Building without Worry

Building without worryBUILDING WITHOUT WORRY

The litany below is based on the charge that The Rev. Theodore Jennings gave to the Chicago Theological Seminary 2012 graduating class. I have since modified it, both in content and format. You are most welcome to use it in your own settings. –The Rev. Eileen Gebbie, Ames UCC

Voice 1:
Our Good News comes to us through old languages translated across many tongues and cultures. It can be confusing, contradictory, and even painful. Our scripture has been used to justify all manner of atrocities and ignorance. Need we worry?
Respondent:
Do not worry: the Word is stronger than the contempt shown it. If we clothe ourselves in its poetry and anoint our lives with its tales, we will radiate the light and truth of God’s holy word.
Voice 2:
Our world, nation, towns, and even our own churches, harbor cruel edges of racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy. Need we worry?
Respondent:
Do not worry: the God that freed the Israelites, the God that cared for Hagar the slave, the God that empowered the Canaanite woman to challenge even Jesus gives us strength to name such violences and the certainty that they will end.

Voice 3:
But what of homophobia and heterosexism and transphobia? Where is the God of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament for those whose sexuality and gender expression seem damned? Need we worry?
Respondent:
Do not worry: God is not trapped in scripture but alive in the same divine process of creation scripture describes. We must love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. Learning to love ourselves, as God loves us, is the first step to fulfilling this greatest commandment.
Voice 4:
Girls continue to be trafficked for pleasure and women are only rarely treated equally in leadership, the workplace, in media, or in school. Need we worry?
Respondent:
Do not worry: Woman Wisdom was with God before creation and Mother Mary nurtured Jesus Christ. With their guidance and inspiration, we can make certain that all girl children are safe and discrimination becomes a shameful embarrassment.
Voice 1:
But surely there are limits to what we can do. Fear of the stranger, the foreigner, the immigrant seems to be an all-time high. Need we worry about increased border paranoia and social group isolation?
Respondent:
Do not worry: Time and again the divine enters into the world as a stranger, be it as angels disguised as travelers or an ordinary man who refuted the power of an empire. Our fear is no match for such power.
Voice 2:
Our society highly values some abilities over others. Our streets, buildings and communities are often inaccessible to and uncomfortable for people whose bodies or minds move differently than the majority. Need we worry?
Respondent:
Do not worry: After Easter, Jesus showed his altered body to those who doubted, saying, “Touch me.” After journeying to and beyond the cross, we know intimately how fleeting is our so-called ability, and no door or conversation will ever be closed again.
Voice 3:
Despite what we have learned from World War One, World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Cuba, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, and more, chemical warfare, nuclear arms production, old-fashioned arms dealing, and surveillance technologies flourish. Need we worry?
Respondent:
Do not worry: These wars are new only in their scale and cruel inventiveness. The Prince of Peace grows in strength each time we choose humanity over nationality, humility over localized pride.
Voice 4:
But what of our planet? Oceans poisoned and trashed, forests burning, storms flooding, food undergoing chemical corruption, and bees dying: need we worry?
Respondent:
Do not worry: Creation is older than us, and stronger, too. she will show us how to steward her resources and all of her children.

Beloved community: we have much work to do and the stakes are as high as they can be. We risk the cross when we follow The Way of Jesus. And yet we need not worry! We are, in our very essence, creatures of relationship, peace, justice, and creativity. We need not practice war, discrimination, or nationalism any more. We need only die to them and rise again at the banquet. Let your godpsark shine like the dew of the lilies and soar as free as the sparrow! AMEN.

 

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