Foundry UMC

Foundry UMC header image 1

A Brand New Shibboleth

August 20th, 2017

 A sermon preached by guest preacher Rev. Michelle Ledder on Sunday, August 20 as part of the Outstanding Preacher series at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington DC.

Text: Judges 12:1-7

 

Good Morning Foundry United Methodist Church. I am humbled and honored to be among you this morning and am excited to experience what God will do with us and among us. Thank you for your deep hospitality and welcome.

 

I bring you greetings from my home church, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church right around the corner here in Washington, DC – where the Rev. William Lamar IV is pastor.

 

Please allow me a moment to thank, the senior pastor of this house, the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, and the Executive Pastor, the Rev. Dawn Hand. I am grateful for their trust in the Spirit to work in and through me this morning and I hold seriously that responsibility.

 

I’d like to thank my beloved Scott for coming out with me today. He supports me with the patience and grace of a saint – and I could never do all that I do if it wasn’t for him and – for that – I can never be grateful enough.

 

Most of all – I’d like to thank God for plucking me out of the muck and the mire and starting me on my way. To God I give all the glory and the honor and the praise for doing what I could not do for myself – giving me the gift of salvation into eternity – even right now.

 

Would you pray with me?

            You know we’re down here LORD –

Waiting on You, waiting on You, waiting on You;

            You know we’re down here LORD

Waiting on You… And we can’t do nothin’ ‘till You come.

 

God of silent tears and weary years who holds our hands and our hearts even when unborn hope dies – O God – we offer you our grief and our anxieties – our joys and our dreams – and because of Your faithful character and demands for justice – we feel safe and secure giving You our whole selves to be made whole selves by Your sanctifying grace. Open our hearts and our minds and our souls this morning that our spirits may commune with Your Spirit without hindrance of the preacher, sin, or enemies of the good. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable, holy, worthy, and worth it in Your sight – O God – our strength and our redeemer. AMEN.

 

***********************************

***********************************

 

 

In an episode of the West Wing, entitled, “Shibboleth,” President Bartlett must decide whether or not a group of Chinese Evangelical Christians qualify for sanctuary after traveling in a shipping container to escape religious persecution. The Deputy Chief of Staff tells him that he has heard concerns that sometimes – people feign faith in order to qualify for religious asylum and are coached in what to say. He asks the President, “How will you know the difference?”

 

President Bartlett goes on to tell the show’s short interpretation of our text this morning. That Shibboleth is used as a password for the army to determine “the legitimate” from “the imposter.” When the President meets with a representative from the group of refugees he asks him a set of questions, “How did you become a Christian?” “How do you practice?” “Who’s the head of your church?” “Can you name any of Jesus’ apostles?” After answering all of his questions, Mr. Jhin Wei says, “Mr. President, Christianity is not demonstrated through a recitation of facts. You’re seeking evidence of faith – a wholehearted acceptance of God’s promise of a better world.”

 

At this point – the music has begun to swell – and I’m still trying to figure out whether I could have answered the President’s questions to his satisfaction – when the man offers his final response during the crescendo: “Faith is the true… (then wrestling to find the right word, says) Shibboleth. Faith… is the true Shibboleth.” At this point we don’t know how President Bartlett is going to get it done but we know things are going to be alright because he responds, “Yes it is. And you sir, just said the magic word, in more ways than one.”

 

And in the world of 1990’s political dramas with sexist, ethnocentric, and racist problems of their own – it seems like it is settled. Faith is the true Shibboleth. But what the TV show never asks is this: “Who determines how we define faith?”

