Bread and Blessings

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By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, reflection on the Beautitudes at Day House in February.

I’ve taken to making bread lately. I have a bread machine that makes great bread, but I found myself craving the act of kneading bread.

It feels like everyone around me these days are going through really painful times in their lives. While I am trying to walk beside them with love for them, I find that internally I am carrying a lot of the grief and anger inside of me—and I have turned to breadmaking. Continue reading “Bread and Blessings”

TRACKED BUT NOT SEEN: THE FIGHT AGAINST RACIST SURVEILLANCE

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Photo credit: Craine’sDetroit

In Detroit, the constant flash of green lights says: You are being watched.

BY BILL WYLIE-KELLERMANN

Reposted from Sojourners, MARCH 2020

WE GATHERED THIS fall on the steps of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Summoned by the Detroit chapter of Black Youth Project 100, we were preparing to march a mile-long stretch of gentrified Michigan Avenue, which intersects there. I had served the church for 11 years as pastor, and in the last dozen or so this Catholic Worker neighborhood had been invaded by $400,000 condos, plus destination bars and restaurants. Among others, guests at our Manna Meal soup kitchen and Kelly’s Mission, largely black, are stigmatized and made unwelcome. Continue reading “TRACKED BUT NOT SEEN: THE FIGHT AGAINST RACIST SURVEILLANCE”

Prepping for Ash Wednesday A supplication

ash-wednesday-4823377_960_720By Ken Sehested, borrowing from St. Augustine and Isaiah 55:12

Return to your heart, O you transgressors,
and hold fast to the One who made you.
Stand with the Beloved and your footing
shall be firm. Rest in the Merciful One
and you shalt be buoyed.

Where do you go along these rugged
paths, pilgrim, so far from home yet so
winsomely loved? Be clear about what
you seek, and where you seek, for the
beatific life cannot be found in the land
of illusion. Continue reading “Prepping for Ash Wednesday A supplication”

They Cannot Take the Sky

By Joyce Hollyday

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Many years ago, when South Africa was in the stranglehold grip of the system of racial hatred and separation known as apartheid, I visited that country to learn about and report on the freedom struggle there. On one of my last evenings, a young man named Jabulani was showing me around the black township of Khayelitsha outside Cape Town, just as the sun was beginning to set. Domestics and laborers, weary from a long day’s work in the city, were making their way home in the last glimmers of daylight. A stream of women, water jugs balanced on their heads, some with swaddled babies on their backs, moved slowly out from the central spigot of the township’s rutted roads in the encroaching cool of the evening. Paraffin lamps came to life, one by one, up and down the rows of small and fragile homes constructed of plywood, cardboard, and corrugated metal. Continue reading “They Cannot Take the Sky”

Howard Thurman: A Contemplative Guide for Our Times

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Howard Thurman is one of the most important religious figures of the 20th century who had an enormous impact in both spirituality and social activism.  A grandson of slaves, he was a spiritual guide and visionary for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many of the leaders of the civil rights movement. A visit with Gandhi in India led to the conviction that nonviolence as a way of life could be a vital tool in the struggle for justice in the United States. A gifted preacher and prolific writer, his landmark book, Jesus and the Disinherited, was a ground-breaking exploration of the gospel as speaking directly to the oppression of Black Americans. But more than anything else, Thurman was a contemplative and mystic.

Sadly, Thurman’s powerful theological, spiritual, and social contributions have been greatly marginalized. He is only superficially known in much of the progressive White Christian world (a symptom of racism, one must assume). But he may be a spiritual guide for us precisely in these times, when many of us recognize that our struggle for justice, shalom – even for mere sanity – requires deeper spiritual mooring.

Thurman’s early critique of the commandeering of Christianity rings painfully true today: “It cannot be denied that too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful and against the weak and oppressed-this, despite the gospel.” He called us to grasp the reality of Jesus of Nazareth, who stood with “the disinherited.” He also called us to a contemplative spirit, in which we both come to know ourselves in our fullness and our vocation in the world: “The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and women often calls them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate a spirit which is yet in the making. In a moment of dedication they are given wisdom and courage to dare a deed that challenges and to kindle a hope that inspires.”

 The Alternative Seminary and Mystic Soul Philadelphia are hosting a special event to explore the life and work of Howard Thurman and to tap this wisdom and courage. “Howard Thurman: A Contemplative Guide for Our Times” will take place on Saturday, February 22, 9:30  – 11:30 am, at Project HOME, 1515 Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia. We will view the one-hour film Backs Against The Wall: The Howard Thurman Story that documents Thurman’s life and legacy, and we will explore together his vision of contemplative spirituality as the foundation for engagement in movements for social change. A light breakfast will be served. A donation of $10 (or whatever you can afford) is requested to cover costs. To register or for more information, contact Will O’Brien at 215-842-1790 or willobrien59@gmail.com.

