Freedom

The Passing of Old Religion

Under the old system of religion, religious leaders were called reverend (as if they were to be revered for their higher degree of holiness), those who prayed or spoke with God were thought to have halos or skin that glowed, and keeping track of all the petty laws and rituals of orthodox belief was a full time job. Moses represents the old religion when he veils his face. Many of us represent old religion when we expect people to treat us as holy people just because we spend an inordinate amount of time in church. Hear the good news; in Jesus Christ we are all equal inheritors of holiness. The old divisions of lay verses clergy, secular verses holy, are falling away.

 

Sunday, February 7, 2016
Epiphany 5
Transfiguration Sunday

Political Problems

It is hard to bite the hand that feeds you. It requires courage and a whole hearted dependency upon God to do it more than once. Thing is, people who keep people, like pets, and feed them everyday in paternalistic ways, are many. Most of us belong to something or someone who is happy to feed us. Three notable exceptions are Groucho Marx, Jesus of Nazareth, and the prophet Samuel.

 

Groucho famously said, “I refuse to be a member of any organization that will have me.”  His team then went on to make the film Duck Soup. This 1933 classic pokes fun at the rising Nazi movement in Germany, while at the same time delivering jabs at the way political systems own all of us. It was the last film made by the Marx Brothers for Paramount, because Groucho habitually bit the hand that was feeding him.

 

Sunday, June 7, 2015
Pentecost 5

Preparing for Action

It’s ritual. I hate ritual. I’m tempted to pass over the description of the Passover ritual in Exodus twelve. Repetitious religious acts are often used to reinforce institutional authority and corral us into compliance. Yet, what God commands Moses in Passover, and what we continue with frequent communion, is meant to free us for rebellion. Passover is like the church meetings held before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. When we remember, we remember that once we were slaves and now we are free.

 

The ritual begins with a sacrificial lamb. The Passover story really begins with innocent children being thrown into the Nile. We tell again how little baby Moses rode along in the wicker basket of God’s grace until the time was right for him to stand before Pharaoh’s court. We speak of people like Rosa Parks. We tell how a young minister, new to the Montgomery area, was called out to lead his people. We recall how Martin Luther King was slaughtered like an unblemished lamb.

 

Sunday, September 7, 2014
Pentecost 18
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