Monday, June 19

The Lord's Prayer and the Great Commission: Parallels of Spirituality and Action

It struck me as I was preparing for this sermon that Jesus’ commission to the twelve parallels the Lord’s prayer. Christ tells us to pray for a thing in the Lord’s prayer and then commissions us to act on it in tonight’s Gospel.

Pray for God’s kingdom come, Jesus says, and I commission you to proclaim that it has become near.

Recent translations have used the reign of God rather than kingdom since the word kingdom has lost that meaning since the Bible was written. Kingdom in the Bible often refers to the time in which a particular ruler was in power, rather than the land or people who are ruled over.

The Israelites rejected God as their King, asking for a human one. Through Samuel, God warned them how a human king would be: He will send your children to war, make them build his weapons, make them work for him, take your best possessions and give it to his servants, he will take portions of your harvest, and you will become his slaves.

Jesus makes it clear to his disciples that they are not to be rulers. You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

Jesus, who is now our king, the person of God who has taken on our humanity, who still bears our wounds, tells us over and over that wealth, power and status do not belong in the kingdom of God.

Jesus tells us again and again is that God cares about our suffering. Jesus in fact identifies with the suffering. What you have done for the least you have done for Jesus. Which leads us to…

Pray for God’s will to be done, I commission you to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.

God’s will is for us to ease suffering. Theodicy is a whole branch of theology that deals with why an all-powerful all-good God would allow evil and suffering. But I’m not going to get into that, because suffering is here, like it or not, whether it makes theological sense or not. There is suffering and we are called upon to ease it.

And if we are to live like Christ, then we shouldn’t consider if someone deserves suffering or if they brought it on themselves. As Paul reminds us in Romans, “For a good person someone might actually dare to die. God proves God’s love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” 

Pray for God to forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven. You received without payment; give without payment, I commission you to respond to rejection of peace you’ve given, by letting your peace return to you. Shake it off.

Actually to shake the dust from your feet is a rejection back, but I believe letting your peace return to you isn’t. Even as you shake the dust off your sandals, do it with a peaceful heart. Does that sound contradictory? Perhaps but not any more than “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

That reminds me of a story about a traveling sage who comes across a village terrorized by a great serpent. The sage convinces the serpent of the value of peace, and to stop harming the villagers. The sage on his return journey comes across the serpent who has been attacked and wounded by the villagers seeking revenge. The sage tells her, “I said not to harm them; I didn’t say not to hiss at them.” The way of peace is not a way without conflict. It is a way that includes acknowledging you’re capable of doing harm. We are not commissioned to be doormats.

And not all the places you visit will reject you, laborers deserve their food. Pray for God to give us our daily bread, yet like mana from heaven, only what we need today. I commission you to take nothing with you, depend on the hospitality of others. 

I’ve often run into what seems to me a very odd (and I think very American) definition of self-sufficient. Somehow it’s thought that receiving money from employers or clients is somehow self-sufficient, while receiving money from family, the government, or charitable organizations is not. To my mind, all of the above reflects dependence on others. The labor we deem legitimate still puts us in a position of dependence on employers or clients. 

And of course, we’re all dependent on God for our very lives. The air that we breathe, in fact all that sustains us comes from God. I even believe our very strength to endure the trials of this world is strength we receive from God.

Pray for God to not bring us to the time of trial, yet I commission you to be sheep among wolves. This all starts with Jesus having compassion for the harassed and helpless, who are like sheep without a shepherd. The commission is to remind the sheep that the Lord is their shepherd.  But there are wolves. The wolves want sheep to remain helpless and harassed. Suffering benefits the wolves. The wolves will in fact do everything in their power to stop you from tending to them, easing their suffering and reminding them of their Lord.

In tending to the suffering, you will have to endure suffering yourself. Jesus certainly didn’t avoid it. And God can and will give you the strength to endure. And like Jesus, you will be vindicated. And it will be Jesus whose suffering you ease. Whatever you do for the least of these… The mourning will be comforted, the hungry will be filled, and the pure in heart will see God. And there are emotional rewards. Think of those whose suffering you relieve. Many will bubble over with Joy like Sarah did. "God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me." 

