Oakland church

Archive for Sermon on the mount

Choose the Road of Connection

Have a Blessed day! quipped a cheerful woman at the airport Starbucks,  to my friend Ken Medema. 

It reminds me of some messages I’ve have heard this year: “I’m feeling really hopeful about 2020 — it’s going to be a great year,”

What’s your response? Is there some resistance… some skepticism?

Sure, there’s a long list of events that happened in 2019 that could make us  embrace hopelessness or apathy, which I believe is a much easier path than hope and staying engaged. Instead of citing the heartbreaking realities you know and read about in the daily news,  I invite you to  start 2020 on a different road. One that leads away from despair, resignation and disengagement; or convincing ourselves that none of this is my fault, and therefore not my responsibility.

In the words of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who of all people had reason to despair and disengage,  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. His words, so powerful in his time, are as powerful today, offering us a needed corrective to the rampant individualism that erodes our interdependence. The stark truth is that when we diminish one’s person humanity, we diminish our own.

We can talk until late in the night about the character and actions of our president, “the other party,” and “other proclaimed Christians”, about whether they are really following in the ways of Jesus. But when we engage in that kind of conversation, we’re deflecting the real work of this moment, the work of asking ourselves some very hard questions about our identities as citizens and our claims as people of the “way” of love. 

Jesus said it loud and clear in the Sermon on the Mount and on several other occasions: all God’s rules for human living are summed up in the direction to love God and love our neighbor. Everything else springs from this work. To be a Christian in the way of Jesus we will, in fact, have to swim upstream in today’s American culture, embodying what Jesus had to say in that sermon up on the mount. S hare what you have with anybody who needs it. Love your enemies. Live generous lives. Tell the truth. Act toward each other the way God acts toward you. Sacrifice something big for something good.

This year, let us to choose a road that acknowledges that we are all connected. Choose the road of hope tied to action. Resolve to live into hope, into a better year.