Thursday, December 20, 2007
Now choppers strafe the supermaket sky and people wonder why
chopping down tons of trees got seas of print not a soul can read say
Why do I drown you build brick boxes one by one now they block my sun
But it's metal on metal it's the dance of T.V.
If Christ were here he'd camera check he'd cry so loud the planes would stop
He'd cry so loud the earth would shake and men would fall in tinsel town
There's just one thing, yes there's just one thing
Who can stand in they way when there's a dollar to be made
- from the song "Who Can Stand In The Way?" by Midnight Oil
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I walked into the courtroom last night and placed the chairs in a circle. I didn't quite know what to expect. It was only my second night meeting with the Davidson County Boys' Group. And last week I didn't lead, I only observed while my director led the class. But earlier yesterday she emailed me to say that she was sick and would not be able to attend. So it was all me- leading solo.
The boys gathered in slowly, wondering where Emmy was. "She's sick tonight", I told them.
"Ahhhh, you're all by yourself tonight", they laughingly said, "you have no idea what you're doing do you?"
They were right.... I had looked over the material (Domestic Violence 101) and knew what I had to present, but I really had no idea what to expect.
Out of the 12 or so boys there, 10 of them belong to gangs, most of whom profess to be Crips. All 12 of them are there because they have been ordered by the court system to go through this group because they have been charged with some form of assault.
As we got into the session instead of leading the material straightforward I engaged them and asked them about their lives and what goes on around them. I encountered boys who feel like they have few options in life, who may be violent but encounter violence as much if not more than they use violence, and although one might look at them and think "bad kid" initially, after being in the room for 10 minutes we were laughing together and I saw boys who are all in search of something different....
I came across an article where a social worker/poet/artist uses poetry and art to help gang members express their problems, fears and hopes in life. He talks about how the urban male has not learned to express himself in this way and part of the consequence of that is that violence becomes a preferred model for dealing with life's problems. It made me think about my Davidson County Boys. It made me wonder if anyone has ever helped them tap into that creative area of our souls that every person has deep within them. It is that place that is spiritual, that expresses things with colors and and musical notes, it feels like wet clay, paint on our hands, and words that dance on pages.
I want to be that kind of person in the lives of these boys. I hope to open up to them the possibility of seeing life in a different way- that they are not who people have told them they are. They aren't even who I think they are. But they are artists who have the ability to paint or create their world to look however they want.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Everyone's favorite liturgical holiday is coming up soon- World Aids Day. This is the one special day out of the year that Christians remember that some people have aids. Recently I read an article where a theologian that I really admire a lot, Donald Messer, says that on World Aids Day we should "focus on names and not numbers". I am so glad to hear Dr. Messer say that!
This is the ONE day out of the year that we in the church can have the common decency to not treat people like another number but as human beings. In a previous worship service in Nashville Dr. Messer addressed the issue of Aids, by holding up a list of 1,220 names of children affected by HIV/AIDS. Messer declared "these are names, not numbers. To me they are faces, not facts."
How many times on Monday mornings I wanted to yell in Dr. Messer's prophetic voice during our church staff meetings: "Hey, why are we spending so much damn time talking about attendance being up or down and what we need to do to improve our "numbers". Is that what "The People of God" who show up every week to "do church" are to us- numbers? Maybe in our large membership church instead of counting people we should do a better job of introducing everyone to each other and then send them out to meet other people who are being left out and invite them in and learn their names.... oh never mind, or we can just complain that we need to tighten things up in our worship service so we get to sunday school on time."
But enough about Monday morning staff meetings in the local church. Fooey on me for going there. This post is about the most important liturgical day of the year- World Aids Day- the day when numbers don't count but names do. Thank God we get it... at least one day out of 365.
THE RETELLING BY THE BARD:
One day I'll see you and know you
Because I heard your name spoken
One day I'll reach out for you
But every other day its all about.... well....
From the United Methodist News Service:
Concerned about the critical need for more young clergy in The United Methodist Church, representatives from 13 annual (regional) conferences are brainstorming ways to assist young people who are called to ordained ministry.I have an idea that might work. Instead of focusing on our communities of faith as where the breakdown is regarding our shortage of younger clergy, why not hold our District and Conference Committees on Ordained Ministries accountable to not be arrogant and staunchy old or middle class white men who (not meaning to be be politically incorrect- I encountered old and middle class african american men who acted like old or middle class white men too) feel the need to be gatekeepers and not instruments of Discernment, Guidance, and Wisdom for a younger generation called by God to be leaders. Hmmmm....
"We stand a better chance at success in helping people hear God’s call if we are intentional about fostering environments in our communities of faith that make the possibility of hearing God’s call more plausible," said the Rev. Brandon Harris, associate pastor of Anniston (Ala.) First United Methodist Church.
A RETELLING FROM THE BARD:
Gatekeeper oh gatekeeper
Where did you get that power from
Was it from God- so white so priveledged
Or was it from God- so Good so Grace filled
Gatekeeper oh gatekeeper
It's ok that you do what you do
there's more of us and we don't need you
Death to a dying church
You'll go down with your ship my captains
And I, will paint a new day
A new Church, a new way