new jim crowEarlier today I posted this to Facebook…”A little light reading while Louis sleeps and recovers in the hospital! Been wanting to read this for a while, but after hearing Michelle Alexander speak at CCDA – it became a must-read!”

And, I dove right in to The New Jim Crow, but didn’t make it passed the forward where Cornel West writes…

‘Martin Luther King, Jr called for us to be lovestruck with each other, not colorblind….lovestruck is to care, to have deep compassion, and to be concerned for each and every individual, including the poor and vulnerable.’

WOW. Immediately I thought, “Way before MLKJr, didn’t Jesus call us to do the same and more?!?!?”
Matthew 22:37-40
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Luke 4:16-2116 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

John 20:21-22  
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
I haven’t gotten any further in the book, and I am still thinking about how we typically want to ‘love’ and ‘serve’ the poor, the orphan, the widow, the imprisoned, etc.
Does this really just look like feeding or housing the homeless or giving clothes to the local thrift store? Does this simply mean to check the box by writing a check to some group who does? These scriptures, along with MLKJr’s message, continue to challenge me to do so much more. Challenging me to be constantly filled with the power of the Spirit to go…and proclaim in word and in deed. Hopefully it will challenge you, too.

What does it really look like to be lovestruck with others???

What does it mean ‘to care, to have deep compassion, and to be concerned for each and every individual, including the poor and vulnerable’?

What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?

Added 9/24 8pm
I’ve had several folks contact me about wanting to read this book, so I thought I would share the preface with you.  Yes, I finally made it another page! Not only did I stop to write the post, but I also learned to change Louis’s bandage, had a visit with a lovely friend who brought me a yummy salad, and lots of other caregiver duties. I think it might take me a while to finish this book for A LOT of reasons.
NJC preface

Sent and Sending

I know these posts are pretty heavy for a merry, happy Christmas season.  But, this is just where I am right now.  After 8 years of serving as the Minister of Sacrament and Word, Louis won’t be behind the pulpit at Third Church Petersburg every Sunday. This 98 year-old church is closing effective 12.31.2011.  A year ago, my job ended.  We have really been seeking what God has for us.  In this search, I think He is revealing to all of us….He has so much more!  He is going to birth something new!

In yesterday’s post, Incarnation, I wrote about why Jesus was sent to Earth….

Luke 4 NIV

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Moving ahead about 30 years, Jesus appears to his disciples after He has risen from the dead. This is what He says to them…

John 20 NIV

 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Moving ahead about 2000 years…if we call ourselves Jesus’s disciples, then this is for us as well, right?  As the Father sends Jesus, He now sends YOU and ME…filled with His Spirit…to PROCLAIM freedom for those held in bondage of all kinds, to PROCLAIM recovery for those who are sick, and PROCLAIM the Lord’s favor.  It is not good enough to simply feed the homeless, clothe the naked, or care for the widows and orphans, although that is all WONDERFUL stuff!  Please don’t get me wrong.  But, we, if we call ourselves Jesus’s followers, also need to be sure to PROCLAIM the name of Jesus while we care for the poor, widows, prisoners, sick, etc.

According to some recent studies, 83% of Americans call themselves Christians, or Jesus Followers.  If that is the case, then why do we still have racism and prejudices?  Why still starving people?  Why are there still places in our country and our world without running water? Why are there so many injustices?

The following picture was found all over Facebook, but I think it really speaks to this topic.  I’m not casting stones here.  Louis and I continue to challenge ourselves on a regular basis.  It’s not easy, and we have a long way to go.  As we celebrate Christmas tomorrow, the First Coming of Jesus, let’s also challenge ourselves to work toward reconciliation with God and each other AND to bring the end of suffering, hunger, prejudice, thirst, injustice, and pain. Let’s be about the Mission the “Sent One” sent us on!

…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.