BTSF in chronological order (most recent articles appear first):

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Friday Fruit (04/20/17)

Black woman in blue and white dress in front of blue, green and white background with black images and textOn Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...


Weekly Round Up:
These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hesed: The God of Mutuality #AllPeoplePractices

Please welcome back Pastor Greg Henneman, Director of the Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) initiative at Church and Community Development for All People. Here, he reflects on God's call to mutuality:

Image result for mutuality mlkPsalm 130 has long been the psalm I identify with most.

I resonate with the psalmist crying from the depth of the heart.

As one who served in the military, I have experienced the twice repeated phrase “more than those who watch for morning, more than those who watch for morning.”

I love the modern expression of the song by Sinead O’Connor.

But while this psalm is an old favorite, this week I have noticed something new.

In verse 7, Israel is invited to put its hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is “steadfast love.” Steadfast love sounds good on its own: a love that is not conditional and doesn’t wax and wane like our love of a favorite song or restaurant.

But this is only the surface of it. The word translated steadfast love is the Hebrew word 'hesed' which means 'mutuality'.

Creative Mutuality
If there is one thing I’ve learned in ministry it is the power of mutuality.

It was including homeless people in on the creation and weekly leadership of Community of Hope that made it work.

Mutuality is at the core of the United Methodist Church’s focus area of ministry WITH the poor.

Mutuality is the secret sauce that makes Church and Community Development for All People a place of ever growing relationships and expanding programming. Within the Fresh Market and the Free Store, it is impossible to tell from racial or socioeconomic background who is provider and who is recipient.

Mutuality is more than a management concept to involve people from the bottom up in order to create diverse community. Mutuality is who God is.

God is in the cry from the depth of the heart. God is equally present in the broken heart of divorce as in the joyful heart of newborn parents. God is as much in the mud covered eyes of the blind, the leper, the addict, and the prostitute as God is in the faithful church goer.

Image result for “out of the depths” -book
When we are willing to put aside our ego and be vulnerable enough to share ourselves with others, the God of mutuality is moving. When we are humble enough to admit we don’t have all the answers and open our heart in prayer, the God of mutuality speaks. When we look at others asking what we can give instead of how we can receive, the God of mutuality provides.

I am often asked, what is the greatest asset of our community. Every time I respond by saying, relationships. It is in the mutuality of people who look out for each other and care for each other and support each other that the peaceable kingdom grows. The mutuality of God’s love is what forms us and shapes us and leads us forward.

We find God in serving the other, because the God of mutuality found us “out of the depths”; and, when we are willing to go down in the depths with others we find the God is mutuality is there.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Family Roots

Image result for family historyWelcome back guest writer Eileen Howard, as she explores some of her families history and what it means for her today:

I am researching my family genealogy and it has been fun (and time consuming).  I’ve traced ancestors back to the pilgrims and to the revolutionary war.  I’ve found some really hilarious and interesting family stories.  I’ve also found that I cannot escape the sins of our nation.

All my life I have thought of myself as part of a family that was above the sin of slavery.  We were northeasterners who moved to the Pacific Northwest.  You won’t find a Morrill (my maiden name) that owned slaves.

Ah...but now I find my family goes back through other branches to North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.  And there, in black and white, thanks to Ancestry.com, are records that list slaves. and ancestors who fought for the Confederacy.

Not only that, but I discovered a very intriguing story about one branch who lived next door to Daniel Boone’s family in North Carolina.  Boone led some of my ancestors to settle Kentucky!  How exciting! Until you realize that by “settle” they mean “kill Indians.”  They fought at Fort Boone against the native peoples, killing them and taking their land.

Image result for the best apology is changed behaviorI wonder if we will ever be a truly free nation until we boldly face and repent of our original sins? The backlash against “political correctness” has some basis in truth – people just want to move on and want to stop the back and forth labels of racism.  They feel they want to just live and let live and treat people as humans.  I do think there have been overreactions to minor things and I, too, find these frustrating.  But I now think they are rooted in this issue:  We still have not fully repented of our original sins so, like a festering wound, it just keeps opening up again and again.

