Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sacramental Revelations -- A Sermon for Easter 3A (reposted)

 Note: As I am not preaching this morning, I'm reposting my sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter, the appearance of Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  

Luke 24:13-35

     Two disciples, one named Cleopas, journeyed to Emmaus.  Although we don’t know why they were taking this trip, they know that Jesus had been executed, buried, and according to some reports, had been raised from the dead.

Could they be fleeing the city, fearing they might suffer Jesus’ fate?  Were they ready, with Jesus dead, to give up the whole Jesus enterprise?  Or, were they heading home to await further instructions?

Monday, April 24, 2017

What Must We Do? -- Lectionary Reflection for Easter 3A (Acts 2)

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, . . . 
36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell upon the church and created quite a stir, which gave Peter, standing with the eleven other Apostles, the opportunity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus to the gathered crowd.  Peter tells them that God has “made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” That is, God has vindicated the one God sent into the world, but which the world rejected. Having finished the sermon, it’s clear that the message has touched a chord, and the people who heard the message have a question for Peter and his companions: “what should we do?” What’s next?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Breath of the Spirit -- Sermon for Easter 2A

John 20:19-31

Seeing is believing. Mary Magdalene saw Jesus on Easter morning, and she believed, and then she told the rest of the disciples “I have seen the Lord.” Later that evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples who had locked themselves in out of fear of the authorities. He came to them in the darkness of night, which in the Gospel John serves as a symbol for unbelief. At the beginning of his Gospel, John declares that the Word of God “was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (Jn. 1:4-5). Jesus came to them that evening as light shining into their darkness of unbelief. 

Mary prepared them for what came next, but I’m not sure they were completely ready when Jesus suddenly appeared in the room. He said to them: “Peace be with you,” and then he showed them the wounds in his hands and side. Then the disciples “rejoiced when they saw the Lord,” moving them from darkness into the light. But that’s not the end of the story, because Jesus gives them a commission. He told them: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on the disciples and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Front National and the “Religion” of Ethnic Nationalism -- Sightings (Tamir Bar-On)

Around the globe we are seeing the rise of political movements centered on ethnic nationalism. Sometimes religion seems to play a role, but is it religion itself, or a new form of religion, that would be the religion of ethnic nationalism.In this interesting essay by Tamir Bar-On for Sightings, the French election this weekend serves as a means of exploring the idea of the "religion" of ethnic nationalism, which sacralizes politics and pushes for homogeneity in the state -- thus immigrants, especially Islamic immigrants are seen as polluting the French identity (as one example).  Invite you to read and consider trends in Europe and here at home, to see if there is some truth here!!

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The Front National and the Religion of Ethnic Nationalism
By TAMIR BAR-ON   April 20, 2017
Marine Le Pen | Photo Credit: staffpresi_esj/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (cc)
The radical right is increasingly mainstream throughout Europe. Sarah de Lange notes how, since the 1990s, radical right-wing parties have joined coalition governments in Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. The UK Independence Party played a key role in 2016’s Brexit result. That same year, the anti-immigrant Freedom Party of Austria under Norbert Hofer finished second in the Austrian presidential elections with a whopping 46% of the popular vote. Geert Wilders, a Dutch nationalist firebrand who once compared the Qur’an to Mein Kampf, finished third in Holland’s recent parliamentary elections. Farther east, a radical nationalist named Viktor Orbán is the Prime Minister of Hungary.      

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bowing Toward Babylon (Craig M. Watts) -- A Review

BOWING TOWARD BABYLON: The Nationalistic Subversion of Christian Worship in America. By Craig M. Watts. Foreword by Michael Kinnamon. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017. Xi + 183 pages.

Walk into the sanctuary of the typical American church and you will find an American flag somewhere in the room. It will probably be found in the chancel. It’s possible that you’ll find a flag in the room, but not a cross (too religious). You might even see one flying on a pole outside the church, with the “Christian” flag flanking it, a step lower than the national flag. If you grab a hymnal, you will find several national songs. find a hymnal, you will likely find a few patriotic songs as well. If you go to church on Memorial Day or Fourth of July, it’s possible that you’ll experience a patriotic themed service. But is this appropriate? Or is it a nationalistic subversion of Christian worship? As you can tell from the title of Craig Watt’s book Bowing Toward Babylon, he believes that these nationalistic elements are expressions of idolatry that displace God from the center of worship, and therefore have no place in Christian worship.

