Loving Our Immigrant Neighbors

by susan on June 26, 2019

While we continue moving through our summer school of love, thousands of immigrant children are being separated from their parents and held in substandard detention center conditions. It doesn’t matter where they come from or how they got here. They are here now and they deserve better.

A year ago, I had the privilege of sharing these words at an interfaith vigil as families were being separated at our border. In our continued forgetfulness, neglect & at times inhumane hostility toward the stranger, may they remind us of the call to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

For nearly 2,000 years, Christ followers have been formed by a story or rather a collection of stories, poems, letters & writings. And in recent days it has become very clear that we have forgotten what’s at the core of these sacred texts we call Scripture.

Two stories in particular stand at the center.

The first is found in our Hebrew scriptures and it’s the story of the Hebrew or Israelite people. Descendents of Abraham & his elderly wife Sarah are chosen to live out God’s intentions for all of creation. And for a season, they are held captive.

They are forced to live as slaves to an Egyptian empire until the day that Yahweh rescues them from slavery. As part of their liberation, they journey through the desert for 40 years, searching for home & learning a new way of life.

It is clear: they are rescued in order to bless other nations.

And one of the ways they are to bless is by welcoming
& caring for & sharing with the stranger, the traveler & the foreigner in their midst.

See, the Hebrew people must never forget that they too were once strangers in a foreign land, that they too were in need, that they too were hungry and thirsty. When they forget, there are always consequences.

The other story that is instrumental to our Christian identity also involves a journey – this one is about God’s journey to be with us. God could have come to us in a million different ways. He could have come in the form of a wealthy politician or a warrior king. The gospel stories of our Christian scriptures tell us instead though, God chose to come through the fragility of birth & in the body of a helpless child. Jesus came as a vulnerable servant, a compassionate healer & teacher – One who ultimately died a criminal’s death.

God chose to be revealed in Jesus & he warned his followers to be on the lookout because he would still be coming to us in this same way. He knew we would forget. So, he warned: ‘Truly I tell you, just as you do it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you do it to me.’

These are not just stories meant to guide the Christian church. They are stories about what it means to be human – they are stories that warn us against forgetting what’s at the heart of our humanity.

When we forget who we are & where we come from & what we were created for, we are standing on dangerous ground. Friends, we are at that point.

The practice of separating families at our borders and of criminalizing those seeking refuge here are evidence of our forgetfulness. The pathetic number of refugees we are willing to accept into this country is proof of our lack of memory. And we must remember. We must remember that we have a responsibility to care for the stranger & to provide safety for the sojourner. We must remember that we are measured not by how much wealth we accrue, but how we treat the outsider and the vulnerable.

Our liberation, our healing, our future are dependent our willingness to remember & on our daring, as Jesus did, to stand in solidarity with those who are suffering.

_____

Each of us can do something to offer aide. Check out 20 ways you can help immigrants now or how you can help end child detention horrors today. There is also a Lights for Liberty Vigil planned in Jacksonville on Friday night, June 12th, 7-9 p.m. at Friendship Fountain. The Facebook event is here.

Peace + love,

Susan

 

Summer School of Love

by susan on June 8, 2019

In Practicing the Way of Jesus Together: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love, Mark Scandrette writes, “The vision of belonging that Jesus embodied and taught calls us to a love that is far more ruthless and tender than seems humanly possible. It is a kind of love that can empower you to treat your worst enemy as your dearest friend and to keep hanging on, forgiving, believing and hoping against all hope for love to win. An apprentice of Jesus learns to love as God loves.”

Apprentices, followers, learners of the way of Jesus. That’s what many of us claim to be; yet too often, we present as adherers to doctrines, protectors of institutions or defenders of “the faith” (as if there is one uniform definition of faith – read Scripture & you’ll find there are MANY!).  We are quick to point out when others get it wrong, slow to admit that all of us are merely learners along the way…especially when it comes to love.

Love is the greatest of the commands according to Jesus, the essence of God according to 1 John & it was the thing that got Jesus killed by defenders of the faith (he kept loving all the “wrong” people).  The divine love revealed in Jesus is tender & ruthless & so different from our limited, conditional & often over-controlling love that we have struggled to imagine it, much less live it.

This summer, we are spending time focused on learning love. We’ll gather on Sundays to explore scripture, pray, sing some, hear stories & share communion. We’ll also share conversation together about what we’re learning about love of neighbor, love of self, love in conflict, love in sickness & love in mental health illness. We’re calling it “summer school of love” and as you know, summer school is usually for those who need a little more instruction or have a little catching up to do. You have to admit, we ALL need a little help when it comes to love…just look around or better yet, take a look inside. None of us have arrived, we all have much to learn.

 

Journey with us this Lent

March 3, 2019

Lent is a season of journey toward the cross, of preparation for Easter, of looking inward & inviting God to reveal what lies fallow, what needs to be nurtured, and what needs to die for new life to emerge. We invite you to move through this season with us in several ways. Ash Wednesday, March […]

Read the full article →

Blessed are the peacemakers

January 29, 2019

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” ~ Mother Teresa There are a ton of reasons why I felt stirred to start a new community of faith. One of those reasons […]

Read the full article →

A welcome in the wilderness

January 14, 2019

These are the “words for the journey” that were shared as part of our Sunday gathering on January 13, 2019 & they are based on Matthew 3:1-17. The last time Jesus & John met they were in their mothers’ wombs. It’s a rather weird way to meet. According to the gospel of Luke, their moms, […]

Read the full article →

Welcome: a good place to begin.

January 4, 2019

We have celebrated the coming of Christ into the world & the start of a new year together. Now what? According to the gospel of Matthew, after the birth of Jesus, a lot happened. For starters, King Herod caught wind of the news. A baby had been born and wise men were referring to him […]

Read the full article →

Oh advent, we need you

December 1, 2018

If ever we needed the arrival of something new, we need it now (I imagine that’s been said a time or two throughout history, but come on. Look around.). Fires in California, more mass shootings, millions of refugees fleeing for their lives & a nation formed by immigrants tear-gassing immigrants at our border. If ever we […]

Read the full article →

Guns to Garden Tools & Why We Gather

November 8, 2018

On the heels of yet another mass shooting, this time in a California bar, we are reminded yet again of the reality of gun violence that plagues our nation. It’s not just happening somewhere else, though. For too long, it’s been happening too often here in our own community – in our streets & homes […]

Read the full article →

Setting out again & again

September 18, 2018

These are the “words for the journey” that were shared during The Well’s Sunday gathering on 9.16.18. They are based on Genesis 12:1-9 and are part of our series, Disarming the Bible & recapturing the ancient, messy, complex, inspired, still-speaking story of Scripture. Throughout this series, we are exploring various ways to engage Scripture. Last […]

Read the full article →

Noah, the flood & a God who remembers

September 11, 2018

These are the “words for the journey” that were shared during The Well’s Sunday gathering on 9.9.18. They were based on Genesis 6:11-14, 17-22, 7:19-21, 8:1, 9:8-11 and are part of our series, Disarming the Bible & recapturing the ancient, messy, complex, inspired, still-speaking story of Scripture. — We are told that in the beginning when […]

Read the full article →