Sunday, June 4

The Varieties of Prophesy by the Same Spirit

Jubi and I proclaim, each time we meet, the Gospel. We prophesy. We, hopefully, speak God’s word addressed to you who are a gathering of God’s people. The passages we read today on Pentecost, though say that it isn’t only certain people with certain roles and who are ordained that can or should prophesy- speak the word of God to others, share the Gospel.  This has been something of what our Easter series has been seeking to explore: How might we all access and be freed up to prophesy, to speak by the power of the Spirit, to share with those around us and with each other the living water of our life with God.

Jesus in our short Gospel passage says .we both drink of Christ and we become streams of living water, from which others will drink. That water from which we drink and which pours out from us the  Spirit of God.

A few things about this proclamation of the Gospel and prophesying: It isn’t necessarily something thought out. To prophesy by the Spirit isn’t a choice. One doesn’t choose to be empowered by the Spirit. The Spirit comes upon us, and flows through us and from us.  We are conduits. We make ourselves available like those who gathered in Jerusalem in the upper room, waiting. At the same time, there are times when this proclamation and speaking with the Spirit, prophesying, is thought out and choice. There are moments, like Jubi’s and my sermon in which we not only wait, but in waiting actively participate with the Spirit in prophesying, speaking the word of God to a specific group of people.

We see both kinds of proclamation in the story of that first Day of Pentecost when the Spirit descended and a band of followers of Jesus Christ were transformed into the Church, Christ’s body. The Spirit descends with a sound of rushing wind and the sign of tongues of fire and without willing it the gathered disciples male and female along with the apostles begin to speak in languages unknown to them and proclaim God’s word and the Gospel of God’s great works in Jesus Christ.  

Those who spoke in tongues and were heard by those of various native languages from all over the globe, spoke by inspiration and not choice, the words flowed from them in a way that they couldn’t choose or plan. But Peter stands up and speaks by the same inspiration of the Spirit in a language, he knows and while extemporaneous, he chooses his words, and we can say from the evidence of Luke’s account he chose them carefully, in a well thought out manner, with a chosen line of argument and chosen supporting evidence of that argument.  Both are under the direction and inspiration of the Spirit one with less agency the other with more, but all prophesy by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Peter’s proclamation and prophesy is more akin to what Jubi and I do each Sunday we gather, and in fact our ordination puts us in a line of decent from St Peter and the Apostles, those chosen to stand as official representatives of the Gospel and the visible Church. It is one of the great tragedies that has repeated itself in the church that the Spirit filled proclamation of St Peter and the Apostles has been pitted against the prophesy of the gathered people of God, the disciples who speak in various and sundry tongues by the inspiration of that same Spirit.

Jubi and my prophesying as Peter can’t and shouldn’t stand apart from the speaking in tongues of the gathered people of God, who speak prophesy empowered and inspired by the same Spirit. But the lay proclamation of the disciples the gathered people of God, needs the proclamation of St. Peter. And St Peter’s proclamation is without effect without the proclamation of the gathered disciples. They aren’t in competition, one shouldn’t and doesn’t diminish the other each is supported and supportive of the other. They both are expressions of the same Spirit. So, Moses’ authority and Spirit empowerment wasn’t diminished or threatened by other’s who received the same Spirit as God distributed the Spirit as God chose.

What I hope, is that what Jubi and I proclaim and prophesy when we gather may awaken in each of us the same Spirit so that each of us is opened to the Spirit that each of you may proclaim in our contexts in languages we may not all understand, not only here in this worship service but more importantly outside this upper room, among the crowds.

So, this act of proclamation that Jubi and I do each week, is also what is to flow from your own mouths by the power and inspiration of the Spirit. It is both the water you drink and the water you are to allow to flow form you so those around you may drink. This is our life together. This is our prophesy. That we all may be like streams of water quenching the thirst of those around us. Don’t think it enough that Jubi and I prophesy to you, in fact our speaking by the Spirit needs your own speaking by the power of the Spirit.  It begins in our times of discussion, but is to overflow this time and space flow out into the crowds of the world. And don’t worry if you think you don’t’ know enough or don’t know what to say, you have the Spirit in you, it will give you the words, even the language to say what you are called to proclaim.  You are among the Disciples, you have different call from those of us who are among the apostles. So, don’t worry, but be open to the gifting and guidance of the Spirit. Let the spirit flow through you. Trust the Spirit of God in you. Amen

Monday, May 1

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Easter

Were not our hearts burning within us?

Sad to say I know a few people, myself included, that find it much easier to get into the darker emotions of Lent and Good Friday, than to be lifted up by joy in the Easter season. But perhaps that’s because we associate joy too much with the prevalent social pressure to strive to be happy. Burning hearts to me suggests a different tone of joy. More of an eagerness, a desire.

