Jesus is at the center, but we know where he looked. It takes a simple reading of the Gospel to see he stands with those on the margins of his time. Calls to do the same in our own day age appear few and far apart. But the Holy Spirit is moving. I believe in this Church. I believe in you.
I believe #decolonizelutheranism is the most important thing happening right now. #decolonize16 is where you get involved. We stand at the precipice as a country. We have lived in that tension as church for far too long.
I wish I could paint a narrative of good versus evil. Right vs wrong. I have been accused of that with my exorcism rite for systemic racism. I still stand by those statements, our country, our community and our church and its system are possessed by the demon of racism.
Possession implies that those who are oppressed by the demon itself are victims also. When have you ever carried sin in your heart and it has been life-giving? When has hatred ever given you respite?
We stand at the edge of the cliff. We can either be who the American church has always been, willfully blind or active participants in the oppression of others. We have often got it so wrong.
Women. We got it wrong. African descent people. We got it wrong. People with varying disabilities. We got it wrong. The LGBTQ community. We got it wrong. The list can go on…….
Today. Right now. As soon as you are done reading this you can start to be the Church. The Church we dream about. I know your hearts because I know the Church I said yes too. Why I’m plunging myself into debt, even with all the affirmation and help I received from the wider church in that regard. Why I’m working endless hours and missing time with my family. If you knew my story you would know how much I have already missed, and what a holy sacrifice that is for us.
You are the incarnation of hope on earth. We are the incarantional community of a loving God who was beaten and hung from a tree for us.
You see the headlines. You have watch demagoguery rise in our politics. Our leaders. You have seen the post from people whom you share communion with supporting hatred wrapped up in promise of salvation. You have wept at the senseless killings that have happened all over. Whether its Dallas that has outraged you or Orlando. Whether it is #Philandro where you said enough is enough or the Charleston Massacre. You have wept with Jesus. Church I know your heart. That’s why I’m here.
The problem for us isn’t “out there.” Beyond your sanctuary walls or on the other side of the stained glass. It is here. It is the woodwork of your altar. It is the binding of the hymnal. It is the well-worn pulpit you fiercely mount every week. It is in the scratches on “your pew.” It is a member of your Church council although there was no vote. For clergy it is as close as the collar we wear and the stole on our necks. (Not mine yet.)
It is in our theology that was once a beautiful flower in God’s garden now choked with weeds. You are afraid we will kill them both.
It’s not our leaders in our wider Church, its everyone we have passed up for those offices.
It isn’t what our liturgy is saying it’s what it’s not.
It isn’t the meal we share; it’s how it has become obscured with cultural identifiers that Jesus wouldn’t have identified with.
We know we stand on the shoulders of the work of countless saints of the church before us. Why is that stopping you from getting involved?
We know we aren’t saying anything new, we have read the Gospel too.
Our story has become scarred by names that make us shiver when we hear them. Like Dylan Roof. If there was a one in a million chance the next Dylan attended your VBS this summer isn’t that one too many?
On October 22nd a group of us are gathering, not to offer answers but to ask the questions. A group of us who have been here the whole time while you have searched for diversity. We don’t need diversity we need to re-stitch the very tapestry of the church with the threads that have been carefully plucked out over centuries.
This can be done lovingly but not without pain. This can be done with community but not the way we have structured them up until now. This can be done with laity but we will need the ordained. This can be done with marching, but the march stops at your doorstep.
We can find salvation but it won’t be without crucifixion. This is your personal invitation to enter the movement that will change the Church. It has transformed me. Join us in Chicago. Donate. Livestream ( if we can make it happen.) Tweet. Preach. Share.
But most importantly. Come to Chicago. Show up. Yes, its short notice. Yes, you had other plans. Yes, it is inconvenient.
But isn’t the Holy Spirit always like that?