The author of the book, Craig Watts, is a Disciples of Christ pastor who serves a congregation in Coral Gables, Florida. He is a leader in the Disciples Peace Fellowship, and has by his own admission strong Anabaptist leanings. He is also a student of liturgical theology. In this book, he brings these concerns together into a strongly-worded, no-holds-barred, prophetic call to the church, calling on it to change its ways. Thus, Craig asks the question: “How can the church be true to its God-given character, message, and mission when it emphasizes national identity and pride in the context of worship?” (p. 5).

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Credible Christian Worship

Churches do many things, including things that look rather political. They can engage in charitable activities, advocate for social justice, provide social outlets (often called fellowship). But at the heart of the church is, I believe, the worship of God. It is worship that defines the mission of the church, so that it is more than "outreach." I realize people come to church buildings and join congregations for many different reasons, but are they formed by what happens in worship? 

I recently re-read Craig Watt's powerful and provocative book Bowing Toward Babylon (Cascade, 2017) --- and my review of the book should be up tomorrow --- which speaks to the way in which nationalism too often malforms our worship, which leads to the malformation of the Christian. The question is --- what is credible Christian worship? That's a question that I, as one who is engaged in planning and leading worship, that I have great interest in.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bearing Witness to the Risen Christ -- Lectionary Reflection for Easter 2A

Acts 2:14a, 22-32 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, . . .\ 

22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him,
‘I saw the Lord always before me,    for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;    moreover my flesh will live in hope.27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
    or let your Holy One experience corruption.28 You have made known to me the ways of life;    you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,

‘He was not abandoned to Hades,    nor did his flesh experience corruption.’
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.


                It is the second Sunday of Easter, but the reading from Acts 2 describes an event taking place on the Day of Pentecost. While the lection omits the Pentecost context, it is helpful to understand that it is the events of Pentecost that enables Peter to deliver the sermon we’re about to take in. The phenomena of Pentecost draws the crowd that gives Peter the opportunity to preach, and the Spirit that falls on the community at Pentecost emboldens Peter so he can stand before the people and share the good news of Jesus with those who had gathered due to the declaration of the gospel in languages understood by members of the crowd, but evidently not by the ones sharing the message 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Out of the Office: A Theology of Ministry (orientation)

The following forms the opening paragraphs of the Orientation chapter of my book Out of the Office: A Theology of Ministry (Conversations in Ministry, #3). The book is the third volume in a book series I edit for the Academy of Parish Clergy in partnership with Energion Publications. I share this with you to give you a sense of the book, which I believe will provide clergy and those preparing for vocational ministry an opportunity to do theological reflection on engaging in ministry in the 21st century. Before you dive deeper into my own introductory words, I invite you to consider this word from theologian Grace Ji-Sun Kim concerning the book's value:
Once again, Dr. Robert Cornwall provides the church with a valuable book. In his new book, Out of the Office, he tackles the important questions of what is ministry; how do we effectively engage in ministry; and what does ministry look like in our globalizing world? This prophetic work is eloquently written and beautifully reflects Dr. Cornwall’s deep spirituality and faith.
– Grace Ji-Sun Kim
Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion
and author of Embracing The Other and Mother Daughter Speak


Ministry is something clergy do—most often within the confines  of a church building or at least among the members of a congregation. It can involve preaching, teaching, celebrating the sacraments, and providing pastoral care. But is this all that the word conveys? Since the series of books in which this appears is designed to create a conversation among clergy on matters related to parish ministry, a discussion of a theology of ministry would invite a theological reflection on what clergy do in a parish context. Such is the case here, except that I would like to broaden the concept of the parish to include the local congregation as well as the broader world in which a congregation exists. This isn’t an either/or proposition. It’s a both/and. Nonetheless, I take as a starting point the premise of John Wesley that the world is our parish. Therefore, I’m assuming that the context in which the readers of this book do ministry will include the congregation and will extend to the neighborhood and beyond.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

I Have Seen the Lord! -- A Sermon for Easter - A

John 20:1-18

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb” (Jn. 20:1). This morning as you come to the tomb, what do you see? Is it an empty tomb? What does an empty tomb say to you? As I read this passage, I noticed that the word “saw” kept appearing and wondered what this word says to us about the meaning of Easter morning?

