Monday, May 21, 2018

The Ever Enlarging Jesus Story and Why it is so Dangerous

I will never forget sitting in SAGA dinner hall at Northwest Nazarene College at the beginning of my freshman year.  We called 'saga' the Soviet Attempt to Gag America. Anyway, I was knee deep in planning my political rise to Freshman Class Senator when I ran across an educational article that scared the heaven out of me.  At least I was afraid it mightcast me beyond heaven's reach, that is. Intuitively, I knew the premise to be true and if it was, it meant my conserving approach to all things political, social could be transformed and I might end up a... (wait for it)... liberl (I can't even bring myself to spell the word correctly).  That would, in my away from urban America desert Idaho experience be the next thing to communist and certainly outside of the 'safety net' of Jesus Church.
    The premise of the article was that narratives matter and as we exposed ourselves to ever more varied cultural experience and narratives we would eventually become skeptical of all meta narratives.  The ever growing awareness of western, eastern, diverse tribal world views would force me to re-think my own religious and western paradigms.  Each world view considered would fall before an even more expansive view until we held nothing 'certain', everything tentativeonly what worked would ultimately matter. 
     What was apparent to me, was that I was in college not for a job or even some employable skill but to discover human wisdom from the beginning of our evolutionary development.  Liberal just seemed the inevitable outcome.  Jesus would eventually fall before the conflict with science or reason or Buddah. So I reasoned.
     Those within my comparatively conservative faith tradition are ofcourse convinced that the Soviet attempt to corrupt my thinking has been fulfilled; The Russians having captured my I-phone from which this blog was started last evening. They'd be wrong however. I've never met Putin or been to Trump Tower and have instead, believe it or not, been led by tthe Holy Spirit to a most liberating, scandaleous descovery. Jesus is the meta-narrative that keeps expanding both within, between and beyond my littl'ol human attempt at world view.
     Now, to be sure the same experiences and readings that have shaped me have brought others to a place beyond or perhaps beneath Christendom. Not me. Here's why.
     A decade after college I ran into C.S. Lewis and was compelled by the Spirit to read everything he wrote that I could get my hands on. Lewis connected me to older, western ideas, than my college had and to the ancient Church's faith. Around this time I read "Under the Mercy" and "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Venaukin. 1  What gave way in my thinking and heart in this time was an
arrogance that all that is worth knowing was written in the last 100 years.  In the face of Lewis reasoning and Sheldon and his wife's pursuit of nature's love without God at center I surrendered my own pop-psychology "I'm OkayYou're Suspect" kind of blended attempt to make Jesus over.
     At the same time I was introduced to "Whiteheadian" Process Theology and an attempt to place God only within the Cosmos and then reason out to the 'Cosmic Christ'.  At it's heart is the idea that every experience in the universe, every explosion of energy from within and beyond a cell, God Is. All life is God's growing and sentient, indeed Personal promise of love, pregnant within matter itself. Process Theology acquainted me with ideas and verbage that connected me with the new Post-modern world view that permeated my experience living on the teetering edge of Modernity and Post-Modernity. From  Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" to Dylan's "Morning has Broken" both the pessimism and hope of the human heart helps me to see in Jesus the very largest and deepest Story. 


         For the moment (meaning my whole life time), as I continue to pray and think and feel, I will leave to others to live into a Universe that is Co-Eternal with the Trinity of God or what I continue to hold; That God lives intimately within and beyond both time and space. Either way, I'm convinced of one thing: The Jesus Narrative is not exclusiveit is inclusive and universal in it's reach. 
     To be sure there is a meta-truth, profoundly based upon the Person and Character of the God who Is; Three Persons so interwoven in intimate love as to Be One in Essence or essential nature. Yet within the Trinity's communal existance is a universe or 1000 universes that is discoverable in a creative, intimate way only by sentient beings and especially humans, made in the image of God.
     As discovered within the Eastern Orthodox tradition GodFather, Son, Spirittook an incredible risk in making persons capable of love, the introduction of it's opposite. God has traversed the cosmos in Jesus resurrection to renew all who will grow up into love.
     As the Roman Catholic tradition makes clear ours and angelic choice has created a tear deep within God the Father-Son-Spirit that is ultimately resolved for both God and us and the universe in the passion and death of Jesus.
     As our Protesting Church's emphasize this Jesus is the Living Word that is to be enfleshed within and between each and all of us who will. 
     As Buddah explored, all of life is sacred, each person and experience is a treasure of the Divine nature that is the universe itself.  
     I can go on.  I know so very little and tasted only of western European, Samoan, Fillipino and Native American cultural experiences.  In each and especially among my friends living in the shadows of American wealth without benefit of rented or owned homes, I have yet to see anything less than faith, deep and real. 
     Don't mis-hear, I'm not attempting to deny the deep and healthy sceptisicm that fills my young adult friends steeped within the awareness of how power has so misused meta-narratives to destructive and manipulative ends. As we bowed our heads to pray over dinner, such a delightful conversation ensued yesterday about the appropriateness of me, as a grandpa, teaching (indoctrinating) my own grandson within the rituals of prayer, of Amen. 
    My point is not that 'all roads lead to heaven'.  I don't believe that for a second. Nor do I hold all stories as equally valuable. What I have come to is this:
  • God is love, and;
  • God has incredible respect for human development, questions, wounds, glory, weakness, and;
  • God has entered the 'broken spaces' intimately in the Jesus event—life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus, and;
  • God has saved everyone, taking each/all of our narratives up into the Jesus narrative, and;
  • Only those who finally, willfully refuse the God who Is will miss the opportunity to confess with Thomas of old—"My Lord and my God."
   
Terry :)







 1 Note: Books by Sheldon Vanaukin

Friday, May 18, 2018

Saving Works

I was savedmeaning I was given birth into the Story of God in Christwithin the revivalist tradition, my heart pounding as I awakened to a genuine sense of being a sinner.  I was seven or eight. The preacher was Fairy Chism, an older and warm lady who captured my heart with a hunger for God's love.  It stuck.