Which is a more intimate thing that exuberance. And despite the initial volley of words- “Are you the only one who doesn’t know?” “Oh you fools” –todays Gospel story is quite intimate. Not as intimate as last week’s fingers inside a wound intimate, but in a way more remarkable in that Jesus appears to disciples rather than apostles, here. Disciples who were not even in the inner circle enough for them to know Simon by the name Peter.

Their hearts burned as they came to understand that their expectations of the messiah were in error. That victory and glory were in identifying with the victim. That freeing Israel was neither a political or military matter. Then in the breaking of the bread, which we know to be his body, they recognize him.

Then, even though the day was nearly over they went back to Jerusalem to tell the 11 and companions what they saw. They had to share this experience with those who would understand. And it is that kind of sharing - talking to people about a wonderful encounter with God – that will be our overarching topic this Eastertide.

Evangelism is usually talked about more in the spirit of Peter’s rhetorical argument - and look how many numbers came to Christ that day! Remember, though, that Peter was saying something brand new at the time.  I swear every time I get handed a Christian pamphlet on the street I think, “Do you seriously believe I’ve never been exposed to these ideas before?” I really don’t think a primer in Christianity is needed anymore. Not in Chicago anyway. Some ideas about Christianity can and should be corrected, but most folks know the basics by now. And it’s sort of insulting to suggest they don’t.

In part because of the very offensive and in your face evangelism that many people have had to endure, to even talk about evangelism at all makes me bit uncomfortable. Yet, that makes me all too often fail to tell people about what Christ has done for me, or about my relationship with God; a relationship that defines so much of my life. It’s very personal to me.

Now by personal relationship with God, I don’t mean an individual relationship to God. My relationship to God is bound up in relation to others. I rather mean personal in an intimate sense. It’s profound and deep and unique, but not solitary. I have had visions and mystical experiences of God, but they happened in the context of scripture and ritual that have been cultivated for 2000 years. And it is only through sharing with others that I came to better understand these experiences.

As I’ve shared these experiences, I’ve discovered that people who are at very similar places in their spiritual journey that I am have gotten there in different ways. This reminds me of the Hindu concept that there are different paths to God for different people. And in reading about that I was reminded of the five love languages in personal relationships.

The five love languages was developed in marriage counseling (though I think it applies to other relationships) to describe how what one person sees as an expression of love, the other person may seem differently. “Why don’t you ever say you love me?” “I do! I give you presents all the time!” “But you never say the words!”

The five languages are: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. My love languages are physical touch and quality time. This is why mediation and the sacraments – which are physical – are so important to my connection to God. Some folks I know connect with God much more intellectually, which I equate with words of affirmation. For some of my social justice focused friends, acts of service is their Godly love language.

For God is love. Our relationship to God is a loving one, no matter how we express or cultivate it. And so I ask you, “Where and when do you speak of your earthly love relationships?” How do you talk to people about your partner, your children, your family, your beloved friends, you pets? Aren’t those conversations imitate, or an invitation to intimacy?

Would you tell those same people about your loving relationship with God? At the same times? Why or why not? These questions are what we’ll be exploring in the weeks to come.

Contemplate your love relationship to God, pay attention to your heart. What makes your heart burn? What would make you rush to others to share? What inspires you to have genuine mutual love, to love one another deeply from the heart?

Monday, January 16

Jesus’ Foolish Politics: Preparing to Hear the Sermon on the Mount

    Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany
    We are in that time between.  It is a time of joy.  The joy of knowing God has come, God is with us. It is a time of enlightenment. We have seen and heard of God come as the human Jesus of Nazareth. My message for us to day is a simple one. Fully entering Our enlightenment, our joy, is accepting and acting on Jesus’ invitation to “Come and see”.  But there is great deal to unpack in this simple invitation. 

    We have a related difficulty. After the coming of God in human flesh, we struggle to live by the light and the path revealed to us by this light.  The story we have walked through, god born of Mary like any other human being, god vulnerable to the machinations of Herod, god coming to the banks of the Jordan as just a normal unremarkable person. According to our passage in john even after the baptism and the heaven opening and the voice and the manifestation of the Spirit like a dove, John still points out Jesus to his own disciples and says hey, you might want to check that guy out, he’s the Lamb of God, and even so still others stick around John rather than going after Jesus.