When Mary came to the tomb, she saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. That’s not what she expected. When Peter and the Beloved Disciple, heard Mary’s report, they ran to the tomb, and looked inside. They saw the linens that had wrapped the body of Jesus neatly folded and lying on the bench where his body should be, along with the cloth that had covered his face. While, the Beloved Disciple let Peter enter the tomb first, when he finally went into the tomb “he saw and believed.” While we know what he saw, we don’t know what he believed, because the disciples still didn’t “understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Father Forgive Them -- A Word for Good Friday

Note: It is Good Friday, and I will be participating in a community Good Friday Service. Once again we will share the Seven Last Words. As I am not preaching, but doing hosting duties, I would like to re-share a message delivered in 2012.

32 They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing." They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing. 

35 The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.” 

36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.” 

(Luke 23:32-38 Common English Bible

We’re about to hear seven words that the gospels place on the lips of Jesus as he hung on the cross of Calvary that first Good Friday.  Each gospel tells the story a bit differently, sharing different words, that when taken together provide us with a deeper engagement with what the cross means to our lives in the 21st century.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Eating on the Run - A Meditation for Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14

We gather tonight around the Lord’s Table to remember Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. During that meal Jesus took bread and wine, blessed them, and gave the elements to his disciples. He told them to continue sharing this meal in remembrance of him until he returned (1 Cor. 11:23-26). The roots of this meal of remembrance are found in the Passover celebration. The reading from Exodus 12 describes the origins of that meal, which celebrated God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. 

According to Exodus 12, this meal featured three items—roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. It’s a fairly simple meal, which took some time to prepare, but once the meat was cooked and the bread baked, it could be eaten on the run.

There is another part of the story that needs to be mentioned. Not only did God direct the people to prepare a meal, but God told them to take some of the blood from the slaughtered lamb and put it on their doorposts. This blood would serve as a sign to God, so that God would pass over that house when the angel of death struck down the first born of Egypt, because of the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart.    

The Lord’s Supper is similar to the Passover meal, because both meals invite us to remember that God has redeemed us from bondage, whether that bondage is slavery in Egypt, or the bondage of sin. Both involve the shedding of blood as a promissary note, guaranteeing that God will fulfill God’s promises. Both meals are meant to unite the community in a common purpose. Both are intended to be celebrated as a perpetual ordinance. 

As I read this passage, something caught my eye. It has to do with the instructions given in Exodus for eating the meal:
This is how you should eat it. You should be dressed, with your sandals on your feet and your walking stick in your hand. You should eat the meal in a hurry. (Ex. 12:11 CEB).
In other words, Passover isn’t a nice leisurely meal. It’s intended to be eaten on the run. It’s supposed to sustain a community that’s about to march toward Zion. There’s no time to waste, because Pharaoh might change his mind and chase after them. 

Jesus’ last meal has a sense of urgency as well. He knew that the days to come would be difficult, and that he needed to prepare them for what was to come. In preparing them for the future, he established a meal that would help them, and us, to remember God’s promise of redemption revealed in Jesus.

The meal we celebrate this evening speaks to the urgency and the danger involved in God’s mission. Walter Brueggemann put it this way: “leaving Egypt is a dangerous anxiety-ridden business” (NIB, 1:777). The same is true for us as Christians, as we head out into the world bearing the good news of Jesus. Brueggemann helps us understand the connection between the two meals and the urgency of these two missions. He writes: 
Christians like Jews are children of these marked doorposts, marked for safety in the midnight of chaos and crying. Christians like Jews, are Children of this hurried bread, postured to depart the empire, destined for freedom outside the norms and requirements of the empire. [NIB, p. 779] 

What does it mean to be “children of this hurried bread?” What does it mean to live outside the norms and requirements of the empire? Are we ready to take the journey to true freedom that God offers us and the world? Are we ready to eat on the run? 

