Well said!

Welcome to my version of that blog post staple, the weekly recap/links roundup/info dump. My intent is to highlight stuff I came across this week (or, you know, at least fairly recently) that I found well-written or inspiring or bizarre or…well, or perhaps stuff so good I wish I’d written it myself. I suspect blogging deity, Fred Clark (aka Slacktivist) will feature prominently here.

Enough preamble! On with the Well said! list!

1. I’m just going to go ahead and admit this: I’d never heard of the country of Bahrain until maybe two weeks ago. Call me a stereotypically ignorant USAmerican, I guess. But I know now. Pretty sure I could even find it on a map.

The last few weeks I couldn’t hardly pull myself away from the coverage of the protests in Egypt. I was especially moved by their non-violent nature. Is there anything more inspiring than sucessful non-violent protest and revolution?

But it wasn’t all violence-free, was it? The absolutely horrible and horrifying story of the physical and sexual assault of CBS News correspondent Lara Logan serves as probably the highest profile example of said violence.

Some of the reactions to Logan’s assaults have been almost as violent and nearly as horrifying. Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. gets it right denouncing those reactions. I especially like how Pitts refers to those attacking Logan now as “something named…”

The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s a taste:

But what is also appalling — arguably, more appalling — is the reflexive objectification of a woman who has been violently violated. To read these comments and the many more like them circulating the web, it is easy to forget that we are talking about a real attack upon a real woman who must now grapple with real consequences. It’s as if some feel Logan’s tragedy exists only as a vehicle for them to score political points.

2. Speaking of Egypt, this is a few weeks old now, but I still think it’s amazing. She was right. They didn’t leave until Mubarak was gone. That’s some serious strength. Via Sojourners

 

3. I could just repost pretty much everything from slacktivist. Seriously. If you aren’t already, you need to read Mr. Clark. Go! Do it now! He is a genius. Here’s a taste of Evangelicals and the politics of spite:

The headline is depressingly unsurprising: “Polling Evangelicals: Cut Aid to World’s Poor, Unemployed.”

The combination of stupidity, selfishness and resentment for resentment’s sake here is an unholy abomination that makes me want to scream and throw things. And I would, if I thought screaming and throwing things would help get through to these folks, but at this point I have no idea what would get through to them. Neither facts nor faith seem to matter to them at all.

4. CJ Adams on The North Star, The Polaris Project Blog

If there is once piece of advice I could give to men who are interested in contributing their skills to the important fight against human trafficking it would be this: talk less, listen more.  (Says the guy writing a blog!)

Adams wrote a two part post How can men oppose sex trafficking? It’s easy: respect women. The above quote is from part 1. In part 2, he really calls male activists and men in general – calls me – to task.

When men start thinking that they are called to bust down the doors of brothels and rush in to save the day, they are often committing the same fundamental crime against women that human traffickers have already committed—the only difference is that instead of treating a women as if she is a thing to be sold, they are treating her as a thing to be saved.

Our goal should be to demonstrate the type of equality that will make the notion of a trade in women un-imaginable to our children.

If my male peers and I learn to respect women as we work together to end this problem, we will create a world where our daughters and sons will not be able to fathom the type of gender inequality that contributes to sex trafficking today.

Now that’s well said!

“That’s some salty language!” – final version of Feb.6 sermon

Not exactly sure why, but unlike many of my more disciplined colleagues, I’ve never been one to post a written version of a sermon. Probably has mostly to do with not preaching from a manuscript. Posting a few notes with a few more-fully written paragraphs and a few other thoughts that end up not being said…well, just doesn’t sound very appealing.

But it also has to do with seeing the sermon as more of a singular, oral event that occurs in a particular context for a particular audience and not as a paper to be submitted. It just seems like something is missing when reading a sermon – it’s meant to be heard!

(Please don’t misunderstand this as criticism of any of who do write out and post a sermon. I’ve read some that were really good.)

Now, as you’ve likely guessed, I’m about to do the very thing I just said I don’t like to do. Sort of. Think of this as the SportsCenter highlights version of my “That’s Some Salty Language!” sermon. I shared some thoughts on this recently. What follows now are my reflections after the fact.

Following the lectionary, the texts were Isaiah 58:1-12 and Matthew 5:13-20.

My synopsis: Jesus calls his followers to be salt and light in the world – to live righteous lives. Isaiah helps us define that righteousness as rescuing the oppressed.

While I didn’t say this exactly, these commentaries on those texts guided my message:

Isaiah 58 mocks worship preoccupied with ritual and blind to human oppression and need. It subverts a religion, no matter how passionate and busy, that ignores social arrangements that leave people dehumanized and enslaved. Authentic worship occurs when liturgy is joined to a hands-on involvement with the hungry and homeless.

