Jan 20: God Sightings: (En)Lighten(ing) the World

Posted on : Jan 17th, 2013 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Last Sunday evening I attended an awards banquet to receive an award on behalf of our much loved spiritual leader, Rev. Peg Beissert.  The banquet was sponsored by the California Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC.org).  They honored clergy who provided spiritual counseling to women with problem pregnancies before abortion was safe and legal.  This gathering was a “strange mix” of young and old (very old!) women and men, gay and heterosexual.  All those being honored were well in their post-retirement years.  And the evening was electric!  The Rev. James Lawson was there.  Jim was a colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As a young African American United Methodist minister, Jim studied non-violent spiritual resistance focusing on the teachings of Jesus and Gandhi, then taught Dr. King and all those who participated in the “freedom marches” of the 1960’s both the principles and practices of non-violent protest and spiritual resistance. Jim is an absolute giant of justice and one of the most renowned and respected religious leaders of our day.  He served for many years as the Pastor of Holman United Methodist Church, an historic African American congregation on W. Adams Blvd and 4th Ave in Los Angeles.

Here’s a little known fact about James Lawson.  This giant of justice, this historic leader of the Civil Rights movement is actually one of the most soft-spoken persons you’ve ever heard!  Every word he says is spirit-filled.  When he speaks there is a holy silence that permeates the room.   Every person sits in absolute silence to hear every word he says.  Here’s another little known fact about Jim Lawson:  He is as common and ordinary as you or I.   He is deeply spiritual.  He loves God. He embodies Jesus. He loves all people and has dedicated his life to serving others.

Another oddity:  Of the five “pioneering” clergy who were honored for their spiritual care and counsel with women who had problem pregnancies, four were men.  Rev. Peg Beissert was the only woman.  And the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is a gay man, The Rev. Harry  Knox.  More about that on Sunday.  However, we need more men:  more husbands and fathers, more brothers and uncles to speak up on behalf of all women’s right to dignity, choice and moral agency regarding their own bodies and personhood.  Isn’t it strange that in almost all of the gang-rape cases that have been in the media in the last years, it’s only women speaking out against violence against women?  Where are the men?  Where are the fathers’ voices that should be shouting out that this is not the way we want our daughters treated?  Where are the brothers who should be screaming at those who rape women that this is not acceptable male-behavior?  Do we not love our sisters enough to speak up?

A third oddity:  Things were very different in the United States before 1973 regarding women and women’s rights, even the right to make decisions regarding their own reproductive health!  I’ll share with you an “OMG-moment” about that on Sunday.

The one thing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, The Rev. James Lawson, The Rev. Peg Beissert, and all of us have in common is that we are ordinary folk who simply seek to align our lives with Jesus’ teaching and principles to love and care for one another.  No exceptions.  Their serving and caring is no different than our serving and caring today.  The thing that makes each of their stories so memorable (and honorable) is that they demonstrate for us that caring and serving others does make a huge difference in our lives and in the life of the world.

On this third Sunday in which we look for “God Sightings” we see God in those who serve others and those who care for and speak up for those who are poor, oppressed, voice-less and outside the legal and power structures of society.  The words of Jesus for us this week are simple:  “YOU are the LIGHT of the world, baby!”  Let your light shine!

Blessings,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Matthew 5: 14-16

Jesus exhorts the disciples to “let their light shine!”

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your God who is in heaven.

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