"Ainsworth is a multi-cultural, multi-racial, open & affirming, Just Peace and accessible church. We celebrate that God is still speaking in our world today and that God’s extravagant welcome and love is for everyone. We hope that your journey of faith will lead you to us and that you experience God’s love through us." Those words have meaning.
It seemed appropriate the Sunday following the 4th of July - on a blistering hot Sunday - to consider the role of church and state. Conservative voices often say it is the role of the church to address social ills but churches like Ainsworth UCC, that help address the AIDS crisis, cannot do it alone. What does Jesus teach us?
Mark 12:13-17 was our focus text for the service. You can download a podcast of the sermon here:
(some browsers - like Firefox or Google Chrome - will allow you to simply click on the link and listen...otherwise click with the RIGHT mouse button on the hyperlink and choose “Save Target As” and save to your desktop or other folder – once downloaded click on the file to listen).
My name is Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie. I am a resident of NE Portland and serve as a minister in the United Church of Christ, currently in the capacity of the Director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality and University Chaplain at Pacific University.
Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie & Rev. Kate Lore at Council hearing
The imperative first step is to repent of our sins, in the presence of God and one another. This repentance of our social and ecological sins will acknowledge the special responsibility that falls to those of us who are citizens of the United States. Though only five percent of the planet’s human population, we produce one-quarter of the world’s carbon emissions, consume a quarter of its natural riches, and perpetuate scandalous inequities at home and abroad. We are a precious part of Earth’s web of life, but we do not own the planet and we cannot transcend its requirements for regeneration on its own terms. We have not listened well to the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
The second step is to pursue a new journey together, with courage and joy. By God’s grace, all things are made new. We can share in that renewal by clinging to God’s trustworthy promise to restore and fulfill all that God creates and by walking, with God’s help, a path different from our present course. To that end, we affirm our faith, propose a set of guiding norms, and call on our churches to rededicate themselves to this mission. We firmly believe that addressing the degradation of God’s sacred Earth is the moral assignment of our time comparable to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, the worldwide movement to achieve equality for women, or ongoing efforts to control weapons of mass destruction in a post-Hiroshima world.
In that spirit, I urge you to reject the proposal before you.
"Why do we still have a homelessness crisis after all these years? Part of it is political. Part of it is spiritual. We've never invested the resources needed to build affordable housing. The entire Metro region — Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties — needs a permanent source of funding to build affordable housing. The majority of those who are homeless are families with children and the working poor who cannot afford the high cost of housing. We need more drug treatment. We need more mental health counseling. But we need housing first.
We also need to recognize the common humanity we all share. Until then — until we acknowledge that we are our brother's keeper, our sister's keeper — we will never find the political will to end homelessness. We'll simply go on trying to manage and hide it."
This weekend we remember those who have given their lives for our nation. May their sacrifices not be in vain. Help us to live up to America’s highest ideals. Give us the wisdom to seek peace over conflict.
Lift up family members grieving. Lift up military personnel who have lost comrades. Lift up military and civilian leaders who make difficult commands. Lift up communities hurting from the absence of young men and women.
We too lift up those civilians killed in conflict. Too many die unintentionally in the fog of war. Too many die at the hands of those who do not value human life. Lift up the families and communities where civilians have died.
War is a failure of human imagination even under the most just of reasons. War is contrary to what we understand your will to be. Help us lift up a vision of a just peace for the world. Help us to lift up a vision of Shalom in broken places.
Let us beat our swords into ploughshares, Our spears into pruning-hooks; let nation not lift up sword against nation, let all the people of Earth learn peace over war. (Isaiah 2:4)
In memory of those who have laid down their lives for us, we pray.
Liz Smith Currie, Katherine, Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, and Frances
It wasn't long ago that I shared that I'd passed my oral defense and had completed all the requirements for the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree at Chicago Theological Seminary. This weekend eight members of our family traveled to Chicago for the Commencement.
As noted, my D.Min. work focused on researching, developing and evaluating models to teach progressive clergy how to engage in theologically grounded social action that employees social media as a vehicle for organizing.
It is vital that Christians address important social issues - such as climate change and economic inequality - using a theological framework. Otherwise, we allow conservative fundamentalists to shape the debate over the future of Christianity. Hopefully, my work will contribute to this cause in some small way.
Chicago Theological Seminary is a unique institution. The vision of the seminary is to "be an international force in the development of religious leadership to transform society toward greater justice and mercy."
Already CTS is offering a free online class on Just Peacemaking that offers an alternative to the theology of Just War.
My time working with the faculty, staff and students has been rewarding. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with the CTS family in January 2016 when I join a planned CTS-sponsored interfaith study tour of Israel and Palestine.
Views expressed here represent the perspectives of Rev. Currie, as well as reader participants, and may not represent the views of Pacific University, the United Church of Christ’s national offices in Cleveland or any local UCC congregation. External links made from this site should not construe an endorsement. Rev. Currie has no more editorial control over such content than does a public library, bookstore, or newsstand. Such external links are made for informational purposes only.