Tag Archives: Bigotry

Carefully Taught

Epiphany
January 22, 2017

Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:12-23

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. –Matthew 4:18-23

 First Jesus called his disciples, and then he taught them by word and example. He taught in the synagogues, and he lived his love as he interacted with real people in real situations of need. Following  in Jesus’ footsteps often requires us to clear some previously conceived notions that are ingrained firmly in our very beings. Jesus saw the potential for good in everyone.

How much of our reticence to love all people comes from being carefully taught something that is not true? Rogers and Hammerstein in their musical South Pacific coined that phrase in a song on bigotry.

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught. 

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught. 

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!*

As we prepare to be disciples of Christ this year, some self-examination may be in order. What were we carefully taught by word or example? We most likely will need God’s help identifying our prejudices; we will need God’s help ridding ourselves of them.

Our experience at times makes us unable to follow Jesus’ lead. What do we do about those real life experiences that planted seeds of fear and hate in us? How do we deal with them and meet the call to love all of God’s children? Hate we must give to God for only love can overcome hate. Small steps in safe places can help us recover from fear. Making that journey with other disciples may make the rough places plain more quickly.

Prayer: Lord we dedicate this year to learning to love like Jesus, to seeing your image in everyone, and to telling your good news in both word and deed. Amen.

*See at http://www.metrolyrics.com/youve-got-to-be-carefully-taught-lyrics-south-pacific.html
**See Isaiah 40:4 and Luke 3:5

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Bigotry

bigotryLiving in the Spirit
September 29, 2016

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-14

Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
–2 Timothy 1:8-10

It seems a little strange to find in one of the books of Timothy words that support the absolute worth of all of God’s children. The books of Timothy work hard at keeping woman in their “right” place. Yet, here I am. Our scripture today seems to acknowledge that God created each of us for a purpose. Our task is to fulfill that calling even when society does not agree with our receiving some assignments.

The role of women in service to God dates from the beginning of the recorded history of God. Certainly, most often these roles are traditional roles of mother, caretaker, and hostess. Then we discover Deborah, a judge, who led the way saving the people from being overthrown.

I do not believe that bigotry is in our DNA, but it surely lies close to the center of our being. So close, we sometimes have trouble recognizing its existence to our peril. God created a world dependent on justice for all for that world to survive and thrive. Any time we prevent anyone from fulfilling their call we hurt ourselves and everyone else. We move away from the Kingdom of God not toward it.

Prayer: God of Justice, help us to see the bigotry that lurks in all our beings, cleanse us from it, and enable our work toward a world ruled by love. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Fear is a prisonLiving in the Spirit
August 31, 2016

Scripture Reading: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
   and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
   O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
   and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
   it is so high that I cannot attain it. –Psalm 139:1-6

What we don’t seem to recognize is that these words apply to every human. They are beautiful words describing a loving parent or perhaps teacher. I was at a public school recently when an in-control but very concerned pre-school teacher, darted into the hallway calling out a child’s name. It was most likely that child’s first week of school, ever. He had escaped his classroom. She found him under the stairway and gently guided him back to his room. It is hard to fathom perfect love, and it seems harder still to recognize that it is readily available to all.

We live in a world where people fear their own shadows. We build walls and put up fences and gates to protect from those we do not take the time to know or understand. We do not analyze our actions that create the reason for our fear. When we treat others as commodities for our prosperity, they resist. We justify our greed by classifying and categorizing others as less than our level of humanity. Instead of acknowledging that when all do well, all thrive.

There has been a recent competition in our political arena regarding who is the worst bigot. Truth indicates that we are all bigots at heart. We somehow feel more whole when we can identify someone as less whole than we. Such thinking has the opposite impact and in our hearts, we know that. Perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

Prayer: Lord, we claim Psalm 139 as an outline of your love for each of us. Empower us to recognize it is available to all. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Made in God’s Image

BigotryLent March 11, 2015

Scripture Reading: Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Some were sick through their sinful ways,
   and because of their iniquities endured affliction; they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
   and he saved them from their distress; he sent out his word and healed them,
   and delivered them from destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
   for his wonderful works to humankind.
And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
   and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. — Psalm 107:17-22

I believe that sin is separation from God. The Greek word often used by Jesus in regard to sin essentially means missing the mark*. In modern language we might talk about being out of synch with God. The word “iniquities” used here seems to relate to guilt and punishment*. These words are being used in this Psalm to describe actions of one against oneself. Apparently those being addressed had lost all hope and were starving themselves to death. Most of us probably do not relate care-of-ourselves or lack of care-of-ourselves to sin. Yet Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Mark 12:31) Now Jesus is not talking about having an overinflated ego. I think he is calling our attention to the fact that all our neighbors are made in the image of God as are we. We should not take that lightly.

The United States has experienced a flood of racial bigotry recently, with people using words that kill the hearts and souls of our neighbors and setting horrific words to music they probably learned in Sunday school. It is enough to make Jesus weep. I wonder how much of this need to be better than another is a result of people not recognizing that they do not have to be better than anybody else to receive the full love of God. In fact their lives will be so much richer in love when they share fully in the love of God and the love of all of God’s children.

Prayer: O God, forgive us for not loving with dignity and worth all your children made in your image including ourselves. Amen.

* http://biblehub.com/greek/264.htm
**http://biblehub.com/hebrew/5771.htm
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.