 

The title of this morning’s sermon is: “A Brand New Shibboleth” “A Brand New Shibboleth”

 

I was in Charlottesville last weekend. I had answered the clergy call from Congregate Charlottesville to stand in counter-protest against the Unite the Right rally being staged in Emancipation Park. Local organizers had invited the Rev. Sekou – an experienced master activist – to provide training in what Martin Luther King called, “militant, non-violent, direct action.” We were told in our training that Friday – it was likely that white supremacists and police would get up in our face and attempt to dictate both our verbal and physical responses. We were trained in strategy and tactics with simulations, we were

 

 

led in centering meditation, and we engaged in resistance-focused worship that steeled our resolve and prepared our hearts for the likelihood of arrest or injury the next day. On Saturday after a sunrise worship service, we were called into a final strategy meeting. It was then we determined our best courses of action based on a lower than expected number of clergy and an even higher expectation of arrest or injury – even including the possibility of death.

 

As we silently marched toward the park, first two-by-two, then eventually linked arm-in-arm about 10 clergy wide and about 6 rows deep – none of us knew what to expect. Many of you have seen the violent attacks white supremacists perpetrated against counter-protesters – and many have seen the pictures of the clergy lined up at the edge of the park singing “This Little Light of Mine” while faux militia with assault rifles kept close watch over us with a tight precision that demonstrated intense training and forethought.

 

What you probably didn’t see, were the times when, in response to our direct action, the Ku Klux Klan, American-Nazi’s, and white nationalists left the police-barricaded park to perform impromptu marches along the sidewalk between the armed militia and our clergy line.

 

With hate-filled flags and speech, and with helmets and shields, they shouted ideological bile aimed at our humanity based on race, sexuality, and religion. But we expected all that. We had been trained not to respond verbally or physically but to “hold the line” and to stay disciplined.

 

What I never expected were the number of domestic terrorists holding what looked like Bibles shouting at us, “Nice costumes – where did you go to seminary?” “How many books in the Bible?” This all followed by quick fire questions for us to name or explain certain biblical texts and their connection with our counter-protest.

 

I had expected the intimidation with slurs and other hate speech – I had been committed to – even as I could never really be ready for - the possibility of physical harm. But I never could have imagined my deep impulse to answer their questions when they began to demand of me their version of a Shibboleth.

 

While I managed to remain silent – I recognized my instinct was to defend my own Shibboleth. Theirs was verbal – mine remained in my head – but what I was witnessing was dueling Shibboleths.

 

In our text for this morning, the Judge Jephthah is ruling over and working to protect Israel. This time not from an external enemy – sometimes those are easier to fight – but from an internal one – the fellow tribe of Ephraim. As we enter the story – the Ephraimites challenge Jephthah for not inviting them to help fight the Ammonites. Commentaries describe Ephraim as a dominant and important Northern tribe throughout much of Israel’s history. That being so, I imagine them being unaccustomed to not being in charge, not coming up with and being the heroes of the solution, and certainly not being contradicted in their telling of the facts.

 

Perhaps they had always been in a place of privilege – able to create law and policies that were folded into history as if they were objective and equitable but in reality served only to protect and benefit themselves and those who looked like them. Perhaps they had seen how the way Jephthah ruled allowed for a shift in access to resources, benefits, and opportunities and now – to Ephraim – “equity felt like oppression” (HuffPost article title can be found here).

 

After being confronted, Jephthah challenges Ephraim’s account – saying he did in fact call upon them for help – but receiving none – fought the battle without them and won. The Ephraimites cannot handle this – they call the people of Gilead fugitives and renegades – in today’s language – race traitors who have abandoned their own home tribe. The Ephraimites’ prior threat to bring fire down on their heads becomes real as the two sides go to war. And this is where Shibboleth comes back into our work today.

 

In the midst of battle, the warriors of Gilead defeat Ephraim except for a few folks who escape and try to return home. When they get to the entry points at the Jordon River, however, the Gilead soldiers stand their ground asking, “Are you an Ephraimite?” “Prove it!” “Say, Shibboleth!” But when they tried it came out differently so they responded, “Sibboleth” and were killed on the spot. Altogether, 42,000 Ephraimites were murdered in war that day.

