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Friday, May 30, 2014

Children of God in Washington DC

By Pr. Drew Rindfleisch 

This is from First Trinity's Summer 2014 newsletter.  Click here to read more!

In late April, a delegation from South Loop Campus Ministry and First Trinity attended the National People’s Action conference in Washington DC.  We participated in workshops addressing many different issues that affect our communities identifying a common thread at their source: an economy that puts profits before people, and a government for the few at the expense of the many.   We also took to the streets to demand changes with a great ally: the Domestic Workers Alliance, led by mostly women organizing home care workers.  Pastor Tom & I preached in the public squares of DC demanding fair wages for laborers & accountability from corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.

We also led an inter-faith worship service with other clergy at the conference; singing songs of freedom and justice, meeting in small groups with organizers and leaders, and discussing the intersection of our faith and work in organizing and community building.  I had the privilege to preach on the prophet Amos that day. 
While we as a people have been told the cultural lies that workers should pull themselves up by their boot-straps and work harder for longer and less, that our planet is not in peril but just going through a “natural phase,” that democracy is the right of a few, wealthy White folks who vote the “Right” way, and community charity will fix the failures of a “free” market that requires lower taxes for corporations to trickle-down fewer and fewer crumbs from the job-creator class to the growing number of  poor; we, too, have been told a lie about God.  This lie says our Divine Parent blesses the world as it is with the current oikonomia (the greek word for household; translated into English as economy). In this household, greed and injustice are administered by an exclusive and restricted democracy that sanctions corporate boardrooms to hoard resources, and abuse and neglect our families, neighbors, and co-workers as worthless objects, rather than as valuable members of the human family—God’s family.  
Since the 1970s, some churches adopted this line with mega-church buildings and prosperity banners and bands, while others remained on the sidelines scared of mixing faith and politics or fearful of losing funds from denominations and souls to fill the pews.  But, we gathered at NPA and others across this world believe in a God who loves human beings and sides with the poor and the oppressed in their struggles for life and “enough.”  When a group of Children of God like the 1% treat many in the human family of God—the 99%-- with disrespect and hardness of heart by failing to treat the peoples’ needs as holy and precious, God cannot remain neutral.  How could any loving parent watch as one of their Children hurts another child by bullying, battering, intimidating, or instigating abuse against others? And so, God intervenes—working with love through us as we organize and act to change this abusive economy  “to let justice roll like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). 
In the hotel and over the lunch counters, we connected our distinct stories and struggles; hearing from fathers and mothers whose lives had been ruined by the mass incarceration of young men of color, & the privatization of prisons that stripped workers of their ability to make workplace decisions resulting in alcoholism and domestic abuse in the homes of security officers. We saw young elders and youth arrested outside the White House demanding an end to mass deportations, and calling on the President to act for compassionate immigration reform that keeps families together.

Through every action and encounter, I met sisters and brothers from across the country; the suburbs, the country sides, the urban centers and outskirts. We dedicated ourselves to work for a democracy & economy based on fairness for all people and care for our neighbors and God’s creation.  We from Bridgeport and Chicago found that we are not alone!  There is a movement of the Spirit stirring among our peoples to address the critical issues of our time “so that all may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  
Footnotes after the jump

Amos 5:6-24
6Seek the LORD and live,
or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,
and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.
7Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood,
and bring righteousness to the ground!
8The one who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning,
and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea,
and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the LORD is his name,
9who makes destruction flash out against the strong,
so that destruction comes upon the fortress.
10They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
11Therefore because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
12For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins — 
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
13Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.
14Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
15Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
16Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD:
In all the squares there shall be wailing;
and in all the streets they shall say, "Alas! alas!"
They shall call the farmers to mourning,
and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing;
17in all the vineyards there shall be wailing,
for I will pass through the midst of you,
says the LORD.
18Alas for you who desire the day of the LORD!
Why do you want the day of the LORD?
It is darkness, not light;
19as if someone fled from a lion,
and was met by a bear;
or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall,
and was bitten by a snake.
20Is not the day of the LORD darkness, not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?
21I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
23Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

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