I've long since become aware that others come to Jesus by the Holy Spirit in the rhythms of the Church or the sacraments, being given the life of God, born of water and the Spirit.  Still others come by way of the elder of the family or tribe as a communal faith, as if written into the dna of their community, only later quickened by the Holy Spirit into a personal faith as they wrestle within the secular, scientific, consumer driven world of the West. At some point the inexplicable desire to believe a meta Story of such beauty runs straight into their doubts raised in a culture that distrusts all meta-stories as inherently prejudiced. 

What saddens me in my own 'evangelical tradition' is just how afraid we are that others will miss out, unless we get to them and make sure they jump through our spiritual/cultural hoops. This sense of urgency seems to miss the awareness we received from the Wesley brothers that God is active in every culture and tradition, awakening humans to the God Who Is long before we evangelicals of European descent come on the scene. 

The Spokane Tribe of what is now Washington State had been given a vision through one of their chiefs, himself going through a crises of faith at the loss of his son. On Mount Spokane he was given assurance that the Name of the Creator would be revealed to his people before the end came by a white people wearing black coverings and reading from the leaves of the trees. In the vision he was told another thing. This revelation would come at great cost to his people as well. The great grandson of this noble chief, referred to as Spokane Gerry, was given to the first Episcopal missionaries for training in their faith, believing the fulfillment of the old chief's vision received a hundred years before was completed in the arrival of these white missionaries. Through Chief Spokane Gerry a revival swept throughout the tribes of the Northwest, gathering for days to hear Chief Spokane speak of Jesus, the Son of the Creator.

When the first missionaries settled into the upper Columbia basin they arrogantly dismissed much of the teaching and work of Chief Gerry and taught the faith as they had received it themselvesa continent and ocean away. Such a loss.  Chief Gerry's land was later stolen by the Church and he left to live in poverty.  Even so, he remained faithful to Christ and the Church and was critical in securing the peace of the region as white settlers poured in.

The world turns, injustice with it and the doubts that follow. It is a joyin the sense of watching the sacredto see young women and men wrestle with faith, especially those of our own church who stay close to the church that is theirs and to the faith received, but hold it at edge, exploring their questions about the Trinity of God. Among them:  
   
  • If God is really as good as Jesus, why all the suffering?  
  • Why is the Church seemingly unconcerned, worse apparently supporting the political power structure that keeps refugees out, persons of color suspect and the poor on the streets? 


And so I come to the passion that elicited this writing.  I was on a Naz Pastor's sight reading a stream of concern that the Naz church would loose its revivalist focus on personal salvation (new birth and growing up into Christ in all ways) by a misplaced emphasis upon social holinessconcern with justice and peace in our neighborhoods. The argument was that lots of 'good works' are being done and better by other non-profits.  They continued by affirming the unique calling of the Church to 'be' the Church and transform communal life by lives lived with integrity and love, following the way of salvation, eternal life. The underlying assumption being that social justice and personal salvation are different things; one being the 'reality of eternal life' and the other an expression or compassionate result from the 'quality of that eternal life'.  There is another fear underneath all this: specifically that the early 20th century split between the liberal social activists and the evangelical revivalist camp is being re-created all over again. After all, doesn't all this social justice stuff come from Rob Bell?  (Answer: Yes, and he got it from Jesus... oh well).

I want to suggest that social and personal holiness are one and the same.  Communal salvation, indeed cultural context cannot, nor should be disassociated from the 'eternal quality of life' given by the Holy Spirit in the Church and captured by each individual cell of the church; you and me.

I am deeply moved as I reread the narrative of the Old Testament prophets and of the Gospels and of the Revelation that the context of injustice forms the very narrative itself in which Christ is made real in us, by The Holy Spirit. Hence, Luke speaking to a wider and exilic Christian community within the Roman empire remembers Jesus sermon on the mount as “Happy are you who are poor, because God’s kingdom is yours. Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh" (Luke 6: 20, 21).  Luke's memory stands in some contrast to Matthew's who heard a more spiritualized version. In Luke’s Gospel women play a significant role, even by way of illustration, as Jesus moves back-and-forth from masculine to feminine (lost sheep, lost coin, etc.) examples. Paul properly emphasizes that in the buying and selling in the marketplace, one should not be overly concerned with whether the meat was originally butchered by one who dedicated it to the gods or not. Yet by the time you get to the Revelation and the very real conflicting values between the church and the culture, buying and selling itself in the public market becomes a question of salvation potentially; as does the claim for Jesus of the very same titles that belong only to the Emperor. 

In our Wesleyan, restoration and cleansing/healing understanding, salvation is both personal and communal and includes both acts of separation and engagement as salvific. The Kingdom of God is breaking in upon us as individuals and as churches when we respond to the Holy Spirit and separate ourselves from the lust, consumerism and prejudices around us. As we engage positively and become a safe place for those who do not own or rent homes or respond to any human need around us, a sanctifying grace is gifted in us as individuals and as a community of faitheven in the larger parish salvation is breaking bad (sorry, couldn't help myself). 

Salvation, as experienced in the Old Testament and New and in the history of the Church, has always involved the renewal of the People of God as a priestly Community living into God’s shalom. Our communal and sacramental presence has always been central to the mission of the church in the world. In Israel's formation God was seeking a people who would bless the nation's by their living faith. At the beginning of his mission Jesus tells the twelve that they are to live in such a way that others "may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5: 16b). Making disciples equally embraces the cleansing and identifying grace of Baptism and the sanctifying inter-active living out of "everything I (Jesus) have commanded you" (Matthew 28: 20). May I suggest that the rather Calvinist idea of 'saving souls' as the primary or unique function of the church arrives pretty late in church history.

Finally, I do not think we are on the ground of the early 20th century and it’s pessimism and the left/right divisions between the social gospel and the personal gospel. I do understand the concern but believe it is misplaced. Instead, I think we are rediscovering an ancient-future gospel that frames personal salvation as socialnever less. Like Jesus, we lay down our lives before a world of power relations. "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work and you" (II Corinthians 4: 10-12)

The real question then, in the 21st-century holiness movement, is not whether it is personal or communal. It is always both. The real question is will we die to our natural top of the heap faith resting on the world view and resources of the American Empire and enter the trenches of the weak, exilic communities and needs: refugees, immigrants, the unborn, the elderly, racial conflict and un-equal outcomes, women in ministry, sexual orientation.  It matters only that we identify with those God places across our path and are with them, given over to Jesus kind of life. That will take the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Terry :)


If you wish to explore these themes, get my new book: Holiness in the 21st Cenury: A Political Gospel Worth Engaging

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Hope of Communal Repentance & Salvation

As I drove away from the church I glanced over and noticed a white middleaged gentleman on the church steps, minding his own business, at rest. Sadly, had he been an African-American, I might have taken a second glance, maybe three and spent another five seconds evaluating his demeanor.

