Anchoring the Gospel Story in the Real World

JordanBy Ched Myers, the co-director of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (if you’ve been inspired and challenged by Ched’s posts this year following the lectionary, consider making an end-of-the-year donation to BCM, day in and day out, doing the work of radical discipleship)

Note: This is reposted from Ched’s occasional comments on the Lukan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year C, 2015-16.  

The second and third Sundays of Advent focus on the ministry of John the Baptist, first locating him in the wilderness (2. Advent), then focusing in on his prophetic message (3. Advent). Following on his infancy (and young childhood) narrative about Jesus, Luke commences the gospel story proper. More than the other N.T. evangelist, Luke anchors his story in real political space, signaling that we ought not be afraid to do the same.
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True Self-Fulfillment

By Maki Ashe Van Steenwyk, director of the Center for Prophetic Imagination (please consider making an end-of-the-year donation to this compelling organization doing the work of radical discipleship)

You’re under no obligation, whatsoever, to maintain relationships with people who treat you dismissively or disrespectfully.

This idea that you need to embrace self-diminishment in a way that shows love or compassion or empathy towards others is toxic.

Christian folks in particular seems to misunderstand Jesus’ admonition to “take up your cross.” The idea that your deepest fulfilment is at odds with love and liberation of others is false.

Self-fulfillment in a capitalist way is a lie. But true self-fulfillment is bound up in collective liberation.

A Thorn in the Flesh

By Bayo Akomolafe, originally posted to Facebook (November 13, 2021)

I learned this morning about what some news outlets – referring to the stubborn persistence of the coronavirus despite the exertions of the global nation-state order, the pharmaceutical complex, and our increasingly medicalized lives – are haltingly calling “the fifth wave.” Time Magazine asks, “Is the Fifth Wave Coming?” (https://time.com/6117006/covid-19-fifth-wave/). USA Today, through its interviewed experts, writes – as if in response: Yes, and “we may simply come to call it winter.” From France to Pakistan, numbers are creeping up, new mutations are on the horizon, and worried officials with wrinkled foreheads are declaring that the virus is here to stay – no matter what we do.

Reading these reports, I was reminded of those biblical passages I was hunched over as an obsessed teenager – the letters of Paul, undulating prose cross-textured with a messianic lilt and soft humble whispers of self-deprecating awareness. I once delighted in reading the nomadic evangelist’s notes – often under warm candlelight, and was struck by the similar undertones of pathos and lamentation that entangles his letters to the Corinthians with this morning’s pandemic news. In particular, Paul’s passage about the “thorn in the flesh” came to mind:

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I Would Just Ask People to Challenge Those Paradigms

By Cristina Yurena Zerr, an interview with Jessica Reznicek

“I need to believe that I will continue to contribute making this world a better place, no matter where I am.”

The U.S. climate activist Jessica Reznicek was sentenced to 8 years of prison for her protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. On August 13th she reported to prison in Wascea, Minnesota. In this interview, Jessica Reznicek shares how her Christian faith relates to her commitment to fighting injustice and violence.

What is your relationship to nature?

I grew up in close contact to nature: the river, the trees, the woods. I feel like that really helped to define what became a priority later in life.

My relationship with water in particular was very pronounced. We could swim in the water. There was no concern about health consequences at that time. But it is my understanding that we have mistreated my mother, our mother, in such severe ways that I grieve that deeply.

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The End of the World

Arch of TitusBy Ched Myers, for the 25th Sunday in Pentecost (Mark 13:1-8)

Note: This is the last of a series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, originally posted during year B, 2015. 

The final two Sundays in Ordinary Time and the first two Sundays in Advent comprise what I call the “apocalyptic season of turning” in our church calendar. Traditionally the gospel readings speak of the end of the “old order” and the coming of a new world anticipated in Christ. This is appropriate not only as a transition into a new liturgical year and lectionary cycle, but also as a reminder that “in Christ there is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” (II Cor 5:17).
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The Widow’s Mite: Commendation or Condemnation?

WidowBy Ched Myers, for the 23rd Sunday of Pentecost (Mark 12:28-13:2)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