In 12-step groups, this is called Step Eight.  Make a list of all persons we had harmed and make amends to them.  But this is difficult when the core of the harm is generations ago.  However, the benefit to me of that original sin is clear as I do my research!   Generations of my ancestors had land, power, and money because they either built it on the labor of slaves or took land from native people.

So, in 12 step groups, this is what you do when you can’t directly make amends to a person you’ve harmed:  A Living Amends.  A Living Amends is when you start living your life the way you should have lived it back when you were harming others.   A living amends, means rooting out the current forms of institutional racism and unconscious privilege.  It requires acknowledging that generations of oppression have led to an inherent systemic inequality from birth.  Stop pretending that we all start on a level playing field.  It requires deep self-examination to see where our institutions have inherent bias against people of color, such as in our policing and justice systems, hiring practices, real estate sales, and schooling.
Image result for A Living Amends

And, for the Native People of this country, wow… I don’t even know where to begin, the sins are so deep.  Maybe by just stopping taking their damned land and using it for oil pipelines!

My hands are not clean.   I did not just drop on the planet without a family history.  While I cannot go back and change the actions of my ancestors, I can participate in repentance and make a living amends to the ancestors of those who were harmed.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Friday Fruit (03/31/17)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...


Weekly Round Up:
These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cesar Chavez Day

Cartoon of Cesar Chavez and the Eagle symbol of the UFW
This week marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of worker's rights hero, Cesar Chavez. In the United States, March 31st is celebrated as Cesar Chavez Day, in honor of his birthday. Cesar Estrada Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in Arizona. At 35 years old, he founded the National Farm Workers Association (later known as the United Farm Workers; UFW), shortly thereafter joined by Dolores Huerta in the movement.

In a speech entitled Jesus's Friendship Chavez asserts that "the love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being but it is also the most true to our nature." In that same speech he goes on to say "I have met many, many farm workers and friends who love justice and who are willing to sacrifice for what is right. They have a quality about them that reminds me of the beatitudes. They are living examples that Jesus' promise is true: they have been hungry and thirsty for righteousness and they have been satisfied."

Dolores Huerta holding a sign that says "huelga" (strike). Quote: "Walk the street with us into history. Get off the sidewalk"Chavez led many fasts over the course of his work. He said  "a fast is first and foremost personal. It is a fast for the purification of my own body, mind, and soul. The fast is also a heartfelt prayer for purification and strengthening for all those who work beside me in the farm worker movement. The fast is also an act of penance for those in positions of moral authority and for all men and women activists who know what is right and just, who know that they could and should do more. The fast is finally a declaration of non-cooperation with supermarkets who promote and sell and profit from California table grapes...I pray to God that this fast will be a preparation for a multitude of simple deeds for justice."

Chavez encourages us in this work saying "it is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity."

Today, the work continues and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is leading the charge. Though McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King and Taco Bell have all committed to higher wages for farm workers, Wendy's refuses to pay the penny more per pound of tomatoes that would make such a significant difference in lives of those picking them. The White House-recognized social responsibility program calls not only for the important wage increase, but also for a series of commitments to ensuring that workers’ and their rights are respected.

In honor of Chavez's birthday this week, consider fasting from Wendy's food to join the national boycott demanding the fair treatment of farmworkers. Then, check out this collection of litanies and worship resources from the National Farm Worker Ministry and see how you might honor the work of Cesar Chavez through prayer and service this week, and through the year.


"Free me to pray for others for You are present in every person.
Help me take responsibility for my life so that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others for in service there is true life.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow, so that we will never tire of the struggle.
Help us love even those who hate us so we can change the world. Amen."
-Cesar Chavez


Picture of Cesar Chavez with quote "Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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