Archives For hope

What can an obscure verse in the exodus story tell white Christians about how to respond to recent events in Ferguson, MO? Why has it functioned as a metaphor to inspire hope to countless generations of oppressed people, Jew and non-Jew alike? What hope does it offer white Christians at this important moment in history?

The story of Israel’s exodus stands as the defining narrative for generations of Israelites. Passover, their most sacred festival, serves as an annual dramatic retelling of God’s liberation of an oppressed people, His people, from cruel enslavement. When, centuries later, the Israelites were exiled under Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian captivity, they retold the exodus narrative with a sense of fervent longing and anticipation that the God who’d once delivered them would be faithful and deliver them again.

Under Greek and Roman rule, the people of Israel again turned to their prophetic tradition for signs that the promised deliverer, one called the “messiah,” was coming to liberate them from foreign dominance. They imagined a bold leader would emerge to overthrow imperial rule, much like Moses had confronted Pharaoh. When the messiah did show up in the person of Jesus, he failed to meet the expectations of the masses. They did not have “eyes to see” or “ears to hear.”

From the earliest days of Christianity, followers of Jesus saw in him a continuance of the work of deliverance God began in the exodus. The exodus story earned a special place among African slaves and their descendants in America. The cry of the Hebrews became their cry. The hope of the Hebrews became their hope.

During the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, the story of the exodus again emerged as a guiding metaphor for black people seeking liberation from an overt system of oppression in the form of segregation laws. Again, the cry of the Hebrews became their cry and the hope of the Hebrews became their hope.

Now, in 2014, America stands at another crossroads of race. The equalities granted under the various acts and laws that emerged from the civil rights movement have proven incomplete. People of color in America in general, and black people specifically, face ongoing oppression from a network of political, legal, social, and cultural systems created long ago by white people to protect the power and privilege of white people. By inheriting this power and privilege, white people today are just as complicit in oppressing people of color as their more overtly racist ancestors were in creating those systems. Racism has become institutionalized, moving beyond the individual’s personal sentiments or religious piety.  Continue Reading…

After almost three years of being out from behind a pulpit, this weekend I get to share with my home community here in Portland: Theophilus Church. We are nearing the end of our journey though the book of Hosea together and AJ has asked me to keep us moving forward by sharing out of Hosea 13. If you’ve not read that chapter recently (or ever) you should take a minute to do that.

Man, this chapter seems like a really Debbie Downer of a passage, right? Check out this imagery:

[T]hey will be like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears,
like chaff swirling from a threshing floor,
like smoke escaping through a window.

. . .

I will come upon them like a lion,
like a leopard I will lurk by the path.
Like a bear robbed of her cubs,
I will attack them and rip them open.
Like a lion I will devour them: a wild animal will tear them apart.
You are destroyed, O Israel,
because you are against me,
against your helper.

. . .

Pains as of a woman in childbirth will come to him,

. . .

They will fall by the sword;
their little ones will be dashed to the ground,
their pregnant women ripped open.

Hosea 13:3, 7-9, 13a, 16b

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God, right?

So, where am I going to go with this passage? Well, if you’re in the Portland area on the evening of Sunday February 24, you should come find out. I’ll give you the working title for the message is the same as the title of this post, so maybe that will give you a clue as to what I’m thinking: “Cafeteria Spirituality, A Wild Lion, & the Death of Death.”

What would you draw out of this chapter? Or, even better, what would you want to hear talked about from this chapter?

ballot

I’ve cast a ballot in every election for which I was eligible since turning 18. But this year, I’m choosing not to vote for any of the candidates running for President. Here’s why . . .

Continue Reading…

Listening to the Goose

June 21, 2012 — 1 Comment

Wildgoose4

For the next several days I’ll be at the Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills near Pittsboro, North Carolina. This is the second annual iteration of the event. My wife and I were supposed to have attended its inaugural last year, but an unexpected job change followed by a cross-country move resulted in us forfeiting our tickets. Boo.

This year, George Fox Seminary is sending me as a representative to talk to people about our programs. What a great job! I love the place where I work (and where I’m also a student, working on my DMin) and it’s easy for me to talk to others about why they should consider seminary education in general, and GFU in particular.

Unfortunately, my wife isn’t with me, though. Bummer. But that means I have plenty of time to meet new folks and to listen.

Listen.

That’s what I hope to do at WGF this year. I heard very mixed things about it last year (read my friend Chris’s posts for some insight) and am interested–if not a little concerned–about the shape of the conversations this year. Last year there seemed to be a lot of evangelical ressentiment, a path I’ve gone down (or through) and have found a nice, less-cynical, more-hopeful place at the other end. I’m not sure it’s helpful to camp there for long.

So, I’m looking forward to Ian Cron’s conversation on “The Post-Cynical Christian” and Jim Wallis on “Baseball, Unexpected Hope, and the Vocation for a New Generation.” Oh, and also the “Theology of Beer” session… I’m also going to pay a lot of attention to the Sacred Space at the festival. I’m on the planning committee for Sacred Space for Wild Goose West, debuting later this year.

But most of all, I want to listen. I want to hear the shape of conversations and let them enwrap me. It seems that last year the participants wove a hair shirt. What will this year bring? As I am able, I will update this space with thoughts, reflections, and images. 

And if YOU want to come to the Goose, I could use some help staffing my exhibitor booth, especially on Saturday and Sunday, since I have to leave a bit early. I have a pass for you in exchange for your volunteer labor! Send me a message on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/tattooed.preacher