Friday, June 30, 2006

We marched in the pouring rain

Pictured below are my friends, Jerry Stromberg and Max Kuecker, marching with me to the capital. I took the pictures during an unusual break in the downpour of rain. Below them is Mary Nelson, founder and former ED of Bethel New Life. I got to hang out with her as we visited the offices of Senators Barak Obama and Dick Durbin and Congressman Danny Davis.

When I stepped out of my cab at George Washington University it was pouring. I went in to get my key and learned I would have to walk about five blocks to get to the dorm I was staying in. As I stood under an awning trying to decide what to do a woman handed me a simple raincoat that the university had been handing out to parents there for parent weekend. I gratefully accepted and lived in it for the next three days. It rained hard nearly the entire time I was there.

Pentecost 2006 was rich with speakers and workshops that raised my consciousness about poverty and what it is going to take to combat its societal causes. Speakers included Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, and Brian McLaren. We marched in the pouring rain to the capital to meet with our senators and congress representatives to ask them to support legislation that would ensure health care for children, raise the minimum wage and promote aid to countries plagued with extreme poverty.

We heard a very thoughtful address from Barak Obama dealing with the complex issues of religion and politics. Although his father was a Muslim, Obama confessed to have made a commitment to follow Christ while doing community organizing work in Chicago. Here's a quote.
"Perhaps it was out of this intimate knowledge of hardship, the grounding of faith in struggle, that the church offered me a second insight: that faith doesn't mean that you don't have doubts. You need to come to church precisely because you are of this world, not apart from it; you need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away - because you are human and need an ally in your difficult journey."

"It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to his will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth."
Obama went on to describe the importance of the separation of church and state. "Even if we did have only Christians within our borders, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?"

"Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of the possible," Obama said. To illustrate he used the Biblical narrative of Abraham.
"It's fair to say that if any of us saw a twenty-first century Abraham raising the knife on the roof of his apartment building, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know, be it common laws or basic reason."

You can read Obama's entire speech at this link.

The Chicago Tribune covered his speech in Thursday's paper on the 2nd page.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Habits of Highly Effective Justice Workers

Here's a link to a great article by Rodolpho Carrasco, executive director of Harambee Christian Family Center in Pasadena, California.
"Should we protest the system or invest in a life? Yes."

Rob Bell is coming here

I'm looking forward to hearing Rob Bell from Mars Hill on June 30th at 8:00 PM at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago,IL.
"It's a giant thing that God is doing—and not just the forgiveness of individuals. It is the reconciliation of all things." --Rob Bell

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Listening to...

Jami Smith, Your Love is Deep

Your love is deep
Your love is high
Your love is long
Your love is wide

Deeper than my view of grace
Higher than this worldly place
Longer than this road I travel
Wider than the gap You filled

Who shall separate us
Who shall separate us from Your love
Nothing can separate us
Nothing can separate us from Your love

Monday, June 19, 2006

Gentrification with Justice

Here is a link to a pdf of an article by Bob Lupton from the PCA "By Faith Online" magazine. His thoughts are summarized in a sidebar.
Communities that are economically and racially mixed can be the richest of environments for families as well as singles and older adults. Diverse community is God's plan, the final destination toward which all the righteous are heading--the city of our God where people of every tribe, nation, and tongue will take up eternal residence.

This is especially true in a diverse community. Relationships must be built. Focused and sustained effort must be invested in getting to know neighbors, organizing community activities, modeling neighborliness, and communicating good news. Love of neighbor must be practical and visible over time.

It is easy to ignore seniors, easy to push on past less communicative neighbors, and easy to exclude those who don't show up at community functions. But the rich history of the neighborhood is embedded in the lives and family albums of long-term residents. The effort to extract and honor this history is well worth the time and effort. And everyone, no matter how unlikely, has some valuable talent to contribute to the life of the community.

A community will not be healthy unless it has ample neighbors with discretionary income to attract and sustain businesses. The gentry are essential. However, justice demands that we ensure that the poor are embraced and included as beneficiaries in a healthy community.

The roles of peacemakers, communicators, gatherers, organizers and connectors are some of the most vital talents needed for the establishment of "peace and prosperity" and a prevailing sense of well-being that God desires for His creation. Shalom is not merely the absence of crime on the street, it is the prevailing presence of peace and goodness in the relationships of God's diverse family. It is achieved only by intentional effort.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why White People Are Afraid

Thanks to my friend, Michelle Hill, for pointing me to this article
which was printed in the June 11th Chicago Sun Times. Here's a quote...
Virtually every white person I know, including white people fighting for racial justice and including myself, carries some level of racism in our minds and hearts and bodies. In our heads, we can pretend to eliminate it, but most of us know it is there. And because we are all supposed to be appropriately anti-racist, we carry that lingering racism with a new kind of fear: What if non-white people look at us and can see it? What if they can see through us? What if they can look past our anti-racist vocabulary and sense that we still don't really know how to treat them as equals? What if they know about us what we don't dare know about ourselves? What if they can see what we can't even voice?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rob Bell's message at Willow Creek

Thirty-three year old Wheaton College graduate, Rob Bell, and his wife Kristen, along with a group of friends, started a church called Mars Hill in Grandville Michigan five years ago. The church has grown to an attendance of 10,000. Tonight I listened to a message he delivered at a Wednesday night service at Willow Creek in 2003 entitled, "Jesus and Domitian". If you have 40 minutes, check out his video message at this link. Go to the bottom of the Service Elements section and select Watch" next to "Message".

Breakthrough kids create and star in their own films

I'm listening to Sufjan Stevens

My nephew, Stephen Monkemeier, is interning at Breakthrough this summer and introduced me to Sufjan Stevens

Teri's graduation

I returned from Israel on June 8th and left the next day for Columbus to attend my daughter Teri's graduation from Ohio State University. This is a picture of me with Teri and my other daughter, Monica, and her children, Jayden and Naomi.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Shalom from Jerusalem

We have been touring Jerusalem for the last two days. We had a worship service Sunday morning on the Temple Mount, some steps on the south side of the walls that at one time led up to the temple. We walked down the road that was near the area where Jesus would have traveled on Palm Sunday for the triumphal entry. We saw the garden tomb, next to Golgatha, where Jesus was crucified.I will never read the Bible in the same way since being here. I can now picture so many of the places from the time of Moses to the Apostle Paul. This trip is demystifying Scripture for me, making it real, rooted, grounded in this land.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More from Tiberias

We rode a boat on the Sea of Galilee this morning. This is where Jesus walked on water and where he slept in the middle of a storm and then calmed the waters with his words. We visited Korazin and Capernaum. Later in the day some in our group were baptized in the Jordan River.