Monday, August 25, 2014

Ferguson Shows Us We Have Not Dealt Sufficiently With White Privilege

This country has a long history of shameful treatment of non-majority groups. And whenever an unarmed person of color is killed, memories of a painful past resurface and healing is delayed, as images of economic oppression, segregation, mobs protesting the arrival of African American children to previously non-integrated schools, demoralizing Jim Crow laws, dehumanizing caricatures in art and ads, and heartless, souless practice of lynching are brought to mind. Some of us have the privilege of not having to relive those painful memories, but our humanity demands that we remember and care and vow to be part of a future where racism as well as misogyny and homophobia no longer divide communities and ruin lives. We all have both privilege and peril, and of course race or gender or sexual orientation are not the only determining factors of one's life experience, AND it also true that in our country there are advantages upon which one can depend simply for being white and there are hazzards one must fear simply for being non-white and until we as a soceity own this unpleasant truth and work collectively to change it (without denying why there is a need for such change), the problems and injustices will only continue, and at times escalate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pastoral Prayer for Ferguson, MO

Haven’t we had enough of war: not only the wars we export, but the wars on our streets, the wars that wage in our own hearts?
Aren’t we yet willing to recognize the devastating legacy of racism?
Can’t we seek to heal the wounds caused by injustice, domination, and exploitation?
Will we ever cease our worship of violence and our distrust of the Other?

The Earth and Her inhabitants are weary from conflict. We are despondent to see once again communities torn apart by injustice and disregard for the dignity of every person.

The riots, the pain, the losses in Ferguson, Missouri that have followed the brutal slaying of Michael Brown bring all these questions to mind, questions that we grow so tired of asking, questions that still have not found satisfying answers.

And so we turn once again to prayer. There will be letters written and protests and debates, but in the meantime, in this moment, in this time of sadness and frustration, we choose to quiet ourselves, to know that there is a Universal Power that flows through every life, that is part of every life, that excludes no one for any reason, and in the name of this one Power we affirm hope and the possibility of healing in our world. In the name of the Omnipresence we affirm blessings for the residents of Ferguson. In the name of Justice Herself, we affirm wisdom for those who must lead us through the difficulties at hand.

God of many names, mystery beyond our naming, give us the courage and the resilience to not allow our weariness to prevail, but rather let us continue to hope for, work for, and settle for nothing less than “liberty and justice for ALL.”


Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister, Sunshine Cathedral

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jesus Heals & is Healed

Reflection by Rev Dr Durrell Watkins

Matthew 15.21-28
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.Just then a Canaanite woman
from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly. 

Matthew may be confronting his community’s prejudices by imagining Jesus overcoming a prejudice within himself. Deuteronomy 20.17 says, “Completely destroy…the Canaanites…as God has commanded you.” A literal reading of the ancient text could have given Matthew’s community tacit permission to hate or exclude or vilify Canaanites, but when a Canaanite woman comes to Jesus for help, he first sees her as “the Other”, one he had been taught to look down on (like a “dog”), but as she stands up for herself, Jesus finally sees her humanity, and realizes that she is fully a child of God.
Then he blesses her by healing her daughter, but he is healed of his own bigotry as well. And hopefully, those who read the text will find healing from some of their own prejudices as well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Resources for Progressive Churches

Resources for Progressive Churches (and for those not yet part of a progressive spiritual community)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Depression is No Joke

I didn't know that Robin Williams struggled with depression, but I'm not surprised. That much creativity and genius often has a deep, internal struggle behind it. And for him to be so up, the downward swings must have been very difficult. Anyway, I'm not qualified to analyze the late Robin Williams, but his sad departure from this life brings to mind loved ones who have battled depression. I struggled with depression as a child and four years ago I found myself in the midst of deep despair, and I am so thankful for friends who loved me through it as well as medication and therapy. I got through it and have gotten good at self-care, but I am ever mindful of those who are still trying to find their place of peace and wholeness. May all who are hurting today find the strength and comfort they need.