In the chaos of faith, rebellion and obedience

Archive for April, 2009

MTEP: MLK’s Legacy and Church Leadership

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 29, 2009

this morning was a was a very good morning at the conference.

first of all, friend, brother in Christ, speech writer (among many other things) to martin luther king jr., dr. vincent harding, shared about how important it is to consider ‘accompaniment’ with, identification among, and incorporation of the poor in the struggle against poverty. he challenged us to speak with one another, ask each other questions, and dialogue about the tough issues and questions that are naturally associated with this kind of work. we need to learn how to better hash through these things together. we need to learn how to pose the tough questions about immersion, race, relocation, etc.

then there was a panel of church leaders from different denominations. this included non-denominational, church of christ, the evangelical lutheran church of america, the assemblies of god, the reformed church of america, the catholic church and the micah challenge.

the amazing things that came out of this session are far to long to elaborate about here, but some of the topics addressed were:

-obstacles within the local church in pursuing poverty awareness and steps to eradicate it.
-getting the language of poverty alleviation and social justice into our local church documents and discipleship.
-dealing with the ‘political question’ that often arises.
-dealing with the term ‘evangelism.’
-creating accountability in the local church to pursue the things Christ commands of us.
-organizing new kinds of church models for a new generation and to address social issues.

as you can imagine, with the variety of panelists, and the deep nature of these questions and topics, there was a real wealth of information, insight and wisdom. aside from the great words and thoughts that each person had, it was especially encouraging to see each of these panelists, and thus the denominations that they represent, aspire to see both change and progress. furthermore, it was invigorating to see them rally together around some very core values like seeking the word of God, concentrating on discipleship, seeking wholeness in Christ, and both inward and outward movement in our faith journey.

finally, i joined a workshop on peace and poverty- discussing how the two are interrelated. i actually asked a question in this session, and i will share with you that question and some of the debate and conversation that ensued in my next post. for now, however, i have to get back for the final workshop i am attending titled: theology, scripture and social justice.



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MTEP: Lobbying

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 28, 2009

so today was the first day that i ever sat in a congressperson’s office and ‘advocated’ for a piece of legislation. as part of our mobilization to end poverty, we visited the congressperson’s office that represents us to ask them to consider several poverty initiatives, both home and abroad, that are parts of different pieces of legislation action.

since i am a resident of the district of columbia, my representative, ms. eleanor holmes norton, does not have a vote on the house floor. the short of it is, that since the district of columbia is not a state, it does not have representation in the senate or a vote in the house. this is currently under debate, but we will not delve into that here.

it was definitely an interesting experience for me. in fact, this entire conference is a sort of ‘re-engagement’ into the political realm, when dealing with issues of justice, poverty, community building, etc. over the past few years, i have focused primarily upon figuring out what the body of believers in ‘the church’ can do to alleviate these things- and leaving individuals called into politics and government to merely play their roles out there. but that of a corporate engagement into the political and governmental sphere, has been something that i have steered clear of lately.

now i am not saying that i am sold on lobbying for what i consider ‘biblical issues.’ i think that there is a time and a place to speak up and make your voice and opinion known in that sphere, but i am still far more interested in having discipleship in the church that leads people to a place of overflowing love, grace and peace; one that does not allow for idle observance of a complete unraveling of society, rather allows for an engaging lifestyle that overturns injustice.

that being said, i must admit that i was impressed by ms. holmes norton. as we presented our ‘asks,’ she responded to each of them with- ‘yeah- i totally agree with that… or yeah- i’m working on that.’ after she realized that all we were presenting, were things already on her agenda, she began to speak her mind and heart boldly. i can only describe her delivery as resolute, mildly critical- perhaps even that of a ‘holy indignation or discontent.’ she critiqued every generation past the one following world war two, stating that they basically had a free lunch and have not worked for anything that they have received. her answer, to the problems and crises of the day, was to have people sacrifice again. i was captivated- not by her big leather chair, or pictures of mlk jr. on the wall, or even the palatable power that her position exuded- but her heart.