    We have in all of this the mystery of the Church, the body of Christ in continuity with Israel, not so as to supplant the importance nor the reality of the Jewish people as God’s chosen people. The church is Israel taken up into Jesus of Nazareth, who fulfilled what Israel is, Christ fulfils the law. Also, the church is how the prophesies of the nations coming to Israel and being enlightened is also fulfilled. In this small community, we have this reality encapsulated, we have a member who is Jewish and who knows Christ come in the flesh and we have those who come from a variety of peoples in the world all of whom are blessed by Israel and the Jewish people, having been enlightened by Jesus of Nazareth the word of god Made flesh, the Israel and wisdom of God.

    Our moment comes after a long and varied history of the church in which those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, Christ have missed or not answered, or ignored, or betrayed the call to be the church. We Christians have relied on that which is other than Jesus Christ.

    There is a need to reacquaint ourselves as members of Christ body with the place of God’s presence in our midst. We need to be reminded that when God came in human flesh God did not reside at the centers of power. We need to contemplate and discern the meaning that  God coming in our midst and the manifestations around it, were missed by most everyone especially the powerful. The power brokers and well as the powerful had no idea that anything significant had happened.  Even many of the poor and the oppressed people in Judea and Galilee also had no clue.

    We may wonder what to do in this moment. We may wonder at the failures of members of the church to live out our faith, and to live into the call to be saints, as body of Christ, isn’t so much that we haven’t known what it is, as we the members of the body of Christ have consistently tried to dilute the call and the message by realism or by acquiescence to the powerful. We know it. We celebrate it year after year.  We know the teaching and we will in this liturgy read the sermon on the mount and have the teaching of Jesus clearly proclaimed to us positions other Christians take. But we can’t get mired in the failures of Christians and the betrayals of Christ and the Church, either now or in the past. We need to come again and ask Jesus Christ to show he is staying.  And we need to leave aside our assumptions and presuppositions and truly come and see.

    The Isiah passage we read reminds us that what we have been liturgically waiting for in Advent and Celebrating in Christmas and continue to celebrate in this season after the Epiphany, was proclaimed and anticipated by the Hebrew Prophets. We know well with Isaiah that the world can be a place absent of light and hope.  What we need to remember and see again that it is God who enlightens and offers hope, that the nations and the powers aren’t the means through which God offers this hope and light. This happens through a small and insignificant people on the world stage, the Jewish people that God chose to bring enlightenment and hope. Ultimately accomplished through the Jew Jesus of Nazareth. Of course, Isaiah has only a small glimpse of this, and much of what he says of this one and what will happen either is wrong or at least not literal. That is, we don’t know what we celebrate about the person Jesus of Nazareth merely because Isaiah and the prophets of Israel proclaimed it. Rather after the coming of Christ, the incarnation of the Word of God, we see what the Hebrew prophets saw and yet couldn’t fully articulate. We as often as not are like those around John the Baptist , not seeing , nor recognizing the reality of God with us.

