Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hosanna! Hosanna! -- A Sermon for Palm Sunday

John 12:12-16

Everyone loves a parade. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Rose Parade or a Fourth of July parade. We love the floats and the bands and the candy thrown to the kids by the paraders! Maybe you’ve been in the parade. You marched in the band, walking what seemed like miles, trying to play your instrument while keeping your feet in proper motion and your lines straight. Maybe you rode on a float, which in a small local parade might be the back of a pickup, or simply walked down the street waving a flag. 

When a team wins a championship, the city will host a parade so that the people can celebrate their team. The players ride by waving to the screaming fans, while confetti falls from tall buildings. Of course, the joy doesn’t last long, because teams rarely repeat their big wins. 

Most parades send messages. A Fourth of July Parade celebrates patriotism, while a championship parade celebrates the superiority of one’s team over its rivals. As that old song from the 70s puts it: “We are the Champions of the World!”

Friday, March 27, 2015

Disciples Taking a Stand in Indiana

Yesterday the governor of Indiana signed a "Religious Freedom" law that essentially gives businesses and others the right to discriminate against LGBT folks on the basis of their religious beliefs.  Indiana is one of many states that is enacting legislation in anticipation that the Supreme Court will strike down gay marriage bans. 

My denomination, which is based in Indianapolis and is scheduled to hold our 2017 General Assembly in Indianapolis had threatened to move the General Assembly elsewhere if it was signed.  In a letter sent to the governor, together with the Presidents of the Division of Overseas Ministries and Division of Homeland Ministries, Sharon and her co-signers declared:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recapturing the Selma Spirit

It has been fifty years since the events of the Selma march. That being said remnants of the past linger. Segregation may not be legal, but it still exists in subtle ways. Tonight in Detroit we have the opportunity of listening to voices and hearts and begin to heal the wounds of the past so we can go forward. The Detroit Clergy Gathering has invited the Metro Coalition of Congregations to come together for conversation and commitment to a new future. In the civil rights struggle. Persons like myself -- persons who are white and male -- have stood as allies. But, we must admit that we have not experienced discrimination. We've not faced the prospect of being pulled over by the police simply because of our color. We have not be denied voting rights.  I stand as an ally, but I have much to learn.

With that, I will be sharing a prayer in the event. In light of this, I thought I would share this video that will, I believe, be shown this evening. It does capture the spirit! If you're in the area tonight, join us!!

We have a long way to go, but we shall overcome.  

In The Spirit of Selma from Zachary Cunningham on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Catholic Hispanics Defect -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

While the vast majority of Latinos are Roman Catholic, great numbers are leaving the fold. Many "defect" to Protestantism, especially Pentecostalism.  This is true both in the United States and in Latin America as a whole. There are a number of reasons for this, but it does point out important areas of concern for all of us.  It is not movement from one tradition to another that is the biggest concern -- it is secularism and even more worrisome, indifference.  I invite you to read and respond to Martin Marty's thoughts.

Catholic Hispanics Defect
By MARTIN E. MARTY   MAR. 23, 2015
                                                                              Image Credit: Kamira / shutterstock creative commons 
“Firing Up America” could refer to any number of incendiary subjects, and the cover illustration on The Economist (March 14) doesn’t help much in sorting: it shows an American flag whose stripes are strung-together red peppers. The subtitle alerts readers to something worth sighting, “A Special Report on America’s Latinos.”

The Chicago media is full of stories about a Latino candidate for mayor, and keep Latinos on our minds. We decided to go national/international:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jesus on Parade -- Lectionary Reflection for Palm Sunday

Mark 11:1-11 (John 12:12-16) New Revised Standard  Version

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10     Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

                If there is one Sunday out of the year that presents unavoidable problems for preachers it is Palm Sunday. What do we do with this triumphal parade when we know what will happen at the end of the week.  No, we could go a different direction on the Sunday before Easter. We could open the service with the children’s palm parade, maybe sing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” and then quickly move to the Passion story. After all, the lectionary offers us the choice – “The Liturgy of the Palms and the Liturgy of the Passion.” Why not do Good Friday on Sunday and avoid the problems presented by a triumphal entry gone bad!