It is the second and third glance and the additional seconds of observation that may determine if a man is a gentleman at rest on sacred ground or a potential threat needing escalated observation. For me it is a series of thoughts unwelcome and immediately checked with a whispered “forgive me, Father.” For that young man, if he were a person of color, it could be the first of a series of conversations that could potentially end in unintended violence. And notice how I unconsciously identified him as a young man instead of the older white gentleman noted above. Welcome to the unspoken, subtle, yet all too real world of 21st Century America for both Americans of color and white.

The holiness movement in the U.S. is dying organically not because of a failure of individual decisions of surrender to Christ but a refusal of communal humility and repentance over issues like race. Our position of privilege in the world, Pax-Americana, has left us (evangelical Christians) numb to a gospel born of and lived out by exilic communities, historically. Until we allow the table of Jesus Christ to draw us who are politically on the left and the right and who are racially diverse into a healing and cleansing and real conversation about power and love and walk with humility in the urban and rural landscapes of America we will continue to be a people rich in resources and frightened of spirit. Actually, we won’t be very rich much longer.

Imagine what would’ve happened to America in the 1960s if God had not led Dr. Martin Luther King and the Christian Coalition to walk, literally, America into a renewed and difficult discussion of race, our original sin. White America would have dismissed the struggle looking away or by pointing to the tremendous improvement since the beginning of our country and thereby implying, “what is your problem? Though largely separated are we not equal!”

In places in time God still calls the church to respond to horrific tragedy and more subtle communal sins with love and forgiveness, to make sacrificial atonement for the sins of racial prejudice and violence; two examples being Charleston South Carolina and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In Charleston the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church‘s response to the killing of its nine parishioners by one white-supremicist male became the atoning spirit of forgiveness that finally removed the confederate flag as a sign of the state. That’s a very high price. In the recent Starbucks incident it was the graciousness and thoroughly Christian response of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson that allowed discussion instead of belligerence to rise; For Starbucks to step up apologize and engage in the community and into the issue with nation-wide training.

Today’s injustice around race, being issues of the heart and mind, penetrate every part of our society spiritually, legally, economically, socially and culturally. The resolution is beyond the reach of legislation, though not The Spirit and our human spirit seeking reconciliation. It is the communal and individual responses of both persons of color and white persons that will make the difference. Only a listening, surrendering and Jesus like Christian movement can enter, listen, affirm, repent, confess and bring real change to America—this one aimed at allowing laughter to again be part of the village square or in most villages, for the first time.

Unlike slavery and legally enforced separation, power cannot solve this one, only love can. That is spiritual to its core.

Robert Ellis, in his book “A New Guide to Rational Behavior,” writes about the
communication gap as being the real source of pain and not simply the events that we attribute. He says that we tend to look at event A, the originating event, as causing event C, the outcome of pain. As difficult as event A might be, Ellis contends that it is really what we tell ourselves about A at point B that determines our emotional response at C. If you slap me in the face, for example, sustained anger would be the result of what I’m telling myself about your slap, not the original slab itself. He then goes on to describe how we let go of 'irrantional beliefs' and adopt 'more rational beliefs' in the process of resolving inward pain.

Beyond that is the gap that is inside all communication. We see others by their behavior,
not knowing what is in their heart. We judge ourselves, not by our behavior, but by what we know is the intent of our heart. Hence, if I am at an Ivy League University house that is mostly white and with security key entrances and I see a black man present walking around and looking intently in multiple directions, I might conclude that he has no business there. If at my point B, I also bring racial profiling or prejudice to the table, I might perceive his presence as threatening. I might even prematurely call for the police, setting up a whole new dynamic of misperception, when the young mans body language could just as readily be explained as his “being lost.” 1

“Now hold it Terry” you may rightly protest, “why are you calling us white people out as though ours is the only perception that matters, in terms of prejudice?” The reason is twofold:
    
1) I discovered a long time ago that I really cannot tell another person what they are thinking/feeling at event B. This is a conversation that I can only bring my awareness to and listen carefully for the perceptions of others. Of course we will all need to do the same. It is in the confessional place we will discover the ability to laugh with our neighbors, whatever the cultural perspective.
    
2) It is also true that power relations matter. Majority perceptions tend to rule the lay of the land. If this conversation is to come to a place where we hear each other’s hearts and re-think, each of us, our biases, there is no shortcut to engaging by listening first.

I am a Republican and like some of the outcomes of the Trump administration. Our Presidents greatest weakness in leadership is his demagogic and belittling treatment of individuals, ethnic communities and nations. It may even be effective in a power centered world. That aspect of his behavior, however, is wrong in Christ’s world. The degree to which we evangelicals identify with him in the struggle for our place in the public square will be the degree to which we will miss the heart of our mission.

Here in lies the soul of 21st-century Holiness: Reconciling conversations or reverence. It is what Jesus taught his disciples for the three years he lived with them (Matthew 5: 1-48).  It is what Paul meant when he writes: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5: 16-18).

Get reconciliation down and we will love well. Stand for our rights and insist that our perceptions are heard and we will be preaching to the wind. It’s our choice.

Terry :)

1 Reneson Jean-Louis:
Reneson Jean-Louis-Student @ Yale University

See my recent book: Holiness in the 21st Century: A Political Gospel Worth Engaging

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Blessings and Curses... So What's in a Word?


Words matter. Duh. The fact that you are reading this far in is proof that the letters of the alphabet are more than randomly chosen. Meaning is hidden within their formation. Duh, again.

Two words echo across the ages of history forming in Israel and the church the creative tension inherent to our calling; separate and blessing.