so, even if i am not anywhere close to abandoning my view on how our government operates, or the capacity in which it can create real change in society- i do have a new view and respect for an individual. even if the parameters of the occupation, in my opinion, do not allow this woman to act in complete accordance to the mandates of Christ (that is if she would like to retain said occupation), it is clear to me that she has a passion and a desire to see something change in the world- and that in and of itself is inspiring; a glimmer of hope. a place for a foothold. a place for a seed…


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MTEP: Day Two

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 28, 2009

it is past 1am and it has been a long day at the conference, so unfortunately i do not have the energy to write a complete reflection on the day.

let’s just say that i am left with an uncertainty about how i feel. i hashed a little out with my roommate this evening, but didn’t really come to a logical conclusion. maybe after another day and a little more time to process, i can write a more comprehensive analysis of the events.

it was a full day to say the least though. a lot of speakers- a video message from the president, though his staff from the faith based, energy and poverty were in attendance and spent a good deal of time both presenting and taking questions.

the day ended with a worship session with delirious’ martin smith, a hip hop style sermon, and a talk from donald miller (definitely more on that later)

tomorrow, the day will start with morning devotions with john perkins and then i will be on the hill for the lobbying day- we will speak with the dc representative (who has no vote on the house floor). definitely an interesting experience all around.


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Mobilization to End Poverty

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 27, 2009

above is the title of the 3 day conference i’ll be attending this week here in dc, put on by sojourners. it will be filled with speakers (maybe the president tomorrow, we’ll see) and advocacy action in congress over the next few days.

tonite was the kickoff worship service at shiloh baptist church in nw dc. it was a great way to get things going (though it was a sweltering upper 80’s in the pews- thanks to an unfortunate summer-like dc day) the evening was led by several people with the backdrop of the howard university chapel choir, who were amazing.

the main preaching was done by a congressman from georgia named john lewis, a veteran from the civil rights movement. one of the things that he said was really impacting to me. he said:

‘(technology) has made the world a neighborhood, but not a brotherhood.’

that was really a profound remark. and it was something that will hopefully set the tone for all that we hear, discuss and put into action. more to come as the week progresses-


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The Humane Society

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 23, 2009

so, who out there knew that the humane society had a religious affairs division? i did not, but i just found out. i had the chance to meet with the director who works here in the dc area yesterday and was impressed with the work that she and the society are doing.

basically, from what i understood in the brief time that we conversed, is that the division works to lobby, raise awareness, etc. on the legislative front, as well as among churches, to improve the lives of animals. they most recently came out with a dvd that profiles the lives of animals in factory farming. i know that i blogged about this some time ago on my old xanga site.

the dvd was a really great short introduction to both the plight of the factory farmed animals, and our responsibility as christians to be merciful. i really shared in the view that you cannot compartmentalize things like mercy and justice. they are either part of your spirit or not. you cannot have a merciful thought toward a poor or disabled person on the one hand, and care not for the beaten and abused animal. both are rooted in the same stream of the spirit, which is mercy. this is a really simple, yet profound thought.

Check out the religious section of the humane society-

You can also view the short documentary online here


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The Vast Kingdom

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 23, 2009

i’m constantly amazed at the vast amount of opinions, viewpoints, and theology that are contained within the church…
the internet of course makes it very easy to get a snapshot of that. today i was sent down a rabbit trail of links by merely typing the words set apart (the name of my may term group) into google. it is really interesting what some people see as threatening and/or heresy today.

i’ve read everything from things on the emergent church movement to discussions over stewardship of the earth. and a lot of it has kind of made me sick.

i have become more and more troubled lately by people that use bold, scare tactics to explain God and the Kingdom. do i think that people need to be shaken out of their worldliness at times- yes of course- otherwise why would i be leading a group called ‘set apart.’ but the term and topic is so much more -descriptive- in nature, rather than -prescriptive- the church “is” set apart, not “should be.” there is a fundamental difference.

in my opinion, the way that one lives, grows and matures in the Kingdom, is by experiencing it, and coming to an understanding about the true nature of God- and then allowing the spirit, mind and heart to respond accordingly. too often, however, it seems like certain kinds of christians get it backward. they want to set themselves apart in order to grow in God. in my understanding however, you grow in God and then become set apart- and even that apart existence is still totally immersed in the world.

there is a tension there- but it is manageable through the guiding of the Spirit. maybe this rambling is only making sense in my mind, but the processing is good for me.


