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Will we be peacemakers?

Merely one week ago, the General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church (the justice arm of the UMC) sent a passionate note in response to recent hate crimes like the anti-Semitic murders in Pittsburgh and the anti-black murders in Kentucky, plus multiple other recent instances of violence and hate. In that note, Church & Society's General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, used a line from A Tale of Two Cities (one of my favorite books) to try to find a way forward: "recalled to life."

A Tale of Two Cities ends as a story of resurrection with the main characters, Dr. Manette, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, being “recalled to life.”


Resurrection, in Dickens, demonstrates that the spiritual lives of all people depend upon the hope of being born anew, recalled to life.

We must soberly ask, in the light of the chaos and violence around us, what does it mean for us to be recalled to life?

Read the whole note here.

Now, today, that note is tragically out of date with yet another mass shooting Wednesday night. As Church & Society wrote this time: 

"Like me, you might have felt a familiar sense of disbelief, sorrow and dread as the reality began to sink in... senseless violence, terror, tragedy, death and profound loss of life have cut yet another community. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), yet it often feels like there is not much we can do. How can we make peace when violence intrudes on our daily reality?"

Adding to all this violence and hatred, locally, more than 56,000 people spread over Cook, Will, and DuPage counties voted for an actual freaking Nazi for U.S. Representative. That includes 11,576 people from Will County and 176 from DuPage County.

It is enough to make one scream, shout, and lament: What can we do?!

Here's something we can do: attend a vigil to end gun violence. The closest one scheduled so far is at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Joliet on December 14th at 6:30pm

Jesus calls us to be peacemakers. But that doesn't mean to be doormats. The section of scripture that verse comes from (Matthew 5-7) we usually call The Sermon on the Mount. It is full of creative non-violent responses to violent oppression.

That's what true peacemaking is: creative non-violent responses to violence. 

So let's plan to go to that vigil. 

But let's not stop there. We're better together, so let's crowd source this: What else do you want to help WUMC do to work to end gun violence and hatred in our communities, in our nation, and in our world? Leave a comment below or email me. 


More Wise Words on Kings

In last Sunday's sermon, I shared a video to help us get an overview of the book of Kings. I find the storyboard style really engaging. Based on post-sermon feedback, it seems many others concur. 

So I thought I'd make that video available here. We watched up until the 4:06 mark. But the rest of it is just as good. I've only just discovered The Bible Project, the producers of this video and a whole bunch more. I expect we'll use their videos again.

However, The Bible Project's mission makes me uneasy: "to show how the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus." Yes, as Christians -- those who follow God in the way of Jesus -- we read all of scripture through the lens of Jesus. But that doesn't make the bible univocal. As we have often said, the bible is, in actual fact, multi-vocal. It was written by scores of people over hundreds of years -- it can't help but be multi-vocal. We don't have to read any farther than the first two chapters of Genesis to see this. Our four, very different gospels also make it clear that multi-vocality is necessary -- is a strength of the biblical witness.

I hope their mission doesn't mean The Bible Project people think the authors of the Hebrew Scriptures had Jesus in mind as they wrote and edited hundreds of years before Jesus was born. For instance, looking back from our vantage point as Christians in 2018, we can see that Jesus filled (and transformed) the role of the suffering servant as presented in Isaiah. But we can also see that when that part of the book of Isaiah was written in the 6th century BCE , the author did not have Jesus of Nazareth in mind. Both those understandings are true. We can hold them in tension.

I haven't seen enough of The Bible Project's products to say for sure if their mission taints their product. Still, I think both these things can also be true simultaneously: this video is really good, truly edifying AND their overall goal may be flawed.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Here's the video: