Peace Through Relationship

20150630_180713This week I went to a presentation put on by a group of 6 from the Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA who just got back from a trip to Namibia. It was a great presentation. The team showed a slideshow of the places that they visited, and talked about their impression of the country. The trips focus was on education, and they visited with schools, hospitals, churches, and bishops of the synods in Namibia.

20150630_193006 My biggest take away from the meeting was the discussion around what one of the bishops told the group. He told them that it is through relationship that peace is formed. He is an advocate for peace, and encouraged them to form relationships with others, and fight for the US to not be so quick to go to war. He said that when the US goes to war it makes other small countries uncomfortable and fear the US.

This idea of peace through relationship is really cool, and I know it is important to help with the turmoil that is happening in our country right now. I would like to challenge each of you to get to know someone from a race, gender, or religion you do not understand before you post or talk about the group in a negative way.race

It is only through relationship that peace will happen. I am not talking about a superficial friendship where you do not take the time to really get to know the person. This is about finding out what makes them tick without trying to change them. It is about being open to their ideas even if they are different than the way you understand the world. Once you really get to know a person who is truly different than you it helps you to be more compassionate toward all of humanity, so take the challenge!!

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What my fall will look like

I have gotten my finalized schedule for the fall. This is the best part of the year. You get to sign up for classes, and get really excited about them. Then once the classes start you find that they are not exactly what you expected, but this is not always the case. There are times that a class really surprises you, and it is better than what you ever imagined. Here is my schedule.

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  • Living Traditions
    • A class about the Lutheran tradition and heritage. There is a special emphasis on Martin Luther. This will be a good class for me because I was not raised Lutheran, and do not know that much about Lutheran history. I also believe that history is important to have a better understanding of anything you want to understand better.
  • History of Christianity I
    • This history goes up to the late medieval period. This is my favorite period of Christian history, because I believe it is only through understanding the beginning that one can be a full understanding of how things are now. I hope to be able to read some of the works that were written during this period.
  • Intro to the Old Testament
    • Self explanatory. I am not sure how I feel about this class. The Old Testament is important, and I love to read and study all parts of it. It will be an interesting and enjoyable class.
  • Reading Congregations
    • Helps to build observation skills needed to lead a congregation. I think it will be fun to be able to observe congregations and assess them. This will give me a broader understanding of what it means to be Lutheran.
  • Mysticism & Social Change
    • This class looks at literature from activists from different cultures in order to help bring a holistic understanding to activism and ministerial work. This is an understanding that uses both head and body. This was my choice, and I am very excited to read about what different cultures and religions have to say about activism. This will give me a broader understanding of what activism means.

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Well, that is it, and it is enough. I have not taken 5 classes at one time.

The City of God

I had some charismatic friends pray over me one time when I was going on a mission trip. This trip was to a gathering of hippies in the middle of the national forest. It was a large gathering with many people there. When she prayed she said she got the words to the song “Hot Child in the City” by Nick Gilder. I was reminded of this prayer while I was walking among those I was ministering to that summer, and believed this is all that word was about, but as I was reading City of God: Faith in the Streets by Sara Miles, I began to wonder if my days of being the “Hot Child in the City” were not over.City

Miles describes heaven like a city. She uses the places in scripture that talk about heaven as the new Jerusalem, but the city that she envisions in hot and messy. In the introduction to the book she says, “In the city of God, a river of life flows from the single source of holiness, while a bent street tree, cracking open the sidewalk with its tough roots, offers its leaves for the healing of all the nations.” This is a reinterpretation of Revelation 22:1-2 where the evangelist talks about a river in the New Jerusalem lined with trees that give healing to the nations.

This is a vision of heaven that I can live with. I have a hard time when everything that is human is taken out of heaven because all that is human is evil. I do not see humanity as evil, and I see God as being there to heal all nations in the midst of our hurt and pain. It is in the midst of all of our problems that we need God the most, and this is where he is. In the middle of a city teeming with people who are hurting, and looking for hope.

This made me think that my days of being a “Hot Child in the City” were not over, and God has more work for me to do in the City of God.

The Eucharist

The Eucharist is one of the great traditions of the Christian church, and meaningful to many. While reading Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflections on Christianity in Africa I came across an understanding of the ritual that I have not heard, or do not remember being stressed in my American setting. How ever when I did a search on youtube I came across this song which sums it up.

In the book, Mercy Oduyoye says, “From the perspective of Africa, an interpretation of the Eucharist that highlights the aspect of sacrifice is one that will touch people’s spirituality in such a way as to affect their lives.” When I have heard about sacrifice in the past it was how one should sacrifice for the sake of Christ, but she is talking about living in solidarity not doing things you really do not want to do, but are told you should.

Oduyoye goes on to say that sacrifice is “the way to replace charity with justice.” This is a different kind of sacrifice than I usually hear in relation to the Eucharist. Usually it is about the sacrifice of Christ, and not our sacrifice for others. (It is important to mention that I am not talking about living with abuse and calling it sacrifice.) There are those who tell people they need to sacrifice, and by that they mean they need to accept abuse. This is not the sacrifice I am talking about. The sacrifice I am talking about is a sacrifice that will help those in poverty get the human rights they need and deserve. It is not about abuse, but moving from charity to justice. This is done by sacrificing for others.

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In 1 Corinthians 11 the Corinthians are told they need to think of each other when they come to the Lord’s Supper. Those with privilege were eating all of the food before the others could get there. “Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves.” (11:28-29) Is saying that they need to consider how they are treating each other before they partake of the Table. Just like Oduyoye says in her theology.
The next time you come to the Lord’s Table remember that there are people all around the world standing right beside you.