Lifting the Lowly

Luke’s birth narratives are much more theological interpretations of the meaning of Jesus’ birth, the Incarnation of God, than any transcription of history after the manner of a court stenographer. Rather than giving us “just the facts,” Luke puts words into the mouths of Elizabeth and Mary to let us in on the wonder unfolding in the story he has begun to tell. Along the way, he liberally quotes from Hebrew prophets about Yahweh's Messiah coming to set justice and equity in motion, establishing the long-forgotten basis of national economic security in which those at the bottom receive a full measure of the bounty from Yahweh's land. All too often, however, we get so ensnared by recreating the events of that birth that we miss the message it should convey. There are lots of things we should set right in our retellings of Jesus’ birth, simply from traditions of misreading Luke’s account. There was no angry innkeeper pushing Mary and Joseph out into the cold. The manger

Multiplying Christ's Presence

We were ready for 350 people at our community Thanksgiving drive-by meal. We didn’t plan for quite enough. One car beat Ervin to the church, even though we had posted we would start handing out food at noon. I don’t know what time Ervin got here, but he was putting turkeys in the oven as early as 4:15 last month. You don’t simply beat Ervin to church on a day like our Thanksgiving meal. I had told Ervin we would have people showing up early, but neither of us expected anyone to be waiting when he arrived. We had planned to go ahead and deliver plates as we had them ready, so as to keep down the number of cars in line. By noon, when we were supposed to start, we had sent 150 plates out the door. I made a few trips to Food Lion, as did Karen and at least a couple of others. We ran through our 550 clamshell take-out plates and Buckey managed to requisition us some more. Those 10 turkeys Ervin had cooked, cut, and heated up to serve were gone by 1:00 pm. Three extra hams and so

Antiracism Resources

I turned on my computer this morning to a message from Microsoft to the effect of, “If you are seeking to educate yourself on issues of race in the US, we have put together a list of resources.” Normally, they are trying to encourage me to check out their search engine concerning some geographic location, geological formation, or culturally significant image. I normally ignore the suggestion, but today I was intrigued. I was intrigued mainly because here was a major US corporation prompting discussion on a social issue which is very important to many people, an issue we really cannot afford to ignore as a nation that is very divided. Clicking on today’s option sent me to images of the covers of the following 23 books: How to Be and Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi; Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates; So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeomo Oluo; Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by

More Than Standing in Line

I plan to turn in my ballot today. I would be willing to wait in line for 12 hours to do so, just like so many in other states have been forced to do as a result of voter suppression efforts. There is a lot riding on this election, and I see it as a right and a responsibility to add my voice to that of so many. I will fill out my requested ballot in the comfort of my home and then do whatever is necessary to take it in to be counted. If that means standing in a line for half a day wearing a mask, so be it. I am energized to vote, and so will I do. On the other hand, I find that the candidates on the ballot to be a major indictment of our current political system. There is too much riding on this election to throw away my vote to a third-party candidate. The question I keep returning to, however, is, "Out of a population of 331 million people, how are these the best candidates our political parties have been willing to put forward?" The second question is, "Why a

No Pleasure in Death - Ezekiel 33:7-11

We like to talk about others being violent. We discuss urban violence as an issue of another’s sin. We discuss the seemingly endless conflict in the Middle East as a moral blight based on the otherness of the actors in that far away place. We discuss corruption and oppression in other nations and cultures as though our own hands and history bear none of the stains. When Jesus talked about seeing the speck in the eye of another while there is a log in one’s own eye, he reminds us that we often rush to make ourselves feel better by tearing another down. That is an act of violence that dissociates us from those we cast as “other.” Meanwhile, we are called to love one another without distinction. Why, then, do we seek to tear others down, taking pleasure in the suffering of others? Such is not of God. I repeatedly hear claims that God is presented in the Hebrew Scriptures as wrathful and vengeful. As I read those Scriptures, however, I find something very different. Sure, they tel

Election Angst

11/03/2020 is coming, and a lot of people are going to be disappointed. It matters not which side of the aisle they are on or which side "wins," more than half of the nation will be disappointed. As important as this election may be, it is not going to resolve the major issues that have divided the nation over the last decades and increasing in vehemence of late. We have forgotten how to talk respectfully to one another. We have forgotten how to belong to one another beyond our political differences. We have forgotten that there are things which are more important than who wields power. Elections do not change racial demographics. Elections do not resolve economic and social crises. Elections do not fix racial disparities and so many other issues that produce our social and national angst. Our economic system has produced too many losers and too few winners. Our healthcare system has produced too many bankruptcies and leaves too

Moral Governance

Politics has never been a game of morality, goodness, honesty, and the wholesale promotion of the general welfare. It has ever been about power, privilege, and special interests. Pretending otherwise is foolishness. There is a reason Jesus eschewed political power for himself and his disciples. There is a reason the Hebrew Scriptures did not envision a monarchy as God's design for the national welfare. There is a reason Jesus never left a political structure in place for God's Reign on earth. Power corrupts, for human beings are corruptible. When we place people in power who desire power, corruption tends to be exacerbated. The greater the power, the greater the pull towards corruption, and the further we get from the promotion of the general welfare, especially for those on society's margins. The Hebrew prophets called those in power to account for how the poor, widows, orphans, immigrants, sick, and injured fared under their reign. The gospel is never abo