Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Friday, January 10, 2014

Repent? Really? Yes, really!

Beauty before me
Beauty behind me
With beauty all around me
I walk
                                Navaho Chant

Some days one feels immersed in the ugliness

I have lately been assailed by the comments made about the poor and struggling
by self-satisfied commentators on TV
and by many politicians, many of whom are not only wealthy
but were born to wealth

Words like “takers”, “moochers”, “lazy”
“slothful”, echo through the air

people who have been beaten down by life
assailed by generational poverty, our economic system,
an inability to find jobs (they ARE trying),
medical expenses (tell me again why we don’t want to transform healthcare)
addiction, mental health issues and more

instead of being seen with compassion, and helped
are seen with the eyes of judgment and condemned

I can think of no greater indictment of a society, then when the power structure of a society,
and this includes its media and its politicians,
wage a systematic campaign to oppress the oppressed,
while at the same time furthering their own grasp
on power and wealth

And I can think of no greater indictment of those institutions
called churches
those communities who claim to gather in the name of Christ
than their collusion with these forces of oppression

the silence of the American “Church” is deafening
the erosion of the American Church, as it no only fails to speak
but becomes ensnared in the culture
of power and wealth
is saddening

while it is clear some Christians see
and some Christians (and churches) act
to feed the hungry, clothe the poor
and seek justice
the church as a whole has at the best become silent
as the worst, become part of the culture of judgment and oppression

As American Christians we need to regain our grounding in the Gospel of Jesus Christ
We need to remember what his ministry was all about
We need to be the eyes of Christ, seeing people with compassion
We need to be the hands of Christ, feeding clothing, healing
We need to be the voice of Christ, challenging those whose would hate and oppress
Those who would manipulate, use, and abuse positions of power and privilege

the time has come for the church to be the body of Christ
the time has come for us as followers of “the way”
to be a transforming presence in our nation
to be those who water the seeds of hope, and compassion
understanding and caring
not the seeds of division, judgment, and discord

this coming Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus

In that baptism Jesus identified with a humanity that has lost its way
But much more happened

In that baptism God affirmed his pleasure in Jesus, and not only Jesus
but also, I believe, in all his creation, and all his creatures
including us

and the Sacred One
sent the Spirit (wow, the mystery of the trinity in one story),
planted in his people the capacity for healing transforming and loving

if we would be the church, we must understand as, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests,
that “the teachings of Jesus must be practiced as they were lived by Jesus”

we must reach out and touch the poor
not succumb to our tendency to prefer the rich

we must reach out and be with and for the oppressed
not collude and collaborate with the powerful

we must insist on social and economic justice
and not align with politicians who cut food stamps
attack unemployment benefits
and believe that the way to stability, power and wealth
 is on a path paved by the bodies of the vulnerable

this seems like an impossible and unlikely transformation
and yet

at the River Jordan
John Baptized the people with a baptism of repentance

And the heavens opened
the world was seeded with the Holy Spirit
and a ministry of love, reconciliation, caring, and healing was begun
and the poor, and ill, and oppressed
were given healing, and love, and hope

Oh God
Here we are
We are far too like that brood of manipulative “religious folk”
John called a brood of vipers

but You are mighty
dip us into the river of repentance
plant the seed of the Holy Spirit in us

and send us on our way



Beauty before me
Beauty behind me
With beauty all around me
I walk
                                Navaho Chant

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