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Social Justice Fools

april22011_katiemulligan Katie Mulligan
John 10:22-42
At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’ Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods”? If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods”—and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, “I am God’s Son”? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there.

Devotion

I’ve been thinking about the risks of doing anti-racist work in the church. I work for a tiny, older, white congregation in the middle of a mostly white suburb about halfway between Trenton and Camden, two larger towns struggling with poverty, homelessness, hunger, poor schools, and lack of opportunity. Trenton and Camden are largely communities of color, and the socio-economic situation of those two cities is bound up in the racist ideologies and actions that have devoured this country from the beginning.

In seminary they used to tell us you can preach two social justice sermons before you get thrown out of your church and called a social justice fool. The conversations can get ugly fast around race. My tiny church, like many others, squirms around issues of race. And still the word needs to be preached.

Today let us reflect on the words our communities need to hear most, whether it be about racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia (google it). Perhaps we need to talk frankly about money, food, alcohol, addictions of all sorts. Maybe today is the day we choose to speak up about intimate violence in our families and friendships.

May today be the day we cross boundaries in our churches and communities, to speak an unpopular word, knowing that we might have to duck out the back door when the crowds get ugly. Like Jesus, we are called to do the Father’s works, regardless of who might say we blaspheme. Selah.

Katie Mulligan
Mt. Laurel, NJ
http://tinychurchnj.blogspot.com



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  1. Shawna says:

    Thank you for your message, Ms. Mulligan.

    Stay strong! I believe that as long as you teach what is in the Bible in love, He will fight your battles for you.

    I have a best friend with family ties to Mt Laurel, NJ (African American). Matter of fact she just recently moved from there. I found it to be a great place. I don’t know if it’s the area you speak of in your post, but if so, there are many great people there of all ethnicities. My best friend attended a predominantly African Amerian church outside of that area, Enon, but loved her area of Mt Laurel.

    A window will be open for your message in God’s time, and if you don’t see the change, I pray that our future generations do! You are His willing vessel, that’s for sure!

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