Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Don't Rest Easy in Atlanta

I regret not tuning into the United Church of Christ's Sunday evening sermon simulcast. Read-ware is available here.

The Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel did what real ministers should. He charged the worshippers to listen and act instead of turning inward to comfortable piety. He built on the powerful UCC Still Speaking program.

In contrast to the ambiguity adverse, as well as the haters, Samuel shredded the attitude of hiding behind this Bible verse or that. When exegesis becomes the basis for bigotry, folks won't step up and do the right thing.

Samuel started with Isaiah 1:7-18, in which Israel whines to God about abandoning them. Samuel put the answers plainly:
“But God is not impressed with sanctimonious displays of piety. What good is one nation under God when that nation is beset with classism, bigotry and prejudice? What good are the Ten Commandments on the walls of the courthouse when we canĂ‚’t insure justice in the halls of the courthouse? What good is a nation that delivers democracy in Iraq but can'’t deliver it at home?”
Without question, hiding behind a verse here or there that seems to justify not acting or acting terribly is not unusual. Samuel just doesn't buy it and told the synod attendants not to either.

"As long as God is speaking, it behooves us to keep listening," he said. As one can see from both Jewish and Christian history, the concepts and practices of religion and social justice keep evolving as they have for thousands of years.

Samuel also noted some transcended Biblical citations:At each, Samuel emphasized the flow of the ongoing dialog to those capable of hearing it. "Those of you who look like me (he's black) should be glad God is still speaking —– and someone'’s listening!...All my sisters in here tonight should be glad God is still speaking —– especially the single sisters...Somebody ought to be glad that the law of Jesus supercedes the law of Leviticus. Somebody ought to be glad! And thank God that the United Church of Christ is listening!"

Powerful stuff. It won't change any of the sanctimonious or bigoted, but for many, the call to reflect, then act, may make a difference.

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