    Friday, November 25

    Hope is a Crucified God; Sermon for Reign of Christ Sunday

    As Christians, this is our hope, Christ crucified. Our hope is that Christ has been exalted over all things through his death on the Cross.
    There are dangers in this statement of faith and hope. There are interpretations that ask us to accept injustice for the sake of a deferred hope. In seeking to find hope in the crucifixion many focus on the final sentence of the Gospel passage just read. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” The interpretation that focus on this says that our hope is only one found in what happens after our death.
    But such an interpretation misses the identification with oppressed, poor, suffering, sinful humanity.  A “faith” that focus only on “Today you will be with me in Paradise” is more like the lack of faith of the first insurgent criminal than the second. It fails to connect the afterlife with this life. This complete focus on the afterlife fails refuses to be overcome and encompassed by the full ministry of the incarnation, it is a rejection of God joined with matter and our humanity in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. God’s union with humanity and the outcast is the essence of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Holy one of God, and this union effect the now or it doesn’t affect the afterlife.
    The Cross, Christ Crucified, is the politics of the Church, the body of Christ. This crucified one is God come to be the shepherd of God’s people, who is consistent when other shepherds lead the sheep astray or abandon the flock altogether
    This is our hope, the Cross.
    In this moment though it is not enough to just say hope in Christ crucified. For this statement of hope and faith has been used by the powerful to say that the oppressed must accept the oppression the lot given to them.
    St Paul in the letter to the Colossians gives us the antidote to the missuses of the Cross:
    1:11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
    If we don’t anticipate the end of this passage, if we don’t remember that for Paul, Jesus Crucifixion is the power and glory of God we can misunderstand what Paul is encouraging us to embrace.  The Cross is our strength, God’s solidarity with the oppressed with our divided ruthless humanity and God’s willingness to suffer its consequences. This is the glorious power of God.  If you don’t believe me wait till we get to the end you will see that this is Paul’s point of this opening encouragement to us, the church.
    1:13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
    So we are strengthened by the glorious power of God (the Cross) by which we have been moved from one realm into another,  We have redemption and forgiveness. Do we act like we live in the Kingdom of Christ, or under the power of Darkness?
    1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;1:16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers--all things have been created through him and for him. 1:17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 1:18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.
    So the Crucified one, the suffering servant is the image of God, is united with all creation, as the firstborn.  Are you seeing in whom we hope, who was crucified, who is in solidarity with oppressed humanity?
    1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,1:20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
    Not only image as we human beings are intended to be, but in this crucified one, in Jesus of Nazareth the fullness of God dwelled. This identification with us was not to subdue us, not to punish us, but to reconcile us, bring an end to our violence, but suffering our violence and our tendency to oppress seeking power over others. God in his glorious power in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the crucifixion, acts contrary to these impulses and suffers as one who could have inflicted suffering.  God fully in a human being faces destruction when God could have come and destroyed. Through solidarity with the marginalized the oppressed, with the condemned (justly or unjustly), with the tortured and the rejected, god in this act by the shedding of God’s blood, by undergoing death, reconciles and makes peace and shows us the way to overcome death and oppression as a path of reconciliation and peace.  But it is only in solidarity, in being with, in willingness to walk the way of Christ, which is the way of the cross that there is hope.
    Questions for discussion:
    In facing our fears for ourselves for our friends for our families, for the marginalized and the vulnerable, what hope can you see in these passages in the Cross and in the Crucified One, in God in solidarity with us in our suffering and with the oppressed?
    What does Reconciliation mean in our context and how is this ministry of reconciliation hopeful?

    In the coming months and years, we can act out of fear or out of hope.  What does it look like and mean for you in your context and in your circles to act upon the hope of the Cross and God’s ministry of reconciliation?