Special Note From Ched: I apologize for conflating my comments posted last week, in which I treated BOTH Mk 12:28-34 (this last Sunday’s gospel) AND 12:38-44 (this coming Sunday’s gospel), with a heavy emphasis on the latter. Hopefully most of you focused on All Saints themes last Sunday and weren’t disoriented or disappointed. I was traveling and dispatched the blog with too much haste! RD.net is reposting last week’s blog to be of use to those preaching or teaching on this coming Sunday’s reading, which is indeed the story of the “Widow’s Mite.” Sorry for any confusion, and for giving short shrift to last Sunday’s gospel. Thanks for following this series, which now heads into its last few weeks.
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The lectionary leaps ahead this Sunday (which is also All Saints Day), moving to the concluding episode of Mark’s Jerusalem conflict narrative (chapters 11 and 12), in which Jesus clashes with every authority group in the capital city. In this week’s reading it is the scribes, the arch opponents of Jesus. The sequence begins with their challenge to interpret the great commandment, which was a central debating point among the rabbis (12:28). Jesus knows that the “orthodox” answer is the Shema (12:29f; see Dt 6:4), but pointedly attaches to it a citation from the Levitical code of justice, implying that to love God is to refuse to exploit one’s neighbor (12:31; see Lev 19:9-17).
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Bound

By Tommy Airey

“The possessive investment in whiteness can’t be rectified by learning ‘how to be more antiracist.’ It requires a radical divestment in the project of whiteness and a redistribution of wealth and resources. It requires abolition, the abolition of the carceral world, the abolition of capitalism. What is required is a remaking of the social order, and nothing short of that is going to make a difference.”—Saidiya Hartmann

Fifty years before George Floyd moved to Minneapolis, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. got arrested in Birmingham. Dr. King, whose national holiday we now celebrate every January, was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived. However, like love itself, Dr. King has been sanitized. White folks and middle-class people have molded him into a meek and mild Black man devoted to a watered-down dream of politeness and patriotism. The real MLK took his cues from a bold biblical brand of love that beckoned him to break rank from a cozy and counterfeit middle-class life built on injustice and oppression.

During his short life, Dr. King was arrested 19 times—the same number of trips that Harriet Tubman made back to the South after she escaped to freedom. While King was in that Birmingham jail cell, he wrote a long letter to white pastors on the margins of a newspaper and smuggled it out to get it published. It is one of the greatest documents ever produced in American history. In it, Dr. King articulated a profound spiritual conviction that serves as the basis for a biblical conspiracy—a life built on belovedness and belongingness.

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The Gospel According to Rizpah

A sermon from Dr. Wil Gafney (right), October 17, 2021) on 2 Samuel 21:1-14; Psalm 58; Revelation 6:9-11; Luke 6:43-45

*Re-posted from Dr. Gafney’s website. Click here to watch or listen to the video.

Yesterday, we talked about the women’s stories in scripture that we do and do not hear taught and preached. Sometimes we don’t hear stories of women because their pieces are scattered like breadcrumbs throughout the scriptures and it takes a major archaeological excavation to gather all of those pieces together and far too many preachers say, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” Well, I got time today.

Let us pray: May the preached word draw you deeper into the written word and kindle in you the matchless love of the incarnate word. Amen.

Before the mothers of the Black Lives Matter movement, there was Rizpah. Before the mothers of women and men and children swinging in the southern breeze as strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees, there was Rizpah. Before the mothers of the Maafa, the African-Atlantic holocaust, there was Rizpah.

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On the “Blind” Following the “Blind”

BartimaeusBy Ched Myers, for the 22nd Sunday of Pentecost (Mark 10:46-52), originally posted in October 2015

Right: A relief sculpture of the healing of Bartimaeus by artist/minister Charles McCollough, done in honor of our ministry at BCM (at right is the rich man and one of Jesus’ disciples).
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Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015. This is a longer post because Sunday represents the feast day of “St. Bartimaeus,” whose story has accompanied Ched through his entire ministry (see second half of the post).

In this culminating episode of Mark’s “discipleship catechism,” there is one more polemical role reversal to shock our propriety, and one more blind man healed to give us hope (compare Mk 8:22-26). On the outskirts of Jericho, the final stop before arriving in Jerusalem, we encounter a beggar sitting “beside the Way” (10:46). Bartimaeus will provide a dramatic contrast to the previous two stories of “non-discipleship”—the rich man’s refusal and the disciples’ ambitions—and will symbolize for Mark the “true follower.” Continue reading “On the “Blind” Following the “Blind””

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Facing Apocalypse with Eloquence

By Jim Perkinson, a sermon for Detroit Unitarian Universalist Church (9-26-21)

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Climate Catastrophe Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Voter Suppression Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Collapse Health Care with Cavalier

COVID Response Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Right Wing Authoritarianism Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Billionaire On-the-Take Booty Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Flee to Mars If You Are Elon Musk

 Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: You Fill In the Blank—What Time Is

It For You!

This title question was a favorite litmus test query any time someone met with the late great Eastside Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs over the last ten years of her extraordinary life.  In vernacular counterpoint to Boggs’ more philosophical probe, garbage-art impresario Tyree Guyton of Heidelberg Project fame—also on the Eastside—festoons many of the trees of his bright throbbing block with clocks whose hands salute the hours every which way.  Each asks outside the politesse of our typical interactions, what hour do you think it is—really?  

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