 

This is a tough text to deal with – it’s clear the lectionary compilers don’t want to deal with it – I mean they didn’t include Judges 12 in any of its readings. In the whole 3 year cycle, there is not one time a lectionary preacher would preach on this text or a congregation who listens to them hear a sermon on this text. None of them will have to struggle with what it means to fight with one’s own people. None of them will have to figure out where the Good News of the Gospel is in a story with so many casualties. None of them will have to figure out what it means to define “legitimate” and “imposter” as it relates to faith – especially to those of us who believe in inclusion.

 

But there are times when we have to deal with things we wish we didn’t have to deal with and wishing won’t make it so. The U.S. Church is in a Shibboleth moment. People who have been blessed with greater amounts of melanin have been telling those of us who are racialized as white this for a long, long, long, long time. For God’s sake folks – we have been in a Shibboleth moment since Christianity was used as a weapon of physical and cultural genocide against America’s indigenous peoples; since it was deputized to enslave Africans and their descendants, and now since it was hidden behind to legalize and po-li-ti-fy racism.

 

Now, I’m a theologian so I get to make up words: po-li-ti-fy is the act of pretending something is polite when it’s actually not.

 

For some of us – Charlottesville has become a time of awakening. For some of us – Charlottesville has become the tipping point of waiting no longer. For others still – Charlottesville is just another example – another expression of what has been here all along simmering but now bubbling over a more public and publicized surface.

 

For all of us – Charlottesville should be a call for the Church to step up and declare – once and for all – in one voice – our own Shibboleth: that to be a person of faith and a follower of Jesus the Christ – white supremacy will no longer be ignored nor denied – no longer tolerated nor rewarded. We are in the midst of a crisis. It is a crisis of conscience. A crisis of morality. A crisis of faith. The time for waiting is over. Our sisters and brothers of color are dying. The humanity of those of us who are white is dying. We cannot wait. God will not wait.

 

Saying “Jesus is Lord” while at the same time refusing to stand up and speak out against the legalized and racialized reign of terror upon Black and Brown people in this country is blasphemy. The Jesus who overturned money-changing tables IN THE SANCTUARY is waiting for us to overturn all systems of government, justice, policing, schools, communities, AND church that will not value nor protect Black and Brown bodies in equal measure to white bodies. And all systems that will not protect the rights of Jews and Muslims, of Baha’i and Hindu, and the wide cacophony of religious people in equal measure to Christians. And all systems that will not protect the humanity of all LGBTQI people in equal measure to cis-gendered heterosexual people.

 

Proclaiming “Jesus is Lord” means something radical. It means we stand for righteousness, fight against evil, and resist sin always, in every place, and at all times. For U.S. Christians this means we must announce – in word, sign, and deed – that white supremacy will no longer be tolerated or rewarded in any form, in any form, in any form. In. Any. Form.

 

To choose “Jesus is Lord” is to recognize radical racial justice and equity is a holy sacrament, divinely orchestrated to miraculously transfigure our systems of racial hatred into systems of healing and wholeness.

 

For U.S. white Christians, to proclaim “Jesus is Lord” in 2017 is to embrace without reserve our moral obligation to incontrovertibly break the stranglehold white supremacy has on this country and on our souls.

 

This is a clarion call for us as people of faith who follow Jesus as Christ and Lord to declare this day – It’s Time for a Brand New Shibboleth.

 

A Shibboleth that no longer relies on difference of accent to include or exclude people from safety and survival – rather a Brand New Shibboleth that extracts every last drop of white supremacy from our schools, from our economy, from our communities, from our churches, and from every inch of our government.

 

A Shibboleth that refuses to allow white supremacists to terrorize Charlottesville with torches and teargas while simultaneously refusing to allow white supremacy to reign in our business, academic, or church meetings through microaggressions and whitesplaining.

 

It’s Time for a Brand New Shibboleth.

