Archive for April, 2013

Jubilee: Sabbath for the Land

// April 26th, 2013 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

Vote on Ordination
Jubilee

Sallie McFague is one of my personal saints. She’s a theological scholar who manages to jump out of every box people put around her, and is a strong voice for ecological and gender justice. She writes in ways compelling both to theological academics and to justice-minded church-goers alike; her work is on the ground and relevant to the cultural moments we’re living.  I’m sure you’re shocked that a practically-minded ecofeminist person like me would be drawn to her! This week, I’m hoping we can use two of her excellent metaphors from her book Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature to frame our conversation about Sabbath practices for the land (and why these matter to people).  McFague draws on Jesus’ Sermon on the mount, describing our cultural distance from the land and the need to “subdue” it with the metaphor of “The Arrogant Eye.”  If we look at the world as an object we are entitled – some even say commanded – to use, then we are free to demand as much from the natural world as possible.  We can follow our cultural messages that tell us to get as much as we can for ourselves, no matter the consequences – though this has a real cost to our sense of self-in-relationship, to our economically marginalized neighbors around the world, and to nature’s economy, which does not match the pace of consumerism.

McFague counters the Arrogant Eye with “The Loving Eye.” In a direct challenge to societal norms that advocate the objectification of people and planet through consumerism and wealth accumulation, McFague takes us back to Jesus’ words, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” For McFague, the whole world is God’s body, and we are always in relationship to it – everything we grow, eat, breath, touch and throw away is part of God’s self-expression.  This is a pretty serious challenge to our culture, and resonates strongly with the concept of Jubilee.

Join us Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, to be together and talk about these kinds of things.  We’d love to have your voice in the conversation.

Genny

Vote on Ordination

On Wednesday, April 10, and Sunday, April 20, Scott answered questions related to ordination.  Now, there is a vote underway.  If you would like to vote in favor of ordaining Scott to ministry in Church in the Cliff, please email your vote to board@churchinthecliff.org or show up at the community meeting at 10am on May 5.

Jubilee

We are still taking contributions for Occupy Wall Street’s Rolling Jubilee.  Our unofficial count stands at $1837.  $2k would be a nice, pretty, round number.  Or, be an anarchist and shatter preconceived notions of what beauty is.  We will love you anyway.  Okay, we will love you especially.

The Promised Land

// April 20th, 2013 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

The Week’s Events
Jubilee
Ordination Candidate Forum

About a month ago, a few of us went to hear Kathryn Tanner speak on the ways that finance intersects with our Christian commitments.  This was not your average stewardship discussion.  While I disagreed with some of her premises, the questions she was asking were fascinating.  It just so happens that they intertwine with our Eastertide consideration of Jubilee.  Primarily, Dr. Tanner was asking: what kind of people we become when we participate in the finance system?  And what kind of people do our Christian commitments call us to be?  What kind of economic system might we design that would allow us to answer that call?  Perhaps Jubilee offers some possibilities.

Last week we discussed how the idea of Sabbath arose from the Hebrew narratives of creation and liberation.  God created the world, the land, the people, and the law so that life might flourish.  Sabbath is a way of reconnecting to and reviving ourselves in that dream.  But it requires more than rest; it requires thought and action, courage and wit.

Specifically, Jubilee calls us to an alternate social possibility. Living in slavery, the Hebrews were obviously quite critical of the social, political, and economic arrangements in which they found themselves.  They cried out and God heard them.  God called them to a land flowing with milk and honey, a land where all could prosper.  The Hebrews set out from Egypt determined to live into this alternate social possibility in the land of Canaan.  In their liturgy, in their politics, and in their law they enshrined the hope that everyone would have plenty if they just cared for one another.

Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we talk about the social, political, and economic realities of our world and how we might imagine an alternative that forms us into people of God.

