Meditation Monday - Lent: A Call to Repent

We are in the heart of the season of Lent. This is a time of reflection and repentance as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter. The word "repent" is one that is often misunderstood or neglected even in Christian communities. It is the English translation of a Greek word (the New Testament was originally written in Greek) that means to "change one's mind" and "to turn around" to go in a new direction. It includes both a change of heart/mind and a commitment to change one's actions to live more completely into God's will for our lives and for our world. Too often the word has been associated only with individual attitudes and actions. It also applies to communities of which we are a part including the Church and our nation. Communities as well as individuals need to repent in order to live into God's purpose of love and justice for all people. It is often more challenging for communities to recognize our need for repentance than it is for individuals. The video below introduces a book by Jim Wallis that came out around two years ago. It has an intriguing title, America's Original Sin. This refers to the sin of racism as expressed in slavery and its legacy that is still with us today. I invite you to watch the video and consider reading the book. The good news of the gospel is that repentance leads to forgiveness and new life. This is true for communities as well as individuals. The Cornelius Corps is called to be a resource that helps individuals and communities to connect our spiritual growth with God's will for racial justice and reconciliation. Together we build transforming relationships through a shared journey of repentance, forgiveness, and taking new steps in the direction of love and justice. 

Meditation Monday - Get In the Way

Wednesday of this week will be the 53rd anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" - the brutal beating of peaceful marchers by Alabama State Troopers as the marchers attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on their way from Selma to Montgomery to protest the killing of an unarmed black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, and to advocate for voting rights. John Lewis a leader of that march who became an icon of the civil rights movement was severely beaten that day. In a book of civil rights related photos that we have in our home, there is a picture of John Lewis and the marchers in front of the state troopers moments before the troopers attacked them. I had the privilege of meeting John Lewis and having him sign that picture. He not only signed his name but also added the phrase "Get In the Way." I found out later that this is how he regularly responds to requests for his signature. This is an ongoing challenge to confront injustice through non-violent resistance. The following video is a recent interview with John Lewis during his annual return to the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate that pivotal event in the civil rights movement. He not only recalls that time in March 1965 but reflects on the hope he sees in the current developing movement led by students and women. 

After viewing the interview with John Lewis, I urge you to watch the following short video that highlights some of the student led movement since the horrific mass shooting deaths in Parkland, FL. These young people are following Lewis' example and call to "Get In the Way." This is not popular among those who are invested in the status quo. You will notice that most of the comments under the video are critical rather than supportive.

Yet this is how change happens - people of all ages who are willing to pay the price of challenging the way things are with the hope and faith that the words so often quoted by Dr. King are true, "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice." How might God be calling you and me to Get In the Way?

Meditation Monday - Turning the Tide Again

Since the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, FL that resulted in the deaths of 17 innocent people, we have witnessed high school students in Florida and around the nation standing up, speaking out, and organizing for reforming gun laws. Some have criticized the students for being too young and naive to seek this kind of change. A few have even accused some of the most visible student leaders of being "crisis actors." These critics must not know the history of how young people including high school students played a key role in the progress our nation made in during the civil rights movement. In particular, I want to lift up the campaign in Birmingham, AL in 1963 that was seeking to end segregation in public accommodations through non-violent direct action. That campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was failing until the decision was made to allow children to engage in direct action. Their courage, faith, and persistence in the face of police sponsored violence directed by the infamous Eugene "Bull" Connor turned the tide of that campaign. Birmingham is now remembered as one of the highlights of the civil rights movement. In his book Why We Can't Wait, Dr. King reflected on what it meant to include the children:

The children understood the stakes they were fighting for. I think of one teenage boy whose father's devotion to the movement soured when he learned that his son had pledged himself to become a demonstrator. The father forbade his son to participate. "Daddy," the boy said, "I don't want to disobey you, but I have made my pledge. If you try to keep me home, I will sneak off. If you think I deserve to be punished for that, I'll just have to take the punishment. For, you see, I'm not doing this only because I want to be free. I'm doing it also because I want freedom for you and Mama, and I want it to come before you die." That father thought again, and gave his son his blessing.

The students in Florida and around the country are turning the tide again. This time it is not to dismantle segregation but to challenge a culture of gun violence that threatens all of us. They deserve our blessing, support and partnership in this struggle.

Meditation Monday - Repeating "Yes" Along the Way

We are in the first full week of Lent. This season is often described using the imagery of a journey - the journey of Jesus to the cross and to the empty tomb. Yet this is not just about Jesus' journey. We are on the journey of life and faith not only during Lent but each day of our lives. Especially when we face the "dark valleys" of this journey such as the horrific tragedy of the recent school shooting in Florida that killed 17 innocent people, we are called to stay on the journey trusting in God's loving presence even in the dark. The following words of Father Gregory Boyle seemed especially appropriate not only for this season of Lent but also for our ongoing journey of faith:

A "yes" must be repeated, deepened, made new over and over again - or else it ultimately becomes a "no." In a vocation, a marriage, recovery - no matter what your lips seem to be saying - you have to renew this "yes" all the time. (From Barking to the Choir p. 145)

Through our spiritual practices, words, and actions (such as advocating for reasonable and effective gun control) may we trust God and support each other in saying "yes" to the way of Jesus no matter what we face along the way.

Meditation Monday - The Call to Listen

In churches that use the Lectionary for Scripture readings, the gospel for yesterday was the story of the Transfiguration in the gospel of Mark. As Jesus is with three of his disciples on a mountain, his clothes suddenly become gleaming white and Moses and Elijah appear with him. After Peter's futile suggestion to build shelters on the mountaintop, they are all covered with a cloud. The voice of God proclaims from the cloud:


"This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"


This simple yet clear word from God continues to speak to us today. As we begin the season of Lent this week, it is a good time to ask ourselves, How are we making time and space individually and in community to listen to Jesus? There is nothing more important we could do than to open ourselves to the Spirit of the living Christ, listen to him, and then take the next step in God's call for our lives.