Like so many words, at first glance, it would seem these two chosen paradigms of God's calling simply do not belong together. They are antithetical to one another. I cannot bless someone I keep at a distance, shooting enticing marketing visuals at the other to leave their world and come join ours.  And if I choose to draw near 'the other' and bless by unconditional acceptance am I not really just leaving my casa (house) for theirs?

The proverbial question asked by many good evangelicals is, can I really attend a same sex wedding of a friend because I love them and am happy for themthough I do not believe same sex marriage to be given by the Creator as one of the blessed relationships from which children are born?  If words matter, then my actions, either way, become 'a living word' that either blesses or curses.

So why does God call Israel to bless in its first recorded memory of God's calling? "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you"  (Genesis 12: 2, 3).

More importantly, why does God ask Israel in its formational beginnings and as an often repeated plea to separate themselves from the lust and power driven empires of the world, to leave, to escape the fiery judgment just over the hill?

Finally by extension, why did Jesus reaffirm this creative tension in the church? "If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven" (John 20: 23). Talk about your blessings and curses in creative tension!

It would seem to many in the church that in this very gift of binding heaven by earths covenants the same sex marriage celebration opens the gate to a flood of outcomes legitimizing what God did not envision. Just as closing the gate puts many others on the outside looking in, cursed as enemies of God's purposes.

At the very center of the billions of pulsating lights and sub-atomic mass is a Creator, communal in nature,  LOVE alone, whose integrity forces in a chaotic universe the definition of love as freedom, wholeness, humility and an unwillingness to ever give up, on anyone. Love has definition because character matters. Character matters because love cannot be otherwise. If you and I are still addicted to gambling or drugs or lust or even love, we are in hell, no matter our address on either side of time's curtain.

Actions matter because they are a 'living word' of either hope or chaos. So, we have come to the heart of our calling. In discovering reverence for all peoples the power and militarism of empire must be forsaken. In wholeness the spirit of empire, consumerism and climbing the ladder success, must be released. Our words and the actions that attend either align us with the moral center of the universe or place us in tension with it.

We evangelicals, no we humans, have this habit of building walls instead of bridges. Its just that we in the church have perfected it, defining clearly who is in and who is out.

Now, before I get to romancing this incredible Jesus Story, let me affirm that lines are intended to make us safe and expand our exploration of the good land on which we walk. There's some truth in the idea that the 1960's rebellion against every line actually introduced a series of crippling addictive patterns in sex and drugs and confusion as freedom from cultural taboos was transferred inwardly making many prisoners of over indulgences; casual sex, casual drugs.

One of the settings in which Jesus proclaimed that we, his Church, can bind in heaven what is gifted on earth, comes from a resurrection appearance where he 'breathes' on the disciples, giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit and saying: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" (John 20: 21).

The very context of grace communicated by the Son of man is the gift into which Jesus is referring by declaring, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven" (John 20: 22b-23).

Some observations:

1) As twentieth century Biblical scholar William Barkley emphasized, all forgiveness is God's forgiveness. Even in our human moments of reconciliation, God is acting around and in us. The offering is both us and God; Of both Divine and human interactive origin. In the truest sense, it is the Jesus event, his life–teachings–passion–deathresurrection– ascension, which is the well springs from which human Shalom flows.

2) The communication of God's forgiveness in confessional moments between we, who are acting as a priest of God and the one who both needs and is receiving the gracious affirmation that she or he is forgiven, is always communal in nature, though profoundly personal.

There have been several times in my life when I have confessed to a friend or another pastor a sense of guilt or shame that weighs on me and I cannot, alone with Christ, seem to get past it. In those moments God has always given me someone who knows me very well and looking into my heart simply affirms, "Terry, move on… You are forgiven."

This is the essential nature of what Jesus was doing for the disciples following their incredible betrayal of him. 'See my hands and look up on my wounds' was more than a simple assurance that it is him.  Jesus was allowing them to see the wounded suffering servant of Isaiahwhom they had abandon and was affirming that God had not only moved on but changed the world through it. "Peace be with you" is the core message.

This reconciling presence is the heart and soul of our mission and ministry (see II Corinthians 4 & 5). The authority to forgive sins is given to the church, but never practiced apart from the life and death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus in which the church participates. 

The Biblical narrative is always moving toward inclusion both in Israel and the church. Jesus identified with everyone. He drank, ate and enjoyed table fellowship with all, with an apparent carelessness of how it might be interpreted. 

Jesus clearly would have attended the wedding of a same sex couple. He probably would have baked the cake and when asked if he was affirming the ceremony thereby, respond: "It was not this way from the beginning" (Matthew 19: 8a). Speaking, in this context about divorce, his disciples said to him, 'If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry'. Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it" (Matthew 19: 20-12). 

Even though the context is very clearly different from 21st century sexual understanding, Jesus was clearly affirming sexuality's purpose in diversity seeking union, as between a husband and wife. Yet Jesus went out of his way to empathize within the myriad of human responses to differing sexual identity as then defined and the difficulties of love.  Hardness of heart, Jesus notes, led Moses to recognize there is one thing worse than failing to live into God's vision for marriage; it is lost in a pain filled silence that destroys the very humans  intended for blessing. In that days cultural sense of sexuality Jesus notes that both nature and humans shape our sense of self and adds: "Not everybody can accept this teaching, but only those who have received the ability to accept it"  (Matthew 19: 11). There's a lot of creative tension there. 

May we always 'bless' even when we are inside what appears to be a curse fully grown. 

Terry

If you wish to explore more completely the question of same-sex relations and the church, see my book "Same Sex Marriage: The Last Prejudice? ...The Last Righteous Stand?  ...or Both?" at:"Same Sex Marriage: The Last Prejudice? ...The Last Righteous Stand? ...or Both? 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Shadow Land of the Soul

It is sheer arrogance that any of us dare believe that these frail bodiespulsating with billions of years of human emergence through bio-chemical explosions of light and energy within every cellshould result in a consciousness that is never less than profoundly spiritual and never more than the dust of the earth. It would be, arrogant that is, were it not for love.  

Love lives at the edge, where we become more than walking and sentient; an actual person, a human with a narrative, a future-past that is us. Even so, what turns one woman into a mother, single and against great poverty, make daily sacrifices of love to see her son survive another day, while another man who has everything that makes taste, touch, feel, sound and smell a wonder; yet cannot see past his own obsession with performance?  What allows love to blossom and so become the melody of a billion choices?