Grace and Peace,
Scott

The Week’s Events

Obviously, it has been a terrible week.  It seems like every time I check Facebook, someone is offering prayers for another city hit by tragedy.  I scramble to find out happened and I almost wish I hadn’t.  Our prayers go out to all the people of Boston, that they might find peace and that someone will make peace in our world and in our hearts.  But the tragedy that hits closest to home is that in nearby West, Texas.  I’m not sure I’ve met a Texan that hasn’t stopped at the Czech Stop in West at some point while traveling between Dallas and Austin.  If you’d like to help, Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery is collecting money and needed items for the people of West.  Please give as you can.

Jubilee

Thanks to all those who came out last Sunday for Jubilee!  Thanks to our musicians for their lovely accompaniment, to the cooks for delicious food, and to the Kittos’ for hosting.  Most of all, thanks to all those who contributed to the Rolling Jubilee!  We collected $1467, which will pay off about $15,000 in medical debt for a person in need.  We will continue to collect a special offering throughout Eastertide, so please consider what you can give.  What if we could get to $2000?

Ordination Candidate Forum

I met on April 10th with members of the church to talk about ordination.  There were great questions.  It was good to articulate some of what ordination means to me.  We will have a second session this Sunday morning, April 21st, at 10am.  This will allow full two weeks for people to consider before the vote scheduled for the May 5th community meeting.  I look forward to your questions as we discern ordination together.

Images of Jubilee

// April 13th, 2013 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

Growing up in a fundamentalistish church, I learned to read Scripture in a particular way.  It was understood as a monolithic text with a cohesive narrative arc, one story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  This story conveyed information and our task was to receive it.  In particular, this story was the story of God’s action in the world for salvation.  He (it was definitely He) tried a state of blissful nature and it didn’t work.  He tried the law and we broke it.  He sent the prophets came and we killed them.  Finally, He came to the world as Jesus and died to save us.  Sort of.  For some reason, Jesus still has to come back again; I’m not sure why.  In any case, when he does, things will finally be fixed.  And somehow, it matters that we believe this to be the case.  I’m sure this will come as a shock, but I don’t read Scripture that way anymore.  I think that I love Scripture more now than I ever did then because it is now to me a fugue, a repeating pattern with variation and expansion, a pattern in which we live and breathe.  Our Eastertide theme of Jubilee is just such a pattern.  Perhaps it is the pattern of the Christian story.

As we read last week, Leviticus 25 contains the clearest expression of Jubilee.  However, that text has ancestors and descendents that touch virtually every aspect of human life: agriculture, the environment, empire, economics, systems of power, the human soul.  The image of Jubilee is repurposed to suit the needs of the people to whom it is proclaimed.  In all cases, it is a calling to human thriving in a just society.  As this series unfolds, we will look at the various ways in which the image of Jubilee is used and what that call might look like.  What are we free from?  What are we free for?  What holds us and the world captive?  How do we affect release?

Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Park, as we proclaim the Jubilee, the year of God’s favor.  Note that we will not be in the rec center this week.  We will meet on the lawn by the garden between the parking lots off Canty.  Please bring blankets or folding chairs and you might want to wear a hat.  If possible, you may want to ride a bike or walk because the event that has displaced us might make parking limited.  It should be a beautiful day tomorrow and it will do us good to encounter God in the sunshine.

Also, remember that we will be putting the Jubilee proclamation into action in the afternoon.  Starting at 4pm at Sara Kitto’s house, 310 S. Montclair, we will have a potluck, hootenanny, and telethon to raise money for Occupy Wall Street’s Rolling Jubilee, which buys toxic debt and forgives it, just like Jesus.  There will be plenty of food.  If you play an instrument, bring it and join in the pickin’.  And bring money.  We want to contribute as much as we can to release people from debt.  Hope to see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
Scott

Ordination Candidate Forum

I met on Wednesday with members of the church to talk about ordination.  There were great questions.  It was good to articulate some of what ordination means to me.  We had planned to have a second session this Sunday morning, but decided to push it one week because we are meeting outside and we will be working hard in the afternoon for Jubilee.  So, the new date and time are April 21st at 10am.  This will still allow a full two weeks for people to consider before the vote scheduled for the May 5th community meeting.