Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On the backs of...

I'll be offering a few reflections over the next week or so in light of the painfully prophetic preaching of Marvin Williams. He has challenged us greatly the last 2 weeks at White Hill...I mean...Mars Hill. Marvin is one of the lead pastors at Tabernacle Communiy Church in the Alger Heights area of Grand Rapids. It is one of the few churches in Grand Rapids that is achieving any real racial diversity. It's a church Christine and I will be visiting very soon.

I won't rehash everything that Marvin said. You are much better off listening to it yourself (www.mhbcmi.org).

How many of you get into doing the whole "family tree" thing? You know who you are. You've got a favorites folder called "jeanie-ology" and you've planned stops into local libraries when you are back home visiting relatives. You are a regular private eye and are able to trace your ancestral heritage back to Methusela. If you are this person...or any derivation of this kind of person...then beware. Your historical searches may uncover something that you don't want to find. And if your conscience gets a hold of that information, you're toast.

At the end of Marvin's first sermon on 8/6 he hit us with a couple of challenges. Marvin suggested we do something I had never dreamed of doing. He suggested that for some of us we need to do some truth-seeking in our own histories. We need to meander through the lives of our ancestors and do some detective work. In many ways, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. The question is...Were they standing on the backs of the poor, downcast, underprivileged, or marginalized?

Do you have the kind of opportunity and financial security today because of a father who was a real estate guru who participated in an economic system that kept the poor down?

Do you have the status and education today because of a great-great-great grandfather who was a slave trader...or who got wealthy off of the free labor that slaves were forced to give?

Perhaps someone in your family was a banker or a store owner during the Dust Bowl Years and charged unusually high rates of interest on the very populations who could not afford them. Has their wealth been passed down to you in any way?

WARNING: If you think that doing such a history will tie you to the perpetuation of oppression and marginalization, then DO NOT READ LUKE 19. In Luke 19 you will meet Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector that got rich "on the backs" of the locals who could not afford the usury being ascribed to them. He not only participates in an ecomomic system that keeps people down, he rapes them over and beyond what they owe to Caesar. But Zacchaeus has an encouter with ONE who does not stand for injustice or the oppression of the poor. And on the day that salvation comes to this tax collector, he gives half of his possessions to the poor and pays back 4 x's the amount to anyone he has cheated.

Salvation has come to Zacchaeus...Restitiution has come to the oppressed...Redemption has come to the world.

How has your history brought you to where you are today?
Where will investigating your history take you tomorrow?

Come salvation...come restitution...come redemption...come!

10 Comments:

At 9:41 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Dear Pastor Mutch,
This is a very good summary of Marvin Williams challenging message. Thank you!

 
At 2:41 AM, Anonymous curt said...

Zacchaeus breaks the evangelical mold. We can look back 10 generations or we can look into our own hearts.

 
At 8:04 AM, Blogger Greg said...

curt, either/or...both/and?

 
At 8:44 PM, Anonymous curt said...

Yes

 
At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg, how have you been? I really do miss some of the conversations we have had in the past. I hope all is well with you.

before you ask (if you were going to (truth be told I am going through a rough time right now and working through some issues (as usual) and also the issue of trust with other people. but enough about me, let me know whats up with you.

have a good one.
Alan

 
At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very challenging and thoughtful. I never thought of family history and monetary enrichment in that way. It would shake many a family's sense of righteousness.

...an ancestor

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sobering thoughts, Greg; thank you for your post. On the flip side, I have also found that people have sometimes used the supposedly sainted background of their ancestors and/or their Christian heritage to feel that they were much farther ahead than Christians without generations behind them, so apparently we humans can even take an exercise such as this one and turn it into yet another occasion for false pride! As someone with both saints and sinners galore in the ancestral family tree, I, too, have struggled to figure out where my responsibility begins and ends in all of it...

Cara

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sobering thoughts, Greg; thank you for your post. On the flip side, I have also found that people have sometimes used the supposedly sainted background of their ancestors and/or their Christian heritage to feel that they were much farther ahead than Christians without generations behind them, so apparently we humans can even take an exercise such as this one and turn it into yet another occasion for false pride! As someone with both saints and sinners galore in the ancestral family tree, I, too, have struggled to figure out where my responsibility begins and ends in all of it...

Cara

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Greg said...

yes, Cara, it can definitely go both ways. We can think too little of the "downsides" of our post and too much of the "upsides." So, I'd say the responsibiity of the community around us...those we really trust...is to figure out what we are most in need of at any given time. If I find myself in affluence, maybe my friends need to make sure that I don't get too lofty...and when I find myself really struggling, they need to remind me of the great things in my life, past and present.

thanks for weighing in

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Jack said...

wow. yet again I'm encouraged by what's going on in G.R. That message is so radical and so opposite the: I worked hard and got what I deserved and everyone else is just lazy rhetoric flying around.

The "rub" is: what next? What steps does one put into action: charity, empowerment, advocacy?

Peace

 

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