Delores Williams, wise theologian and teacher, was my colleague when I first came to Union Seminary. She grew up in the South and remembers Sunday mornings when the minister shouted out: “Who is Jesus?” The choir responded in voices loud and strong: “King of kings and Lord Almighty!” Then, little Miss Huff, in a voice so fragile and soft you could hardly hear, would sing her own answer, “Poor little Mary’s boy.” Back and forth they sang – KING OF KINGS…Poor little Mary’s boy. Delores said, “It was the Black church doing theology.” Who is Jesus? “King of Kings” cannot be the answer without seeing “poor little Mary’s boy.”
No matter the tragedy these days, some religious leader or blogger will attempt to connect it to God’s judgment. Some say superstorm Sandy was God’s wrath on liberal New York and New Jersey. Others fault 9/11 on “the homosexual agenda,” whatever that is. Many argue July’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado, would have been prevented were it not for liberals or conservatives.
Relying on Faith, Gerritsen Beach Residents Weather Hurricane Sandy
Gerritsen Beach, a tight-knit community in South Brooklyn that is nearly surrounded by water on all sides, was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Because Gerritsen was not deemed an evacuation zone by the city, many residents stayed in the neighborhood during the storm, and several report being rescued by neighbors from the upper floors of their homes. In the aftermath, Gerritsen Beach residents have turned to two institutions that are mainstays of the community for help — Resurrection Church and the volunteer fire department.
Is poverty what it used to be? Or has poverty grown so shameful that we dare not speak its name? So determined are we keep poverty out of view, we erase the presence of the poor from Jesus’ teachings. The widow we encounter in Mark 12:38-44 provides a case study in poverty and oppression. Unable to confront poverty, we have turned her into something safer – an example of generosity.
The election has just passed. As I’m writing this, I don’t know who will win. I do know this: neither presidential candidate could work up the courage to address poverty as a serious issue, at least not directly. If Democrats typically look out for the poor, you wouldn’t know it from President Obama: Mitt Romney mentioned the poor more often than did the President, if only to remind voters that the economy is struggling. For his part, Obama avoided the “p-word,” even if he discussed policies that could remedy the poverty problem. Some of our political leaders do include the poor in their policy work, but they face an uphill struggle.
It seems so easy, doesn’t it? Love God. Love your neighbor. The two greatest commandments encapsulate the core of faith and could–if we really were to trust God–transform the world.
Similarly then and with election day looming, voting should be an easy affair: people of faith should vote for the candidates whose policies would most embody a love of God and neighbor.
It seems so easy, but it isn’t if we are honest with ourselves and gracious towards those who disagree with our political persuasions. No single party or candidate has a monopoly on loving God and neighbor. Moreover, people of passionate faith and commitment to the values Jesus commends in Mark 12:28-34 so often can’t even agree on what these seemingly simple commandments mean.
Debates on immigration in the United States continue to move in the default direction of North/South. As such, the prominent debating points often direct public attention to the U.S./Mexico border fence and the Latina/o community. By sleight-of-hand, many in the mainstream media tend to recast a centuries-old U.S. immigration experience as a Latina/o problem.
Unlike the variety of migration stories in the Bible, the forces creating migration for many Latina/o families are closely tied to the issues of power and hyper-consumerism. Often as a last resort do immigrant families enter the northbound currents of low-wage laborers that, as Bishop Minerva Carcaño describes, feed “the economic machine in this country.”
Temptations to hold and wield power are usually tough to pass up. Power is alluring whether we imagine having it over others or on behalf of them, whether it’s power in society, at home, or in a workplace.
On September 25, 2012, President Obama presented new initiatives to address human trafficking in America. He did this as the President of the United States, but I know he also did it as a parent of two children. How do I know? He said so: “When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family, or girls my daughters’ ages run away from home and are lured — that’s slavery.”
The Quest to End Child Trafficking
Leaders across the faith spectrum — with the Salvation Army leading the way — have been working to protect and assist victims and eradicate child trafficking.
In a discussion with a number of Pharisees about divorce, Jesus says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9). I bet that Jesus would like the number 36,722.
That number is the grand total of years of marriage accumulated by the 829 couples who recently registered for a special worship service at the National Shrine in Washington, DC. These husbands and wives had all been married at least 25 years, and some had been together for more than 70. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. Until parted by death.
Watch the Video: Jesus Speaks of Marriage and Children
Henry Brinton, senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, VA, discusses the Biblical text Mark 10:2-16, featured in the ON Scripture The Bible article, “Jesus Stands Up for Wives and Children.”
During the Everest climbing season last May, just 1000 feet from the top of the world, twenty-four year old Israeli law student Nadav Ben-Yehuda noticed a 64 year old Turkish man, Aydin Irmak, lying in the snow with no gloves, no oxygen, no shelter as other climbers streamed past him in their quest for the summit.
Climbers know instantly 26,000 feet is the infamous ‘death zone’ where the lack of oxygen is insufficient to sustain human life for any length of time. Exposure in that zone quickly leads to acute mountain sickness, hypothermia and, most often, death.
If pondering Jesus’ crucifixion doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you probably aren’t doing it right.
I’m not referring to the gore and humiliation, which makes crucifixion repulsive no matter who the victim is.
Watch the Video: ON Scripture: Jesus Predicts His Death
Matthew Skinner, assistant professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary, discusses the Biblical text Mark 9:30-37, featured in the ON Scripture The Bible article, “Jesus’ Death and the Future of Violence.”
Immigration Reform and the Challenges of Generosity (Luke 4:22-30) By Matthew L. Skinner
Charity doesn’t leave us unchanged, which is just one reason why it’s hard to make ourselves do it.
To be more specific: when we extend generosity and justice to others, it alters our relationship to them. Especially when those “others” are foreign to us. Hospital
The Abortion Debate: We’re All in This Together By Barbara K Lundblad
This is a memorable week: on Monday the inauguration of President Obama on the holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and on Tuesday the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. Some people will celebrate all three with thanksgiving. Others will
A Vision for America: John 2:1-11 By Reverend Dr. Alvin O'Neal Jackson
“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” John 2:10
Occupy the Dream
Spurred on by the Occupy Wall Street movement, African-Am
Waiting on the Messiah and Presidential Expectations: A Study of Luke By David A. Sánchez, Ph.D.
It is an odd juxtaposition, December 21, 2012 and January 21, 2013. The former date representing the “so-called” Mayan apocalypse where the usual suspects prepared for the end of the world – many of whom were Christians awaiting the second coming of Christ – a
Frankincense, Myrrh and a Toothbrush? Matthew 2:1-12 By Lisa Nichols Hickman
In As I Lay Dying, the main character Anse appears self-absorbed when at his wife’s death he says, “God’s will be done. . . . Now I can get them teeth.” His character will certainly not be remembered for altruism. But Anse will be remembered for the physical ef