By Rev. David Rommereim
Long ago at Trinity Wall Street, Professor Ann Ullinov from Union Theological Seminary spoke about "the other." She reminded the 375 Christian and Jewish leaders about the need to place a value on the "other." It was a seminar on race, racism, and the unique American patters of historic immigration. Her voice was clear. She said, "each of us has been an 'other.'" She coined the term, "other-wise" to remind us that there is wisdom in the other. Alone we are idiosyncratic and unhelpful. Dr. Ullinov challenged us to get poised to practice our faith in the midst of those who may be otherwise, whether conservative, liberal, or progressive. What is at stake is not the victory from any particular side but the integrity of faith itself. Faith demands the "otherwise."
My favorite Christian Biblical scholar, Dr. Walter Brueggemann writes: "Through worship, prophetic word, and protest, we are called to expose oppressive social realities and insist: It could be otherwise. The good scholar brings another wisdom from the memory of 'other'." His is "otherwise" from the Prophetic tradition of our faith.
Each of these theologians, Ullinov and Brueggemann, capture the vital force of Jesus' ministry imposed upon you and me because of Baptism. Dr. Brueggemann has located the Jesus often lost in the church. That is, Jesus as prophet. His voice reminds us that worship begins revealing the sounds of the prophetic word that we are able to see then when we practice justice and utilize the soul force of Agape/divine Love.
The primary role of the prophet, writes Dr. Obrey Hendricks, "Is one who effects social and political change in a society." When the inequities became inhuman and without hope for those on the margins, the prophet is used by G*d to dismantle what has become anti-G*d. The prophets' ministry allows us to see the sounds of injustice and its reciprocal violence on human community.
Many people in our community find those words from Dr. Brueggemann hard to listen to. Many of us shut off our ears when someone speaks about the need to oppose oppressive social realities. We want the meek and mild Jesus. Others think we must separate religion and politics. However, this past Wednesday at the Lent Vigil #1, there were 30 persons who engaged in a public conversation about the role of the church and politics. The energy was enlightened.
The Vigil is using the book Politics of Jesus, written by Obrey Hendricks. The conversation was safe and hospitable to those who otherwise didn't know each other before the night began. We learned how to correctly use the word "politics" without quickly globing onto rhetorical clichés. We learned that Jesus is a public prophet and shepherd. The gospels are full of Jesus' prophetic ministry among us.
Those in attendance remembered that Jesus understood his very being to be a partnership with Adonai/G*d. Once the prophet receives the call to speak majestically for the renewal of Divine presence in the life of the community, then inequity is noticed, injustice is attended to, and love becomes the driving force to all private & public behavior.
If you want to continue this Lent Vigil in a dialogue on these vital issues of the faith, then begin on Sunday at 10:45 for public worship. Our growing community wants you there. Then, come on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. for pizza dinner. The Lent Conversation begins at 7 p.m..
Jesus' prophetic ministry is all around us even if it seems otherwise. Yet, perhaps to see the sounds of his prophetic work we need to work together.
I remain living hope,
Rev. David H. Rommereim