All this flag waving
and baby saving
has got me asking a question:
How can you love an embryo
But not a 3-year-old
That got torn from his mother?
How can a mass of cells
Be more urgent to protect
Than children in massive cells;
Suffering, dying from neglect?
Oh, I know; when the heart beats-
That’s where life begins
But, I’m confused.
Those children sleeping in aluminum sheets;
They have beating hearts too.
No cause can be higher:
We read Psalm 139.
Protect them in the womb!
But they are all God’s knitting.
Don’t we also rescue them from their chain-link tomb
Happy St. Stephen’s Day! Today is the feast day of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr who was stoned to death by devout religious people for disagreeing with them and speaking truth to power. Yay!
Stephen was a deacon in the very early church, charged with caring for the widows in the church and community in Jerusalem. You can read about him in Acts 6 and 7. He was described as “a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit” and “full of God’s grace and power.” And so, of course, the religious power-brokers were determined to destroy him.
They stirred up the people against him and dragged him before the Sanhedrin with a lot of false accusations and lies (does this sound familiar? Jesus went through this about 35 years before Stephen.) Stephen’s answer to their charges was to tell them The Story because apparently, they had lost the plot. Stephen told them the story of God’s grace and pursuit of God’s people, starting with Abraham and ending with their killing of Jesus, the Righteous One.
Continue reading “St. Stephen’s Day”
While preparing for Christmas Eve worship, I happened upon a service of Las Posadas in our United Methodist Book of Worship. I was somewhat familiar with Las Posadas, an Hispanic tradition which re-enacts the search for lodging by Joseph and Mary to bring Jesus into the world.
But I didn’t realize that there is a Christmas Eve Service that has the following liturgy sung by the travelers (outside the church sanctuary) and responses sung by the congregation (inside):
Travelers: In the name of God, we beg; will you let us enter?
We are tired and we are cold. May we please have shelter:
Congregation: You look dirty and you smell. Will you please keep moving. For your kind there is no place, for our inn is decent.
Travelers: It is not by our own choice that today we travel. But the emperor has sad that we must be counted.
Congregation: For your reasons we care not, every room is taken. Can’t you see the place is full? You are bad for business.
The travelers respond by quoting John 1:10 “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I was stunned. Stunned that the images and cries of the refugees from the very countries where this tradition originated (along with others from the land where Jesus himself traveled) are standing and knocking and hearing these responses.
I put this video together with pictures that speak for themselves.
May we be both stunned and awakened to the fact that Christ has instructed us on how to welcome Him. We have only to obey.
The Las Posadas song in English was from a website with resources for Las Posadas www.VenAdelante.org/posadas
Thanks for joining me on this journey. Pastorsoup is a blend of sacred and secular, with the occasional spice.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
March 26, 2018
I’m thinking about cheerleaders today. On this Palm Sunday I’m thinking about the cheerleaders that lined the dusty streets as Jesus came through the gates into Jerusalem. The crowd, always ready for something to take their mind off the day-to-day. Willing, for the moment, to back this raggedy, back-woods, itinerant rabbi.
They waved their branches. “Hosanna!” they cried. “Save us!”
But when this Savior didn’t give them the military muscle they craved, their cheers turned to jeers. The crowd became a mob. The violence they needed was now turned toward the innocent, donkey-riding peacemaker.
No more “Hosanna!” By Friday they were screaming, “Crucify him!” They were mocking and spitting and taunting. And they had blood in their eyes.
I thought of some other cheerleaders today. These were the white, working-class mothers (pictured above) that John Steinbeck wrote about in his book “Travels with Charley.” These so-called “cheerleaders” lined the streets outside William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in November of 1960, as first grader Ruby Bridges was escorted into that recently desegregated school by U. S. Marshals. Norman Rockwell immortalized the moment in his painting “The Problem We All Live With.” (Click to view it here) https://goo.gl/images/tHDR8h
Ruby was the first African American to attend an all-white school there. She was six years old. And those “very fine people,” those southern, white ladies screamed vitriol and filthy obscenities that Steinbeck called “bestial and filthy and degenerate” at that beautiful child. Steinbeck wrote “In a long and unprotected life I have seen and heard the vomitings of demoniac humans before. Why then did these screams fill me with a shocked and sickened sorrow?”
I’m thinking about the cheerleaders now.
On Saturday, March 24th, 2018, when the wave of March For Our Lives crested across the United States, the cheerleaders washed up on the shore, like so much trash. Mocking and jeering and taunting. They are saying vile things to and about children who were terrorized and escaped a massacre. Like Steinbeck we are filled “with a shocked and sickened sorrow.”
But we shouldn’t be surprised, because this has been going on for a very long time. Screaming hate at innocents. People filled with violence. Can you imagine that the Lord of Life wanted to be part of this mess that we are?
He did! And on Easter Sunday, once again, we will be able to stake a claim on the new life Jesus offers to all! Not just in the by-and-by; but right now. Changed hearts! Swords (AR15s) beaten into plowshares! Love winning over hate! War hawks turned into doves! Life out of death!
Arise, my Love!