    Thursday, November 24

    Hope as Virtue and Discipline

    This comes out of pastor Larry Kamphausen's notes for and from the discussion at the Theology on Tap: Hope as Virtue and Discipline, November 18, 2016
    “The arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards Justice.”
    Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used this aphorism in a sermon delivered at Temple Israel of Hollywood.  This is a hopeful image.  The aphorism is a snapshot of hope as virtue and discipline, before we unpack and interpret this aphorism, we need to ask some questions.
    What is Hope? Hope can be a slippery thing to lay hold. We may by a lottery ticket and in hoping to win the lottery.  A child might hope that she is getting from her parents a gift that she asked to receive. Such hope doesn’t seem to be either virtuous nor does it require any discipline.  The second case approaches more what we mean when we speak of hope as virtue and discipline. In the case of the hope of a child for a gift from their parents, is hoping in someone for something There is a difference between hoping to win the lottery and hoping to receive something one has asked for at Christmas.. The hope of the child is rooted in the loving relationship between the child and their parent. The hoped-for outcome isn’t guaranteed, but it is more likely and is bound up with a relationship.  In this second type of hope what one is hoping in is distinguished from what is hoped for, yet they are bound up together. Even so, in the hope of a child for a Christmas gift hasn’t yet brought us to hope as virtue and discipline
    All instances of hope aren’t virtuous. So, we need to ask what is common across various instances of hopefulness. So that we then can lay hold of a hope that is something we can call a virtue and about which we can be disciplined. What covers all connotations of hope is that hope looks to a fulfillment; it also lives now in anticipation of that fulfillment.
    Given this sense of hope, what then does it mean for hope to be both a discipline and a virtue? Hope is a virtue and discipline if what is hoped in is a good that is more than a desire for only oneself and more than wishful thinking. Hope that is a virtue is a hope bound up with a movement toward the good, something that in hoping for it we are moved towards our betterment. For hope to be a virtue and discipline requires something to be hoped in and for that can lead us to something greater than we are now.  Hope that is a virtue and a discipline is hope that moves us toward what is hoped for.  Hope as virtue and discipline is anticipation that actively waits for what is hoped for. This sort of hope isn’t passive; it is moving towards a goal or an end.
    Hope can be a virtue because hoping in something that moves us towards that which we hope.  Such a hope requires an expansiveness, to borrow Obama’s phrase, it requires an audacity. Simultaneously it also requires humility to admit that what is hoped for isn’t yet realized. Hope as virtue and discipline is magnanimous and humble.
    The enemy of hope as virtue is presumption. This may find itself in too great a confidence, too much assurance that at any moment what is hoped for is coming to fruition or fulfilment and completion in that moment. Thus, it is destructive of hope to use hope as part of a political campaign as Obama’s campaign did.  This is so, largely because, what we hoped for in Obama wasn’t going to be completely fulfilled by Obama’s admiration, rather a virtuous hopefulness in a political party or a factional politics, or a politician is in there being able to bring us closer to that which we hope, not for their ability to deliver that for which we hope.  What was hopeful about Obama and his campaign and subsequent presidency was only hopeful to the degree that that hope was what propelled Obama, not in his or his administration’s ability to fulfill and deliver that for which we hope.  Thus, to the degree that Obama was hopeful with us and not the object of our hope then we have a truly hopeful politics, but the moment we hoped in Obama or his administration, we ceased to have hope in a way that is virtue and discipline and which can lead us toward a goal greater than ourselves.
    Hope as virtue and discipline needs the humility to understand that there is in this life always a remainder of what is hoped for in any movement towards what we hope. For hope as virtue and discipline there needs to be the simultaneous magnanimity of claiming to be able to achieve what is hoped for with a sense that the fullness of what is hoped for can’t be found in any one moment.
    What sort of things might we say we hope for in this manner? What is it that we can both be audacious about and about which we can be humble?
    Hoping in God and of the God revealed in Jesus Christ.
    The God revealed to us in the Hebrew Prophets and the divine human Jew Jesus of Nazareth, is a god who is about justice and who defines for us justice as the concern for and right treatment of those who are marginalized, most vulnerable and who are outcasts. Captives, prisoners, widows, orphans, those who can’t easily and financially hold on to property and means of production to provide for their daily lives, food, shelter and clothing.  In the letter from the Apostle James, we are told that true religion is one that has solidarity with the poor and the vulnerable.
    Thus, hope for this sort of justice can reside not simply in some future wished for utopia, that may or may not be achieved, nor something that may or may not be realistic and realizable rather this hope is bound up in the very fabric of the universe and in the source of all that is.
    When Martin Luther King Jr. affirms the aphorism “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”, this isn’t some generic hope, but a faith statement about the one has aimed the bow and the arrow is on target..  This is faith in the God who is revealed to us in the Hebrew prophets and in Jesus of Nazareth. That is Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t in that moment talking as a politician of a one nation state, but as  a member of the people of God, Israel, the Church. He is speaking as a preacher and a prophet.
    The above aphorism. isn’t a hope in humanity’s ability to progress based in humanity alone, but in God’s work in history
    Hope then in its activist form is seeking to act in accordance with this goal. This is what makes hope a discipline.  The virtue of living in conformity with the long arc of bent towards justice, is to live in a certain way. Hoping in this manner is especially a disciple when a present moment seems at odds with what is hoped for. As a Rabbi friend says it is to act as if.
    The difficulty and the virtue of hope is that some aspects of the current moment will appear to be an argument against having hope.  If hope is merely wishful thinking, if we can’t say truthfully that in some sense justice, wholeness, true life isn’t the goal isn’t the direction of things, then no living as if will counter what immediately appears.

    To have hope that is a virtue and can be a discipline is to have hope in something that is true beyond a certain instance. It is to hope in something that is true about our deepest selves and the entire universe and of human being.  Different philosophies and Spiritualties may give different reasons for it being there or exactly how to describe it but it must be an affirmation that our goal forms us into our truest selves.  Simultaneously it must also affirm that this goal is beyond any one of us or any moment. The fulfillment of this hope is beyond us but also realized in us an in moments even if not yet landing its mark.

    Sunday, August 7

    First Vespers with Eucharist Feast of Saint Mary Mother of God

    Join us Sunday August 14th for a Vespers and Eucharist for the Feast of St Mary/Feast of the Dormition/ Feast of the Assumption of St Mary.

    Visit the Google + Event page or the Facebook Event page, for more details.