 

A Shibboleth that fights for all symbols of the Confederacy – including but not limited to flags and statues – to be taken down once and for all while simultaneously refusing the temptation to protect the laws which keep them in place over and above the people who utilize civil disobedience to get them down.

 

It’s Time for a Brand New Shibboleth.

 

A Shibboleth that empowers people to gather in the thousands to stand with the people of Boston against hate speech while simultaneously emboldening Christians by the thousands to transfer all of our personal and ecclesial money into Black owned banks and shift at least 50% of our spending into businesses of color.

 

It’s Time for a Brand New Shibboleth.

 

A Shibboleth that will dare not shout unity when what we really mean is that white people will feel comfortable.

 

A Shibboleth that will not pray peace when what we really mean is that white people will be the only ones who determine what order looks like.

 

A Shibboleth that shall not hide behind weak, ineffectual, and unfaithful definitions of love that only serve to protect the already protected from our responsibility to get involved in tangible and meaningful ways.

 

It’s Time for a Brand New Shibboleth.

 

A Shibboleth that believes like the West Wing writers that “freedom is the glory of God” and like Saint Fannie Lou Hamer that “nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

 

A Shibboleth that makes us ruthless – ruthless in our unwavering commitment and execution of disrupting, dismantling, and destroying white supremacy and racism in all of its forms.

 

A Shibboleth that dares not shake its finger at society “out there” before it endures a deep critique and radical transformation of the church structures “in here.”

 

A Shibboleth that examines its own leadership structure and membership; its own decision making and decision makers; and its own temptations to hoard power for some at the expense of the rest.

 

It’s Time for a Brand New Shibboleth.

 

And our tears will not stop us and our shame will not stop us and our guilt will not stop us NOR will we ignore or deny them… because we belong to a family of faith that believes in the kind of courageous grace that allow us to stare deeply into our own sins of racism, repent tangibly and meaningfully, and being the healing into wholeness.

 

And our fear will not stop us and our internalized oppression will not stop us and our anger will not stop us NOR will we ignore them or deny them… because we belong to a family of faith that believes in the kind of costly grace that was spent by the Son of God’s own self in order that those among us who are targeted and most directly affected by the wounds of white supremacy’s sins would be free and made whole from the inside out.

 

It’s Time for a Brand New Shibboleth.

 

Now for us to do this – we’re going to have to wholeheartedly embrace a differential ethic. A differential ethic runs counter to what many of us have been taught – let’s all make a plan – let’s split up the work evenly – then let’s execute the plan. Rather – a differential ethic rightly places the greatest amount of responsibility and risk upon those of us who are white and benefit from the privileges of white supremacy and racism in all of its forms.

 

This is the kind of Shibboleth that requires that those of us who are white “go get our cousins” – and while we’re at it – go get our bosses, and our grandmothers, and our spouses, and our neighbors, and all the other white folks who will only listen to us – not because what we say is more true or more powerful that when said by Black and Brown folks – but rather because that is the way white supremacy works.

 

A Shibboleth that refuses to water down the work that is ahead of us – but will no longer hoist it onto the backs of people of color because those of us who are white refuse to do our work.

 

It’s Time for a Brand New Shibboleth.

 

Friends, It’s Time.

 

Just like this is not an easy text – this is not easy work. What we are embarking on is a Shibboleth of Anti-Racism. Transforming our thinking and doing, our ideologies and actions, our policies and our practices all toward the goal of creating, sustaining, and protecting systems of racial justice and equity.

 

Each of us will be required to risk something different – for some of us who are white – we will risk our privileges, our protection, or our stories of, “I marched with King” (in my case, Charlottesville) in exchange for, “this is what I’m doing right now.” For some people of color, you will risk being vulnerable to hurt or harm, being scapegoated for bringing the injustice to the forefront, or being misinterpreted that you are selling out.

