Hell hath no fury like a social justice oriented biblical snob. Maybe we’re a little touchy about some of this stuff.
“… most of you [are] good New Englanders… but I – a transplant from New York City – must confess to committing a sin almost on par to being a Yankees fan (which I’m not)….”
Jesus as ruler and leader usurps the position of emperors and governors and religious leaders who would seek that authority for themselves. Throughout his ministry, Jesus has echoed the cries of the prophets illuminating the ways that power corrupts people. He’s tried and tried again to show that those in authority must be governed by justice, that they must take care of all of the people in their charge with a focus on those on the edges of society and those with less privilege – widows and orphans and workers and immigrants.
Jesus as king turns the system on its head and takes away the control that others have tried to hoard for themselves.
We often look to scripture to help guide us on our life’s journey. We read the ancient stories hoping to find the way to face our world today; seeking solutions to age-old problems. Praying that the answers will be clear
“Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God.
Wherever you die, I will also die and be buried there near you.
May the Eternal One punish me—and even more so— if anything besides death comes between us.”
What if we were able to pledge the same kind of love and loyalty to God, to each other?
This is where the theology of Jesus and the philosophy of John Lennon and Paul McCartney come crashing together: Love is all you need. Do you know that song?
All you need is love [do do-do-do-doooo] All you need is love [do do-do-do-doooo]…
I think Jesus could groove to that. But I’m not sure he would agree with those verses that each end the same way, like: “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.It’s … [easy…].” Is it? Easy?
We’ve got to believe stories about attacks and abuse. We’ve got to listen to the voices of women of color and transgender women and women who have been marginalized and minoritized, to hear their stories of being cast out and oppressed. But it’s not only about the abuse it’s not only about that “testimonial porn.” We’ve got to listen to the voices of hope and strength and courage and change. We’ve got to listen to the ways that God speaks through the rainbow of voices that bless our world.
“The first fear I had when taking on this scripture was ‘How can I possibly teach you all to live a God fearing life when I have so much work to do myself?’ But the more I studied it, the more excited I became.”
Stephanie Dozois, Minister of Youth and Families
Our words can be used to spread love in the face of fear. We can use our mouths to talk about suicide and depression and mental illness. We can use our tongues to speak out against racism and xenophobia. We can talk about others who believe differently than us, look and love and live differently than us and dismantle systems of misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. We can use tongue and words and breath to find unity in the face of division; commonality in the face of conflict; and acceptance instead of resentment for our differences.
When the “gods of the nations” are trying to rule us through fear, we will sing songs that remind us about what love is bringing.
When we feel increasingly isolated and alone, we can gather in God’s sanctuary of power and beauty, and find support and comfort from our church community.
As the world tries to label us and divide us, we can gather here, and find commonality in our differences and blessings in our diversity as we learn to see Christ in others who are different from us.
Can I get an Amen?