Healing & Resilience

“Everything, given time and nurturing, is moving toward balance and healing. The mushrooms that cleaned the land after nuclear trauma… the process of forest growth after a fire… the way our skin heals after a cut… stronger than before. Healing is organizing, healing is our birthright.”

Lisa Thomas Adeyemo, cited in Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy (2017)

God’s shalom includes God’s desire for healing. Healing is a part of God’s economy. Lean in. It is your birthright.

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Legacy

“Don’t act like everyone loved my father. He was assassinated. A 1967 poll reflected that he was one of the most hated men in America. Most hated. Many who quote him now and evoke him to deter justice today would likely hate, and may already hate, the authentic King.”
~ Bernice King

Martin Luther King had his sermon ready for Sunday. He called the secretary at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to give them the title: “Why America May Go to Hell.” He made this call on April 4, 1968, the day he was assassinated. If he would have preached this sermon all of America may know just how radical a prophet he was.

Today we remember his legacy.

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History is an Itinerant Professor

It is no surprise to see that the School of Denial has been called back in session. Its capstone classes on blame-shifting, scapegoating, and willful blindness are being taught, and with great passion. Its only textbook is divided into three sections: “This isn’t who we are,” “We are not responsible for it, they are,” and “White supremacy and Christian nationalism have nothing to do with it.”

But history is an itinerant professor. She doesn’t shout. She doesn’t have to. Her textbook is filled with generations of stories written in long-form with innumerable citations. Many have tried to coerce her to teach for the School of Denial. Some have tried to sanitize and re-dress her. But she won’t be coerced, sanitized, or re-dressed. She clings tightly to her text and carries on professing her truth. She will tell her stories. She will be heard.

She reminds us that we can change, but it will not happen if we listen to those who teach for the School of Denial.

May Christ the King be our light. May the gospel of God’s Kingdom open our eyes and ears. May the Spirit of Truth liberate us.

“As Jesus came to the city and observed it, he wept over it. 42 He said, “If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes.” ~ Jesus, Luke 19:41-42

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Oscar Romero Has Something to Say

On days like today I turn to the mothers and fathers of my faith who lived through similar moments. In turning to Oscar Romero (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980), a man who knew extraordinary political social upheaval, I remember the price he paid, including his life. He experienced a great deal of blowback holding to social implications he believed the gospel demanded of Christ-followers. He faced judgement from inside and outside the Church, contending with delusion, conspiracy theories, blame shifting, and alternative facts every day. He was branded by some to be a heretic. Many decades later his words and work would prove his critics unwise. Today I read one of his sermons. In it he says (and I will type it as printed):

“Those who have listened to me here in church on Sundays
with sincerity,
without prejudices,
without hatred,
without ill will,
without intending to defend indefensible interests,
those who have listened to me here cannot say
I am giving political or subversive sermons.
All that is simply slander.
You are listening to me at this moment,
and I am saying what I have always said.
What I want to say here in the cathedral pulpit
is what the church is,
and in the name of the church
I want to support what is good,
applaud it,
encourage it,
console the victims of atrocities, of injustices,
and also with courage
disclose the atrocities,
the tortures,
the disappearances of prisoners,
the social injustice.
That is not engaging in politics;
this is building up the church
and carrying out the church’s duty
as imposed by the church’s identity.
My conscience is undisturbed,
and I call on all of you:
Let us build up the true church!”

~ September 10, 1978

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A New Season Begins!

On January 6th in our Christian calendars, the season of Epiphany begins. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” It is meant to be a celebration that remembers the wonder and impact of three miracles that reveal the divinity of Jesus as King.

We remember and celebrate the visit of the three Magi during Christ’s birth, an act of Gentile recognition of Christ’s Kingship. We remember and celebrate Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River when the Father said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” We remember and celebrate his first miracle at the wedding in Cana, when Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany and its meaning, and each one of these event point to joy.

We rejoice in the coming of Christ, but it’s not enough for Christ to have been born. 

Epiphany begins with the Magi receiving an order from King Herod and disobeying that order because of a word from God. The Magi had to make a choice, to trust God in King Jesus or trust King Herod. They trusted God. 

Among the many beautiful things we receive during Epiphany, we receive an invitation. We are invited to trust God in King Jesus, or we can go on trusting King Herod. The reality is, both kings are at work in the world creating all sorts of tension in our lives. Both kings make promises and offer what they believe to be the ‘good life.’ Sometimes their decrees are aligned, sometimes they are not. It’s when they are not that a choice must be made. In our hearts, one king must submit to another. We cannot split allegiances. Thanks be to God, Epiphany is tied to the Christmas promise: the way of God in King Jesus is our liberation and true way to hope, peace, joy, and love.

During the season of Epiphany, we receive the invitation and celebrate the promise as we remember our pledge of allegiance to King Jesus. When we hear the words of the Father pronounced over Jesus in his baptism, “This is my beloved son,” we remember this pronouncement is ours too. When we see the miracle-working power of Jesus throughout the Scriptures, we remember that God is all about new possibilities. Let’s allow the season of Epiphany to make known the wondrous love and reign of Jesus our King and the new possibilities he brings. God has come to us! Jesus is King and light to the nations.

One more thing to remember, since our faith that includes every tongue and nation.

In Hispanic and Latin culture, as well as some places in Europe, it is known as ‘Three Kings’ Day. In many of these countries, it is celebrated with special pastries, including a Kings Cake, and is a time of feasting and celebration. Children often receive small gifts in their shoes in honor of the Magi’s gifts to the infant Jesus. 

Epiphany Sunday marks a straight line between Christ’s birth and his baptism, his incarnation and the declaration from the voice from heaven that he is the Son of God. Therefore, Epiphany is more than one Sunday; it becomes a season that guides the Church through the life and ministry of Jesus. It extends from January 6th until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter. 

Celebrate, beloved. Remember. And receive the invitation.

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