Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday February 28, 2016

It was during a peaceful reign that Amos the prophet called for the doom of Israel. In Bethel during the 700’s BCE Amos convicted the people because of their shallow acts of faith and their entitled mannerisms. He accused the leaders of relying on military security and national prosperity rather than their relationship with God until he was forced out of the city and told to go preach his doom to Judah and leave Israel alone. Jesus also was forced out of his hometown because his words were so shocking. Today, we pause to listen for the prophet’s call in our own places - a call for right worship, true compassion and genuine relationships.

God of the prophets, unstop our ears to hear the call for release of the captives, recovery of sight and freedom for all. Sound your alarm to awaken our spirits to this journey of Lent that we might be transformed. Amen

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Songs of Change - Equality
No one knows the exact origin of the song of change;
An NPR 100 report said, It has been a civil rights song for 50 years now, heard not just in the U.S. but in North Korea, in Beirut, in Tiananmen Square, in South Africa's Soweto Township. But "We Shall Overcome" began as a folk song, a work song. Slaves in the fields would sing, 'I'll be all right someday.' It became known in the churches. A Methodist minister, Charles Albert Tindley, published a version in 1901: "I'll Overcome Someday."
The song "is not a marching song. It is not necessarily defiant. It is a promise: "We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe."
Another report credited Louise Shropshire, a granddaughter of slaves and an African-American Baptist choir director with the beginnings of the song in her gospel hymn by the name of, "If My Jesus Wills."
In its most popular times it was sung first as union labor issue song but quickly became a civil rights anthem.
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson appeared before Congress and 70 million Americans watching on television, calling for legislation that would ensure every citizen the right to vote.
"It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life," Johnson declared in the speech. "Their cause must be our cause, too, because it's not just Negroes, but really, it's all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome." The Inspiring Force Of 'We Shall Overcome'

While prophets of old first cried "Let my people go" and "repent" the relentlessness of the cry for justice continues to ring true yet today. With the cry of "Black Lives Matter" to the "gender pay gap" we continue to be faced with the infectious song of change.  Whether we agree with the cry or not, it continues to be heard.  The first baptismal creed from Galatians reminds us:
"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."
Click here to listen to the:
Morehouse College Choir singing - We Shall Overcome.
Loving God, help us to sing a song of justice that swells our hearts and fills our minds and that makes us one with your son. Remind us to look for the outcast, the forgotten and the oppressed that we might walk with them as they overcome the pains of this world. Amen. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 – Prophetic Voices Naming What Is

Rabbi Heschel asked and answered; “What do prophets do? Prophets Interfere”.
The prophets didn’t mess around. No, they had a specific job and they were fairly passionate about it! They wanted their communities to listen to the Word of the Lord. Each in their own way, they called for God’s justice to rule in the hearts and minds of the faithful. Zechariah specifically wanted the people to rebuild in order to prepare for the coming of the Messianic Age. There were details of how they should live and treat one another. There were also great descriptions of the woe’s and wrath that would come from evil, selfishness and want. Jesus describes this same picture in his sermon on the plain.

God of the prophets, in the mystery of the cross you bring everlasting life to the world. Gather your people around the prophets call to follow your command for justice, mercy and kindness that we may rejoice in the life we share in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Songs of Change - Peacemaking
Wednesday 2-17-2016
"Blowin' in the Wind" was originally released in 1962, written and performed by Bob Dylan, but the most popular recording came from Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963. While clearly a protest song, it does not specifically identify one social issue rather instead poses that the answer to all the questions about war, peace and freedom are "blowin in the wind".

As the times have continued, the song has become nostalgic for generations of people that seem befuddled by the controversies and problems of their times.  In 1997, after Bob Dylan performed the song in a Roman Catholic Mass, Pope John Paul II reinterpreted the words to reference the "wind of the spirit" that leads people to Christ. 

As we are studying and focusing upon the prophets I want to remind you of Ezekiel and the dry bones. 

Then he said to me, "Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.'"                      
       Ezekiel 37:9

In the new song "This Ends Today" Erica Garner and Stephen Flagg sing about Eric Garners last words "I Can't Breathe".

I know that God uses the wind to flower the earth, bring on autumn, breathe new life into our sometimes lifeless bodies, but maybe God uses the wind also to question the ills of our world. 

Prayer for today....Holy Spirit, may your wind breathe into us, holy moments of clarity that bring justice, kindness and grace to your desperately needy world. Amen. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February 14, 2016 
This Sunday we begin our “Prophetic Voices” series
“The spirit of the Lord speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue.” - 2 Samuel 23:2

A strong sense of expectation and attentiveness comes over us when we hear these words in the Hebrew Testatment:  “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him …”  It alerts us that a truth from God is about to be revealed, that a truth-teller for God is about to speak.  These are the ancient prophets:  truth-tellers for God; people who are inspired and Spirit-driven to speak for God into the situations and circumstances of life.  We marvel at their courage to speak out against the current of their surrounding culture.  Tragically, they suffer for the sake of this vital ministry.  But they speak, regardless of consequences, and it is the wise who hear their voices and take their message to heart.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February 7, 2016

The Epiphany season of light – the season of seasons – culminates in the festival Sunday celebration of the Transfiguration.  In the mystery of this mountaintop experience for the disciples, the identity and nature of God’s Christ is powerfully revealed – seen in a new light.  Yet while the “transfiguration” centers on Jesus, an equally powerful invitation of transformation is held out to all who will see and believe.  As Jesus is transfigured, Jesus’ followers are transformed … on a mountain long ago, and in this season of transformation blossoming in the midst of life today.