Hymn for the 81%

In Seminary, I was the president of the Evangelical Society at Saint Paul School of Theology. (Evangelism was, and in some places still is, a broad category.) In the last two decades, I have grown increasingly dismayed with the choices and behavior of many evangelicals. A new song called “Hymn for the 81%” captures my pathos and dismay. The lyrics are below in case you can’t stream the video.

Lyrics:

I grew up in your churches
Sunday morning and evening service
knelt in tears at the foot of the rugged cross
you taught me every life is sacred
feed the hungry, clothe the naked
I learned from you the highest law is Love
and I believed you when you said
that I should trust the words in red
to guide my steps through a wicked world
I assumed you’d do the same
so imagine my dismay
when I watched you lead the sheep to the wolves

[Refrain] you said to love the lost
so I’m loving you now
you said to speak the truth
I’m calling you out
why don’t you live the words
that you put in my mouth
may love overcome and justice roll down

they started putting kids in cages
ripping mothers from their babies
and I looked to you to speak on their behalf
but all I heard was silence
or worse you justified it
singing glory hallelujah raise the flag

your fear had turned to hatred
but you baptized it with language
torn from the pages of the Good Book
you weaponized religion
and you wonder why I’m leaving
to find Jesus on the wrong side of your walls

[Refrain] you said to love the lost
so I’m loving you now
you said to speak the truth
so I’m calling you out
why don’t you live the words
that you put in my mouth
may love overcome and justice roll down

come home
come home
you’re better
you taught me better than this

come home
come home
you’re better than this
you taught me better than this

come home
come home
you’re better than this
you taught me better than this

come home
come home

[Refrain] you said to love the lost
I’m trying to love you now
you said to speak the truth
so I’m calling you out
I wish you’s live the words
that you put in my mouth

may love overcome and justice roll down
may love overcome and justice roll down
may love overcome and justice roll down

may love overcome and justice roll down

 

 

Voices: God With Us Where the Pain Is

In her commentary on the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt, Anna Case-Winters offers the following insight:

“The child who is Emmanuel—God with us—does not enter the world in ease and comfort; he is not born into privilege and power. Already, in his infancy, oppression and violence and terror have touched his life. But then, if he is really to be “God with us,” he will be with us where the pain is.”

When I’m hurting, it always helps me to remember that God is with me in my pain. I hope the same will be true for you. [1]


[1] Anna Case-Winters (Matthew: Belief, a Theological Commentary on the Bible (Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 2015), Kindle.

Voices: Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
— Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We need to work for justice, but we need to do so with love, not hate. As we strive for justice in our church and in our nation, we must do so with love.


Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 47.

Letter from Bishop Saenz — 2

I’m replacing a previous post with this one after hearing Bishop Saenz make clarifications at our Orders and Fellowship Meeting last Wednesday (January 15, 2020).

Bishop Saenz has released a letter to United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference about the recently released Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace. The protocol allows traditionalists to leave the United Methodist Church with their assets. Those of us who remain would retain the United Methodist name and organization. (Please remember that the UMC’s position cannot change until there is a vote of the General Conference.)

Under the protocol, local churches would not be required to take a make a decision or take a vote. I see nothing to be gained in taking a vote here at First UMC; nonetheless, I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the discernment process the Bishop put forth in his letter. I invite you to enter into a time of discernment with prayer, the reading of scripture, and requests for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Please also note that while the letter refers to progressives, centrists, and traditionalists for the sake of clarity, there are very few United Methodists who fall cleanly and completely under any of those categories. (The Bishop told conference clergy, at a meeting last Wednesday, that he regretted the use of the binary categories of traditional and progressive in the letter.) I would urge you not to let these labels, and the place they have in our political discourse, skew your discernment. As the Bishop noted at our Clergy meeting, the post-separation United Methodist Church will have a place for everyone: progressives, centrists, and even conservatives. As he said, “Nobody is told to leave, everyone is invited to stay.” The United Methodist Church will continue to be a place of diverse theological backgrounds and outlooks.

Link to the Protocol: https://bit.ly/2FZtSbj
Link to FAQ about the Protocol: https://bit.ly/360irKT
Link to Bishop Saenz’s Letter: https://bit.ly/2QPOTeB

Church Office Closed

Abilene Schools are closed today because of the weather, and so the church office is closed as well. I’ll be working from home trying to catch up on what I missed during the clergy gathering in Lincoln, Nebraska. Feel free to call if you need anything.

Youth Super Bowl Subs

The youth will be selling Super Bowl Subs in the Narthex before and after the 8:15 and 10:30 services on January 19 and January 26, 2020. The Sub sandwiches will be $9. Sandwiches can be picked up on February 2 (Super Bowl Sunday) in the narthex (lobby) before and after both worship services. Stop by the table in the narthex to fill out an order and support our Youth! Funds will be used for service projects and special trips.

This Coming Sunday

This coming Sunday, January 12, 2019, is “Baptism of the Lord,” a day when we celebrate Jesus’ baptism. We’re going to push that observance back to January 19 and instead focus on a passage known as “The Flight into Egypt” found in Matthew 2:13-23. This episode only comes up once every three years in the lectionary, and we missed it due to the Service of Lessons and Carols. Chronologically and canonically, it follows last Sunday’s reading from Matthew and so it makes perfect sense to turn to it now.