By: Dr. Robert D. Cornwall
At: Northminster Presbyterian Church
Troy, Michigan
Maundy Thursday
April 13, 2017

Love and Service on Maundy Thursday - A Reflection

13 Before the Festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them fully. 
2 Jesus and his disciples were sharing the evening meal. The devil had already provoked Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew the Father had given everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was returning to God. 4 So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. 6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

An Irrelevant War? -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

Last week the United States observed the centennial of its entrance into World War I, or what was once known as "The Great War," until an even larger conflagration enveloped the globe a few decades after the close of the the "War to end all wars." In this week's edition of Sightings, Martin Marty remembers that day by digging up comments made by Anglican clerics in support of the war, even embracing revenge and retaliation as suitable responses to the enemy. When war breaks out, it does seem as if the temptation to go all in is hard to resist. I can't find the reference, by Edgar Dewitt Jones, founding pastor of my congregation, confessed that he had been caught up in war fever during the First World War. He regretted his fervor. He made that confession during the interregnum between wars. I can't find any references to World War II, so I wonder if he got caught up once again? In the meantime, Marty invites us to consider the responses, noting that not all got caught up in the hatred.

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An Irrelevant War?
By MARTIN E. MARTY   April 10, 2017
"For the freedom of the world": U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asking Congress to declare war on Germany, April 2, 1917 | Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Thursday the United States observed the centennial of its entry into World War I, a move which, historians like to say, “changed everything.” The nation lost 116,000 troops while nine million lives were lost worldwide. The map of Europe was reconfigured in the following years. Dictatorships arose, and the stage was set for Act II of what seems now to have been a two-act World War drama.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dancing Before God on Easter -- Lectionary Reflection - Easter (Jeremiah 31)

Jeremiah 31:1-6 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

31 At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
Thus says the Lord:
The people who survived the sword
    found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
    the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
    O virgin Israel!
Again you shall take your tambourines,
    and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
    on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant,
    and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when sentinels will call
    in the hill country of Ephraim:
“Come, let us go up to Zion,
    to the Lord our God.”

                We who have been on a Lenten journey have reached out Easter destination. Lent is, after all, a season of preparation, much like Advent. It is not a journey into infinity and beyond. There is an intended destination. If this isn’t the first time we’ve taken the journey, then we know how the story unfolds. We know that before we enjoy the glories of Easter, we must go through Good Friday. There is no Easter without the cross. The message of Easter is that death does not have the last word, especially when it comes to Jesus.  Therefore, we can rejoice and even dance before God’s throne. The question is—does this message resonate with the world in which we live? Is it ready to welcome the message of Easter?

Monday, April 10, 2017

God's Servant, A Light to the Nations - A Meditation for Holy Monday

Isaiah 42:1-9New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

42 Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
    until he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

A Humble and Triumphant King - A Sermon for Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-11

This is probably the most confusing day in the church year. Some churches celebrate Palm Sunday by waving palm branches and shouting hosanna to the king of kings. Other churches observe Passion Sunday, with its emphasis on Jesus’ death on the cross. But maybe these two emphases belong together, because they reflect the tension that exists between how humans view power and how Jesus viewed it.  The reading from Matthew describes Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which suggests that we’ll be focusing on the triumphal part of the story. But, there is a catch, because Jesus’ vision of triumph is different from the way most humans understand it. 

The story begins with Jesus and his disciples drawing near to Jerusalem, which will soon be celebrating Passover. When the group arrived at Bethphage, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent out his advance team to locate a donkey and her colt, and then bring the animals to him. When the animals arrived, Jesus mounted them and headed into the city. As he rode that donkey and her colt into the city, a crowd began to gather. Some of them spread out their cloaks on the road in front of him, while others cut down branches and laid them in front of him. The crowd began to shout “Hosanna to the Son of David!” And, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” It would seem that the crowd sensed that something special was afoot. Perhaps the promised Messiah had arrived to save them from their oppressors. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Exit West (Mohsin Hamid) -- Review

EXIT WEST. By Mohsin Hamid. New York: Riverhead Books, 2017. 231 pages.

                I will once again confess to not reading a great deal of fiction. However, on occasion a book emerges that requires my attention. Such is the case with Mohsin Hamid’s latest novel titled Exit West. I became acquainted with the book listening to an interview with the author on NPR. The discussion intrigued me, and I decided I needed to read this book. That is because the book deals with some of the important questions of our day, including religiously-inspired violence, migration, refugees, nativism, and fear of the other. Thankfully, the publisher’s publicist graciously sent me a review copy so I could share my thoughts with you my blog audience.

