OWAAT June 17: Proud, Free, and Prophetic

happy pride

You may have noticed that everything is colored in rainbows and beautiful flags this month! If you haven’t noticed, or are otherwise unaware, June is Pride Month for LBGTQIA+ people and allies! Did you know that being LBGTQIA+ is compatible with Christianity – that God loves all of us without regard for who we love and feel romantic feelings for? Did you know that the Bible, when read thoroughly and in appropriate context, does not specify heterosexual relationships as the only God-approved relationships? Have you ever heard of queer theology? If you haven’t, the site Queer Theology gives a good introduction to it. Also, several theologians have written great books about it.

And definitely check out the Queer Bible Commentary  – especially if you’ve been part of a faith tradition that has told you that God doesn’t accept LGBTQIA+ people because “the Bible says not to.” This incredible resource will help you learn ways to read the Bible in ways that affirm LBGTQIA+ people in all their humanity.

Also, this Tuesday, June 19 is Juneteenth, a holiday I hadn’t heard of before I was a member of Liberation Christian Church. It’s sad, but not surprising, that I didn’t – it tends to be that things of importance in Black culture fly under the radar of white people until we become interested in them and appropriate them with little regard for what Black people might think of such appropriation. This is a great time to learn how to celebrate cultural events in ways that honor that culture!

And if you don’t know what Juneteenth is, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. lays it out for us on “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” website by PBS: “When Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued [“General Orders, Number 3,” the executive proclamation freeing all slaves], he had no idea that, in establishing the Union Army’s authority over the people of Texas, he was also establishing the basis for a holiday, ‘Juneteenth’ (‘June’ plus ‘nineteenth’), today the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States.”

Juneteenth for Mazie

If you want to help your children or the young people in your life understand Juneteenth better, there’s a great book to read to them: Juneteenth for Mazie about a Mazie’s remembrance of her ancestors’ struggles and triumph as she prepares to celebrate liberty and freedom for all people in the United States.

Daily Bible readings:

June 17 – Jeremiah 29
June 18 – Jeremiah 30
June 19 – Jeremiah 31
June 20 – Jeremiah 32
June 21 – Jeremiah 33
June 22 – Jeremiah 34
June 23 – Jeremiah 35

Think:

Prophets, including Jeremiah, speak out when things aren’t going so well. Our nation is currently experiencing a crisis of leadership as I have not seen in my lifetime, and in response to this a group of faith leaders drafted and signed the “Reclaiming Jesus” statement. Many people, including some of those in my life, believe that the church isn’t supposed to be “political,” whatever that means – as if Jesus and his very life were not also political in the face of a hostile Roman Empire. The “Reclaiming Jesus” statement addresses this:

When politics undermines our theology, we must examine that politics. The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”

Read the complete “Reclaiming Jesus” confession of faith. What do you think about it, particularly in light of current world events?

Pray: 

This month’s spiritual practice is described as “Face to Face Connection” by the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. It includes having hard, deep, or otherwise meaningful conversations with people in person. This is a particularly important practice to engage in these days as our discourse on a national level continues to be filled with inflammatory rhetoric, and more people speak over or beyond each other, rather than truly listening to each other.

Think about your online life. Does what you post on social media differ from what you tell people to their faces? If so, why is that? What are some ways you can think of to have difficult conversations in person? Pamela Paretsky offers some insights at Psychology Today.

Act:

This month’s book, Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World, considers in Chapter 9 what motivates us to act. As it does with many of the concepts core to FBCO, it sets itself over and apart from FBCO. As Salvatierra and Heltzel consider the question of what moves people to action, they do note that “The process and sources of motivation [to action] are remarkably individual.” (p. 137) I agree with this – and that anger at having a value violated is not the only thing that inspires action. I do wish, however, that they would include the traditional FBCO motivator of anger in the form of a value that has been violated, instead of only focusing on compassion, gratitude, joy, legacy, and divine mandates as spiritual motivators. For centuries people – especially women – have been told that anger is an invalid, meaningless, or harmful emotion. For many of us, finding and living authentic faith has a lot to do with examining and using the anger we have had to push aside in the service of Empire.

What motivates you to act? Do you find anger motivational or not? What are you doing this week to build and reveal God’s realm?

Check the Think! Pray! Act! calendar for ideas and things to do.

Check out the Find Your FBCO Map to find your local faith-based community organizing affiliate and connect with the people who are working together to live out their dreams of a more just world!

What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.

Resources:

“Reclaiming Jesus.” 17 January 2017. http://reclaimingjesus.org/home.

Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015.

Cooper, Floyd. Juneteenth for Mazie. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Young Readers, 2015.

Fretheim, Terence E. “Old Testament: Jeremiah.” Enter the Bible, n.d. http://www.enterthebible.org/oldtestament.aspx?rid=44.

Gates, Henry Louis, and Jr | Originally posted on The Root. “What Is Juneteenth? African American History Blog.” The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, 16 January 2013. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-is-juneteenth/.
Guest, Deryn. The Queer Bible Commentary. Edited by Robert E. Goss, Mona West, and Thomas Bohache. London: SCM Press, 2011.
Long, Ronald E. “Introduction: Disarming Biblically Based Gay-Bashing.” The Queer Bible Commentary. London: SCM Press, 2006.

Luther Seminary. “Enter the Bible,” n.d. http://www.enterthebible.org/.

Luther Seminary. Jeremiah. Vol. 22 of Word & World. Saint Paul, MN: Luther Seminary, 2002. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/issues.aspx?issue_id=88.

Luther Seminary. Prophets and Politicians. Vol. 33 / 3 of Word and World. Saint Paul, MN: Luther Seminary, 2013. http://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/issues.aspx?issue_id=131.

Paretsky, Pamela B. “We Say We Want Free Speech and Civil Dialogue.” Psychology Today, 11 January 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-and-the-pursuit-leadership/201701/we-say-we-want-free-speech-and-civil-dialogue.

Salvatierra, Rev Alexia, and Peter Heltzel. Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2014.

Simundson, Daniel J. “Preaching from Jeremiah: Challenges and Opportunities.” Word & World 22.4 (2002): 423–32. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/content/pdfs/22-4_Jeremiah/22-4_Simundson.pdf.

Society of Biblical Literature. “Bible Odyssey,” n.d. http://www.bibleodyssey.com/.

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