Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Furies over Immigration - Sightings (Martin Marty)

As the nation braces for the inauguration of a President who ran (and won) in part on an anti-immigrant platform, Martin Marty writes a column on this very topic, taking note of the statements from the Archbishop of Chicago -- Blase Cupich -- as well as the nominee for Attorney General. What are our responsibilities to the stranger? Good question needing an answer as the situation isn't going away.  

Furies over Immigration
By MARTIN E. MARTY   January 16, 2017
Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois | Photo credit: John W. Iwanski via Flickr (cc)
When writing for Sightings I can look down from our residence window on two cathedral towers. A century ago, in the years after the Chicago Fire of 1871, those towers towered over a rebuilt cityscape, still of low-rise buildings. Cathedrals dominated the scene back then, but they are nestled among skyscrapers now. So, as an architectural theorist once advised, sanctuaries today have to stress substantive rather than dimensional references.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Shattered Yoke - A Lectionary Reflection for Epiphany 3A (Isaiah)

9   Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be exhausted. At an earlier time, God cursed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but later he glorified the way of the sea, the far side of the Jordan, and the Galilee of the nations. 
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
    On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
3 You have made the nation great;
    you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest,
    as those who divide plunder rejoice.
4 As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them,
    the staff on their shoulders,
    and the rod of their oppressor.


                When all seems dark light shines into the darkness. When the people find themselves in distress, a sign of hope appears. As I write this reflection for the third Sunday after Epiphany, which is a season of light and revelation, there is much distress in the land I inhabit. The political scene has been disrupted. There is great uncertainty. It feels as if a yoke has been placed on our shoulders, and so we cry out for help. I happen to be writing this reflection on the day the nation celebrates the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, a modern prophet, whose light one man sought to extinguish. But the light continues to shine. The dream that one day the nation would live out its creed remains with us to this day, even if it remains unfulfilled. I also write this reflection just days before a new president is inaugurated, a president whose statements, often via Twitter, are often caustic and ignoble. They have frightened many in this land and around the world. When we gather on Sunday, we who live in the United States will be living in a land governed by this man. Yes, for many of us, darkness seems to be covering the land. It is in this moment, that we hold out hope that light will shine in the darkness.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dreaming of the Promised Land with Rosa and Martin

The following essay was published a number of years ago, but in light of what is happening in our nation at this moment, it is as timely as ever. Seeking to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this his birthday weekend, as well as keeping in mind a presidential inauguration later this week that seems to contradict the dream espoused by Dr. King and by Rosa Parks, I offer this word for your contemplation.


Rosa Parks’ small act of defiance changed history. Her death in 2005 was marked by acts of remembrance fit fora national leader or military hero, but Rosa Parks was neither a politician nor a military hero.  To the unknowing, Rosa was a black woman too tired to get up so that a white man could have his “rightful” seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Whether intended or not, her “act of defiance” and subsequent arrest, sparked a movement that changed America.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Eating with Strangers - A Sermon

Genesis 18:1-8

Today we begin a conversation I call “Eating with Jesus.” It’s my contribution to our emphasis on the relationship of an Open Table to our call to Mission, which is being underwritten by a Vital Worship grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. While most of the sermons in this series will draw from the New Testament, I thought it might be good to start with a story from Genesis about the day that Abraham and Sarah welcomed God to their Table. To give a bit of New Testament support to my thesis, consider this word from Hebrews 13: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:1, CEB).

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Well of Wonder (Clyde Kilby) - Review

A WELL OF WONDER: Essays on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. By Clyde S. Kilby. Edited by Loren Wilkinson, and Keith Call. Brewster, MA: Mount Tabor Books; Paraclete Press, 2016. Xv + 348 pages.

Christians can be such literalists. I think it's a disease engendered by the Enlightenment. I have nothing against the Enlightenment or being rational, but at times the rationalism engendered by the Enlightenment has diminished the power of our imaginations. I say this as one who is more likely to read non-fiction than fiction. Fortunately, from time to time, figures have emerged from within the Christian community who have broken these barriers and invited us to broaden our hearts and minds to embrace the fruit of our imagination without abandoning our faith. Among those who have contributed to the expansion of our imaginations is a collection of figures who came to be known as the Inklings. Best known amongst this group of writers and thinkers, most of whom were connected to Oxford University, were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Both men developed a fandom that continues to this day among religious and non-religious people.