I regularly write reviews of non-fiction books, and in these reviews, I don’t have to worry about spoiling the plot of the book. That is not the case when you are reviewing a work of fiction. Readers of a review of fiction would like to know something of the books texture and feel without spoiling the adventure of reading the book. If you know the full plot, especially the ending, there is little reason to read the book. I will try to give you a sense of the book without spoiling the adventure. However, if what you need is the assurance that this is a worthwhile read, but don’t wish to know much more, I can say that if you’re interested in stories that put a human face on the complexities of migration, then I believe you will find this to be a worthwhile read. If you little more information, then continue reading below.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Niebuhr and the Situation -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

I don't know if I am a Niebuhrian, but I find Reinhold Niebuhr to be a compelling figure, even if he's largely unknown to most contemporary Americans (except perhaps those who know him through the Serenity Prayer). He is known as a "realist," and at the end of the day, I think that describes my approach to things. Many who know of him ask about where the modern Niebuhr's are? That is, where are the theologians who engage the public sphere as Niebuhr did? Martin Marty offers some suggestions in this post stimulated by the new film that takes up his life -- An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story, which I hope the local PBS station will air, since Niebuhr got his start as a pastor here in Detroit. It would be tragic if his story doesn't get told here, as much of whom he became was forged during his ministry here.  I invite you to read and consider Niebuhr's legacy.

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Niebuhr and the Situation
By MARTIN E. MARTY   April 3, 2017
Portrait of Reinhold Niebuhr by Ernest Hamlin Baker | Photo Credit: Wayne Stratz via Flickr (cc)
Millennials are often accused of whatever particular accusers want to assign to their victims of choice. One charge, among so many others, is that they do not know or care about history. Teachers of undergraduates note how frequently they find their students unable to relate to people and events of the past, even the relatively recent past. These students may know about George Washington or, currently, Alexander Hamilton, but otherwise draw a blank when it comes to national figures. Even celebrities are relegated to the Gallery of the Forgotten after a generation or so.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

No Shame -- A Lectionary Reflection for Passion/Palm Sunday -- Year A

Isaiah 50:4-9a New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Lord God has given me
    the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
    the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
    wakens my ear
    to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
    and I was not rebellious,
    I did not turn backward.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
    and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
    from insult and spitting.
The Lord God helps me;
    therefore I have not been disgraced;

therefore I have set my face like flint,
    and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
    he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
    Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
    Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
    who will declare me guilty?

                Preachers have a choice when it comes to the lectionary for the Sunday prior to Easter. They can choose to go with the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry or go with Passion Sunday (a good choice if Good Friday is not on the liturgical calendar). Since the lectionary only provides a reading from the Psalms for this Sunday, I have chosen to reflect on the Passion Sunday reading, which is taken from the Book of Isaiah. This is in keeping with my decision to pursue, as much as possible readings from the Old Testament. 

Monday, April 03, 2017

Do All Lives Matter? -- Review (Wayne Gordon and John M. Perkins)

DO ALL LIVES MATTER?The Issues We Can No Longer Ignore and the Solutions We All Long For. By Wayne Gordon and John M. Perkins. Foreword by Senator Dick Durbin, Afterword by Richard J. Mouw. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017. 92 pages.

                Do all lives matter? I could answer that question with an unqualified yes. After all, when it comes to human lives, my theology declares that every human being is created in the image of God. That means that every human life is sacred. Unfortunately, the very fact that the Black Lives Matter movement arose after several African Americans were killed by police or what I will call vigilantes (George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin), suggests that we’ve not reached the point when our society truly believes that all lives matter.

                After the Black Lives Matter movement was born, an alternative “movement” arose, largely among white Americans who didn’t appreciate the view offered by the Black Lives Movement. It reflected the view held by many in the majority culture, that everything would be wonderful if those in the non-majority would just get with the program and “assimilate.” That is, if everyone would embrace “color blindness” and stop complaining about past wrongs. You might say that the “All Lives Matter” sentiment is an expression of what some call “White fragility.” Moving forward toward the vision held out to the American people by Martin Luther King in his “I Have a Dream Speech,” will require some real soul searching on the part of many, including many in the church. To get there we’ll need some help in creating conversations that lead to change. That is what the authors of this book intend. This brief, but hard-hitting book, what was once referred to as a “broadside,” offers us food for thought.