How did you react when you first starting hearing the songs this year? Honestly? Was it with joy for the coming season? Or were you upset that the songs had started so soon? Does this season bring warm fuzzy feelings or does it cause tension because of long lists of items to buy and things to do?
Our denomination continues to be made up of local churches that don’t always see eye-to-eye. It’s always heartening to be an event like General Synod and to be around so many folks who are “just like me.” But it often also highlights the differences.
On that night though, something changed. Those who were not arrested were released outside. Instead of leaving the area, they watched as police began loading alcohol and people into patrol wagons. As police attempted for ten minutes to detain one woman in handcuffs (many stories identify her as Storme DeLarverie – a lesbian entertainer and bouncer, born to an African American mother and a white father) – as she escaped four times from the police and been hit on the head with a baton, she look out at the bystanders and shouted “why don’t you guys do something?”
Fear is part of the human story. Their story is our story. We’re afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of who we don’t know, afraid that there’s not enough for us or that someone else will get there first. We’re afraid that we’re alone, afraid to speak out and stand up. Afraid of what comes next.
But God’s part in this story tells us differently. Ever since the beginning, God’s word says “don’t be afraid.”
I’d like to suggest that it is the questions of faith that keep us going. I’m not implying that answers aren’t important, but there wouldn’t be any answers if we didn’t have any questions; and by the time we form a question, we have already begun to live into the answer.
“One piece of teaching that’s sometimes given to preachers – at least progressive preachers – is that we are called to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That certainly seems to be what Jesus is doing here. If you’re poor or hungry or sad or excluded, don’t worry – everything will be fine someday. But if everything seems to be going well for you today, watch out, bad times are coming.”
“It’s not about doing it perfectly. It’s not about singing with a fancy voice or preaching with fancy words or helping others solve all of their problems. It’s about being present; fully present to each other as Christ is present to us.”
“… when the researcher picked up an object such as a peanut to hand it to the monkey, some of the monkey’s motor neurons would fire. … these were the same neurons that would also fire when the monkey itself grasped the peanut. They eventually dubbed these neurons ‘mirror neurons.’ “
‘twas the Sunday after Christmas- the pews were all bare even though there was worship, almost no one was there. The pastor was wrapped in his stole and his robe and when asked “Isn’t Christmas over?” he simply quipped, “no.”
On December 24 1914, 19 year old Charles Brewer found himself in the last place anyone would want to be: knee-deep in the mud on a battlefield in Northern France. Five months into Great Britain’s entry into what is now known as World War I, the British Lieutenant sat in the seemingly endless rain, across a field from German soldiers. The war, likewise, seemed endless.