Category: Race

Hesed: The God of Mutuality #AllPeoplePractices

Please welcome back Pastor Greg Henneman, Director of the Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) initiative at Church and Community Development for All People. Here, he reflects on God's call to mutuality:
 
Image result for mutuality mlkPsalm 130 has long been the psalm I identify with most. I resonate with the psalmist crying from the depth of the heart. As one who served in the military, I have experienced the twice repeated phrase “more than those who watch for morning, more than those who watch for morning.” I love the modern expression of the song by Sinead O’Connor. But while this psalm is an old favorite, this week I have noticed something new. In verse 7, Israel is invited to put its hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is “steadfast love.” Steadfast love sounds good on its own: a love that is not conditional and doesn’t wax and wane like our love of a favorite song or restaurant. But this is only the surface of it. The word translated steadfast love is the Hebrew word 'hesed' which means 'mutuality'.
Creative Mutuality
If there is one thing I’ve learned in ministry it is the power of mutuality. It was including homeless people in on the creation and weekly leadership of Community of Hope that made it work. Mutuality is at the core of the United Methodist Church’s focus area of ministry WITH the poor. Mutuality is the secret sauce that makes Church and Community Development for All People a place of ever growing relationships and expanding programming. Within the Fresh Market and the Free Store, it is impossible to tell from racial or socioeconomic background who is provider and who is recipient. Mutuality is more than a management concept to involve people from the bottom up in order to create diverse community. Mutuality is who God is. God is in the cry from the depth of the heart. God is equally present in the broken heart of divorce as in the joyful heart of newborn parents. God is as much in the mud covered eyes of the blind, the leper, the addict, and the prostitute as God is in the faithful church goer.
Image result for “out of the depths” -book
When we are willing to put aside our ego and be vulnerable enough to share ourselves with others, the God of mutuality is moving. When we are humble enough to admit we don’t have all the answers and open our heart in prayer, the God of mutuality speaks. When we look at others asking what we can give instead of how we can receive, the God of mutuality provides. I am often asked, what is the greatest asset of our community. Every time I respond by saying, relationships. It is in the mutuality of people who look out for each other and care for each other and support each other that the peaceable kingdom grows. The mutuality of God’s love is what forms us and shapes us and leads us forward. We find God in serving the other, because the God of mutuality found us “out of the depths”; and, when we are willing to go down in the depths with others we find the God is mutuality is there.

Friday Fruit (04/20/17)

Black woman in blue and white dress in front of blue, green and white background with black images and textOn Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...
Weekly Round Up:
These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?
Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Blogging Through Pt. 3

Feminist theology is a very broad term ranging a variety of theological traditions. This makes sense, given the nature of Christian theology, which is far from homogeneous. Without giving a detailed analysis of each tradition, which Grant does provide a brief overview, let’s look at the general goals and themes within Christian Feminist theology as … Continue reading "White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Blogging Through Pt. 3"

Just You Wait! Reflection for Holy Week

The death toll continues to rise As nation after nation competes on the world stage To prove its strength before its enemies Its might before the world The loss of whole families and communities seem to be of no consequence The only thing that matters is that the strongest survive and win But what exactly … Continue reading →

Family Roots

Image result for family historyWelcome back guest writer Eileen Howard, as she explores some of her families history and what it means for her today: I am researching my family genealogy and it has been fun (and time consuming).  I’ve traced ancestors back to the pilgrims and to the revolutionary war.  I’ve found some really hilarious and interesting family stories.  I’ve also found that I cannot escape the sins of our nation. All my life I have thought of myself as part of a family that was above the sin of slavery.  We were northeasterners who moved to the Pacific Northwest.  You won’t find a Morrill (my maiden name) that owned slaves. Ah...but now I find my family goes back through other branches to North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.  And there, in black and white, thanks to Ancestry.com, are records that list slaves. and ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. Not only that, but I discovered a very intriguing story about one branch who lived next door to Daniel Boone’s family in North Carolina.  Boone led some of my ancestors to settle Kentucky!  How exciting! Until you realize that by “settle” they mean “kill Indians.”  They fought at Fort Boone against the native peoples, killing them and taking their land. Image result for the best apology is changed behaviorI wonder if we will ever be a truly free nation until we boldly face and repent of our original sins? The backlash against “political correctness” has some basis in truth – people just want to move on and want to stop the back and forth labels of racism.  They feel they want to just live and let live and treat people as humans.  I do think there have been overreactions to minor things and I, too, find these frustrating.  But I now think they are rooted in this issue:  We still have not fully repented of our original sins so, like a festering wound, it just keeps opening up again and again. In 12-step groups, this is called Step Eight.  Make a list of all persons we had harmed and make amends to them.  But this is difficult when the core of the harm is generations ago.  However, the benefit to me of that original sin is clear as I do my research!   Generations of my ancestors had land, power, and money because they either built it on the labor of slaves or took land from native people. So, in 12 step groups, this is what you do when you can’t directly make amends to a person you’ve harmed:  A Living Amends.  A Living Amends is when you start living your life the way you should have lived it back when you were harming others.   A living amends, means rooting out the current forms of institutional racism and unconscious privilege.  It requires acknowledging that generations of oppression have led to an inherent systemic inequality from birth.  Stop pretending that we all start on a level playing field.  It requires deep self-examination to see where our institutions have inherent bias against people of color, such as in our policing and justice systems, hiring practices, real estate sales, and schooling. Image result for A Living Amends And, for the Native People of this country, wow… I don’t even know where to begin, the sins are so deep.  Maybe by just stopping taking their damned land and using it for oil pipelines! My hands are not clean.   I did not just drop on the planet without a family history.  While I cannot go back and change the actions of my ancestors, I can participate in repentance and make a living amends to the ancestors of those who were harmed.

White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Blogging Through Pt. 1

I lived with my mother throughout childhood (not that my father wasn’t present – he most certainly was!). Most of my close friends have been women. I am, according to American culture, probably about as feminine as masculine. Despite all of this, I am still a lower middle class white male.  Continue reading "White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Blogging Through Pt. 1"

Say Their Names: The Rizpah Inside All of Us

This post is the fourth installment in a series that I have been hosting called, “Say Their Names” which tells the stories of amazing women in the Bible who like our male heroes, exercised and operated from a deep sense of faith. And from their stories, I will expound on other historical and modern day examples.... Continue Reading →

True Christianity in the midst of American shock: A brief black and anabaptist account

A quick glance at the timelines and social media feeds of my progressive and left leaning friends reveals an ongoing shock in response to the character and politics of mainstream Christianity in the United States, however, we should all remember that many followers of Jesus have known for a very long time that western Christianity was severely diseased. Some of the surprise and outrage was sparked by the release of data revealing that 81% of white evangelicals supported Donald Trump’s election, as well as that a majority of white mainline Protestants did as well.revealing that 81% of white evangelicals supported Donald Trump’s election, as well as that a majority of white mainline Protestants did as well. [...]
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