Monday, October 26, 2009

Salty Language!

My friend and colleague, The Rev. Nick Knisely, on Episcopal Cafe, highlighted Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori's sermon last weekend for the Diocese of Kansas' annual convention.
The Topeka Capital Journal reports on the sermon thus:

"Appropriately salty language, she said, 'can indeed be divinely abrasive signs of God's urgency.'

'Your letters to a member of Congress or to the editor of the local paper or the words you speak in a town meeting can be salt when they challenge a sleepy government or community to pay attention to the needs of hungry children or the unemployed,' she said. 'That is the salt of compassion even though it may feel irritating to those who are invited to wake up to their neighbors' needs and demonstrate compassion.'

Jefferts Schori did urge moderation, saying, 'Like all good gifts, salt can be overused.'

She also applied her salt theme in a different way, saying: 'I heard Fred Phelps and his clan were demonstrating outside our meeting place yesterday, and I heard they were here today, too. I didn't see them.'

'Their message -- their hateful message -- just might embrace enough salt to entomb it,' she said.

The congregation interrupted her with applause before she added 'perhaps like Lot's wife' and noted nuclear waste is buried in salt mines."

Read the full article from the Topeka Capital-Journal.

It's such an important message!

We people have faith have too often decided that what we have to say, what we believe God has told us to share, is THE most important thing. More important even than respecting the dignity of all people. More important than loving one another. More important than listening to what God is saying to other people.

When Jesus was asked what THE most important thing was, he didn't respond with a statement of belief, he didn't make a pronouncement about who was holy and who wasn't. He said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. And Love your neighbor as yourself.

That's the most important thing, for Christians and for many other people of faith, as well. Love includes speaking out for the cause of justice. But only if we also love those we're speaking out against. That's a trick that only a very few have been able to pull off.

*The prepared text of the Presiding Bishop's sermon is available at the Episcopal Church's website, though apparently she added some salty language of her own as she preached because some of the above comments are missing.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Asra Nomani & Hajar

Asra Nomani was amazing last night. She is a courageous woman who is seeking to build a movement like those that led to sea changes in Judaism and Christianity. All of us who believe that both women and men are made in the image of God, and that our cultural biases (we all have them!) too often get in the way of what God is seeking to say to us, can get behind Asra and support her important work.

Her book, Standing Alone in Mecca, is next on my list!

She talked last night about Hajar, or Hagar in Jewish & Christian texts, who as a second wife to Abraham was cast out with her son, Ishmael and left to die in the desert. God came to Hagar, though, and promised that her son, too, would be the father of a great nation.

Hajar stands as a sign and beacon to all women who have become outcasts. Because they have been cast aside by men in their lives. Because they are second or third or fourth class citizens in their own homes, for whatever reason. Because other women consider them to be a threat. Because they are caught in systems that place lesser value on them and their lives. Hagar is the reminder that God gathers up and protects those whom society - historically led by men - have said are unclean or unholy. God calls them holy.
Thanks be to God!

And thanks be to God for Asra! And Hajar!