Wild Lectionary: We Are Animals

12289514_10153766241763739_1680757321006336246_n.jpgFourth Sunday in Lent
Psalm 23:1-3

1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2
God makes me lie down in green pastures; God leads me beside still waters;
3
God restores my soul.

By Ric Hudgens

I live in a household with a seven-year old who has no trouble connecting with her animal identity. I often awaken in the morning to hear her downstairs growling, barking, howling, or singing. She may be imitating a dog, a monkey, a bear, a lion, or a bird.  Like all young children she will eventually learn to separate her human identity from her animal identity. Mornings will grow quiet and my world will in one sense be a sadder place. Continue reading

The ACA and the AHCA: Understanding What is at Stake

MisakBy James Misak MD (photo right), Cleveland, OH

With efforts underway to “repeal and replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) with the proposed American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), understanding what is at stake can be challenging. It is my hope that this essay will bring some clarity to this issue.

  1. The US Health Insurance System Prior To The ACA: A Brief Review

The United States is currently the only high-income country without nearly universal health-care coverage. As a result, an estimated 44.6 million Americans (representing 16.7% of the US population under age 65) were uninsured in 2013, the year before the ACA went into effect.1

Most Americans under the age of 65 receive health insurance as a benefit from their employer, but this percentage has been steadily decreasing over time, from 67% of nonelderly Americans in 1999 to 56% in 2013, or approximately 148 million people. Additionally, people in families with lower incomes were less likely to receive health insurance through an employer, and these families lost employer-sponsored insurance at a faster rate than the population as a whole.2 Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: There is No New Water. Living Water is Life-Giving Water.

rainonland

Water after a rain on the New Life Church land

Third Sunday in Lent
John 4:5-42

By Rev. Carmen Retzlaff

In Central Texas, we think a lot about water. The Texas climate is famously described by meteorologists as, historically, “drought with periods of flooding.” And so it seems. After seven years of droughts in which water wells dried up in our area, the nearby Blanco River flooded the small town of Wimberley and towns downstream in 2015. With this view of water in mind, I read the story of Jesus’s conversation with the woman at the well as a story about water. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Love Flows Like a River

The Third Sunday in Lent
John 4

By Sue Ferguson Johnson and Wes Howard-Brook

John 4 is like a kaleidoscope. From one angle, it is a story about Jesus’ gender-inclusive invitation to dis-cipleship. Turn it slightly and you can see Jesus seeking to heal a hostile history between Samaritans and Judeans. From yet another angle, it speaks to the question of authentic worship. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Heaven and Earth, Sun and Moon, Mountain and Cloud

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Burnaby Mountain on the Kinder Morgan Trans-mountain Pipeline Expansion route.

Notes for Lent 2, By Laurel Dykstra

Genesis 12

In these four verses two words, rough synonyms, eretz and adamah, are used for land

  1. 1 Eretz is used twice in this verse to speak of Abram’s native country, territory or perhaps property. It is linked to his people, his kin.
  2. 3 Adamah (same root as Adam) is used for the earth—the known world, and in contrast to v. 1 it is linked to all families.

Continue reading

The Necessary Condition of Trust

nick-p-2Day 3 of our Lenten Journey with Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam.”

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides. Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans.
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By Rev. Nick Peterson (above right, with spouse NaKisha), a pastor and prophet pursuing a PhD in liturgics and ethics at Emory University in Atlanta

Fixed in the intellectual heritage of American pragmatism is the notion that every problem has a solution. From the earliest stages of our formal education we are presented with problems that can be solved if we take the time to understand them and apply the methods and rules we learned. Modern medicine and technology are all furthered by a desire to solve our problems and in so doing make our lives better. Continue reading

Beyond the Prophesying of Smooth Patriotism

michelleDay 2 of our Lenten Journey with Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people?” they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church—the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate—leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

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From Michelle Alexander (photo above), the author of The New Jim Crow and professor at Union Theological Seminary, posted a week after the 2016 election:

Like millions of people, I am still struggling to wrap my mind around what the election means for our collective future. I won’t try to sort it out here, in a Facebook post.

What I will say is that what happened can’t be explained simply as a failure of the political establishment — though it has failed spectacularly. Nor is it simply a problem of racism or sexism — though both are alive and well and flourishing in this moment. Nor is this election simply a matter of economics, though global capitalism and neoliberalism have created a world in which people of all colors are suffering greatly as factories close, work disappears, wages stagnate, and human beings are treated as disposable — like plastic bottles tossed in a landfill — as political and media elites (not just Trump) spew propaganda that encourages us to view “the others” as the enemy. Continue reading