Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Be Counted!

Now is the time for the voiceless to have a voice, the overlooked to be seen, the underrepresented to have representation, the nameless to be named. It is time for every one of us to be counted in the US Census.
The Census, which occurs every ten years, has far reaching effects in our communities. Census numbers redefine the boundaries of legislative districts, which impacts our political voice, as well as the distribution of $400 billion in federal funds a year ($4 trillion a decade!), which support essential services and impact the quality of life of us all.

This is why we at Glide celebrate the efforts of census workers to count everyone, especially low-income and homeless persons through this service based enumeration operation which will occur at Glide and across San Francisco over the next three days.

Too many in the Glide family know intimately the impact of not being seen or heard. Because of race, because of economic status, because of disabilities, because of the lack of permanent housing, their lives and needs are often forgotten. That is why we encourage everyone in our community to be counted! This is a time of empowerment! This is the chance to be seen and heard! This is a chance to take a place at the table called America!

We need every man, woman, and child to be included in this census. The well-being of us all depends on each one of us taking the time to participate. The family portrait of America is incomplete unless we all are in it. Be seen, be heard, be counted!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ReThink WHAT??!!

I was making my way to Glide one morning, and when I stopped off BART at the Powell Street station, I looked around and saw that the station had been plastered with "RETHINK" ads.  I was excited to see this that The United Methodist "Rethink Church" campaign had invested to much in marketing in San Francisco.  Rethink Church is a four-year marketing strategy "to invite the church and those unchurched who seek spiritual fulfillment, to become more outwardly focused and engaged in the world." 

Well, imagine my surprise when I saw that these RETHINK ads had nothing to do with the church. They were for Bare Escentuals, a make-up company! 

I began to think about these two RETHINK campaigns.  The church is experiencing an aging membership, empty pews, and the inability to sustain mission and ministry due to decreased donations. 

I believe that the church possesses a life-giving message of transformation and liberation, so needed in our day and age! But too many of our churches have become museums and historical relics of a by-gone era.  Instead of looking unflinchingly at the world and seeing where faithful witness is needed, the church has turned inward.  Instead of engaging as bold disciples and offering the world ministries of compassion and justice, the church has too often turned its back on the cries of God's children.

I am glad The United Methodist Church is calling us to RETHINK the church...my only hope is that it is not a slick make-over job or a glossy cover-up.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Musing While Meandering

The other day I took a walk on a bike path near my home. Looking over at a building, I noted that someone had scrawled a message on it:

The irony of seeing this Marxist slogan ("From each according to his ability; to each according to his need") during a time of bitter debate over health care in America made me chuckle.  Conservatives have been utilizing scare tactics (death panels and increased costs) and screaming about the evils of socialism.  I trust that those conservatives who are standing against health care reform are not basing it on their religious conviction. As one astute blog writer asked: "I can't think of one religious reason against health care reform--can you?"  The writer reminded us that religious traditions all hold a basic concern with the well-being of persons.  Affordable, accessible health care is a pretty basic requirement in order to provide a foundation for well-being.

When I read scripture, I see that care for the poor and most vulnerable among us is a sacred duty.  In fact, those of us with wealth have much to answer for.  Jesus rebukes the rich young ruler who wanted to follow him. Jesus tells him all he has to do is "Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor." (Luke 18:22). 

The early church took this to heart. In the book of Acts, we are told that "the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need." (Acts 4:32-35).

The rich sold their possessions and gave it for the common good??? Not a needy person among them??? One has to wonder if Marx had read Acts...and if conservatives simply skipped over that part of the Bible.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who is Really Ruining Marriage and Destroying the Family?

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has, in response to marriage equality in DC, chosen to drop spousal health care benefits for its employees. Additionally, they have dropped their foster/adoption program.  The reason is that the Catholic Church does not recognize same-gender-loving couples and is unwilling to extend health care to the spouses of their gay and lesbian employees. Additionally, they are not willing to place children in houses of married gay or lesbian couples.

I find this so troubling. Jesus helps us redefine family, extending our notion of who is and who is not family far beyond our comfort zone.  Jesus embraced the outcast, the unlovely and unlovable, extending love and a healing touch even to the untouchables.  Here, Jesus points, are my sisters and brothers...all who do the will of God.

The Catholic Church has now chosen to pull the plug on the well-being of the families of its employees. Additionally, it is turning its back the cries of children who long for permanent, forever families. 

While conservative pundits warn that marriage equality will spell the ruin of marriage and destroy the family, it seems like the ones who are doing that are conservatives themselves!