Missing performing live and realizing that other students were as well, sixteen-year-old member Eliza Mullins wanted to do something to make a difference for arts organizations that are struggling due to Covid. She’s organized the inaugural Creative Lexington Youth Concert Series, with the theme “Unity,” which will be streamed online from our sanctuary on Saturday, October 3 at 2:00 PM. Thirteen young artists will perform, giving them a chance to do what they love, raise awareness of the arts, and help LexArts raise funds.
Thank you, Eliza, for leading the way in making a difference for our community!
Based on the events of this week, I thought it most appropriate to include these three quotes from Just Mercyby Bryan Stevenson. While not an easy book to read from an emotional standpoint it has been an important one for me. Thank you, Alex Henning, for this book recommendation!
My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is justice.
Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others.
All of these quotes have made an impact on me. The final quote is the one I have spent the most time wrestling with in the past 48 hours.
The focus this week has been on indictments, or lack thereof, of the officers involved. I have come to believe that Breonna Taylor’s death is an indictment on us all.
This was a tragedy that could and should have been avoided. A tragedy that the Black community faces with far greater regularity than do other communities. These are the realities we must not look away from or try to rationalize.
My prayers are with Breonna Taylor’s family who continue to grieve her killing. They are also with the police officers who are being targeted and harmed. The situation has created chaos which cannot be solved by power or might but only by love of God and neighbor.
How long, O Lord?
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Beth Blackman is not one to sit back and wait for things to get better, she actively participates in the change she desires to see. This year she is once again participating in the Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer.
Below are Beth’s own words and a link to find ways you can partner with her in making a difference for children.
This September, I am taking part in the Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer!
Why? Because right now, cancer is the biggest killer of children from disease in the United States. Over 15,700 children are diagnosed every year, and sadly, 38 children die of cancer every week.
Kids should be living life, not fighting for it.
So I am raising funds through my challenge to help these kids and support Children’s Cancer Research Fund to allow them to continue their work to develop lifesaving treatments and find a cure for childhood cancer.
Please support me by making a donation to give these kids the brighter futures they deserve.
Your support will change little lives.
For more info on the Great Cycle Challenge and the child Beth is riding in honor, please click the link above.
Here are a few things I’ve read this week and have been thinking about.
Some people are ready to get back in the flow of things and some simply are not. I am mindful and respectful of the differences in opinion. What I have come to realize is that when we moralize this particular decision it becomes divisive. When the word “should” shows up in our language we move from line in the sand to steel beam across the road.
This has been a good lesson for me to apply to so many other areas. There are things that I believe deserve a steel beam across the road type of mentality. But others are better suited to remain lines in sand for clarity not conflict. To know which is which, that is our task as Christians being guided by the Holy Spirit who most often works through a community of people.
Which brings me to the second of the top3.
The most important task of the church is to be a community capable of hearing the story of God we find in the scripture and living in a manner that is faithful to that story.
Stanley Hauerwas from Jesus: The Story of the Kingdom
Faithfully hearing and acting is best done in a community. Hauerwas in other places argues that there is no faithful interpretation of Scripture except through a group of people formed by the story of the Kingdom of God.
It has been my experience that my most powerful times of study have not come in my closet alone but around a table with others. This is also exactly what Dietrich Bonhoeffer is getting at in Chapter 2 of Life Together as he describes the Day Together as a sharing of Scripture, hymns, prayer and the Table. It is these elements of our faith that draw us closer to God’s truth and make us more likely to not simply know them but live them.
It is true – we are better together.
Which brings me to the final of the top3.
Christians in this Gospel (Matthew) are not so much called to be full and taste the whole range of human experience, as they are called to be real and to sacrifice those parts of their lives that diminish faith and love.
Dale Bruner from his commentary on Matthew
Being part of a community takes sacrifice. Time. Energy. Control. And these are just the first three that come to mind. It is easier to do it on our own and to try and make it (faith) work by ourselves. But could our reluctance to engage in the mess and inefficiency of community be the very thing that diminished our faith and love? I believe Bruner is on to something.
12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Phil 2:12-13 (emphasis mine)
The Apostle Paul calls the people in Philippi to work out their salvation. What I have come to appreciate is that does not happen by ourselves but in a group of people. We are placed here by God for one another so iron can sharpen iron (Prov. 27:17).
If I have learned anything during Covid it is the vital importance of community. I hope that we aren’t waiting until things get back to ‘normal’ before engaging or re-engaging with a community of believers. We were put together for the trials as well as the triumphs. Neglecting community during trials is cutting ourselves off from the very help God provides. Okay…I’ll stop preaching.