Last Sunday I sat in awe watching a scene unfold just after receiving Holy Communion by intinction; that is standing in a line and tearing off a piece of bread and dipping it into a cup of juice, both held by children. Love was communicated to me in the bread and juice not unlike the bio-chemical explosions within my brain that make me more than bio-chemical explosions in the brain. At the Lord's Table I received an assurance that makes my life real, not just a caricature of self-story. 

But what caught my heart in the moments following, when my breath held, was watching little Alana, maybe six years of age, standing next to the two children holding the Eucharist and showing still younger children what to do and more, why we do it.  I am moved to tears at the memory of it, even now, a week later. 

This is what makes my life love, more than experience, an emerging and eternal person in a world-wide culture of experience, connected with our human past and future promise of Shalom.  I don't know why, just at the point when I begin to live for more than skill sets; when as Richard Rohr says, 'meaning becomes the narrative' 1, that God begins to allow a diminution of gift, making even a trip to the bathroom filled with some risk.

I can't even begin to wrap my heart around why my sisters and brothers of color (say Starbucks, anyone?) or in the third world, or caught up in the struggles of Syria or North Korea get a bum wrap comparatively. But I know this: When I listen to my lady talk and laugh with my grandsons, Sammy and Lucas, in Idaho by facetime or little Tanner makes his way down into Nana and Papa's apartment, as if he owned it; opening cupboards at will, grabbing the bread, jabbering all the while, it matters to me a little less that life is short and a little more that it is unjust. You see, underneath and around and inside every exploding molecule, the very LOVE that is from before and within timethe Communal Three who are so filled with love as to be One in essential naturehas assured the Biblical writers and saints like Ann Julien of Norwich that "all shall be well...you will see for yourself that all manner of thing shall be well,... both great and small." 2  We shall somehow be taken up into the Divine dance that lets nothing get lost forever; not a particle of light and certainly not sentient beings that have moved past self to love.

As my pastor was speaking today from John's Gospel, 15: 9-17, the Holy Spirit was doing a number in me. John wrote: "As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love" (John 15: 9).  It has been so long since I loved God, reallyabiding in his love, is the old way of saying itso long since this dry and vulnerable season tore a wrinkle across the cellular implosions within my brain. Writing has been my hope and release; but the deep compassion of God that used to attend has left an edge of arrogance that I don't like. "God, fill me anew.  Find me again. I have never been able to command you, to switch you on or off like a light bulb. I'm really glad about that. If it be a day or week or ten years make me real again, human. Amen."

Terry :)

1 Note: "Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life" by Richard Rohr.  You can get at: Falling Upward

  
2 Note: Ann Julien requoted in "50 Days of Promise" by Terry Mattson, page #95. You can get at Amazon.



Monday, April 30, 2018

The Scandal we Need

The genius and crisis of the church is one and the same; Institutional Presence.

I awoke this morning still feeling the beauty and power of yesterday's gathering of the Body of Christ, complete with the Eucharist and touching of the water of Baptism, kneeling at our altar and confessing wound and sin to Pastor Bonnie and God, belly laughter and applause as Dominic—who really should become a comedian—gave the announcements; not to mention the hugs and bantering and confessions and prayers throughout the morning between members. If that were not enough we were privileged to hear a gifted, anointed and encouraging message of realistic hope in a wounded world by our District Superintendent (DS hereafter), Rev. Jerry Kester. 

Now, the DS is kind a like the President of the United States when we only had the Articles of Confederation. Her or his influence can be significant, depending on gifting, but but with no real power in the executive office with which to lead. Still, when things fall apart it is the DS who is suddenly empowered to pick up the pieces. Though I would never be entrusted with the office, I am grateful I should never have to serve in it.  Fortunately he is both gifted, of good heart and eloquent in communication.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the authority of the church or in the case of the United States, specifically it's lack of institutional authority. Like my good DS, the church has potential leadership as both a priest and prophet within the culture; speaking peace and assurance in difficult times and gently confronting arrogance or national anti-human policies in good times.  Unlike my DS, America would no longer listen to its counsel.

How did we get here? How did the presence of the church move from the center of communal life to the periphery, at best?

The reasons are far too complex for this short blog and include changes from a rural to industrial to tech economy all within 100 years, the growth of cities and their divergent populations, World War I & II, Korea and Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and a worldwide low intensity terrorism conflict even as United States became the empire nation of the world.

But the core issue is us! We do not want to face the fact that we are on the wrong side of scandalour Institutional Presence is now the scandal itself. Pope Benedict XVI in "Salt of the Earth" writes about chosen (first) and secondary scandals of the church. In reviewing devolution of the role of the church in Western Europe he notes that the proliferation of 'secondary scandals' and the lack of 'chosen scandals' is the real problem for the future of the church. We have become a scandal in our corruption, over institutionalization, lack of authentic human engagement, sexual scandals, to name a few.  These, he contends, can only be faced and repented of.

The scandal we are supposed to pick up with Jesus is simply living along side marginalized persons and communities seeking salvation and restoration; everybody who is on the outside—what Pope Benedict calls the ‘first or chosen scandel’.

About a decade ago I spent two or three years praying weekly at St James Cathedral in Seattle. I simply watched and listened to the Holy Spirit. What amazed me was how the rich and poor, persons of color and every ethnic community mingled so freely with women and men in professional attire. What hit me is just how significant the historic and ancient Church was was being held up on the journey of the peoples of the whole world, especially marginalized groups. I witnessed the primary scandalous work and noted that it is the Roman Catholic Church, in Washington at least, that is growing even as most evangelical churches are in decline.

Now, a decade later, I'm asking that God would help me to listen in this next year especially in trying to think and feel through some of the changes that will need to come inside the Institutional Presence of the Church of the Nazarene, my own tribe, if we are to meaningfully be a Living Presence in the ever-changing and postmodern United States.

Here are some initial premonitions:

1. Exile, not power: We have to let go of 1950s America and the once honored place the church held long before we became the empire nation we are today—Pax Americana.

