Archive for March, 2015

Marching: Selma and Beyond

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Just over a week ago, I saw the exciting news about the Presbyterian Church – USA. The domination ratified an amendment allowing their clergy to officiate same sex weddings. The next morning, headlines were buzzing of the news. One article in The New York Times caught my attention for its acknowledgement of The United Methodist Church’s failure to change (and made the common and xenophobic error of blaming our African conferences for the resistance).

Just days later, on March 21st, I set out on a journey with Gender Benders, a group of awesome trans* organizers based in Greenville, SC.  We participated in a Walking Classroom sponsored by the U.S. National Parks Service along the 54 mile stretch of Highway 80 from Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.

For most the march I was at a loss for words, but never at a loss for thoughts. As a member of The United Methodist Church, I want my church to be a place of compassion, kindness, and peace with justice, truly creating a beloved community that Dr. King preached about 50 years ago. To reach this beloved community, the church must think more deeply about whether it invests its money in companies benefiting from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or harmful fossil fuels. The church must become dedicated to racial equity and ethnic justice. We cannot forget to listen to young people's voices. I and others must learn to step aside to make space for those across the world who speak truth of our church’s colonialist history. We persevere as members in this church and humans even when we are often erased, overlooked, and tossed aside because we are queer.

The last day of the march I wore an old half stole that I had turned into a bow tie. I marched with this bow tie, in my summertime Sunday best, to honor those who marched 50 years ago and to remember a commitment to justice, not just for me, but for everyone within my church. The marchers 50 years ago were witnessing for the right to vote. The marchers 50 years ago were marching to be recognized as children of God overflowing with worth, infinite, sacred worth.

50 years later, we march for the same underlying value, against both historical and contemporary oppression. I marched to remember those who came before. My strength arose from my resilience, determination, and hope for my church. I march for those my church has colonized, for those my church tries to erase, for the voices of young people often ignored, and for the way we invest our church’s money.

As I step into Holy Week, I renew my commitment to movements like MFSA because God, our source, demands the church move against injustice and for the oppressed.  I renew my commitment to act as a nonviolent witness like Jesus whose love for the least and the last and resistance to an oppressive system led him all the way to the cross.  I renew my vow to pray daily for justice because only by the power of Holy Spirit can we ourselves, our church, and our world truly become a beloved community.

May it be so.

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Joey Lopez lives in Asheville, NC and works for the Campaign for Southern Equality as a Community Organizer through the Tzedek Social Justice Residency. Personal experiences with intersecting identities shape Joey’s commitment to educational, economic, racial, ethnic and queer justice both inside and outside communities of faith. Joey is also a member of MFSA’s Board of Directors.

 


Having Faith: A Holy Week Reflection

Monday, March 30th, 2015

 

This is our story this week: Jesus sends his disciples on a very important mission. They are to go into the nearest village and procure a colt. I imagine they thought they might have a grander mission for Jesus besides just getting a donkey. I can imagine their grumbling and confusion about why they were chosen for this particular task. Not only were they to get this colt, they were asked to take the colt and if anyone asked why they were “borrowing” the colt they were to tell them “the Lord needed it” and it would be returned when they were done with it. How many times have we had to do the mundane things for the good of our calls or ministries? Things like church council meetings or planning sessions for the latest services, like Palm Sunday.  Just like the donkey, these may seem like mundane or meaningless tasks. But we never know how our little actions will impact our ministries. The disciples didn’t know that by procuring this colt they would be helping Jesus proclaim to the world exactly what kind of Messiah he would be.


What I struggle with in this passage is the faith required not only by the disciples, who trust in Jesus instructions, but also in the bystanders who see the disciples stealing the colt and trusting that God must truly need it.  In the Gospel of Mark, we hear “prepare ye the way of the Lord.” So how are we preparing the way for Jesus to come back? Are we trusting in God’s plan for us? This might seem like a simple thing to do but trusting is hard. Having faith requires hard work and sometimes sacrifice.  How much faith did those people have to have in order to take these two disciple’s word for it that God needed this donkey? If someone came up to me and tried to take my car and told me God needed it and would return it later, I’m not sureI would believe them.  My mother always tells me if I would just trust in the Lord everything will be fine, but some times everything is not fine. How do we continue to trust and obey when we don’t know the final result? How do we trust when we might be angry, hurt, or frustrated? Having faith does not mean that everything will turn out right it means trusting that whatever the outcome is that God will use it to help bring about the kingdom. 


Throughout today’s news, we hear stories of inequality and injustice, so how do we trust that God has a plan? How do we trust that our actions will create the change that God wishes to see? I hope that, like the disciples did, I live to see the day when Christ comes back. I hope the things I do will help bring about the reign of God. So how will I keep faith even in these dark times? I will start with prayer. Prayer is the channel by which I cannot only thank God for good things but also lament for tragedies I see around me everyday. Prayer allows me to communicate to God and hopefully hear what God wants me to do the help change the world. Finding a community of faith with which we can journey also aids in our ability to trust God. We do not know how this journey might end. We do not know how long we mustjourney before we see Christ again. Thus,it is important for us to find people to journey with us – people who can help us to continue the journey even though we may doubt or be scared of what is ahead. 

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Sarah Louise Cobb is a second-year student at Wesley Theological Seminary. Originally from the Memphis area, Sarah is seeking ordination as a Deacon in The United Methodist Church. As part of her field education, she is interning at MFSA.

(Above photo from Creative Commons license, Waiting on the Word, Flickr)

 

 

 



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