February 12, 2017: Just when I thought I’m not responsible…

Posted on : Feb 9th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Just when I thought I’m not responsible for injustice, I discovered I am.

Most of us who grew up in a Christian Church were taught about Christianity from the faith perspective of either personal piety or seeking justice. Personal piety focuses on a spirituality that is dominantly “me” centered. It is often accompanied by a bunch of rules about what I can and can’t do in order to be a good Christian. It’s usually highly moralistic, adopting the rules of the dominant culture as the moral good.

The other perspective is one of seeking justice. Those who were raised in the justice seeking tradition see morality not as finding or developing a right relationship between God and me, but a right relationship between God and everyone in the world, especially those who are poor or oppressed, or those who experience injustice.

I grew up in what my dear friend and colleague, lesbian evangelist Rev. Janie Spahr calls, a “Wonder-Bread” world. Mine was a “Wonder-Bread” suburb. Wonder Bread was the top selling bread when I was a kid. It was marketed to mothers as the healthy bread for kids. Their advertising slogan was “Wonder Bread builds strong bodies twelve ways!” The “twelve ways” referred to the 12 nutrients added to the bread.

In truth, it was an awful product. It was filled with air which made it very “light” in texture, and it was so full of starch (sugar) that it always got stuck on the roof of your mouth. It was also 100% white. When Janie refers to growing up in a Wonder Bread world, she means growing up in white world of privilege. When I refer to growing up in a Wonder Bread suburb, I mean a white, middle class, American suburb – which was also a place of privilege.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I began to realize that not everyone was born into the place of privilege that I was. As the Black Civil Rights movement began, I saw on TV the horrific way African Americans lived and were treated under segregation. The Women’s Rights movement was beginning and shortly thereafter, the Gay Liberation movement began.

It wasn’t until I came out as a gay man, that I realized how easily and how quickly a white male could lose the power and privilege that was given to us in the United States. I also personally experienced the pain that comes from injustice. Injustice must be like water-boarding. It feels like you are drowning and suffocating all at the same time, and you can’t get it to stop. From that experience, recognizing injustice, and seeking justice, ceased to be an ideology for me and became very personal.

I suddenly realized that I was responsible for seeking justice, not just for myself, but for everyone. Luckily for me, the church I attended while in college was a justice-seeking church. They opened my eyes to see how important it is to God that everyone be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. It was in discovering who this God of Justice is, that I learned that I was responsible for seeking justice. Thankfully, I also discovered that Jesus and Justice are one. They are not opposites, they are “both and.”

We’ll talk more about this on Sunday.




~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Micah 6:1-8

God Challenges Israel

Hear what your God says:
    Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
    and let the hills hear your voice.
Hear, you mountains, the controversy of our God,

    and you enduring foundations of the earth;
for God has a controversy with God’s people,
    and God will contend with Israel.

“O my people, what have I done to you?
    In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
    and redeemed you from the house of slavery;
and I sent before you Moses,
    Aaron, and Miriam.
O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,
    what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
    that you may know the saving acts of your God.”

What God Requires

“With what shall I come before our God,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before God with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will our God be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Matthew 25: 31-46

The Judgment of the Nations

“When the Christ comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by God, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ .

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Exalted One, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And Jesus will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Jesus, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

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