Write What You See
As I mentioned in the weekly chat, it’s been quiet here because the family and I took a little vacation to our favorite beach here in NC, and then I took a trip to Philadelphia this past weekend. There’s not much to report from the vacation, just that we enjoyed seeing the ocean, watching movies together, and making our first “Low Country Boil.”
Philly was more adventurous. I was invited to come and preach at the annual gathering of the American Friends Service Committee. When I decided to say yes, I did so with the hope of taking a couple of students with me so they could learn a little about what it means for Quaker ministers to “travel in the ministry.”
I was glad to have two students join me, and I think we had a lovely time together. They were both great travel companions, eager to learn about the practice of traveling in the ministry and have fun. They also contributed to the work of relationship building and were a big help to me a few times when my scatterbrain got the best of me.
Like any good journey, there were some “fun” stories to go along with it. Like when our Amtrak train, which was scheduled to leave at 7:30 AM on Friday, didn’t come until 2:30 PM that afternoon. Fortunately, after a hilarious series of us rushing around thinking we missed the train only to learn it was delayed even later, we decided to pull the plug, cancel our tickets, and drive the 8.5 hours north. Thankfully we drove; otherwise, I am not sure we would have made it to Philly in enough time for me to be ready for the Saturday morning worship. I had been looking forward to riding the train, not only because it would have been my first long trip, but I needed the time to write my sermon! Having been on vacation and closing out the semester the weeks before, I wasn’t been able to write anything more than notes. Next thing you know, I was sitting in the back seat of my own car (which I admit was a little funny), laptop open, headphones in, typing away while one of my traveling companions took the wheel! We made it to Philly around 9:00 PM that night, got situated in our rooms, found some lackluster pizza, and I finally made it to bed at 11:00 PM after an exhausting day. There was plenty of time for sleep and time enough to wake up in the morning, shower, iron my clothes, work on a third draft of my message, and be to the AFSC gathering by 8:30 AM. It all worked out. We were watched over, and met with kindness and friendship at the gathering. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity.
Today, I want the text of my message “Write What You See: Standing In The Great Traditions of Resistance,” which takes a look at three letters written behind bars from three ministers: John’s “letter” we call Revelation, George Fox’s letter from Lancaster prison, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Prison.
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Thanks as always for connecting with me,
Haw River Watershed (Greensboro, NC)
🌞 Now Fresh on Gathering in Light
Here is an excerpt from the AFSC Sermon, Write What You See:
King’s letter was prompted by a letter from 8 white clergymen from Alabama who wrote criticizing King’s being in Birmingham as an outside agitator. They felt the problem of racism should be handled by local leaders who have knowledge of the situation and handle it through the “proper channels.”
The clergy letter, besides falling out on the wrong side of history, is short, uninspiring, and, well, moderate, as King called it. It’s also an interesting indication of how far that radical anti-imperial gathering of poor people assembled by Jesus and pastored by John the Revelator has come by way of assimilating into the American empire.
King’s letter exposes the hypocrisy of what he called “the white moderate church” because it believes the Gospel has no concern for social issues of the day.
For King, the white (moderate) church has now become a stumbling block for God’s work of liberation for the poor.
Do we see ourselves standing among the great traditions of resistance?
What do we need to draw on the spiritual resources of this tradition?
How do we not only stand within these traditions but also help to carry them forward?
🎧 Read, Watch, Listen, Find: Links from Around the Web
Here are a few things I’ve found thought-provoking recently.
If you have never read Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Prison, it is very much worth your while.
Know Your Enemy Podcast - Bob Dylan’s America
A discussion on the crisis of continual partial attention: “Success in Circuit lies”: How do we cultivate deep reading processes in a digital age?
Finally, for those of you who have heard the phrase often used by Quakers, “Holding you in the Light,” I think you’ll enjoy this Zine Natalie from Fold in the Light shared this past week.
📆 Community Happenings (Announcements)
There are no announcements this week. If you have something you’d like to share here for the good of the group, please send it to me over email or chat.
🧠 A Final Thought
I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Letter from the Birmingham Prison
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