Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Clergy Re-Commitments to Liberation - Join Us Saturday

The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

The lowly shall be lifted, and the tyrant torn from his throne.

 So the words of scripture offer hope to those who faithfully long and yearn for unity and liberation, who cry out loud, and burn within for an end to oppression, abuse, and inequality.

These words offer hope, but also a way of living—a way of being communities of faithful people called together by grace to transform oppression into liberation, and a way to witness and testify in word and in deed to the God who champions the poor and the oppressed and the downtrodden. 

So often, our faith traditions get sugar-coated, and watered down—our salt loses its saltiness, and what good is it? We hear "I have a dream," but we pretend the nightmare is over. Even worse, our faith traditions, rooted in stories and experiences of liberation from slavery and deliverance of God's people from the hand of oppression all too often become co-opted and manipulated, used to oppress women and people of color and the poor, used to bring death, rather than life. 

Faith for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was both a motivator and a deep well of life giving sustenance, calling him again and again to the liberating work of the Gospel, driving him back to the fight for liberation and justice and civil rights. My favorite account of this is in his description of his “kitchen table experience,” though in any sermon or speech he gave, you can hear faith dripping from his words.  

Although faith for Rev. Dr. King was central and inseparable from the his work, the church itself, and countless people of faith have often used that same faith—those same stories and songs and prayers to distract people from the work of liberation, to downplay justice here and now in exchange for the promise a life hereafter or of an inner peace.  

The clergy of SOUL and IIRON believe that this is a tragedy, as well at outrageous. No matter what name we use for God, if we use that name to oppress or devalue or simply ignore other human beings, we are using that name in vain, and need to be called to repentance and redirection, especially if we lead congregations, and shape the faith of the church now, and into the future--calling for the life of the world, and the well-being of all. 

This Saturday, in addition to the many other activities, commitments, and celebrations at the SOUL King Day Event, “It’s Still Time For A Freedom Party,” the Pastors, Ministers, Rabbis, and other faith leaders of SOUL and IIRON will re-commit, to the work of Liberation as it is expressed clearly and uniquely in each of our faith traditions. We will commit to bearing public witness to God's work of liberation in our preaching and teaching, in our congregations, and in the streets. We will commit to calling our people and our faith traditions to speak out and advocate for economic, environmental and racial justice, and to participate in civil disobedience and other acts of faith, asking the Spirit of Joyous Rebellion to strengthen and sustain us on the way.

I hope you’ll join us Saturday. The Grand Ballroom. 6351 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago. 9:30AM. 

If you identify as a person of faith, I hope you’ll join us in the movement of reclaiming our faith traditions, embracing our liberative and life-giving roots, and our resolve to remain unashamed of God’s liberating work in our lives, and in following God’s call for the liberation and life of all people.  

If you do not identify as a person of faith, we looking forward to working with you toward our common goals of liberation and justice, and the good of all. 

See you Saturday!

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