 

Shibboleth is scary work especially for those of us who believe that tolerance of different ideas and respect for all human beings is sacred. Declaring our Shibboleth defines who we are and inevitably excludes some folks because it creates a line in the sand over which one cannot cross. For those of us who are worried about or have experienced the harm that comes from being excluded by the church this is especially terrifying ground. But declaring a Shibboleth of Anti-Racism simply means that we are intolerant of intolerance.

 

In 1945, what is called, “The Paradox of Tolerance” was written down for the first time publically and attributed to Karl Popper. Popper stated that while it may seem counterintuitive for tolerance to be intolerant of anything it is simply a paradox. This is because the first thing intolerance does is to eradicate tolerance. Thus, tolerance cannot exist if it tolerates intolerance.

 

I’m going to say that one more time – While it may seem counterintuitive, for tolerance to survive – it must be intolerant of intolerance. This is because the first thing intolerance does is to eradicate tolerance. Thus, tolerance cannot exist if it tolerates intolerance.

 

Intolerance isn’t simply another philosophy or ideology – it is the inability to allow for any other philosophy or ideology to survive in its midst or in its wake. This is exactly why white supremacy or racism in any of its forms cannot be reduced to just another option, or idea, or preference. All forms of intolerance will use hatred, fear, and violence to indoctrinate followers and eradicate the rest.

 

What if the only intolerance Christians were known for was the intolerance of intolerance?

 

I’m gonna say one last thing and then I’m gonna take my seat. You may have read in some of the articles about Charlottesville that the clergy line chanted, “Love Has. Love Has. Love Has Already Won.” Out of context, it sounds like we are blindly believing the whitewashed version of Martin Luther King’s quote that “hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.” This version makes it seem as if Dr. King is talking about the Hallmark version of love – full of feelings but devoid of commitment – full of dreams but devoid of reality. But in context it reveals something else.

 

Rev. Sekou led us in this chant when we were surrounded by the taunts and chants of the Klan, American Nazi’s, and white nationalists. As they marched in front AND BEHIND US…. and as our hearts began a double time drum beat within our chests – we were instructed to declare that LOVE HAS. LOVE HAS. LOVE HAS ALREADY WON.

 

When the first scrap ups began between domestic terrorists and antifa at one end of our line – we were locked arm-in-arm chanting LOVE HAS. LOVE HAS. LOVE HAS ALREADY WON as our only defense.

 

The fluffy bunny, pie in the sky, Hallmark kind of love doesn’t cut it here. This is James Baldwin’s love that says that if I love you I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see. This is Dr. Cornell West’s love that says Justice is what love looks like in public.

 

This is Jesus’ love that says you may be looking at Good Friday – or sitting in the deep despair of Holy Saturday – but there is a Resurrection coming that you can’t yet imagine and you can’t create on your own without me.

 

We weren’t singing Love Has Already Won because it had – we were singing it because we believe in a God whose love has conquered even death. The kind of love that stares in the face of structural sin as 1000s of Klansmen – and women – American Nazi’s and white nationalists scream “blood and soil” and “you will not replace us.” It allows us to sing songs of freedom while held hostage in a church by torch wielding domestic terrorists who cannot stand the idea that God intends for power to be shared and for justice to reign.

 

We don’t declare a Brand New Shibboleth because it’s already here – we declare a Brand New Shibboleth because LOVE HAS. LOVE HAS. LOVE HAS ALREADY WON…. (continue with hand clap)….

00:0000:00

A Stubborn Passion

August 6th, 2017

A sermon preached by Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli at Foundry UMC, August 6, 2017.

Text: Ephesians 4:25-5:2 

 

 

Is it OK to be angry?  Is it acceptable to express anger? 

 

In our reading today from the letter to the Ephesians we hear, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.”  This epistle was written in the first century of the Common Era.  I doubt we’re surprised that the quandary of anger management has been around from the beginning; it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.  Anger is a stubborn passion in human life.  It is part of the deal.

