The President Who Would Not Welcome Jesus

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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These words have stood through time on the to remind us that all are welcome in the United States. We are, for the most part, people from somewhere else who’ve made this our home. We are a nation of immigrants, a melting pot of culture. These truths make us who we are when we are at our best.

The current President does not embody us at our best, he embodies us at our worst. He intentionally seeks dark places where fear takes over. The President deals in fear, fear rooted in racism and classism.

As a citizen, his words trouble me on many levels. As a Christian, I find them to be in direct conflict with any teaching or ethic of Jesus. That this President continues to be lifted as a “Christian” example by several Christian leaders is incomprehensible and disgusting to me. It’s proof that a few will go to great lengths to use religion to curry favor and gain power (Yes, I am talking about you Franklin Graham).

If the President’s racism and classism had its way, he would not welcome Jesus into this nation. Jesus was a poor, dark-skinned person from the Middle East. Sounds to me like the kind of person the President loathes. The truth of the Gospel that all are created by God and all are loved by God is a great threat to the President’s worldview. It’s past time for those who believe in the power of God’s inclusive love to speak up. I know I have too often been silent. No more.

This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats, it’s about human decency. It’s about speaking for the dignity of God’s beloved. It’s about creating a nation that embodies the very words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. We are better than this.

2017 Reading List

I doubt that its best practice to start off 2018 with a 2017 list, but time ran out on me in 2017 (and I honestly didn’t think about it until a couple of days ago) My reading choices this year were not as robust due to a ministry transition and a move. I’ve included everything that I read for the first time or for the first time in a while and all of these books have been read all the way through. There is no particular order to this list, other than a general descending order from December to January. One of my goals for 2018 is to read more fiction, including some classics. Let me know what you think, I’m always up for coffee and conversation. Happy Reading in 2018.

End Game by David Baldicci

The Art of Loading Brush by Wendell Berry 

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal 

Origins by Dan Brown

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek 

Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferris

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kendo

Beartown by Fredrick Backman

The Call by Adam Hamilton

Questions Preachers Ask: Essays in Honor of Thomas G. Long

Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates 

Pre-Post- Racial America by Sandhya Jha 

More Than Words by Erin Wathen

Night School by Lee Child

42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story by Ed Henry

The Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

What is the Bible? by Rob Bell

How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin

The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear by William Barber

Ally by Michael D. Oren 

The Road to Character by David Brooks 

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle

The One Thing by Gary Keller

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

The Whistler by John Grisham

Option B: Sheryl Sandberg

The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the New Companies of Silicon Valley are Changing the World by Brad Stone

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious by David Dark

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

 

 

Advent 4 and Christmas Eve

“Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.” Marianne Williamson

happy-holidays

The account of Jesus’ birth that we hear today is the foundation of a way of life. The birth of Jesus is a gritty story. We clean it up a bit so that it’s easier for us to digest. Jesus was born into a less than ideal world in less than ideal conditions. The government of Rome was an imperial monarchy that sought to bring all in line through fear. They used the military and economic inequality to bring fear. For most, it was a less than ideal time to be alive.  Some spoke on behalf of God, but what they were saying was nothing that was of God. Others thought that God had stopped speaking, giving up on the people. People were watching for a messiah, expecting a great warrior, a smooth politician, and a gifted legislator.

No one was expecting the most powerful love of all to come into the world as a baby. Jesus would later in his life describes Gods actions like “a thief in the night.” God sneaks up on us. This day, we are waiting for God to sneak up on the the whole world once again.  In a world that is filled with fear, we need this. We need a savior who is born with the power of love, not the love of power. We need the reminder through the birth of Jesus that we are all born with love. Not fear, but love. Tonight, as we welcome Christ we begin a journey. A journey to who we are created to be, people filled with love in our hearts.

Cars Should Run On Electricity

This is a guest post by Bella Gulden, who wrote this two weeks ago for a 4th grade writing project. I found it to be a good word to share from a bright, up and coming writer (I am a little biased) She has something important to share with all of us. 

Cars should run on electricity. Then there could be less global warming, less chance of emergency, and most of all a better and cleaner future. Here are some answers to why cars should run on electricity.

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One reason cars should run on electricity is it will make less global warming happen. Today cars are one of the most used mode of transportation. Cars use gas, so what’s the big deal? Well, when you are driving, the gas will wear away up into fumes. It floats up into the air to pollute cities and homes. Also, when you get an electric car, the Polar Bears will thank you deeply.

Another reason cars should run on electricity is that there could be less change of emergency. Gas is very flammable to people and animals, like those who set onions on fire at Chinese restaurants. I must say, that stuff is pretty cool. Never use water when there is a car crash, it can just make matters worse. If you are in a car crash remember that water is the enemy this time.

My last reason why cars should run on electricity is there can be a better and cleaner community. Gas can pollute millions of places in the world. Gas can pollute trees, wildlife, and rivers. Trees are the source to the air we inhale today and tomorrow. Rivers are the source of our water, but we are polluting them with water bottles and soda cans. Electric cars are clean with no polluting involved. Cars that run on electricity will help stop pollution. Electric cars could be the next big thing in our world. Even dogs are riding on skateboards.

Electricity can be clean and we can make it. Our supplies are unlimited to make electricity. Gas can come from dinosaur bones, which are extinct. Then we will run out of gas and have to use a different source to make cars keep going. There are cars today that use electricity, but there are more gas cars. Electric cars could change the outlook of the future. Here are all the reasons cars should run on electricity.