 Mystic Soul Philly is a community of individuals committed to creating local spaces that center the voices and experiences of queer people of color at the intersections of faith, mysticism, activism and healing.

The Alternative Seminary is a program of biblical and theological study and reflection designed to foster an authentic biblical witness in the modern world.  For more information, see www.alternativeseminary.net.

Sermon- By this Authority.

14045939_10208859512578630_2180424516011809531_nBy Bill Wylie-Kellermann, January 25, 2020
This was the closing sermon to the United Methodist Global Water Summit at Cass United Methodist Church in Detroit. His opening sermon was posted on February 12.

Romans 6:1-18

In the summer of 2013 as the Water shut-offs spiked under Emergency Management, St Peter’s Episcopal became the first water distribution station of We the People of Detroit. The first contribution was a truckload borne across the Ambassador Bridge by the Council of Canadians. It didn’t have all the necessary paperwork, so the Border Feds had to decide whether to halt it and cause an international press incident or just allow I through irregularly. The latter wisdom prevailed. We received it at St Peter’s with a small ceremony, carried  it in brigade-style and stored it along the outside isles of the sanctuary. But mostly we grouped the bulk of it around the baptismal font which is the first thing you see as you enter. At one point we had 1500 gallons of water there. We hung a banner behind the font which said St. Peter’s Water Station, making the very same connection as this summit. Continue reading “Sermon- By this Authority.”

Sermon “By Water and the Spirit: A Global Water Summit”

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Bill Wylie-Kellermann at his granddaughter’s baptism. Photo credit: Tony Eggert

By Bill Wylie-Kellermann, January 24, 2020

Isaiah 55:1-3

In the name of the One who breathed across the face of the waters in creation; the One who is Lord and Servant of all; and the Spirit militant that summons, fills, and holds us together as one, let all of this be.

I am a former pastor of this congregation, so I’ve preached many times from this pulpit; I was married in this sanctuary, my daughter was baptized here, and still I confess to feeling the burden of bringing a Word to this important summit. I’ve been asked to “lay a theological foundation” for these conversations. In that, I’m mindful that the charism we need in this moment is less one of speaking than of listening – especially to our guests from the African continent. Continue reading “Sermon “By Water and the Spirit: A Global Water Summit””

The Gospel of Paranoia

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Photo by Marco Verch

By Jordan Leahy

On January 20th – the 34th observance and celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – approximately 22,000 people (mostly white men) rallied in Richmond, Virginia, to protest proposed legislation to address and decrease gun violence in the Commonwealth. Their numbers, and the accompanying threat of violence, was so great that many other annually held rallies were cancelled.

Content Warning: sexual assault imagery

The Gospel of Paranoia
Convenes them.
Foreboding presence
“Come and take it.”
They cling to
White supremacy
Disinformation
Their own exploitation.
All more indicative
Of what
Their respective childhoods lacked
Than of ideological coherence
Or historical literacy. Continue reading “The Gospel of Paranoia”

Sermon: Saying Yes

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Fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Image from the Library of Congress.

By Kateri Boucher, Homily at Day House Catholic Worker 1/26

Matthew 4: 18-22

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

When taken at face value, this reading doesn’t seem to have much bearing on my life. I haven’t gone fishing in years. I’ve never been approached by a random man asking me to follow him and “catch other people.” And I’ve certainly never made a split-second decision to leave my daily life and family behind.

Continue reading “Sermon: Saying Yes”

What the Waters Know: Re-Reading John 1:29-42

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Photo by Erinn Fahey

By James W. Perkinson

He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure (Ps 40:2).

I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. (Jh 1:31)

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (Jh 1:36).

So we sit today in bit of snow here in Motown, while our news feeds show weekly pile-ups of cold precipitation elsewhere across the land—and pile-ups, as well, of twisted metal in our stupid infatuation with cars and speed—as the Great Stream of Jetting Air bends south and brutal, from the Arctic Circle to Arizona, in announcement that Change, with a capital “C’ is not future, but here.  And we wonder about the upheaval of an entire planet.  Australia become a living kiln, cooking up a billion-fold of living flesh, involuntary offerings to our wanton refusal to heed!  In Puerto Rico they sleep outside, as the fracked Earth, heaving from a thousand cuts, here, there, in Oklahoma now grinding Her teeth in warning hundreds of times per year where She used to rest soft and fecund and quiet, but in our little cousin island to the south, slipping and sliding the soil into great fear and one more sheer nightmare.  Last time—it was the sea and sky as Maria roared through.  Now it is rock and sand, all serving notice they do not plan on being raped and plundered, forever.  But it is the poor who are first forced to hear and bear the pain.  The rest of us sleep-walk in daylight and pull the covers of night over our oblivious heads.  But our time is coming as well, I am afraid.  And we are far more culpable. Continue reading “What the Waters Know: Re-Reading John 1:29-42”