Labor Day

Labor Day: the outcome of an organized labor movement determined to disrupt what they believed to be an unjust and exploitive economic system. It was a social justice movement.

Labor Day began out of a protest, resulting in more protests that disturbed the status quo. The economy was disrupted. Some businesses, like railroads, were burned down. Tragically, in some circumstances people died.

As the movement took shape its organizers and protestors were called unpatriotic and criminal. They were dismissed, demeaned, dehumanized, and criminalized. But they pressed on.

Now we celebrate Labor Day as part of the “American story.”

Labor Day reminds me that a movements for social change must persist. Its greatest resistance will always be the neighbors of its own generation. In time, if the movement has life, the resistance will give way to some among future generations. They will rise up to embrace it for what it is. Whether it’s selective amnesia or simply not knowing, the benefit of the movement is eventually recognized. In time, the origin story, with all its struggle, also gets lost. When that happens society is poised to repeat the same behaviors when new movements arise crying out for social justice.

I’m thankful for Labor Day, a holiday I once thought was random and obscure. I am learning to see the cost, the struggle, and the purpose. Once again I am reminded how the better side of our nation has always been built on the backs of movements for social justice.

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A word about grace

I offered a word on grace to the WCC family today. We spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be rescued and liberated by grace. But after reading Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:1-4 (through verse 10), I closed with these words:

“Now before we think how basic and obvious all this talk about grace is to our faith, remember this truth about grace has always existed. The truth of grace existed when in the 11th century Pope Urban II initiated the crusades and incited what become generations of holy wars.

The truth of grace existed when European colonizers in Virginia used the Bible, namely the story of Noah’s son Ham and the curse that was placed upon him—called the Hamitic curse—as their theory to degrade and dehumanize black-skinned bodies.

The truth of grace existed when Virginia passed a law in 1667 that said, “It is enacted and declared by this grand assembly, and the authority thereof, that the conferring of baptism doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom.”

The truth of grace existed when Virginia passed far more laws governing the ownership of the enslaved to define the legal status of the enslaved and their enslavers and regulate interactions between 1639 to 1705.

The truth of grace existed when President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830 and in 1831 marched the Choctaw people out of their land without food and water where thousands died.

The truth of grace existed when women throughout our nation met at Seneca Falls in 1848 to discuss equal rights while White Christian pastors denounced their meeting. The truth of grace existed when Jim Crow laws were passed and when liberation was resisted by White Christian pastors who said to Dr. King, ‘We agree with you but it’s not the right time.’

I say all of this to remind us that is possible to worship God with our souls saved while our minds are still held captive by sin.”

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About Hope

I’ve come to believe that hope is first a kind of disposition. It’s an openness and anticipation to search for meaning in what is because of what the Christian tradition believe is to come. In that way hope becomes a kind of practice. It’s the ability to reinterpret reality in light of Christ’s resurrection and the power it holds. Even when things don’t turn out as expected I may accept reality–burdens and all–and choose to be a compassionate and faithful presence anywhere. Sometimes when the loss, grief or harm is heavy, the compassion must begin between me and myself where I remember Christ’s solidarity with my struggle.

From there, by God’s grace, my eyes can lift from myself to others and I can follow the compassionate Christ into compassion for my neighbor and my enemy.

Love hope-fully, friends.

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John says, “God is Love.”

John says, “God is love.”

This isn’t John’s attempt to describe God as loving. If he wanted to do that he would’ve said, “God is loving” or “faithful in love.” This isn’t love as sentimentality. If he wanted to say that he would have said, “God loves you.” But he didn’t say that. He said, “God is love.”

Since God is Jesus, Jesus must be love too. And Jesus’ love moves beyond sentimentality to sacrifice. It’s an all-embracing scandalous unrestricted love that leaves the politically powerful and religious elite disturbed and perturbed. Contrary to their commitment to fear-based systems of exclusion, God’s love welcomes *all.* God’s hospitality is greater than our hostility.

God is love.

There has never been a time when God hasn’t been love.

There will never be a time when God will not be love.

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Pain given a voice transforms into endurance. Pain not given a voice transforms into violence. It is possible that much of the violence we experience in our society comes from our unwillingness or inability to listen when the pain is first experienced.

Voice. Choice. Security. Support. This makes healing possible.

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