Monday, January 19, 2009

no words from me necessary

Letter to a Birmingham Jail

Here is the end of my sermon yesterday:

Martin Luther King Jr once wrote from jail a scathing letter to his fellow pastors, whose behavior was not being regulated by their love for God but rather by their fear of going against society. In his letter, he says this:

There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than [people]. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.

... If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

These words were written almost 50 years ago, but they still have resonance today. Whether its the battle against racism, poverty, or greed, whether its speaking out about how God wants us to use our minds, our money or our bodies, we as Christians and as the church, are made to obey God and not people, to speak with power and conviction about who we are, who we belong to, and what we are made for. Are we silently sanctioning the abuse of the freedom we are granted in Christ? Are we a weak, ineffectual voice, a social club, intimidated, not wanting to ruffle feathers or make waves or be different? Instead, let us be God- intoxicated, proclaiming with strong voices that we are God's people, saved and redeemed and freed by Christ's work on the cross, living a different and more abundant kind of life out of that freedom, for the good of our neighbor and for the glory of God.

Monday, January 05, 2009


...finished reading: A Mercy, by Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison is not Danielle Steel -- fans have to wait a long time in between books, but each book is so carefully woven, it's worth it. A Mercy is no exception. Short, but tight, well researched, well told; the story of a slave girl and the strange little community she lives in, a household made up of orphans and slaves, mail order brides and indentured servants, each getting a chance to tell their piece of the story, ending in a way both resolved and unresolved. I really enjoyed the different perspectives, each time a new person told their story the reader understood a little bit more about it -- teaching us that to hear any whole story we have to try and look through many different sets of eyes.

reading: Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren winner. A Christmas gift to myself. She talks about how Jews do their faith better than Christians, how in their practices they increase their faith. A solid thesis, I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.

panning: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I get it. Broad, sweeping epic. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, both looking lovely. A fascinating premise. Beautiful cinematographic. Golden Globe nominated. But ultimately? empty. I loved the idea of the movie, especially as I get older and I watch my parents get older. what would it be like to take all the knowledge that comes with age and put it into a young body, able to really understand and appreciate all the experiences able-bodiedness affords? After reflecting on that concept, I am angry at the filmmakers and Brad Pitt that more wasn't done. In the end, I didn't care about Benjamin Button or Daisy, his love. I didn't know him, I didn't know who he was, I didn't know why his experiences were so powerful for him. I felt more connection with his surrogate mother, who was onscreen for about 20 minutes of the totally unnecessary three hours of this movie, than I did with the characters who were in almost every scene.

resolving: Just three: 1. Send real letters. 2. Read more. 3. Create more.

cooking: Butternut squash soup -- a MAY zing, probably because it was made with cream cheese (although it did not look as good as the soup pictured). Also chicken pot pie, slightly less successful, but once you took the burnt parts off, serviceable. I decided to try and cook with the seasons, then on researching found out that Massachusetts has NO seasonal food between November and May. So, so much for that goal. At least until April.