Wild Lectionary: Joseph—God’s Agent or Agent of Empire?

Field Egypt Farmer PeopleEleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 15(20)

“God has made me lord of all Egypt…” Joseph, son of Jacob (Gen 45.9)

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” Paul of Tarsus (Rom 8.19)

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

A decade or so ago, we spent two years of our monthly Saturday teaching/retreat series with the book of Genesis. Folks eagerly engaged Genesis’ anti-city perspective and its all-too-human characters. But when we got to the Joseph story, several rebelled angrily against our starting characterization of Joseph, son of Jacob, as a self-absorbed, manipulative power seeker, who “succeeded” by teaching Pharaoh how to manage famine for personal profit. What is it about Joseph that leads so many to want to see him as a heroic expression of faith? Continue reading

To Step Back & Let New People Direct the Conversation

AidenAn announcement from our comrade up north Aiden Enns (right) of Geez Magazine:

After much reflection and in close conversation with the board of directors, I’ve decided that now is a good time for me to retire from my
post as editor of Geez magazine. I plan to make the Winter 2017 edition my 48th and final issue.

Geez magazine started 12 years ago under the tagline, “holy mischief in
an age of fast faith” in order to poke and prod at the pitfalls of
mainstream religion. Continue reading

Sermon: Walking in the Way of Righteousness

IMG_4625By Joanna Shenk

Psalm 85:8-13

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a loved one in which they asked me if I thought holiness and righteousness were important… or if I valued them as a Christian. I can’t remember exactly how they said it, but it was said in a way that assumed I probably didn’t think they were important. I explained to them that it was frustrating to be asked the question in that way because it put me on the defensive… like I needed to prove something to them. To their credit, they understood and agreed it made for better conversation if they asked me how I understand holiness and righteousness or what has been my journey with those things. Continue reading

Whose Violence? Which Insurgence?: White Supremacy in the Mirror of Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation

Nat TurnerBy Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit, MI), prepared comments presented at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church’s “Social Justice Forum,” October 21, 2016 in response to the film

It was a Jewish man, Walter Benjamin, during WWII, who once said, “Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if [it] wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious” (Benjamin, 255)

Nat Turner’s spirit is buried beneath the shouts and cries (Cone, 61)

It is a deep honor to be asked to offer a few words in memory of so courageous and clear a spirit of resolve as Nat Turner. It is an honor doubly difficult to measure up to in that my skin is white and my life circumstance therefore privileged with respect to Turner’s color and condition and the people whose struggle for justice he represented with such determination and daring that it presaged the only resolution of the institution of slavery white people would accept. War. And it is a war that has never yet ceased. And so my standing here today is not innocent. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: The mixology of Faith and Fear

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Erazo-Paris Family Archives, circa May 1969

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 14 (19)

1 Kings 19:9-18 & Matthew 14:22-33

[Elijah] answered “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:10

26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

By Priscilla Paris-Austin

Faith and fear seem to reside right next to each other in our world. I don’t know about you but I find this to be true in my family story over and over again. While the two seem incompatible, as I look back I can see how closely they are aligned, one driving me to the other, or moving me through its companion, until I find my way back to God’s enduring and steadfast love.

Continue reading

Sermon: Religious liberty, or social mischief? Understanding the “wall of separation” between church and state

indexBy Ken Sehested, 9 July 2017, Circle of Mercy Congregation, Asheville, NC

Text: Psalm 72

(The text below has been expanded from the original sermon.)

Not so long ago a sermon on religious liberty would likely provoke yawns. The widespread and diverse claims of “religious freedom” are so common and unquestioned in our culture, they mostly go without notice. (Which, if anything, may be testimony to how tamed our assumptions have become.) Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Come to the Waters

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Photo by Wendy Janzen Grand River, Southwestern Ontario

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 13 (18)
Isaiah 55:1-5

By Wendy Janzen

 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…”

Canada is a land of abundant fresh water. Ontario, the province in which I live, contains one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water. Ontarians love our lakes and rivers.

This summer has been a wet summer here. I’ve hardly needed to water my vegetable garden, and my small patch of lawn is still a lush green from the regular, soaking rains. Some rains have come with too much rain falling too quickly, causing streams and rivers to overflow their banks. Continue reading