When we seek to reestablish by power in union with political parties connected to the growing international presence of the United States as the over-arching presence in the world we, ourselves, become scandalous in all the wrong ways. Making ‘America great again’ or ‘America first’ is antithetical to the Kingdom of God; built institutionally within the hearts and needs and dreams of marginalized and broken communities in the world.

Why?  Because the Narrative of the Word is all about marginalized communities and persons such as Israel or the woman at the well.  The Old Testament is the story of how God never gives up on a people ever vulnerable to every empire who rolled across or near their land of milk and honey including Sumar, Egypt, Syria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.  Their story in exile, in the exodus and again in Babylon, forms a people who are reshaped by God, to be a people set apart for the very purpose of being a blessing; the Ones through whom the renewal of all things and the shalom of God's peace finally rains down upon the earth.  Their Story is ours.  At least it’s supposed to be. 

However benevolent or 'exceptional' the American empire is in historical terms, the gospel is morphed when we lay down the scandal of the cross and pick up the sword of empire. Our place is with the refugees and immigrants seeking renewal.

2. A new economic and institutional model is needed: Our model should be the one used in the 19th and 20th century by the church in almost every other land of the world, except the United States.

We listened. Really listened and engaged cultures, building hospitals and urgent care units and schools, constructing water systems and assisting in agricultural development. Revivalism and political, cultural presence were inter-married. We created new economic models by pulling resources from the United States and shifting them to all the mission stations of the world.

In northern America we need to see missional presence as the end and not the means to another end.  Otherwise, our duplicitous motive will result in secondary scandal. Scandal which destroys always erupts when we attempt to 'bait and switch' or tie compassion to evangelism instead of recognizing compassion as evangelismin its best sense. The distinction is subtle but getting it right is everything if we wish to land on the Jesus scandal side of presence. 

I was in an introductory course attempting to encourage evangelicals to become friends in very concrete ways to new immigrants or refugee communities by being a host that follows up after the initial 90 day government program of support ends. We would help families make their adjustments in the United States. ‘Wow! Cool!’ I thought, until the underlying theme of using this mission with the primary purpose of converting our new neighbors became apparent. So I asked, "And how will I know I have succeeded?  Will it be when I have meaningfully helped the family go shopping or prep for an interview or fill out some paperwork? Will I be successful in only those cases when our relationship moves beyond host to friendship? Will it be when they are converted to Christ or at least I have given witness?"  

The response was that we are unapologetic about the fact that we are doing this for Christ and we are Christian. Agreeing with that, I suggested that “I will be pleased if it leads to friendship and ecstatic if it involves dialogue in matters of faith.  However, I will consider myself a success if I've helped a Muslim family find the nearest mosque." I then added, “I love this mission but would not do it for Christ, but for the refugee or the immigrant and because of Christ."

My point is simply that motive matters. Whenever we are attempting to build the institution for the sake of the institution we cease to be the presence of the Kingdom of God.  That certainly was part of the very Son of God’s listening observation when “Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny” (Mark 12: 41-42).  Then Jesus turns to the church and says “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury.  All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on” (Mark 12 43b-44).  This story, told in two of the four gospels and illustrates the kind of scandal that is really the Kingdom of God breaking in. 
When our concern is not with our neighbors, but with getting our neighbors into our house, we have morphed from the highest ideals to a good and secondary ideal, which will ultimately become the wrong kind of scandal. If we will simply give ourselves away to our communities in time and resources, meeting the immediate needs of the communities in which we live by social, cultural and political presence, we will often discover that Jesus is already there ahead of us and in surprising ways, building Christ’s Kingdom on earth. 

3. Making Disciples, not Converts is our task:  What we are going to need is a new revivalist model of Holy Presence that allows the conversion of our lives—those inside the Story—so that we may bless those who have not yet entered or are living it out in a measure, but without knowing Christ.  

Whether that comes in the form of liturgies or five guitars and a worship team I really don't care as long as the Word of God and the Eucharist is at heart. The point is that it is we, the church, that needs to be saved more than the world.

What the world needs is living and creative signs, sacramental if you will, of Christ alive in the city. They don't need our—in your face and from a position of being above them—attempts at their conversion. In this post-modern and tech age the search for meaning, for a village of relationships, for becoming human, is what we offer to the world. We offer it when we gather to worship in Christian communities and we offer it when we gather as serving communities, as co-equal partners with many who do not yet know Jesus in a personal and relational sense. Both kinds of  ‘Presence’ are salvific and both will result in the right kind of scandal.

4. We need new metrics and economic models of institutional Church Life: We really do have to find new ways to create within the church and affirm communities of Nazarene faith.

One of the significant inhibitions created in the 20th century within the Church of the Nazarene was determining  that delegate representation to our World General Assembly would be based on what is called Phase 3 Districts. Phase 3 is basically when you ‘have your act together’ and are fully self-sufficient, the most difficult definition of that being financial.  That definition together with holding the General Assemblies in the United States (where the money is) assured that the real power of the church rested at the center of Pax-Americana even at a time when the revivalist power was happening all around the world in terms of numbers and the gathering of living communities of faith, led by Pastors. What is particularly sad is we built the institution by moving away from the capitalist model and in the Biblical model of sharing resources. Yet when it comes to sharing power, the message really is "after you get totally on your own" just like we do in the United States, then you can have equal access. That should be a scandal, the wrong kind, to us!

We are often told that Millennials will not give to institutions, only causes. I wonder what would happen if we turned the whole of the institution into a cause—equal access, an organic living Church, some rich, some poor, but all sharing in political and resource control.  I believe that is a scandal my young friends would engage.

The churches in America is now in a place where we are wealthy in land—though not in cash flow—and we are in poverty of spirit. Our only way out is to become rich in spirit by giving our buildings away to our communities and renewing genuine, authentic, human presence within and beyond those buildings. Then we can get back to our real job, to worship and make disciples of Jesus of all generations, ethnicities and economic communities in the cities of America.

Let the right kind of scandal begin!

