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How are preachers preaching about Ferguson?

How are preachers preaching about Ferguson?

Did you preach on Ferguson today? Time Magazine reports on what preachers are saying:

On the first Sunday since the unrest exploded and the morning after Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew, many in the Missouri town will attend worship services at one of the dozens of churches that line its streets, giving religious leaders the challenging task of somehow trying to help their communities make sense of their new reality.

Karen Knodt, the pastor of Immanuel United Church of Christ in central Ferguson, plans to preach about the week’s events when her community gathers this Sunday. She is one of the many pastors worldwide who base their weekly sermons off the lectionary, a schedule for reading Scripture aloud in church. One of the main texts scheduled for this weekend comes from the prophet Isaiah, and is timely given the week’s context: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Maintain justice and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand, 
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.’”

Many congregants in her 700-person-strong church have been lifelong residents of Ferguson, Knodt explains, and have watched the town’s demographics change from a predominantly German to African-American community. This week she has been checking on members to gauge their safety and stress, and meeting with other clergy to work together to plan their response. Some church members have been working to help clean up looted businesses, she says, and others have launched a special food drive to address empty food pantries in town.

From Huffington Post:

Greg Carey Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary said:

One key dimension in our society’s race struggles involves the failure of white people to hear – and believe — the experiences of our non-white neighbors. The Canaanite woman struggles to be heard. She cries out. That doesn’t work. She kneels and begs. Jesus rejects her. Finally, she says something so clever that Jesus relents and grants her request — the only person who wins an argument with Jesus. What does it take to be heard?

The Canaanite woman’s story shows us what it looks like when someone’s humanity is denied and what it sounds like when no one will listen. Congregations need time to reflect on these realities — and how they play out in our society.

Read more thoughts at Huffington Post.

Victoria Weinstein, also know at Peace Bang challenges preachers at her blog “Beauty Tips for Ministers”:

Preach the news. Preach the fire. Preach the rage, the sadness, the lamentation. Preach it fierce. Bring your rage, your solidarity, your authority to confront: to confront ourselves, to confront our God, to confront yourself, to confront our sick, sick society. Confront what is really happening. Do not “spiritualize.” Do not offer bromides, cliches, or a load of Christian crap that everyone has heard before and that you yourself have heard too many times coming out of your own mouth because it feels easier to say that crap than to cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes and wail that you have no idea what God is doing, but that you only hope God is working in this, is in the suffering, is loving us still, will not abandon and forsake us.

Who am I to tell you what to preach? I am only your friend, only a lady who advises you not to wear silly round-toed girl shoes when you should be standing strong in grown-up shoes on grown-up feet, for God’s sake.

What did you hear today?? What did you preach?


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Dean Brian Baker

Our gospel reading today had Jesus refusing to heal a woman’s daughter because she was the wrong race. His mind was changed because of the persistence and faith of the mother. Jesus became Lord and servant of all, not just the lost sheep of the House of Israel. I connected this story with the story of the church, which has been transformed by persistent, faithful voices calling us to a more expansive vision. I then shifted to talk about Ferguson, the many killings of unarmed black young men by police and the cry of their mothers for help. I also talked about white privilege and challenged the church to once more embrace a more expansive vision and not let the cry of African American parents go unheard. Video is here:

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