Like Peter…

Those of you who know me well know that I speak my mind.I’m an external processor, or in other words I need to hear out loud how things sound to know if they make sense or not. And I’m an extrovert. I’m likely to think (hopefully think, though that isn’t always a given) quickly. I’m passionate about my convictions.Often to the consternation of others. And on the other hand, some people seem to really want to hear some of the words I speak.

I’m like Peter in that way like from this story in Matthew 16:

Scene 1:

Peter tells Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus blesses him and tells him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”

A few verses later…

Scene 2:

Jesus tells Peter he will suffer and die at the hands of his own people. Note: Jesus also tells Peter he will rise, but Peter must not hear that because he answers, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”  But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Put these things together, and it means…

Sometimes I’m right on…

                                                                             and other times I put my foot right into my mouth.

Sometimes people like me and want to hang out with me…

                                                                                          and other times I’m not invited to the party.

Sometimes I’m speaking for the good of someone…

                                      and other times it means I’ve talked about someone in an unkind way.

Sometimes I’m on the inside…

                                                                                                            and other times I’m on the outside.

Sometimes people like me and speak well of me…

                                                                                                       and other times they speak about me.

My prayer tonight:

Work in me, God, so that I am able to speak about things revealed to me by you. Have mercy on me, Lord, for those times that I set my mind on human things and not divine things. Praise be to you, God, that you love me just as I am, in all the ways I’m like Peter. Amen

A question for you:

In the midst of these elections and the results and the conversations, or yelling, or silence, with whom do you identify in the Bible? Why? How might Peter better build relationships with others as we pray for God’s kingdom to come? And we?

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Where Do We Go From Here?

I know you’ve all been rattled by this campaign season, the election and the aftermath. I will admit. I haven’t been able to sleep well since the election was decided.

For the last year and more, I have heard from many participants and visitors to Tapestry stories of hardship, stories of discrimination because of skin color or the language someone speaks or another person’s accent. I have participated in marches and prayed for justice in the face of violence, as people have lost their homes. and because some of our people don’t have access to some kinds of life-saving healthcare because of their immigration status. The people of Tapestry talked long ago about their fear of the likelihood of civil war as a result of the campaigns and elections. They were afraid of revolution, not from communities of color, but from white communities.

And I have listened to the people who I have the blessing of walking with, and I have expressed this palpable fear to my colleagues and friends. And today as I write this, I wonder what I am supposed to say. I have received calls, texts, IMs and other messages from friends, colleagues and other brothers and sisters in Christ, people of color, immigrants who are naturalized citizens and those who don’t have legal documents, from LGBTQ friends and from my own family. They have told me they’re scared. They’ve told me they’re heartbroken. They express disbelief as they have been vilified by others who they thought were sisters and brothers in Christ. They’re wondering what to do now.

And some are wondering where God is in all of this.

And I wonder how to comfort God’s beloved sons and daughters. And I do the only things I can do. I continue to do God’s kingdom work with Tapestry. I continue to listen to the sighs and groans of the people. I pray. And I turn to Scripture. Here’s from James, chapter 1:

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

I know people are angry. And I get that. I am angry, too. So many of us will feel this anger. Some of it is even righteous anger. And when it’s time, God will work in our hearts to assuage the anger.

I have no pretty pictures this week. I have no links. I have God’s Word, prayer, and my community.

As Tapestry we know there are so many things that divide us. Now there seems to be a gulf. And we know that people talk about building bridges, and this is really important, though there are a lot of bridges to be rebuilt right now. And our work will continue to be to build and cross the bridges so that we may bring love and the hope found only at the foot of the cross and in the promise of the resurrection to our church community and in our neighborhood.

We will continue to seek the widow, the poor, the orphan, the immigrant. We will continue to invite and welcome them into our community. This is how we live out our call as brothers and sisters in Christ. One day at a time. And we pray we will be blessed in our doing as we humbly and meekly welcome the implanted word.

Paz.

Blessed are the peacemakers

Those who know me well know that I can be quite…shall we say vocal?…in my views about justice. Sometimes I can be called an advocate. Sometimes an agitator. Sometimes even a loudmouth, I suppose. And to be honest, sometimes I’m pretty sure that’s my call.

My dad’s side of the family is Jewish. I grew up Lutheran. I was born in Baltimore where my dad was a youth leader in an all-black Lutheran church. I was the first white baby baptized in that church. As I grew up, my dad had a poster on his wall and I was deeply impacted by these words attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller that are now quoted so often:

                    

I’ve always known that if I had lived in Nazi Germany or one of the occupied countries that my dad would have been taken, and eventually so would I. And so I’ve always spoken out. And there is a time and place for that.

And yet now it seems to me that it’s time to be a peacemaker. I could argue that speaking out for justice as I have been is to be a peacemaker. But for the moment, I have a sense that being a peacemaker will come in some different ways.

Our communities, cities, states, country, are so incredibly divided. I know people who fear for their very lives with certain outcomes to this election. To be honest, I fear for many of my friends and people from our community of faith, too. The overt acts of racism, assaults on Muslims, the talk about closing our borders to refugees, the seeming acceptance of so-called “locker room talk” which I believe condones sexual assault, the talk of armed revolution, well, that’s fear-provoking.

No matter who wins the presidential election here in the US on Tuesday, we will be suffering for some time with the effects of hate, fear and division. So I feel very deeply that now is a time to be peacemakers. Each of us will need to define that for ourselves. I think this is what it will look like for me:

misc-collage

As Tapestry, we talk a lot about not only building bridges but crossing them, too. This is really hard work. We talk every week about all the things that divide us, but we truly believe that we are one in Christ. We build bridges and cross them with our music, food and education. It’s slow work. Trust me. I’m not a patient person, so this is a struggle for me. I think there is a crisis of division. People are oppressed. People are oppressors. I want change to happen and I want it to happen now!

Today at worship we’ll be talking about the phrase: “Your will be done on earth as in heaven/hagase tu voluntad, asi en la tierra como en el cielo…” I will be honest. I pray this prayer often knowing that it’s really my will I want done.

So I pray today that God’s will be done. That somehow God use me, the people of Tapestry and our ministry as instruments of peace in this world that is so divided. May you feel the peace that only comes from God, a peace that passes all understanding, a peace so profound it breaks the chains of bondage. Shalom. Paz. Peace.

 

Just a note: We have moved! We worship now at Oak Grove Lutheran Church, 7045 Lyndale Ave So, Richfield! 5:00 p.m. Sundays. I hope you will join us in our work of crossing bridges!