feisty to challenge our thinking and prod us into embracing an uncontrollable, unknowable future. God’s got this. We just need to set the bread to rise and start soaking the lentils.

RCL – Year A – Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Genesis 25:19-34 with Psalm 119:105-112 or
Isaiah 55:10-13 with Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

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A Confession for Ordinary Time

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One: Holy God, you ask so little of us. You shower us with grace upon grace, flooding our hearts with love and forgiveness, and still we fail to notice you. We keep insisting that you come to us on our terms to comfort us and heal us. We want spectacular evidence of your love while we sit back and do so little. Hear our prayers as we confess our distance from you.

One: You show us a path that leads to justice, kindness, humility, and love.
All: Yet, we can hardly take a step without condemning our neighbor with fearful, hateful words or actions. We turn from those living without shelter and want someone else to fix the problem.
One: You lead us in ways of holiness and wholeness where all are welcome.
All: Yet, we refuse to follow justifying our inaction with traditions built on racism and white privilege. We reject immigrants and question refugees and grow angry at our own discomfort.
One: You invite us into relationships of trust like those you had with Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah.
All: Yet, we turn away, proud of our independence. We laugh at the ring in Rebekah’s nose and refuse to acknowledge our claim on us. We close our hearts to the most vulnerable among us because we are afraid of our own fragility and finitude.
One: You offer a life of abundance and freedom.
All: Yet, we cling to the ways of scarcity. We would rather keep what we have than risk losing any of it for the sake of a future we can’t believe will be full of good things. We simply do not trust that sharing our resources and expanding our communities will make us healthier and stronger.
One: You wait so patiently for us to follow where you lead.
All: Yet, we wait for you to mend what we have broken. We prefer to blame you for all the conflict, suffering, and destruction so we can remain on the sidelines while others sacrifice themselves for the sake of justice, peace, and healing.

One: Let us pray together…
All: Holy God, you have always responded to your people with steadfast love and faithfulness. Forgive us for our inability to follow you. We know that you yearn for the day when we set aside our fearful, self-protective ways. Open our hearts to all the ways in which we benefit from racist systems and discriminatory world-views. You would have us live in peace with all our neighbors. You would have us care for Creation with gentle, grateful hands. You would have us love and serve you by loving and serving all humankind. Forgive us. Mend what we have broken inside ourselves that we may be the mending that the world needs. May we let go of our self-serving sin to truly become your body here and now.

Silent prayer

One: Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
All: We come and take on this yoke of forgiveness and love. May God’s love for us be made visible in all our words and deeds. In Christ’s name. Amen.

RCL – Year A – Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – July 9, 2017
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
Psalm 45:10-17 or Song of Solomon 2:8-13 or
Zechariah 9:9-12 with Psalm 145:8-14
Romans 7:15-25a
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

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A Different God

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When will we stop sacrificing our children to appease unresponsive gods? Our children die on the altars of hatred, fear, ignorance, and greed on a daily basis. And the funny thing is the spilling of their blood changes nothing. We continue to blame addicts for their “weakness” and tell ourselves that they are not worth saving. We justify police shooting unarmed black men by telling ourselves that “the system works.” We sit back and let war continue because it is “over there.” We let children go to schools with inadequate resources and wonder why they don’t do well. We restrict access to mental health care, safe housing, and health care and shake our heads when the numbers of homeless individuals continues to rise. How many of our children need to be consumed by these greedy, societal gods before we recognize that there is another way?

We have spent so much time criticizing Abraham’s parenting skills and his “blind faith” that we have failed to learn the lesson of this story. God did not require the sacrifice of Isaac. Other gods of the time demanded child sacrifice to be appeased, but the God of Abraham did not. It’s possible that Abraham believed God needed the sacrifice of Isaac because all the other gods of the time required child sacrifice. Abraham knew it was in the realm of what a god could ask. Yet, God, the one who led Abraham to a new land and promised a glories future, would never require someone to do such a thing. God requires only love and grateful service. Why is it that we think sacrificing our children will change anything? Thousands of years have gone by since God told Abraham that the blood of children was not required. This was not the way of the God of Abraham. And it never would be.

I know some of you are thinking that God sacrificed God’s own child to cleanse the world which would negate the idea that God does not ask for the sacrifice of children. We must then ask ourselves how it is that Jesus ended up being crucified. God didn’t do it. Human beings did. The Temple Authorities and the Roman Authorities colluded to put an end to a treasonous revolutionary before the peasants actually rose up in revolt. Jesus, like so many children before and since, was sacrificed on the altar of hatred, fear, ignorance, and greed. Unlike with Isaac, God didn’t intervene to provide another sacrifice. Instead, God transformed death to life to show, once again, that violence and death are not stronger than Love.

