Help Me Get the Word Out

There is a saved draft of a new post as part of my series about Doing a New Thing in this military ministry that I’m imagining. There are lots of things that I’m eager to share and new things that I’m eager to try — but I’m not yet ready to hit publish that particular post.

Instead, in this post, I’d like to invite you to be conspirators and collaborators in this possibility.

On Sunday, at the Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ, I heard Cameron Trimble of the Center of Progressive Renewal preach an inspiring word where she asked the gathered body:When was the last time you were as passionate about your faith as you were about your donuts? She had shared a testimony to the abiding power of donuts especially after being with another conference that celebrated their local donuts over another competing baker. It was hysterical and ridiculous. You had to wonder where she was going with this — until Cameron asked this question. When was the last time you were as passionate about your faith as you were about your donuts?

Just the evening before I had dinner with a bunch of colleagues in the UCC 2030 Clergy Network who were excited and curious about what I was doing — but I wasn’t ready to make a pitch. I wasn’t ready for their enthusiasm and curiosity. I was just too darn tired after a long day of meetings.

I missed my chance.

I could have had this amazing opportunity to share this possibility with a group of people who were eager and excited but I didn’t. I missed my chance.

I don’t want that to happen again. I don’t want that to happen to me or to anyone else so I want to invite you to become part of this possibility. Because none of us can do this alone. We need each other to realize the crazy things we hope to do for God’s people. So, help me get the word out. Share this video with everyone you know. Share it on Twitter and Facebook. Share it on your blog. Post it anywhere you can think to add it.

Share this video because this is my hope:

Website LogoThere are amazing chaplains in the military right now — but so few of them are progressive. So few of them are able to provide a sacred space for tough questions that doesn’t insist on a narrowly Christian perspective. There are rules against it but there are too many stories like this one. We need a progressive voice for the military community. As churches sell their buildings and religious structures of every shape and kind adapt to meet the needs of a changing world, why shouldn’t that innovation come within the military community as well? Why shouldn’t there be an open table for our service members of every faith and no faith to do the holy work of building progressive community? I admit that I get stuck in my Christian language as much as the military community stumbles over acronyms — but this is my hope. It’s a community Beyond Acronyms. It’s a community that hopes together, prays together and gathers together. It’s beyond any one military branch and even beyond the internet — though that’s where it’s starting. I believe we need this. I believe this kind of progressive ministry is necessary for the kind of people we hope to be.

I get excited just writing these words. I’m much more excited about this than I am about donuts — and I hope you are too. Help me get the word out and share this video.

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They Were Innocent

I don’t know why my daughter was killed.
She was innocent.

I can’t get these words out of my head. Surrounded by cardboard boxes that seem to never quite get unpacked, I keep thinking about these words spoken by the father of an Afghan woman who was beaten to death by a mob with sticks and stones. I can’t bring myself to read anything more. I have so many questions. I want to understand how this could happen. But, I can’t read another word.

The death of this innocent woman has brought the Afghan people into the streets. Something has switched.

But, as I unpack so many boxes, I’ve only read the one article in The Washington Post that struggles to name the crime worthy of such a punishment. I’ve only read this one article quoting her father, saying:

I don’t know why my daughter was killed.
She was innocent.

Perhaps this is just something that parents say because it is just too hard to believe that your child could be anything other than innocent. Or maybe that’s too simple. For surely, there is nothing simple about murder. There is nothing simple about deciding to take another’s life. There is something sacred about this life — whether or not we choose to affirm it. We can deny the existence of any kind of deity but our humanity won’t allow us to deny the gift of life.

virgin-mary-stylized1So that this father’s words could fall on anyone’s lips. But, when I first read these words, I thought instantly of Mary the Mother of Jesus. She must have said something similar when her boy died on that cross.  She must have wondered about how people could be so cruel. She must have been disgusted by the violence. The streets may have been lined with crosses. It may have been something she saw everyday. But, when her boy was murdered in that way, something must have switched.

Something must have changed how she saw the powers of Empire. Something must have changed her tolerance of their occupation. Because, like Farkhunda, he hadn’t done anything wrong. He was innocent. His only crime was that he questioned the powers of this world. He dared to critique those that refused to be questioned. Like Farkhunda, he wanted to know if there was another way to treat each other — especially the poorest among us. For this, they were both killed. 

And I can’t get these words out of my head. Because they are my words. They are words I have spoken again and again. Because people are so cruel to each other. Because there is so much violence in this world and I’m still waiting for something to shift. Call it resurrection. Call it justice. Call it human decency. I don’t care what you call it but we have said this too many times. We haven’t lamented time and time again that we don’t understand why this terrible thing has happened. We don’t understand why this 27 year-old woman died. She was so innocent. 

I don’t understand why this had to happen. 

I don’t understand why it had to happen in this way. Plenty of people have told me that Christ died for my sins. Church members in Bible Study have insisted to me that Jesus had to die in this particular way. And he knew it was coming. 

I don’t understand why. 

I never have. I don’t think I ever will.

This is my first Lent not leading a congregation. Instead of struggling with these question is Bible Study, I’m unpacking boxes. I am so confused by this I thought this past week was Holy Week. It’s not. Holy Week actually begins tomorrow on Palm Sunday. So, this week when there is still too much violence in this world, I’m trying to remember how Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan encouraged me consider what Jesus was passionate about

Because I want to be that innocent.

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