 

I know from experience there are folks around who feel it’s wrong to get angry.  But the scripture today says, “Be angry.”  It doesn’t say, pretend you aren’t angry, it doesn’t say, play the martyr and bury your anger, it doesn’t say, ignore your anger so that you don’t have to deal with it.  It says, “Be angry.”  This may be stating the obvious but it is very important if we are to begin to understand what our Christian faith has to say to us about this very real, very stubborn part of human experience.  Anger is part of our life.  Let me be clear at the outset: This verse is NOT biblical permission to go around indiscriminately spewing anger.  The letter to the Ephesians is trying to help the early churches learn how to live the new life in Christ together.  In order to live together in love and peace, it’s imperative that we attend to our anger.

 

Often, anger is a second emotion, preceded by pain, vulnerability, frustration, or grief.  Insofar as this is the case, anger can be for us a helpful sign, like the impulse of pain we feel when we touch something that is too hot, our anger can alert us to something deeper within us that needs some care and attention.

 

Furthermore, if we never get angry, then that is itself a telling sign—do we really care about anything?  Is there nothing we can see in ourselves, in our relationships, in our world that makes us angry?  If this is the case, then we need to pay attention to that for sure, because it is likely pointing to the fact that we are either mightily depressed or terribly apathetic, neither of which is good for us or for anyone else.

 

So…“Be angry.”  These words remind us that being angry can be a sign that our hearts and minds are rightly attuned to injustices or problems; or can be a sign leading us to self-care.  “Be angry.”  These words allow us to give ourselves a break from beating ourselves up for feeling anger.  These are good things.  But I, for one, don’t want to hear these words.  I don’t want to be angry.  I don’t want to acknowledge my anger.  I don’t want to deal with it; I don’t want to have to name its source.  I have my reasons for feeling this way—and maybe you feel the same for your own reasons.  Maybe you grew up in a household that was full of rage; perhaps you were taught by example not to show your anger or to talk about it; maybe you’re afraid of the sheer force of your anger if you were to let it out; or maybe you can’t bear to admit the reason or circumstance that causes you to be angry.  Maybe you are guilty about your anger because it comes up in your role as caregiver to a partner, parent, or child.  Wherever or however you find yourself when you hear the words, “be angry,” the bottom line is that there is both comfort and challenge in them. 

 

A big part of the challenge comes in the line that follows, “Be angry, but do not sin.” 

I am convinced—and I believe that this is the point of the admonition to “be angry”—that the only way to be angry and not sin is to be mindful of our own anger—this means that we have to do exactly that which I do not want to do.  We have to learn to recognize when we’re getting angry, to be attentive to our anger, to reflect on it, to sit with it, to get to know it. Ugh.

 

Don’t we know, after all, that uncontrolled, buried, festering anger will do damage to others and to ourselves?  Unmanaged anger can get projected onto other people, it can build up and then blow up way out of proportion and, when turned inward, can lead to depression and all sorts of other self-destructive things. 

 

While we may know all that, many of us don’t know how to attend to our anger gently, with love; we don’t know how to express our anger creatively, in ways that will build up instead of tearing down.  Iona Senior Services is a wonderful, local organization that supports people as they experience the opportunities and challenges of aging.  A recent post on Iona’s blog provides such helpful information for managing anger.[i]  While the post is focused on anger that arises in providing care for a loved one with dementia, the tips are so helpful for any occasion when we find ourselves needing to manage our anger with love.  The first two are all about self-awareness: recognize the signs of anger (shortness of breath, muscle tension, getting red in the face, raising your voice, etc.) and become aware of the ways you express your anger (aggressively, passive aggressively, passively, etc.).  The blog goes on to provide some suggestions for healthy ways to manage anger once you’ve begun to identify it.  I commend this resource to you. 