We worship a God like no other. We worship a God who wants only goodness for us. Saving Isaac was a display of God’s difference from other gods. This is not a God who wants torment and torture for the people of God. This is a God who yearns for us to discover our value, our innate holiness, and for us to live in the abundance of grace God provides. Yet, somehow, sparing Isaac was not enough. Resurrecting Jesus was not enough. What will it take for us to turn away from these lesser gods who are destroying us, consuming our children without hindrance?

In Romans, Paul so eloquently reminds us that we are not to be slaves of sin and death. We belong to Christ whose ways lead to eternal life. When Christ’s ways become our ways, the bloodthirsty gods of our day diminish in power and appeal. Yes, they will always be around to tempt us with quick fixes, fragile safety, and fleeting power. However, Christ’s ways bring transformation that truly heals, sanctuary that lovingly protects, and strength that builds rather than destroys.

It’s easier than we think. Jesus tells us, in Matthew’s gospel, that it’s about unwavering, extravagant hospitality. We are to go out of our way to welcome all those we meet. We are to go out of our way to save our children from the dangers of this world. That cold cup of water might be inconvenient to provide in the desert heat, but it’s possible and it is life-saving. Hatred, fear, ignorance, and greed will tell us that it’s okay to continue as we are, but they are known liars. We worship a God like no other, a God of life and love. Is it not time to stop sacrificing our children and start welcoming all one cup of cold water at a time?

If you are looking for more sermon help, try here.

RCL – Year A – Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Genesis 22:1-14 with Psalm 13 or
Jeremiah 28:5-9 with Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18
Romans 6:12-23
Matthew 10:40-42

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Should We Continue?

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I was a sophomore in high school the first time I paid attention to the story of Hagar and Ishmael. After reading Melville’s famous line, “Call me Ishmael,” I looked up Ishmael’s story in the Bible. That simple sentence from Moby Dick was so purposeful, I wanted to know why. Reading the biblical story didn’t exactly answer that question, but it did make me feel something for Hagar, and Ishmael as well.

At 15 I had a lot of empathy for the unwanted and unloved Hagar who was cast out because of Sarah’s jealousy for her own son. I took the story to mean that maybe God cared for those cast out nearly as much as God cared for those who belonged to the in-group. As one who often felt left out or unwanted, it gave me some comfort to believe that God could care for people who were like Hagar and Ishmael.

Years later I read this passage for a seminary class and it struck me that Hagar had been given a promise much like Abraham’s – God would make of her son “a great nation.” She was the only woman in scripture singled out for such a promise. Of course, this interpretation gave me hope as a young woman going into ministry when still so many churches didn’t think women should be pastors. If God could promise Hagar, the same one Sarah had discarded, that descendants would become a great nation, then God could surely call one such as myself into ordained ministry.

Now, decades later, I am hearing something else in this passage. Yes, there is a promise of God’s love for the outcast, even the unwanted woman. These meanings don’t go away just because I’m seeing something new here. It’s possible that my reading of the story is heavily influenced by a week of vacation Bible school with the theme of “Blessed to Be” and emphasizing God’s love for all people. It’s possible that I’m reading this passage with some desperation to find a way through all the hatred and fear that is swirling around in the midst of a Pride weekend. It’s possible that what I’m thinking about this passage is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Whatever it is, what I’m hearing now is a declaration of kinship. God claimed Ishmael as surely as God claimed Isaac. Perhaps God listens (the meaning of Ishmael) as much as God welcomes laughter (the meaning of Isaac). And God expects the same from us.

It’s the kinship idea that has grabbed hold of me this week, though. Ishmael and Isaac were brothers and received similar promises from God. Why do we not see this kinship in each other? We follow Sarah’s example rather than God’s. Sarah in her fear and jealousy and need to ensure that only her son would inherit what his father had to offer, urged Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert never to be seen or heard from again. Abraham did so after God assured him that God would take care of them. And God does. God claims Hagar and Ishmael as God’s own. Why have we not learned this lesson?

Today the world is divided between those who belong and those who do not. Those who are Christians and those who are not. Those who are heterosexual and those who are not. Those who are white and those who are not. Those who are gender-conforming and those who are not. Those who are “Americans” and those who are not. Those who are wealthy and those who are not. Those who are healthy and those who are not. Those who are able-bodied and those who are not. The list goes one. We find any number of ways to cast people out, to define an us versus them.

