Sermon: Fig Cakes, Tamales, and a Heap of Raisins

tamalesBy Joyce Hollyday
Circle of Mercy: October 1, 2017, World Communion Sunday
1 Samuel 25

We held a sheep-shearing day every spring at Swan Mountain Farm, where I used to live. Mark, the chief shearer, always started with the rams because, he explained, they “come with handles.” Mark grabbed Charlie by the horns and wrestled him over on his side. Charlie, like all the sheep, began that morning as a massive ball of fluff, as wide as he was tall, his wool discolored a dingy brown by dirt. By the time the clipping was done, he was a skinny thing, and the thin layer of wool left on him was shockingly white. As soon as he could get his feet under him, Charlie escaped into the pasture. Mark then repeated the process with Chip. And when he ran into the pasture, the two rams, not recognizing each other with their new haircuts, aimed their horns, charged at each other, and butted heads repeatedly. Continue reading

Lying awake these nights

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By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I lie awake feeling the weight of the world on my chest. Death haunting our country again. Fifty lives and hundreds wounded. All from guns. I can’t twist my head around any rational for guns. I don’t understand the safety argument. I think of the man in the window and the media argument that he fits “no mold” for motive or terrorism. They can’t say it. That he fits exactly the mold of the violent rampage that rules this country. White men. There is a violent disease filled with numbing, racist hatred. It is a disease that knows no empathy, no kindness, no vulnerability, no self-knowledge, no community. It is a lonely, despicable rotting disease. I lie there with tears in my eyes and rage in my belly at the patriarchy and white supremacy that rules.

And then…I think of these two baby boys that sleep soundly feet away from my bed. I love them more than anything. I love their laughter and their tears and the people they are becoming. I think of this disease that is ready to pounce and swallow them whole. What can I do? How can I mother in a way where they refuse the outstretched hand offered to them as white men? My heart gives in and weeps.

Vincent Harding, rebels and MJ Sharp

Untitled-designBy Joanna Shenk, pastor at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco.
Written for The Mennonite.

Alongside writing Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Vincent Harding also wrote and delivered a speech to Mennonites in Amsterdam that same year. He made a call to Mennonites that, unrealized in that era, was fulfilled by Michael Jesse (MJ) Sharp.

At the Mennonite World Conference in Amsterdam in 1967, Harding urged the mostly Western Mennonite audience to take seriously the concerns and anger of the poor and dispossessed across the world. He articulated why these people were angry and why they were justified in that anger due to the colonization of their land, the exploitation of their people and the theft of their natural resources.

Continue reading

Do your own work: Leadership on the Frontlines

thomson-sarah-3By Sarah Thompson, Christian Peacemakers Teams. Re-shared from her blog.

One of my favorite things about my dear friend MJ Sharp was how he did his work, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He gave his life for peace work there, but he was not simply a martyr.  He was someone giving his all to investigative work.  MJ was a complex character who pushed hard for justice, utilizing creative and courageous tactics that led to positive change in some key situations.  Speaking at his memorial service, the representative from the United Nations remarked, “the international community has lost one of its best investigators.”   Continue reading

Sermon: Power of Names

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My Grandma Bea, me, my mom, and my sister Lucy

Preached by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann at the Day House Catholic Worker
August 27, 2017

Exodus 1:8-2:10
Matthew 16:13-20

As I read the opening piece of the text from Exodus, it feels like I am reading a script from the white men who marched on Charlottesville two weeks ago.

It begins with the Pharaoh naming his fear that the Israelites are becoming too numerous and powerful. He is scared they will out-number and over-take him. He orders that they be forced into labor and when that doesn’t work, he orders murder.

It echoes of the treacherous low-wage labor forced on undocumented folks living in constant fear.

It echoes of a prison industrial complex holding captive more black men today than were enslaved in the south. Continue reading