I also highly recommend the work of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who teaches both how to be aware of our anger and how to hold it gently.  Over the years he has offered retreat to Vietnam veterans.  He tells of one American commander who lost 417 of his men in a single battle on a single day and had been unable for twenty tears to get past his anger.  Another man had out of anger taken the lives of children in a Vietnamese village and had lost all sense of peace.  Thich Nhat Hanh taught what he calls mindfulness, which is simply sitting and watching one’s breath come and go and looking after one’s anger, seeking neither to push it down nor erase it but to attend to it, to offer it affection and care.  It was a way of giving the anger both space and boundaries so that it could be touched and felt and recognized and healed.  When we are angry, he writes, we are not with ourselves.  We are thinking about the one who makes us angry (that can be another person or ourselves) and thinking about the hateful aspects of that person: his/her betrayal, rudeness, disregard, meanness, cruelty and so on.  Instead of attending to what is in us we spill out what is in us on the other.  And the more we attend to the other, the more the anger grows.  We have to come back to ourselves and look inside.  Like a fireman, he continues, we have to pour water on the blaze before we look for the one who has set the house on fire.  The simple practice he offers is this:  ‘Breathing in, I know I am angry.  Breathing out, I know that I must put all my energy into caring for my anger.’”[ii]

 

And so we learn that in order to be angry and not sin, we cannot allow our anger to be forgotten, ignored, or buried.  The admonition to not “let the sun to go down on our anger” is, I think, not only a reminder to attend to it today, but also that anger allowed to move into the dark, out of the light of our attentiveness, can grow into something ugly and destructive; it opens the door to “the devil,” to that power that feeds on negativity and on harbored resentment.  When left alone, our anger can feed in us a self-righteous, judgmental attitude that is incapable of seeing the other as lovable or a person of sacred worth; this breeds hatred and division—the devil smacks his metaphorical lips!—what a feast!  But when held lovingly in the light of our consciousness, we are able to identify our own weaknesses, our own pain, our need, indeed our own tendency to make mistakes that cause others to be angry or hurt.  This self-awareness helps us to have compassion, not only with ourselves, but also with the one with whom we are angry.

 

God shows us what it looks like when righteous anger is expressed not with vengeance, but with love.  We see it in the prophets whose hearts broke and whose voices raged on behalf of God’s disappointment and grief over the brokenness and injustice and forgetfulness of Israel.  And we see it most clearly in Jesus Christ who had every reason to be angry at us, but whose love for us was more stubborn than our refusal to love him back.  And so he got angry at the ways that we hurt each other and ignore God, but he did not sin.  His stubborn passion was love.  That love, freely offered to you and to me is what feeds us, it fortifies our hearts to be able to love ourselves and other people enough to attend to our anger. 

 

A poetic prayer entitled “Holy Anger,” includes the line, “let anger be the first note in love’s ascending scale.”[iii]  Loving attentiveness to our anger can be the beginning of healing, the first glimmer of a sacred calling, the birth of greater love of ourselves, of others, of God.  So let your anger, whatever it is, be the first note in love’s ascending scale.  You might be surprised at what happens—in your relationships, your thoughts, your own heart—when you’re in tune with the love of Christ.

 

[i] https://www.iona.org/manage-anger-caring-dementia/?bblinkid=55569581&bbemailid=4586880&bbejrid=344310322

[ii] Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, 1998.

[iii]Thomas H. Troeger, “Holy Anger,” Copyright and reproduced at The Living Pulpit.com by permission of Oxford University Press, 2000.

00:0000:00

Repenting from America’s Unforgivable Sin

July 30th, 2017

A sermon given by Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs on Sunday, July 30, 2017 as part of our 2017 Outstanding Preachers series. 

 

Text: Matthew 12:22-32

00:0000:00

The Work is Yours To Do

July 23rd, 2017

A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey as part of Foundry's Outstanding Preachers series on July 23, 2017. 

Scripture: Luke 3:1-6 & 10a

00:0000:00

Now is the Time!

July 16th, 2017

A sermon preached by Bishop Tracy Malone (read more about her here) on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and John 1:1-5, on Sunday, July 16, 2017, as part of Foundry's Outstanding Preachers series.

00:0000:00