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Today is like no other day, it is the day we listen to one another.
Today is the day we stand together, no matter who we choose.

Today the faith community we call home, made a bold political statement. We agreed to center our existence in this politically and economically charged culture of America upon the love that is God. And, we put it in writing, signed it, and will deliver to the President (whoever that may be), and to some of the other powers that be.

Each week we profess some version or variation of Mark 12:28-31

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ‘The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Today, we finished our journey through the 10 commandments of the pledge that student protesters agreed to abide in Birmingham, AL in 1963, and we decided to not only proclaim our statement for love, we decided to sign it and deliver it.

We have decided as a community of faith to resist the temptations of fear and greed.
“The hallmark of political nihilism is the public appeal to fear and greed, and too much of American politics today as been reduced to such vulgar appeals.” —Cornel West

Instead we have chosen to make a political statement that does not succumb to fear, greed, nor power.

Instead we have chose to make a political statement that does profess God’s love is at the center of who we proclaim to be and the goal we will continue to seek.

Just as MLK and the movement for racial justice did in the sixties, we seek to learn what is our truest expression of God’s love in this time and place. And, for this we rely on those who came before us just as MLK did. For a little background on what I’m referring, read the following from http://www.nathanielturner.com/

While others viewed nonviolence as only one of the alternatives, for Martin Luther King, Jr., it was “only road to freedom.” In September 1948 while a student at Crozer Theological: Seminary, he heard Dr. A.J. Muste and Dr. Mordecai W. Johnson preach of the life and teaching of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of Indian independence. Since his entrance at Crozer, Martin had begun a serious quest for a way to eliminate economic and social evil.

He began a prolonged study of the writings of Gandhi and became a convert to the Gandhian concept of satyagraha (truth-force or love-force) and atmbal (soul-force). King described his conversion thusly:

“As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi, my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished, and I came to see for the first time that the Christian doctrine of love, operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence, is one of the most potent weapons available to an oppressed people in their struggle for freedom. At that time, however, I acquired only an intellectual understanding and appreciation of the position, and I had no firm determination to organize it in a socially effective situation.” [Strength To Love, p. 151]

One year later, Dr. King became involved in a crisis in which the philosophy of nonviolent resistance could be applied. On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old seamstress was arrested because she refused to give her bus seat to a white man.

When the Black people of Montgomery decided that it was “more honorable to walk the streets in dignity than to ride the buses in humiliation,” they called on Dr. King to be their spokesman and leader of the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). The association began a nonviolent boycott of Montgomery’s transit system.

From the beginning a basic philosophy guided the movement. This guiding principle has since been referred to variously as nonviolent resistance, noncooperation, and passive resistance. But in the first days of the protest none of these expressions was mentioned; the phrase most often heard was “Christian love.” It was the Sermon on the Mount, rather than a doctrine of passive resistance, that initially inspired the Negroes of Montgomery to dignified social action. It was Jesus of Nazareth that stirred the Negroes to protest with the creative weapon of love.…

Nonviolent resistance … emerged as the technique of the movement, while love stood as the regulating ideal. In other words, Christ furnished the spirit and motivation, while Gandhi furnished the method. [Stride Toward Freedom, pp. 84–85]

By 1963 the following pledge was being signed by volunteers for sit-in demonstrations in the restaurants of Birmingham:

I hereby pledge myself—my person and body—to nonviolent movement. Therefore I will keep the following ten commandments:

1. MEDITATE daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.

2. REMEMBER always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation—not victory.

3. WALK AND TALK in the manner of love, for God is love.

4. PRAY daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.

5. SACRIFICE personal wishes in order that all men might be free.

6. OBSERVE with both friend and for the ordinary rules of courtesy.

7. SEEK to perform regular service for others and for the world.

8. REFRAIN from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.

9. STRIVE to be in good spiritual and bodily health.

10. FOLLOW the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.

I sign this pledge, having seriously considered what I do and with the determination and will to persevere.

Name

Address

Phone

Nearest Relative

Address

Besides demonstrations, I could also help the movement by:

(Circle the proper items)

Run errands, Drive my car, Fix food for volunteers, Clerical work, Make phone calls, Answer phones, Mimeograph, Type, Print signs, Distribute leaflets.

Alabama Christian Movement For Human Rights

Birmingham Affiliate of S.C.L.C.

505½ North 17th Street

F.L. Shuttesworth, President

Today, we seek to become part of this satyagraha, this “truth force” that proclaims at its core, our existence is due to love, and this creator of love is an unstoppable force.

As I read about the struggles of one friend, I am often saddened at what he went through, but I’m hopeful he is in the midst of finding his way to a people that will love him for who he is, because he is quite remarkable.

I, too have struggled with many of the same frustrations as my friend, but I’ve been fortunate to find a new tribe that is about honesty, even when, no especially when it gets messy and has no particular place to go except towards one another. I missed worship this past week, but my friend Bob wrote the post below on the day. And, as I read I was saddened because I wasn’t there, but excited that such a place and a people exist for no other reason than to celebrate who God is and what he has done for us. So, anyway enjoy Bob’s reflections on “midnight at Denny’s”…

midnight @ denny’s

yesterday was powerful for me in our faith community

thru a fluke of acute viral nasopharyngitis (usually known as the common cold), I taught Bible study.  we talked aboutDeuteronomy 2, when Moses muses thru mementos of the journey all around the desert.  I blasted thru 8x as many media references as Scriptural – as usual, I could have really used an editor.

it felt really meaningful to stand in that space, among people of a journey, and to just start.  it did not have a plan or an outline or even a point.  it was as close to jazz as a non-musician like me will ever know.

and it’s still there – even after the boom & staying far away, at all costs.  no clue what to do with that.

worship was ragged & fluid and just a smack between my soul.  stories shared, a preacher crying, communion shared in small groups.  it touched me so that tom kimmel, an artist I’ve come to know & adore thru journey, played softly & tenderly

dave madden shared about a new idea – a stuffuary, where you could check out what other folks in the community had & borrow it.  simple idea, but it really clicked.

after worship, a group of us grabbed lunch at  phil’s ice house.  we all came to a shared conclusion – our faith community s hard to describe to people who have never been to it.  the labels & short-hand just do not bound this community, so we struggled & stretched.

then it came – one of our friends said that Journey IFC is

midnight @ denny’s

that’s it – a setting that is messy & gorgeous, a time that is just between then & now & tomorrow, a grab bag of journeyers who gather to drink (bad) coffee and just breathe.  all kinds of folks, taking a break in their journeyers, sharing food & their troubles and an encouragement.  splitting the bill & sharing a ride to where they are off to next.

midnight @ denny’s – it was a powerful one for me.

http://thecorner.typepad.com/bc/2008/05/midnight-dennys.html

“It’s time to stop complaining about the church we’re disillusioned with and become the church we dream of.”Shane Claiborne