THE END

Advent 3- Joy

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

Isaiah 61:1-4

Joy

Dreamers are often too easily dismissed. We love to hear the words of the prophet Isaiah at this time of year, but do we take them seriously? You see, in the prophet’s day, people found Isaiah to be a bit strange. He was a dreamer who spoke words that pointed to a time that was too good to be true. He spoke of a day that was impossible to imagine. Most dismissed him and his words because they couldn’t see what he could see.. To be a prophet, you had to see beyond what is in order to see what could be. Today, there are many of us who have an issue with seeing as the prophets of old call us to see. We are willing to settle for a mediocre version of our world and of our faith.

Can you allow yourself a bit of privilege this day? Give yourself the joy of getting a glimpse of seeing life not as it is, but as it can be. Not just for yourself, but for everyone. Isaiah is pointing us to a day when the oppressed will hear good news, the brokenhearted will know wholeness, captives will know freedom, and prisoners will gain release. The world will be turned upside down. He is pointing us to a time when God will use a baby born in a humble manager to signal that the day is upon us.

Redemption is promised. That redemption will not so gently nudge us out of our comfort zones and into God’s future. Will this be the time when you and I decide to see something bigger at work in us and through us? I hope and pray so, because God desires all to know wholeness and to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is love. Allow yourself to see the world not as it is, but as it can be.

Advent 2- Peace

“A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” Isaiah 40:3-4

What’s alive in you?

What’s alive in us collectively that we may not even realize is alive?

Peace

The holidays, even more so this year, are a time when it can be difficult to feel what is alive in us. We remember the past, we lament what is broken. Broken relationships, threats of war, marginalization of others, unmet expectations, and promises that never came to be become magnified during this time of year. Specifically this year, the eclipse of the light by the darkness seems more prevalent.

The ancient people of Jerusalem know these feelings. They had been conquered by the Babylonians, removed from their homeland. The blame game was strong. Some blamed God, others blamed another, and a few blamed themselves. Their is doubt, fear, and anxiety that they will never seen their homeland again. This is wilderness, where life is hard to sense.

Isaiah has great nerve. The spirit of the Lord speaks through the prophet and  has the nerve to speak words of peace, words of life. Take comfort, because the way of the Lord is being cleared for you at this very moment. In scripture, the wilderness is often where peace begins. It’s the place where transformation- personal and communal- begins. The way to God almost often takes one to the desert. Peace begins in the wilderness.

What if we lived each day during this Advent season not lamenting what is broken, but sensing what is alive in us? What if we lived knowing that a way, a way in which God’s light will be revealed anew. is coming?

What’s alive in you?

What’s alive in us?

 

Killing Baby Jesus

Today’s post is a guest post by Michael McCluskey. Michael always makes me think deeper about my own faith and  is one of my favorite conversation partners. He is a junior at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and a member of Sandy Springs Christian Church in Atlanta.

Every year as we Disciples celebrate the Advent season, I recall a conversation I once overheard from a congregant as she asked our senior minister why we practice communion, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, during a season where Jesus is but a small child. She didn’t like that we were celebrating the death of the baby as we anticipated his birth. How could we kill an innocent baby?

Baby Jesus

Her concern made sense to me – why should we celebrate death in this joyful season of life? But we forget. We fall victim to our own blissful ignorance of the holiday season. We seek refuge during this season from all the strife and suffering in our lives – the Advent season is our break from the regularly scheduled pain of being a person in the world. We do all we can to preserve the innocence of the season as we cling to the innocence of Baby Jesus. Why would we celebrate the death of the baby? Why would we tarnish the joy of the Advent season?

We are quick to forget why we anticipate the Christ child. The Christ child who we know to be the Liberator, the Peace-maker, the Lamb. Immanuel came as a baby in a manger, but we know that the trough is not all this child is destined for. We know that this child, helpless and innocent lying in the manger, the son of refugees, the brown-skinned Palestinian Jew – he is our Savior. He was anointed to bring the kingdom of heaven to all the nations. This innocent child came to speak truth to power and defend the weak, the poor, and the unloved – those as weak and innocent as that baby lying in the manger.

This congregant wanted to shelter the Christ child from the pain of the world. She did not want to pervert his innocence with the cold light of truth that suffering and death exists in our world. She wanted to hold him in her arms so nothing could ever harm him. She wanted to turn away from the world and give this child the very best she could, just as any mother would. But she forgot that this child was destined for so much more. When we turn away from the cross during the season of Advent to celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace, that title becomes a platitude – frivolous and devoid of life. When we turn away from the sacrifice, Immanuel becomes a baby to a poor family lying in a manger because there was no room in the inn.

Friends, this is no ordinary babe.

This child grew up and became a man. He turned the tables and disrupted familiar injustice. He boldly loved those whom society had forgotten. He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy and ushered in an era of peace-making where one day the Lamb might lie down the with Wolf. He stuck his hand over the hole of the asp and, while it bit him, he did this knowing that one day a child would be able to do the same and would not be harmed. He shouldered the ridicule of the complacent pious knowing that one day they too would be enlightened by the truth of God’s grace – that all are loved no matter what. He carried his cross up that hill knowing that he did so for the salvation of all of humankind – so that no longer would they have to do the same.

In this Christmas season, may we not be so quick to forget that the Christ child is to lead the calf, the young lion, and the fatling all together in harmonious peace. We are called to be peace-makers in our own lives – to seek justice for the broken and to love the abandoned and forgotten. We are called to hold children that are not our own in the same way that the woman wanted to hold baby Jesus. As the snow falls outside the window pane and a tree stands tall, adorned with Christmons and crowned with a golden star, we are called to look into the eyes of the stranger and offer them bread and cup no matter who they are. In this season of life, we remember not the death, but the triumphant resurrection of a babe lying in a manger.