Pernicious Nonsense or Seditious Threat?

“If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.”

So said Martin Luther King Jr. two weeks before his assassination.

America will go to hell.
A society without economic justice,
a society in which wealth is concentrated in a very few,
leaving very many in abject poverty,
is a society on the way to hell.

Of course, that kind of rhetoric could be dismissed
as pernicious nonsense of an envious underclass,
or as a seditious threat that should be annihilated.

America answered that question within two weeks.

Jesus once said, “be on guard against all kinds of greed;
for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possession.”

Pernicious nonsense or seditious threat?

Well, they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

But here’s the thing,
the overwhelming weight of biblical witness,
the compellingly consistent economic vision of the bible,
stands with Martin and Jesus
in its pernicious nonsense and seditious threat.

The accumulation of wealth,
the hoarding of possessions,
the expropriation of land,
the opulence of affluence,
the fetish with prosperity,
is all, from a biblical perspective,
and unfaithful.

“Woe to you,” wrote ancient Isaiah,
“who join house to house,
who add field to field,
until there is room for no one but you ….”

In other words,
woe to you who engage in straight up,
everyday, normal, and acceptable

Or more pointedly,
woe to you who are successful at prosperity,
woe to you who achieve such wealth,
and woe to you who gain power by means of such wealth.

Or perhaps more offensively,
to hell with you!

Do I need to spell it out?
Not likely.
But let it be said that to have this week begin
with Martin Luther King Jr. Day
and end with the inauguration of Donald J. Trump
is a sadly tragic irony.

WBB, Remembering and Re-storying

Worship is all about remembering and re-storying.

That which is disparate and often discordant is brought together.
That which is dismembered is re-membered anew.
Broken and painful memories that paralyze
are offered an alternative memory that liberates.

A re-narrating of our lives when we’ve lost the plot.
Going deeper into an old story that maybe has lost its freshness.
Entering into a story anew, indwelling that story,
to get our bearings, a reorientation to discern that path forward.

That’s what Wine Before Breakfast is all about.
And that is what we’ve been doing this year with
some explicit intentionality.

Last semester we began to tell the story:
of a good creation gone wrong,
of a creature made in the image of God,
of a covenant to restore all things,
of a God who liberates and is always in the fray,
of a path of life rooted in justice,
of the dynamics of empire and power,
of a servant who does not break bruised reeds.

And this semester we continue to the story:
of the path towards exile,
of a radical hope beyond exile,
of dramatic plot resolution in Jesus,
of an imperial crucifixion that turns everything on its head,
of the bursting of life out of death,
of the reconciliation of all things,
of being clothed in Christ.

The story continues.
Your story.
My story.
The story of the world.
God’s story.

Maybe you’re not sure that this is your story.
Maybe you know that this is your story, but you are confused.
Maybe you know that this is your story, and you love to go deeper.

Wherever you are in the story, come.
Unsure, confused, or longing for depth, come.

There can’t be much re-membering without the members.
There can’t be much re-storying without all of our stories.