Friday, April 04, 2008

I found the news coverage of the simmering controversy about Barak Obama's pastor, The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to be disturbing on a number of levels.

Then I read Ruth's Good Friday Reflection. I commend it to you as her writing and thinking reflects many of my concerns.

Good Friday Reflection

by Ruth Fletcher
Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Montana

I am not a big fan of Jeremiah Wright. He’s loud. Shouting loud. When he spoke to us at the Ministers’ Breakfast at the General Assembly a few years back, I had to put my fingers in my ears just to make out the actual words he was saying.

And the man has no tact. I think there are times for a minister to be tactful—to use softer language for the sake of getting a better hearing when it comes to controversial subjects. But when Jeremiah Wright has a choice between being diplomatic and being strident, he seems to always opt for the most inflammatory expressions he can find.

In that way, he stands in the long tradition of the Biblical prophets who didn’t mince words when it came to naming the idolatry of pledging allegiance to that which was not God, who named the sins of the nation and spoke of God’s judgment for the prideful who had lost their ability to blush.

This last week, the media has repeatedly aired a few selected sound bytes of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons taken out of the context of a lifetime of preaching. I was exercising in the gym when one of them was played for the umpteenth time on the TV monitor above my head. The snippet was followed by an outraged commentator asking the rhetorical question, "Should children be subjected to this kind of preaching?"

"YES!" I answered aloud, much to the surprise of the people on the exercise machines on either side of me.

If we want our young people to grow up and confess that Jesus is Lord, then somewhere along the way they will need to hear the voice of a preacher who will warn them to beware of the gods of materialism, violence and greed that will compete for their loyalty. They will need to hear sermons that will inform them that being a Christian is not just about the power of positive thinking but about confessing complicity with sinful systems of oppression such as racism that still plague our country.

As members of God’s beloved community, they will need to learn that they have a responsibility, not just to themselves, but to the "least of these" who go without health care and food and shelter in this wealthy nation. They will need to be taught how to discern the voice of falsehood from the voice of truth, the voice of fear-mongering from the voice of wisdom, the voice of sensation from the voice of fact.

The scriptures we have heard on this Good Friday remind us that following Jesus is not always easy—discipleship often puts us at odds with popular opinion, principalities and powers. May we have the courage to continue walking the path that leads to new life.

Have a blessed Easter.

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