Terry 😊



Note: The above premonitions come out of my own limited urban experience in West Seattle in an incredibly fun and weird congregation;  being a small cross-generational, cross-economic, and cross-cultural worshiping community.  Part of our Story is told in the following video: Intersections: How God Weaves all Our Stories into God's Story

Among others, I'm also deeply impressed by the writings of:  

a. Pope Benedict, “Salt of the Earth” & "Jesus of Nazareth" @ Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium — An Interview with Peter Seewal 
b. John Paul II,  “Be Not Afraid” @ Be Not Afraid: Wisdom from John Paul II
 c.Kenneth L. Callahan,  “Small Strong Congregations” @ Small, Strong Congregations: Creating Strengths and Health for Your Congregation
d. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Mission of non-violent protest. See 1965 NBC 'Meet the Press' Interview @ NBC Interview with Martin Luther King-1965
e. Darrel L Guder "Missional Church" @ Missiional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America
f. Rev. Grant Zweigle, “Worship, Way & Way"  @ Worship, Wonder, and Way: Reimagining Evangelism as Missional Practice    Note: Grant was my fellow urban friend in Seattle mission for a number of years.


My own book reflecting some of these ideas is "Holiness in the 21st Century: A Political Gospel Worth Engaging" @ Holiness in the 21st Century: A Political Gospel Worth Engaging 



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Church of Jesus: Where Faith meets Doubt and Hypocrasy meets Love

As I age, getting further from the birthing of my life, the more I run into my childhood self. 
 
I just finished watching the first black and white TV show I remember loving as my own, "The Rifleman." 1 In it Chuck Conners came face to face with his own childhood hatred of the man responsible for his own father's loss of his farm, dying a broken man. That man was the newly hired preacher of the town of North Fork. Lucas, the lead character (Chuck Connors) committed himself to killing the man who took his father's dignity, now his preacher.  He had his own fight with hypocrisy, as the temporary Marshall and as a Christian. The Church, who knew of their pastor's sinful past were also shaken when another couple of gun-slingers came into town with the mission of 'shaming this gun-slinger turned preacher' out of the pulpit and out of town, as they had in other towns before. Underneath all this was the 'one' event where this former gun-slinger put up his gun forever, swearing off violence and looking the coward in the moment.  It was a doubt that haunted this now humble preacher every day; had he taken up the cloth because he was done with violence or because he coward before an old man who had called him out, a challenge he walked away from?  ...or was he the 'hero,' refusing to take life?  Lucas thought he was a coward and worse, a hypocrite.
 
I will never forget a dinner engagement I had with the wife of one of my pastors, who shared effectively the ministry of my pastor as an unpaid co-equal. I was a lay staff volunteer for her husband and she respected my creative gifts, heart and mind. In the course of the conversation she came to the point she intended, in just three sentences.  "Terry, you will never become a pastor."  I heard myself, almost third person, asking "why" and bracing for a revelation. What she said surprised me, hurt me and felt like truth. "A pastor," she began, "cannot speak in exclamation marks or in questions, but only sentences, that end with a period. You, Terry, are full of questions and doubt. Everything in your life asks questions, challenging assumptions. You are not made for the mission of being a pastor." 
 
She was my friend and I reflected on her statement for years, probably delaying my entrance into the pulpit of a church as pastor by a decade. I was always angry and pleased with her courage and the trust given in the offering. She spoke from within the priestly office of the church of pastor and drew my attention to its central function: assuranceof God, of salvation, of life's goodness in a broken world.  In time I came to see that she was both right, and wrong. Here's why.
 
I have yet to meet the human being without doubt.  Well, let me restate. The ones who are full of only certainty seem shallow, living in square boxes whose world view cannot be challenged, their proclamations of absolutism feels rigid, like a thin crust ready to implode if challenged.  If one piece of their faith block tumbles then the whole thing comes down like a house of cards.
 
As a child, just a few years before 'The Rifleman' Ike was President, America at the top of the world, the new emerging empire. My dad drove a huge Studebaker. He had this habit of buying the last model of every car made, I think.  We owned the last Nash just  before the Studebaker. Anyway, my dad not withstanding, life was certain, the President spoke in sentences that ended with periods and the nearest point between two places was a straight line. 
 
Then JFK became President and Einsteinium science was taking hold. Suddenly the universe was a curve and the fastest point between any two places may well be a curve. Free speech, civil rights, rock and roll, the women's rights movement and drugs all wrapped around the dividing moment of Vietnam. Questions abounded. That was the world in which I came into my own.
 
My father's generation thought salvation, a highly individualistic experience, was about character formation and in the light of all the people left on the outside of the church's model of 'sanctification,' questions began to grow in my own heart and those of my peers. Relationship, redrawing the lines of  'who is in and who is out' in an ever more inclusive way intrigued me. In short, love became the new holiness.  
 
Some were beginning to re-think even the idea of the 'personal' inside salvation pointing toward the early church's and Israel's experience as community's in exile, called by God to live apart from the empire of their times and into the world as a 'blessing', pointing toward the God who saves literally everyone in the Jesus event. 2
 
What my pastor's wife got right is the need for safe presence and assurance; gifts I did not have in abidance, driven by all my questions and passionbefore compassion was gifted by God. The delay was absolutely right. Where she was wrong was simply failing to see around the 'coming curve' of the post-modern age. In this age a pastor without 'doubts' and the ability to express them in searching, albeit reassuring ways, is absolutely necessary. It is the doubts, even the wrestling with our own inner tensions and hypocrisy that prepare the woman and man of God to articulate an accepting path toward love and wholeness (what my father called character formation or holiness). 
 
What strikes me as interesting when I watch "The Rifleman" once again is the certainty of 'faith' inside each episode, often quoting scripture or Biblical principles. Underneath and behind each show is a moral tension about, as in this case, hypocrisyof Lucas, all the while the show was focused on the doubts and concerns of the pastor with his own self-judgment.  Mark (John Crawford), Lucas son, respectfully challenges his father. "Is it possible that the pastor is a new man, forgiven?"  Who is in, who is out?

A Prayer: God, use my doubts to reveal more fully the mysteries of Your creation and the very real wounds of each/all of us. But save me from 'faithlessness', oh Godthat ever threatens. Fill me with love and help me to allow you to expose and heal the broken spaces of my own life that create in me, shame and threaten hypocrisy. What I ask for me, I ask for all those you've given me to minister to, I pray. Amen.
 