Salt and light are functional metaphors. By their very nature they do something, and do it openly. They have an impact on the surrounding environment. Disciples of Jesus cannot retreat into private spirituality. Our call is to the marketplace, the public arena, where discipleship becomes witness and the same commitments Isaiah made are to be practiced.

What are those functions? Salt preserves and protects. Salt brings out the best in food. And, as all of us here in the Chicago area rediscovered this week, salt melts away that which paralysis us, that which causes us to stumble, that which oppresses us. Light eradicates darkness and helps us to see things as they really are, helps us see the truth.

What if we saw church as training ground for teaching people to be salt shakers and flashlights – what if the purpose of church is to transform the world?

That’s what the UMC says it’s for! “Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”

Isaiah and Jesus tell us today what we are to be transformed into.

What if what we do here at WUMC is train people how to be salt and light, encourage each other in those efforts, recruit new agents of change, celebrate successes, commiserate failures, seeing worship as filling us up with the Holy Spirit in order to leave our building ready, bursting even!, to change the world…to be salt and light.

That’s what Isaiah & Jesus are talking about.

So who among us beams with light? Who is providing salty flavor? Who is fasting rightly, bringing deliverance, hope and life to those around them? Who is preserving/protecting? Who is melting away that which oppresses? Who is eradicating darkness?

-Final Bloody Sunday march in Northern Ireland? British government finally admitted its troops were to blame for the massacre, not the demonstrators. Further, British government admitted the troops had no reason to believe they were under threat from the victims, gave no warnings before firing and lied to the official inquiry. This reversed decades of official government explanations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Family of our congregation who takes in young people with no where else to go, young people often rejected by their own parents.

Egyptian protester kissing riot police This is the greatest example of Jesus’ teachings on the Sermon on the Mount I’ve ever seen! Brilliant, non-violent, disarming but still affirms and loves the other, the enemy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Rosa Parks: She would have been 98 years old Friday. We don’t hear that Parks worked with the Youth Council of Montgomery’s NAACP in a “mighty but unsuccessful” effort to integrate Montgomery’s library when she became angry that black children didn’t have access to books.

“As long as people use tactics to oppress or restrict other people from being free, there is work to be done.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Christians encircling Muslims at prayer in Egypt this week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-In January, on Coptic Christmas, Egyptian Muslims became human shields for Coptic Christians to ward off further violent attacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-fighting trafficking – slavery – at the Super Bowl. National Hotline gets more calls from Texas than any other state. 1 out of 3 children who become homeless are sold into sex slavery w/in 48 hours of hitting the street. Super Bowl called “single largest human trafficking incident in USA, especially under-age slaves” Consider that when you see how many commercials this evening denigrate women. A South Florida task force estimated that tens of thousands were trafficked through there for a recent Super Bowl.

About 50 girls were rescued during the past 2 Super Bowls

“I’m not buying it” Campaign. Jay Ratlif, 3-time Pro Bowler from Cowboys made PSA for it. “Real men don’t buy children. They don’t buy sex.”

Airlines holding training to learn what to watch for.

Texas Attorney General working on it. NFL and Host Committee are ignoring it.

The group behind Traffick911, the founder of “I’m Not Buying it” campaign? A nondenominational church plant in Fort Worth. They wanted to raise awareness and show Christian compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Friday and yesterday, one of our college students, Catie, participated for the third time in the U of Iowa’s annual Dance Marathon. She helped raise over $1.2 Million for U of Iowa Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology Unit

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Another of our college students, Nikki, working with Invisible Children campus group to help child soldiers in Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-19 year old Zach Wahls speaking before Iowa Senate, shining light on a resolution that would return Iowa to the days of discrimination and oppression

People full of light, speaking a very salty language. May God’s Holy Spirit keep moving each of to be citizens in God’s kingdom, to be light bearers, to speak with THAT kind of a salty tongue. Amen? May it be so!

That’s Some Salty Language!

That’s the title.

And that’s about as far as I’ve gotten on my sermon for Sunday. Well, ok, that’s not entirely true.

I’ve read the texts for this week: Isaiah 58:1-12 and Matthew 5:13-20. Isaiah and Jesus offer startling definitions of righteousness – of how God wants people to live. And I’ve read some commentary on those texts and I have some thoughts about them:

What does life in the kingdom of God look like?

What is a truly good (or righteous) life?

What might such a life look like in our globalized, and often polarized, world?

But mostly I just keep coming back to this incredible picture from Egypt taken last week:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the best expression of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teachings I’ve ever seen.

What do you think?

 

We’ll ponder that some more, explore questions, sing, pray and share Holy Communion at Woodridge United Methodist Church this Sunday at 9:00 & 10:30am. All are welcome! We’d love to have you join us.