This message includes a remembrance of the eight persons murdered in Atlanta a few days before. Xiaojie Tahn, Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Yaun, Paul Andre Michels
You can find us live on Facebook Sundays at 9 AM and 10:30 AM, and Wednesdays at 8 AM.
Prayer Based on Matthew 16 Based on Matthew 16:24-28
Give me courage to deny privilege
to lay down favor and safety
in order to take up the cross of opportunity and justice
Give me courage to deny consumerism
to lay down convenience and gratification
in order to take up the cross of sustainability and generosity
Give me courage to deny comfort
to lay down apathy and ease
in order to take up the cross of service and true love
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me
Show me what to pick up and what to lay down
that I may lose and loose
in order to find and bind
all that is from you
For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers
When we don’t speak, people die.
If we are silent people die
Speak! Keep speaking- Speak up, Speak out
Keep speaking until
Hate is overcome by affection
Bullying is overcome by blessing
Discrimination is overcome by opportunity
Violence is no more
This place looks like heaven
– Lisa Degrenia
In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations. – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe. – Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Speech
A Statement from the Bishop and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in Response to the June 12, 2016, Violent Crime of Hate against the LGBTQ Community in Orlando, Florida
2016 Florida Annual Conference Resolution– Help End Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning Individuals
Prayer offered by the Rev. Dr. Steve Harper at the Florida Annual Conference prayer vigil for all involved with the Pulse Orlando Shooting
We come before you in this moment as one human family, all of us created in your image and intended to glorify you with our lives–particularly in the ways we treat each other.
We also stand in your presence as heirs of the first sin after the Fall–the sin of murder, continuing to behave like Cain in our refusals to care for the lives of others, harming and murdering them with our words, our actions, our silence, and our judgment.
We come before you confessing our sins of commission and omission–the sins of saying and doing too much or too little–the sins of silence and shunning–the sin of self -righteousness which is no righteousness at all.
Forgive us for all the ways we have failed to love one another, to care for one another, and as the shooting in our city reveals, the particular ways we have failed to love our lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, LatinX family, and their allies– turning a deaf ear to their pain and acting against them in ways which create a spirit of fear and a culture of discrimination that spawns acts of violence.
We especially lament the ways we have failed to love as Christians and as United Methodists, ways we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves–creating the false impression that our silence, our skewed perspectives and our retributive actions reflect the will of God. We humbly repent and are sorry for these our misdoings. The remembrance of them is grievous unto us.
Move among us by your Holy Spirit and remove our hearts of stone, replacing them with hearts of flesh that love you and everyone with a love as inclusive as your love for the world. Remove all walls that divide and drive far from us the desire to ever build a wall again.
We pray for the souls of the departed–those killed in the Pulse nightclub, and for their families and friends who grieve their deaths. We pray for the others who have been wounded, those whose lives will from now on be marked by this tragedy. And we pray for the soul of the one who committed this crime, and for his family and friends who are shamed and saddened by what he did.
We thank you for all those in the law enforcement and medical communities who risked their lives and offered their care to save others, and for our civic and religious leaders who must now guide us to beat our swords into plough shares and study war no more.
God, dwell among us to give us comfort, but not simply a comfort which enables us to move beyond our grief, but a comfort which causes us to move beyond our sin, so that we may be instruments of your peace–daily sowing love where there has been hatred, replacing injury with pardon, instilling faith where there has been doubt–until that day when justice rolls down and mercy like an ever flowing stream. Amen
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
A week with brave, wise persons who share their stories of prejudice and discrimination. In doing so, they break down the dividing walls and draw us together.
The Beauty of Human Skin in Every Color
TED2016 Vancouver BC, February 2016 “In the end, with this color and this hair I can’t belong some places.” Dass’s experiences inspired her international portrait project, Humanæ, which documents humanity’s true colors rather than the untrue white, red, black and yellow associated with race. Simple. Powerful. Game-changing.
What do you think when you look at me?
TED2016 Vancouver BC, February 2016 After 9/11 “I went from a citizen to a suspect.” A moving story of the power of media in promoting prejudice and the greater powers of empathy and solidarity.
What I’ve Learned from my Autistic Brothers
TED@London, April 2012 “Normality overlooks the beauty differences give us. The fact that we are different doesn’t mean one of us is wrong, it just means there’s a different kind of right. … You don’t have to be normal, you can be extraordinary. Because, autistic or not, the differences we have are a gift. Everyone’s got a gift inside of us. And in all honesty, the pursuit of normality is the ultimate sacrifice of potential. The chance for greatness, for progress, for change dies when we try to be like someone else. “
Why I love a country that once betrayed me
TEDx Kyoto, June 2014 During his childhood in WWII, Takei and his family were imprisoned by their fellow Americans in America. His wise father and the heroics of an all Japanese-American fighting unit in WWII, gave him a rich understanding of democracy and what it really means to be an American. “They gave me a legacy and with that legacy comes a responsibility. I am dedicated to making my country an even better America.”
A powerful poem about what it feels like to be transgender
TED Women 2015 Monterey California, May 2015 “I was the mystery of an anatomy, a question asked but not answered, tight roping between awkward boy and apologetic girl. And when I turned 12, the boy phase wasn’t deemed cute anymore…. No one ever thinks of us as human because we are more ghost than flesh…. And now oncoming traffic is embracing more transgender children than parents.” Listen several times, letting the heartbreak and wondering wash over you.
I’m trying an experiment in 2016. Maybe you’d like to try it with me.
Here’s where I am
I’m tired of the spin. I’m tired of ideas, news, and entertainment really being one long sales pitch for profit or power.
I’m longing for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration. I’m in search of passionate people willing to speak to the truth and complexity of living with a heart of hope. I want to hear from authentic humans who are in the trenches working for the greater good.
“TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.”
TED’s been around for 30 years. I’ve heard about them and even watched a couple of talks, but I’ve never spent any concentrated time mining the good stuff. So….
Here’s the plan
Watch 5 enthusiastic, inspiring TED Talk presenters a week for a year.
Apply and share the goodness.