It’s Time to Take Jesus Off the Pedestal

Lindsay GreyReyBy Tommy Airey, an excerpt from chapter nine of Descending Like a Dove: A Journey of Radical Discipleship (to be released Spring 2018)

Like every good Evangelical, my adolescent faith was about giving all glory to the Lord. I sang praise songs to a “high and lifted up” Jesus and always concluded my prayers “in Jesus’ name” (I signed off my emails “Fool For Christ,” but that’s a story for another time). I was taught to utilize “apologetics” to defend the faith and prove that Jesus was, in fact, Divine. I revered C.S. Lewis whose Mere Christianity made a water-tight case for my beliefs. Lewis left readers three choices for who Jesus really was: a lunatic, a liar or the Lord Himself:

Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.

Lewis claimed that, when it came to the people who actually met Jesus, they responded in three ways: hatred, terror or adoration. There was no middle ground. Continue reading

Caring for the Old Woman of Samhain: A Riff on Matthew 22:34-46

JPerk
By Jim Perkinson, a sermon (10.29.17) for a turning Season 

In the Lectionary gospel for the day, the stakes are high. Jesus has just side-swiped the annual Passover parade, organized an Occupy-takeover of the Temple the next day, held a teach-in naming the site “Thug Central,” “Den of Robbers,” opened the space to the blind, the lame and children, gone underground in Bethany overnight, come back up to the central shrine, which is also the national bank, begun his word-joust-defense of his action—and the clock is ticking.   The contract has been out on his life ever since the early days of his community organizing in Galilee where he led his inner circle in a civil disobedience action, poaching wheat from fields on the Sabbath. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Kingdom Like a Seed

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wild mustard (public domain)

Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 12(17)

Matthew 13:31-32

This week’s Wild Lectionary offers two different but complimentary takes on the seed parables.

The first is a host of resources –devotions, bible studies, children’s curricula, adult education material etc. prepared by A Rocha Canada for churches that are new to engaging with creation care. The free downloadable materials are focused on Good Seed Sunday, celebrated the Sunday after Earth Day, but are also relevant for the Season of Creation and this summer stretch of Year A in the Revised Common Lectionary where we visit the seed parables in Matthew.

The second offering is excerpts from an essay by Jim Perkinson: Continue reading

Sermon: The Wheat and the Weeds: A Riddle of Love?

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Photo by Jessica Rose

By Jim Perkinson, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit, July 23, 2017

Such a rich lectionary offering this morning, I am hard put to choose among the Hebrew scripture, the Greek epistle, and the Aramean gospel.  I could easily focus on Jacob’s experience with a dreaming-stone, propping up his tired head on his way upstream from Isaac’s abode in Canaan, charged with not taking a wife from among the indigenous Canaanites, but going north and east to Aramean kin, from whence his ancestor Abraham had fled originally (Gen 28:10-19a).  The stone, likely a meteorite, births vision—Jacob seeing a ladder like a cosmic tree, granting movement between this world and the Spirit-World for angelic folk, the Powers in their proper role, and hears, speaking from the rock, the same great I AM that Moses will hear much further down the road speaking from a bush.  Continue reading

Place-Based Resurrection

PerkBy Dr. James Perkinson (right), a sermon on Luke 24:13-35

I want to begin with a word of prayer before we jump into the gospel for today, but to facilitate that, first—a story about prayer and some necessary preliminaries. I have a half-Filipino poet friend in Detroit who tells of his first experiences of the Lord’s prayer, while growing up. Whenever he heard “Our Father who art in Heaven,” his five-year-old vernacular ears could not compute “art” as anything other than what happened when you put paint on paper, so his five year-old mind supplied a little slurred “n” in there, and what he actually thought he heard was “Our Father, who aren’t in heaven.” And it rattled him; he couldn’t figure it out; he says he kept thinking, “Well, where is he then?” If not there, then where? But he gradually came to hear it as a positive affirmation: a God who “aren’t” in heaven, because that God’s “place” is really right here, with us. A deep intuition, I would say, for all—what I would call place-based confession. Continue reading

A Revolutionary Spirit

JPerkDay 29 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.

It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

“Beyond Vietnam; Before Apocalypse” by Dr. James Parkinson (photo above), Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit, MI)

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech marked a moment of decision for King and the movement he led. Speaking out to link the dropping of bombs on brown skin in Asian rice paddies with the refusal to enact policy addressing the real needs of black people in inner city America laid bare the depths of US violence. It was not enough to address civil rights alone; profound concern for the civil sphere enjoined profound concern for the military, the economy and society at large. King went to the bone with his knife, cut open putrid flesh long festering, joined the right to sit at lunch counters with whites to the question of the right to eat at all. Like Malcolm and so many others before him, once insisting the ugly triplets (militarism, materialism, and “melanism”) were in fact features of each other, King did not have long to live. And the movements he anchored or provoked—Civil Rights and Black Power alike—faced draconian repression and damnable cooptation. Fast forward. Continue reading

Trumpeting More Whiteness

j-perkBy Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, MI

So I am reading the left alt-press for insight on what just happened with the election of Donald Trump, and find myself yet one more time provoked at our white blindness. No less than Glenn Greenwald—whose typically razor-sharp analysis I have relied on so often in the past—quotes Nate Cohn to the effect that “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters. It’s not a simple racism story.” And offers further: “Matt Yglesias acknowledged that Obama’s high approval rating is inconsistent with depictions of the U.S. as a country ‘besotted with racism.’” How little we have learned for all of our supposed “learning.” Continue reading