Let’s clear something up shall we? I am a Christian and an ordained American Baptist pastor and I have earned a PhD in systematic theology and I teach the same and I support equal rights for LGBTQIA+ people including marriage equality and yes I have read the Bible. It is tragic to me that, when many people see the Christian part of my profile their first thought is I must be anti-gay like they are and right off start sending me homophobic propaganda in my inbox. They don’t think “oh she is Christian. She must be a compassionate person. Let us talk about how to be kind to others.” No. The first thing that comes to mind is “oh. She is Christian. She must hate ‘homosexuality’ (the sin, of course, not the sinner, heaven forbid) so let me send this little ‘God hates gays. Tell all your contacts.’ ” message.
Is it me? Have I been less than transparent about my beliefs and loyalties or is there something more basic happening, namely a major hijacking of the Christian faith on a massive scale?
How sad is it that the good news of a man named Jesus of Nazareth who sided with the poor and oppressed and the outcast and gave them hope – never once mentioning “homosexuality” has come to this? It is times like this I question even calling myself Christian anymore, not for the reasons my enemies would give, namely my departure from their understanding of orthodoxy, but because Jesus’ message has been lost in the institutionalization of religion and turned into the exact opposite of what it was meant to be. His promise of heaven became a “get out of hell” card for those who continue to create hell on earth for others.
He was crucified by the Romans as an enemy of state and is now being re-crucified by Christians who want to use his name to render his message irrelevant.
This is why I stay mad.
Dear white people, You know how horrible you felt when North Korea killed Otto Warmbier? You know how you kept thinking that could have been your kid? How you went and told stories about that movie Midnight Express and thought about all the stupid mistakes your kid made growing up and thanked God that at least he/she made those mistakes here where they were protected and not in some “foreign country” which did not privilege them? You know how you thought that if only there was some way of warning young people about the dangers of travel to “certain” places it would all be allright? Well that’s the way black and brown people, and maybe SOME who are in solidarity with them (still very much a work in progress) feel when OUR cops working for OUR country killed Philando Castille (and so many more, so very many more) and OUR jury failed to convict except, of course, it isn’t happening in a foreign country. It is happening here and there is nowhere they can go to escape it. They do warn their children with “the talk” and more, but it makes no difference. They can do everything right, just like Philando Castillo and so many others did everything right, and they will still be killed. What is worse, most of their white neighbors and co-workers and, dare I say, friends don’t even see it, let alone care. Until his life matters just as much TO US as Otto’s life, until we are just as outraged by the way our police and our courts and our prisons and our government all conspire to kill black and brown kids, often for nothing, as we are about foreign governments killing white kids for stupidity the horror will continue. So what are you willing to do today? Are you willing to at read this post and give it some thought? Are you willing to ask yourself these questions? Are you willing to talk to your friends and family about it? Don’t go apologizing to black or brown people. They are tired of hearing it. Don’t bother them at all. Bother US. We have work to do in our own families and communities. Let’s get on it.
John 19 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ 27Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Jesus of Nazareth was not a Roman citizen. Like most others in his community, he did not have the rights of Roman citizens. You might say he was undocumented. He could not vote, hold office, or make legal contracts. More importantly, if he was found guilty of breaking Roman law, he could be punished in ways no citizen was ever subjected to. He could be beaten and tortured. Also, unlike a Roman citizen, he could be crucified. And he was.
Hanging on that cross, knowing he would soon die, his thoughts go to those he would leave behind, particularly his mother, Mary, who would be left with no one to care for her. So Jesus makes custody arrangements. He tells his mother “woman, here is your son.” And to John, “Here is your mother.” This is how Jesus’ community survived persecution, by taking custody of each other.
We also live in a two tiered system of laws, one for US citizens, another for non-citizens. Non-citizens do not have the same legal and rights as citizens, even less if they are undocumented. Unlike citizens, undocumented immigrants can be “detained” meaning imprisoned, for long periods of time for no other crime than trying to seek asylum from poverty, violence and war. Unlike citizens, they have to report to ICE as frequently as three times a week. Many have to wear ankle monitors. And, of course, unlike citizens, they can be deported.
Knowing they can be deported at any time, they must make custody arrangements for children they may never see again, through power of attorney or legal guardianship. Right this moment, across our country, many immigrants are saying to a relative or friend “if I am deported tomorrow, behold, this is your son, This is your daughter.” Then they are turning to their children and saying “my beloved child, if I am deported tomorrow behold, this is your mother. This is your father.” That is how their community survives. They take custody of each other.
So, my beloved Christian family, as mass deportations happen in our country, as families are torn apart, as people who have lived among us for decades are forcibly removed from what is often the only home they have ever known ? Will we look the other way, telling ourselves they are only “illegal aliens” or will we start to see them as God sees them? Will we hear God say to us “Behold, this your son. This is your daughter. This is your mother. This is your father.” Will we take custody?