Of course, if you’re reading the text from Matthew you may feel that you are justified in doing this. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus makes some outrageous statements about bringing a sword rather than peace and how family members will rise up one against another. This passage was meant to reassure those who were losing everything for their faith in Christ. It was not meant to give permission to hate and dismiss and destroy those who are “different.” Jesus, who taught loving God, loving self, and loving neighbor in the way that he, Jesus, loved, would be horrified at the hatred spewing out of the mouths of those who claim his name.

In Romans Paul asks if we should continue in sin so that God’s grace may flow. He answered his own question with a resounding, “No!” As we told the children at VBS this last week, we are blessed to be blessings to others. We are loved by God so we are to love one another. It really is that simple. Sarah may have hated Hagar and Ishmael, but God showed them great mercy and love and claimed them as God’s own. When will we welcome the outcast, the refugee, the immigrant, and all others we label as “different” or “unwanted” with the same kind of love and mercy and claim the kinship God intended? Like Paul, we must ask ourselves if we should continue in sin. By the grace of God, may we all answer with the same resounding, “No!”

RCL – Year A – Third Sunday after Pentecost – June 25, 2017
Genesis 21:8-21 with Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 or
Jeremiah 20:7-13 with Psalm 69:7-10, (11-15), 16-18
Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39

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Holy Improbable Promise

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I was maybe 10 the first time someone told me I would be a great mother one day. I was already babysitting by then, and in a year or so I was much in demand. I babysat after school most afternoons and many Friday and Saturday nights for years. At thirteen I started having dreams about having my own children. These dreams continued for years, always featuring a black-haired, blue-eyed boy and a red-headed, green-eyed girl. I was sure these dreams were some kind of a promise since they happened often. Sometimes, I still dream about these children.

The reality is that I have no children. I considered adoption in my mid-twenties and again when I turned 30 and once more in my late 30s, but life circumstances made it impossible then. In my early 30s I was told that my uterus was “inhospitable.” At 40 I had a necessary medical procedure that made pregnancy even more unlikely and then in my mid 40s I had a hysterectomy. For many years, every time I saw a pregnant woman, I cried. It was hard to reconcile the life I lived with the life I thought I had been promised.

As a result of my experiences with infertility, I have a strong affinity for the barren women of scripture. Now at 50 I read this story of Sarah once more and, I too, laugh. What more could be done? Sarah who had most certainly passed her child bearing years hears that she is to conceive and bear a son, the long-promised progeny that would give way to descendants too numerous to count. She was incredulous, and, just maybe, a little hopeful that with God all things might be possible, even the improbable. If it were me, I would laugh at the unlikelihood of it all, laugh until my laughter turned to tears of gratitude at the possibility of so much more.

This is how Sarah’s story hits me on a personal level. Yet, there is something much deeper in this story that echoes through the Gospel text. It’s what allows the disciples to go out into the wider world proclaiming good news that will put their lives at risk. In spite of Sarah’s laughter at God’s preposterous promise, she does, indeed bring a son into the world. And she names him, Isaac which means, essentially, laughter. Then Isaac goes on to have children of his own and one of them becomes the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This makes Israel the child of Laughter. Perhaps, this is how the people of God have managed to survive captivity and oppression over and over again. Somehow, someway, they have held on to this identity as children of Laughter. Maybe the laughter that spilled from Sarah’s mouth that day took root in the spirit of all those who would come after her…

The church would do well to pay heed to this lesson. The church was born out of a promise, one nearly as preposterous as the one Sarah and Abraham were given. Jesus promised his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to them and remind them of all that he had taught. From there the followers of Jesus would become more numerous than anyone ever thought possible. Perhaps the echoes of Sarah’s laughter were enough to keep them going in the early days when it looked like there would be no future for the church.

Now we, as church, are quite old. So old, in fact, that many of us find it hard to imagine that there is a new way of doing things. We cling to what we know. Like Sarah and Abraham we have adjusted to the way things are and made a comfortable life for ourselves. Yet, there is more to the promise than comfort. There is more to the hope for the future than a repetition of the past. All around us there are signs that God is doing a new thing, whispering promises of offspring even when churches are closing and people are scattering. There are signs that the life long-promised is stirring within us, even those of us who believed ourselves to be barren. There is life here; the Spirit still moves.

What is it that God is asking of you? Maybe it is to bring life to a place and a people who gave up hope long ago and have become far too comfortable in their pews… Maybe it is to share laughter at the imaginings of a God who can see the church changing and growing in unexpected ways… Maybe it is to be among the midwives who will nurture and care for the life that is stirring?

