From James Cones’ The Cross and The Lynching Tree: “The cross and the lynching tree are separated by nearly 2,000 years. One is the universal symbol of Christian faith; the other is the quintessential symbol of black oppression in America. Though both are symbols of death, one represents a message of hope and salvation, while the other signifies the negation of that message by white supremacy. Despite the obvious similarities between Jesus’ death on a cross and the death of thousands of black men and women strung up to die on a lamppost or tree, relatively few people, apart from black poets, novelists, and other reality-seeing artists, have explored the symbolic connections. Yet, I believe this is a challenge we must face. What is at stake is the credibility and promise of the Christian gospel and the hope that we may heal the wounds of racial violence that continue to divide our churches and our society.”
From Allan Boesak and Curtiss DeYoung’s Radical Reconciliation: “This book is a call for reconciliation in society that is radical, that goes to the roots. We believe that unless we remove injustice at the roots, the weeds of alienation and fragmentation will return and choke the hope for reconciliation. Far too many initiatives for reconciliation and social justice stop short of completing the work required. In our work and engagement with reconciliation, we have discovered how often reconciliation is used merely to reach some political accommodation that did not address the critical questions of justice, equality, and dignity that are so prominent in the biblical understanding of reconciliation. Such political arrangements invariably favor the rich and powerful but deprive the powerless of justice and dignity. Yet more often than not, this “reconciliation” is presented as if it does respond to the needs for genuine reconciliation and employs a language that sounds like the truth but is, in fact, deceitful. This we call “political pietism.” Christians measure these matters with the yardstick of the gospel and therefore know better. When we discover that what is happening, is in fact, not reconciliation, and yet for reasons of self-protection, fear, or a desire for acceptance by the powers that govern our world seek to accommodate this situation, justify it, refuse to run the risk of challenge and prophetic truth telling, we become complicit in deceitful reconciliation. We deny the demands of the gospel and refuse solidarity with the powerless and oppressed. This we call “Christian quietism.” Therefore, reconciliation must be radical.”
From Sleeping with Bread by Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn: “I (Matt) need the [daily] examen because of my pessimistic outlook. I am one of those who feels bad when he feels good for fear he will feel worse when he feels better. (In Africa I did manage to find a more pessimistic person. When I told him that we should change our pessimism because optimists live longer, he replied, “It serves them right!”) I am also a perfectionist. At a workshop, ten people might compliment me while only one person might tell me something that could be improved. I forget get the ten compliments and remember only what could be improved. I need the examen to help me notice not only what goes wrong but especially what goes right. Each night I first get in touch with what I am grateful for from the day and I give thanks. Then I ask what I am not so grateful for. When I discover something I am not grateful for, I name it, feel it, and appreciate that I am not denying it and God is with me in it. Healing occurs to the degree I welcome all my feelings and let myself be loved in them. In this way I honestly acknowledge pain and I take in love. Then I can usually fall asleep with a grateful heart.”
From Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart: “In practicing meditation, we’re not trying to live up to some kind of ideal—quite the opposite. We’re just being with our experience, whatever it is. If our experience is that sometimes we have some kind of perspective, and sometimes we have none, then that’s our experience. If sometimes we can approach what scares us, and sometimes we absolutely can’t, then that’s our experience. “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and it’s always with us” is really a most profound instruction. Just seeing what’s going on—that’s the teaching right there. We can be with what’s happening and not dissociate. Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives.”
And from Paul (Philippians 4:6-7): “… in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
For gathering time on 4/24, we will focus on Earth Day: Our question for the day is: As a disciple of Jesus Christ, how can you help heal the world?(On band-aid cut-outs, we’ll hang our ideas and visions up on a map.)
Yea for Sunday School! Here’s what we’ll do:
PreK: Balaam the talking donkey!
K-4: The Prodigal Son from Luke 15
Middle and High School: We will start planning for YOUTH SUNDAY, which is June 19th. (single 10 am service.)
For worship play, we will read the 1st reading from the service from Revelation 21. We will read the “Promise of a New Earth” from Desmond Tutu’s Children of God Storybook Bible. Here’s the text:
When the disciple John was very old, God send him dreams and visions. He saw that there would be wars and famine and floods and terrible disasters. But God told John, “Soon I will make a new heaven and new earth. Then every tear will be wiped away. I will be with my people, and they will be with me. Everyone will live in peace and joy.”
God showed John a vision of this holy place. It glittered with gold and previous tones, and the sky was so bright there was no need for the sun or moon to give light.
“From this place,” God said, “will flow the river of life, and from it I will give the water of life to everyone who is thirsty. On either side of the river will be the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. You are my children. You are all brothers and sisters together, my family. Come and drink, my beloved children, from the water that gives you life, love and joy!”
Prayer: Dear God, help me to make your dram of a new earth come true.
From there, we will ask: What do we LOVE most about God’s creation?(I love all things that have to do with water; I’ll always choose the ocean first, but then I will also take a lake, stream, river, pool and even a water table + hose or shower in a pinch..)
Then we will talk about how we can make a BIG difference for God’s earth.
From Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart: “So right from the beginning it’s helpful to always remind yourself that meditation is about opening and relaxing with whatever arises, without picking and choosing. It’s definitely not meant to repress anything, and it’s not intended to encourage grasping, either. Allen Ginsberg uses the expression “surprise mind.” You sit down and—wham!—a rather nasty surprise arises. Okay. So be it. This part is not to be rejected but compassionately acknowledged as “thinking” and let go. Then—wow!—a very delicious surprise appears. Okay. So be it. This part is not to be clung to but compassionately acknowledged as “thinking” and let go. These surprises are, we find, endless. Milarepa, the twelfth-century Tibetan yogi, sang wonderful songs about the proper way to meditate. In one song he says that mind has more projections than there are dust motes in a sunbeam and that even hundreds of spears couldn’t put an end to that. So as meditators we might as well stop struggling against our thoughts and realize that honesty and humor are far more inspiring and helpful than any kind of solemn religious striving for or against anything.”
From Wendy Farley’s The Thirst for God (speaking of the 13th century women’s contemplative movement known as the “beguines”): “The compassion of biblical characters [like Jesus and the disciples] would be internalized as compassion for people in the beguine’s own community. Contemplation and action, Christ’s love for humanity, and the contemplative’s love for those around her percolated together. Through meditation, this love would flow into a single river in which desire, will, and action became grounded in the divine love. …
The beguines’ love for those they served was in a sense the same love with which God loved humanity…Through their practices they became, as Teresa of Avila would say a few centuries later, the hands and feet making God’s love present in the world….
The beguine way of life produced a great flowering of spirituality in which women and men shared their insights and deepened their understanding of divine love. But this way of life was a stark challenge to an increasingly authoritarian church, which used both violence and ideology to make sure that religious symbols reinforced its authority. Official theology portrayed the anger of God punishing humanity with never-ending fire…
The poverty and simplicity of beguines and other contemplatives embodied an alternative the church. Their devotion to divine Lady Love contrasted a wrathful sovereign with a feminine image of gracious love. It is not that the beguines rejected the church and its sacraments, but their theology attested to a different understanding of who God is. Their very existence threw into question the exclusive authority of male clerics to determine Christian thought and practice. The mixture of rich and poor, clergy and laity, literate and illiterate in beguine communities challenged the rigid structuring of society. Their status as neither married laywomen nor enclosed nuns blurred the clear alternatives that defined true womanhood.”