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Set Apart Again

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 22, 2009

so i decided once again this year to lead a may term small group here at ncc. it is entitled ‘set apart- a biblical foundation to social justice.’
last year there was a steady group of about 30 people- so i figured it was enough interest to give it another go.

may term is a quick 3 week small group (usually more core discipleship topics) that takes place in between the spring and summer semesters.
i decided to give this a try last year in order to give people a ‘safer’ approach to the topic. i think that some are intimidated by a semester long group on social justice, but feel like they can try out a 3 week meet up. my hope and prayer is that i would be able to clear up some of the misunderstandings about this oft debated topic within the church. my goal is to show that by merely making a commitment to faith in Christ, you by default become an advocate for social justice issues- not for the sake of the issues, but because as you grow in the fruit of the Spirit- there is no alternative.

it is really important for me during these 3 weeks to show (especially in a city like dc) that social justice is not about a set of causes- it’s about one cause, Christ, and everything that He is about.

more to come on this as it gets closer- kick off is may 3rd.


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The One and Only

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 21, 2009

of course i am speaking of my dear friend steph modder…

sunday nite after the greek easter fest, a bunch of us trekked over to ebenezers for steph’s album release party.

i blogged on steph in january after her pre-release came out- but now it’s official.  what an amazing album and what an amazing show.
she played through the whole thing on sunday nite with a great band behind her.  it was really a special moment to see the long journey of creating this piece of art come to fulfillment that evening.

and now it’s only begun.  i’m sure that there will be a tour in the works soon enough.

to purchase the album- check out itunes, or her website: stephmodder.com


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Greek Easter

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 20, 2009

what a weekend it was.
it was definitely a beautiful day off today in order to get some rest.

planning for the big greek easter meal was a lot of work, but in the end it all pays off.  had nearly 30 people over for bbq leg of lamb, potatos, greek green beans and meatballs- salad, olives, feta, saganaki, tatziki- and plenty of ouzo and metaxa for all.

we also cracked red (turned out hot pink) eggs, i read the easter homily from the orthodox church, and taught one of the simple greek circle dances.  all in all it was a great time and made the many, many hours of prep and cooking worth it.  had some beautiful people to help me pull it all off as well.

now, the only thing left to wonder, is what my neighbors thought of all of the crazy greek folk music blaring in the backyard all afternoon…

so, until next year… opa!
Christos Anesti!


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Globalization and the Old Testament

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 16, 2009

many people think that globalization and worldwide trade is something new- and though with the technology boom in the 90’s there was a revitalization and expansion of it, trade is obviously something that has been around for as long as people saw the value in exchanging one good for another.

my office mate here at ncc, pastor chris jarrell, asked me for a scripture reference that talks about wealth and extravagance for his blog. i turned to one of the best examples i know of in the bible that talks about an elaborate trade system and a nation (tyre) that exploited its wealth and power.

it is too long to post here directly, but you can read it in ezekiel 27 – 28:15
i’ll merely post one of the key passages from the longer text:

“Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, give the prince of Tyre this message from the Sovereign Lord:
“In your great pride you claim, ‘I am a god!
I sit on a divine throne in the heart of the sea.’
But you are only a man and not a god,
though you boast that you are a god.
You regard yourself as wiser than Daniel
and think no secret is hidden from you.
With your wisdom and understanding you have amassed great wealth—
gold and silver for your treasuries.
Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich,
and your riches have made you very proud.”

does this sound familiar?
who said the old testament was outdated and boring…


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