Terry :)

1The Rifleman, episode 28-Season 4 "The Day of Reckoning" - See at: The Rifleman: Day of Reckoning

2  My last two books have been about 'communal salvation'. 


In "Cross Purposes: Incarnational Atonement, Renewal & Communal Salvation"  I explore a conserving doctrine, Atonement and consider just how radical it is, changing both the Trinity of God and us as we engage the 'cross event'. Purchase it at: Cross Purposes: Incarnational Atonement, Renewal & Communal Salvation


In "Holiness in the 21st Century: A Political Gospel Worth Engaging" I explore the very political nature of this incarnational presence of God in Jesus Christ--just how radical it is and how focused on renewing the earth in the likeness of God's love.  Purchase at: Holiness in the 21st Century: A Political Gospel Worth Engaging

Monday, April 23, 2018

Color Blind? Color Conscious? ...or Both?

Dr. Martin Luther King's speech in August of 1963 forever changed my own trajectory; away from the prejudice I felt/feel and ever closer toward the spirit of his vision, of a day approaching when his "four little chi1dren will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  As was evidenced by the outrageous response to 'Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson' when denied use of the Starbucks rest room, reserved as they were informed, for paying customersthe 'color blind' culture of Dr. King's dream remains allusive.  Later they were asked if "they could be helped?" by a Starbucks employee and informed her that they were waiting for a third person for a business meeting. Minutes later the police came and arrested them, apparently without inquiry, for 'tresspassing'. 

What concerns me, as a white minister of the gospel is how difficult it seems for some of my peers to call this moment out clearly for what it isprofiling, a racist moment. Many in the white community seem to need, at a sociological and psychological level, to be released from America's original sin and our communal guilt by history and perhaps, our own internal conflict with prejudicial feelings. Some of us evidence this through our statements, "Can we ever simply remove race as a lens and become color blind?"  Still, others:  "When will persons of color get over their obsession with race when most white people have moved on, accepting Dr. King's call?  "By making everything racist," so the argument of some goes, "we effectively polarize American culture and inhibit the honest conversation yet needed about what is racist and what is prejudice and what is just human, without regard to color."  It's not that these questions should not be a part of a discovering dialogue when we are seated with our sisters and brothers of color. In moments like these, they are out of place, defensive, inherantly insenstive.

One of my white peers reviewed an incident, when entering what he thought was open space to view some sculptures and landscaping outside a business on the Las Vegas strip and was asked to leave or pay.  He and his son left, of course.  His point seemed to be that Donte and Rashon's refusal to leave when told they were trespassing by police was equivalent and therefore they share responsibility with both Starbucks and the police for the escalation; arrest without resistance and being held without information for nearly 9 hours, before finally being released without charge.

All things being equal, my friends argument would be valid.  They aren't, equal, that is.  That is the point of Starbucks apology, the black police chiefs apology and the need for cooperative business/community response.  Consider:
     
1) Starbucks is a quasi-public/private place for gathering and a company that has nationally built its reputation on access, even without purchases. It is a meeting place, not a sight seeing establishment with security guards. 
   
2) These men were there to meet for business to close a real estate deal and with the intent of a purchase at that time.
    
3) The Story as it unfolds reveals two men who were respectful in spirit, the police being called soon after an unclear conversation with the manager & without the men escalating the issue.
    
4) Race cannot be so easily removed given the historic and continuing concerns with racial profiling.  Refusal to leave after the initial request with no public or intimidating behavior on their part, in this setting is not comparable to a white persons refusal, because the historic, systemic and cultural response is all too often prejudicial and at times, racist.  At that point, with the Starbucks management obviously afraid and over-responding and with the police asserting trespassing, without seeking clarification and mediating efforts, peaceful resistance seems just and appropriate. 

As Donte was being taken to jail, he later reported to the Associated Press that he "thought about his loved ones and how the afternoon had taken such a turn as he was taken to jail. Nelson wondered if he would make it home alive." He said, “Anytime I’m encountered by cops, I can honestly say it’s a thought that runs through my mind,” Nelson said. “You never know what’s going to happen.” 1

Contrast that with my own observations I recently wrote: "Two weeks ago, at this writing, I was pulled over by a nice white female cop. It would not have mattered what her or his color or cultural background was. I would have bantered freely, leaned over to my glove compartment in a frantic search for paper work without hesitation. I got off with a warning because the moment was filled with reverential and humorous respect.  No tension allowed. (Crap, that reminds me. I haven’t paid my $25 processing fee and mailed it all in—thank you Jesus!)


If I was a person of color an unspoken tension would have filled the air for both the policewoman and myself, the driver.  A defensive spirit of fear would have guided each part of the transaction—for both of us.  Perceived and real, un-equal power relationship would have left us vulnerable to escalating violence. This, for many, is not the result of bad hearts, just bad experience—over generations." 2

White America wants and even needs to move on. Persons of Color know we as a people have not moved on in some significant ways.  Starbucks anyone?  

What troubles me more than anything is how we, in the evangelical church miss the 'reconciling' moment and say, frankly foolish things like "God is not the author of confusion."  God isn't.  God is the author of removing chaos and filling the earth with renewed creation. However, God also hasn't stuck the Trinity's proverbial head in the sand in denial; but instead always sides with the 'exile, the impoverished, the refugee, the less powerful' when a power-relation is asserted, as was the case here.

What this moment calls for is 'reverence' by us who are white and an awareness that we walk in our own skin, not another's. Reverence is listening and entering in prayer (and face to face if God places us in context) for Donte and Rashon, for the obviously honest police chief, for the employees of Starbucks, Starbucks itself , the Philadelphia community and our nation. Then, we can own our own awareness of communal sin and walk alongside our sisters and brothers of color who manage their way through the tension of ever moving towards a Color blind society legally and in terms of inter-personal relations and a Color conscious society in terms of celebrating our differences and having empathy for when those differences are treated with contempt.

Terry :)

The Guardian, an article: "Black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks feared for their lives" The Guardian- An Article: Black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks feared for their lives


2  My recent book: Holiness in the 21st Century, Chapter: "A New Definition of Being Saved" by Terry Mattson, pg 115-116  
You can see at: Holiness in the 21st Century: A Political Gospel Worth Engaging