Whatever God is up to, it’s okay to laugh. It’s okay to be unbelieving. It’s okay be stunned into silence. God will do what God will do to keep laughter alive in this generation and the next. Just don’t get stuck. Keep looking for what God is up to and be ready to jump in and do your part.  And don’t be surprised when your laughter at the impossibility of it all gives way to tears of gratitude over the abundance of the gift of it all. In our old age, we will give birth to a new generation and that generation will know laughter and joy because they will be the embodiment of Christ, beloved children of a God who delights in us. This is what has been promised to us because, after all, we are part of that impossible promise that prompted Sarah’s laughter, are we not?

RCL – Year A – Second Sunday after Pentecost – June 18, 2017
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7) with Psalm 116:1-2,12-19 or
Exodus 19:2-8a with Ps 100
Romans 5:1-8
Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)

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It Was Good

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I don’t know about you, but I am tired. There is so much that needs attention. How do I find my way among the calls for action against racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia? How do I manage to work toward clean energy, reducing the stigma around mental illness, and food security for all? And there is so much more! How do I find the time, the passion, and the awareness of all that needs response without losing myself and my sense of what God is calling me to? Truth be told, I am exhausted by all the ways in which we human beings fail to recognize the value of all that God created. We act as if the Earth were not gifted to us to be good stewards and gentle caretakers of it. We act as if we can do as we please to ourselves, to our neighbors, and to Creation. It makes me wonder when the last time God was able to look and see that all was “very good.”

Maybe if we all went back and read the first chapter of Genesis again, it would help. Well, if we read it for truth rather than fact, the ancient words might help ground us and remind us of whose we are. If we can all agree that God made the whole of Creation and God made it very good, perhaps we can set aside the distraction of the creation vs. evolution debate. Evolution is a fact born out by science and creation is the truth of who and whose we are. Science can show us how creation happened but our faith stories tell us the purpose.

Now we can move on to humankind. We know that humankind is created in the image of God. This creation story is very clear that God created humanity in God’s own image. As individuals we contain some holy reflection of our Creator. However, it is only the fullness of humanity bound together in community that more accurately reflects the heart of God. One is not greater than another. Each has a place in the whole. It doesn’t matter what social norms have developed. In the beginning God created humankind in God’s own image. The divisions among us are purely our doing. The rejection, hatred, dismissal, devaluing of any human life is not ever what God intends. Hatred has no place in the heart of God nor in the hearts of those created in love and for love.

If Creation was made good and human beings bear the image of God, then how have we arrived at this place in time of super storms ravaging coastal communities, famine covering the Horn of Africa, war waging for decades murdering and displacing millions of people, people experiencing homelessness in every city and town, those with mental illness going untreated, elders living in poverty, racism and white supremacy leaving blood on our streets, and so much more destruction of the planet, of humanity, of the whole of Creation? How have we gotten to this place?

Of course, there are many ways to answer this question and all of them offer pieces of the proverbial puzzle. However, I suggest that humanity has arrived at this point due to pure, unadulterated hubris. For generations we’ve acted as if there are no consequences for our actions. We’ve taken resources from the earth without much thought about what will happen when they are gone. We resist changing our ways when we learn better, more gentle ways of living on this planet. We’ve set up systems of kyriarchy that keep hatred, greed, privilege alive and well without considering where these systems came from. Then when we learn better, we fail to do better because we don’t want to lose our place in the kyriarchy as individuals, as faith communities, as a country. Our hubris is killing us and we continue to claim that this is how God created us to be – I have my stuff and you have yours and, by the way, my stuff is better than yours because God loves me more.

No! This is not it. The first chapter of Genesis tells us differently. This creation story first told to remind the Hebrews living in Babylonian exile that God was still their God. God made creation. God made them. God made the Babylonians, too. God did not make the world to be a place of pain and suffering. God did not make humankind to be agents of destruction. God made Creation good! God made humankind to be agents of love. This is what humanity has forgotten.

The Babylonian captivity may be long over and little remembered, but we live as captives in a culture that values prosperity over people, power over justice, kyriarchy over equity. In this season of Pentecost, we can honor the Spirit by inviting her to blow fear out of our lives. We can ask that holy fires burn through all our self-justifications for maintaining the blinders of our privilege. We can ask God for the courage to truly walk in the way of Love, the way of Christ. After all, though we are a people held captive by culture, we are God’s people and God has not forgotten us. Perhaps it is time we remember the God who created us in God’s own image and proclaimed us and the whole of Creation as very good. May we have the courage to be good and to be agents of Love.

RCL- Year A – Trinity Sunday – First Sunday after Pentecost – June 11, 2017
Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Psalm 8
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Matthew 28:16-20

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