The God of our Redeeming is the God of our Action, in English and Spanish

IN ENGLISH (SCROLL DOWN FOR SPANISH)

The God of our redeeming is the God of our action.

To Cain’s retort to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God responds that the blood of Abel cries out from the earth itself. If Cain is not Abel’s keeper, who is? The Beloved Community starts with our creation in the image of God.

Throughout the Old Testament tradition God reminds the Hebrew people that they are to take care of the orphan, widow and alien among them, for they were aliens in Egypt and God redeemed them from the land of slavery. Their memory of Egypt and God’s acts in the Exodus informs their ethic concerning the vulnerable in the land. The nature of the God they follow becomes the nature of their own beloved community—one predicated on liberation of the oppressed. The Beloved Community is built by living in this world as God lives with us. The God of their redeeming is the God of their action.

Jesus borrows from Isaiah 61 to describe his own ministry as one of healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, liberating captives and proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord. Exodus themes are expanded to include all who are oppressed. If this is what Jesus does for us, in Matthew 25 we are enjoined to care for the least of these (the vulnerable ones) for in doing so we care for him. The Beloved Community is lived in self-giving love, following the example of Jesus. The God of our redeeming is the God of our action.

St. Paul describes the Church as those who are called out of death into life. That life is expressed in the freedom of loving service, which is the only life consistent with the grace we have received. The writer of Hebrews reminds us to welcome the stranger, for in doing so we entertain angels. The Beloved Community is a life of freedom in love. The God of our redeeming is the God of our action.

The Scriptural tradition of welcoming the stranger as an expression of the Beloved Community is anticipated in Augustine of Hippo’s The City of God, and is woven into the fabric of the Benedictine tradition of welcoming all who come as if they were Christ himself.

Meister Ekhart, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, all in their way welcome the presence of God in everyone and everything, especially in the most vulnerable, serving them in God’s name. The Beloved Community is found everywhere, if we but have eyes to see and ears to hear. The God of our redeeming is the God of our action.

Richard Hooker’s Via Media sought to embrace opposite positions that saw themselves as hostile to one another. The Caroline Divines’ quiet piety emphasized a humble approach to the other. Activists like F. D. Maurice built a socially sensitive Gospel and laid the foundation for later writers. The Beloved Community is faithful to itself to the degree that it attends to the needy. The God of our redeeming is the God of our action.

Bonhoeffer, Thurman, King, Gutierrez, De Chardin, Brueggeman, the Roman Catholic Bishops in the Declaration of Medillin of 1968, Richard Rohr, the number of writers of our own age resound the same theme. All of God’s creation has been invited into the Beloved Community, and the duty of that community is to reflect the God of its creation. The God of our redeeming is the God of our action.

IN SPANISH:

El Dios de nuestra redención es el Dios de nuestra acción.

La respuesta de Caín a Dios, ¿Soy cuidador de mi hermano? Dios responde que la sangre de Abel lamenta desde el suelo. Si Caín no es cuidador de su hermano, ¿quién es? La Comunidad Amada comienza con nuestra creación en la imagen de Dios.

A través la tradición del Antiguo Testamento Dios recuerda al pueblo hebreo que hay que cuidar del forastero y extranjero porque fueron ellos extranjeros en Egipto, y Dios les redimió de la tierra de esclavitud. Su memoria de Egipto y los actos de Dios en el Éxodo informa su ética acerca de los más vulnerables. La naturaleza del Dios que adoran llega a ser la naturaleza de su comunidad amada, predicada sobre la liberación de los oprimidos. La Comunidad Amada se construye viviendo en el mundo así como Dios vive con nosotros. El Dios de nuestra redención es el Dios de nuestra acción.

Jesús presta palabras de Isaías 61 para describir su propio ministerio en sanar al enfermo, abrir los ojos del ciego, liberar a los cautivos y proclamar el año aceptable del Señor. Temas del Éxodo se expanden a incluir a todo oprimido. Si esto es lo que Jesús hace a favor de nosotros, en Mateo 25 nos manda cuidara de los más pequeños (los más vulnerables,) porque en cuidar de ellos cuidamos de él. Al Comunidad Amada se vive en amor sacrificial, siguiendo el ejemplo de Jesús. El Dios de nuestra redención es el Dios de nuestra acción.

San Pablo describe a la iglesia en términos de los que son llamados de la muerte a la vida. Esa vida se expresa en la libertad de servicio en amor, que es la única vida consistente con la gracia que hemos recibido. El escritor de hebreos nos recuerda que debemos recibir al extranjero porque así recibimos a ángeles. La Comunidad Amada es una vida en la libertad del amor. El Dios de nuestra redención es el Dios de nuestra acción.

La tradición de las sagradas escrituras de recibir al forastero y extranjero como expresión de la Comunidad Amada se anticipa en la obra de Agustino de Hippo, La Ciudad de Dios, y se ha tejido íntegramente en la tela de la tradición benedictina de dar la bienvenida al extranjero, sea quien sea, como si fuera Cristo mismo.

Meister Ekhart, Juliana de Norwich, Hildegard de Bingen, Francisco de Assis, Ignacio de Loyola, todos a su manera dan la bienvenida a la presencia de Dios en todos y en todo, especialmente en los más vulnerables, sirviéndolos en nombre de Dios. La Comunidad Amada se encuentra en todas partes para los que tienen ojos para mirar y oídos para oir. El Dios de nuestra redención es el Dios de nuestra acción.

La Via Media de Ricardo Hooker buscaba una manera de extender una bienvenida a los que se miraban con antipatía. Los divinos carolinos, cuya piedad tranquila, enfatizaban un acercamiento humilde al ajeno. Activistas como F. D. Maurice construyeron un evangelio sensible a la realidad social y establecieron fundamentos para otros escritores. La Comunidad Amada es fiel a sí mismo a medida de que atiende a los necesitados. El Dios de nuestra redención es el Dios de nuestra acción.

Bonhoeffer, Thurman, King, Gutierrez, De Chardin, Brueggeman, la declaración de los obispos Católico-Romanos en Medillín de 1968, Ricardo Rohr—cuántos escritores de nuestros tiempos resuenan el mismo tema. A toda la creación se ha extendido la invitación a ser parte de la Comunidad Amada, y el deber de esa comunidad es reflejar el Dios de su creación. El Dios de nuestra redención es el Dios de nuestra acción.

The Rev. Dr. Paul Moore
Rio Grande Borderland Ministries
Diocese of the Rio Grande

Sacred Ideals

This is a slightly modified version of a sermon given by Rev. Dr. Paul Moore on July 1, 2018 at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Silver City, NM:

Six years ago, today was my first Sunday at Good Shepherd Church. In these six years things have changed a bit. Our attendance is up. Our diversity is up. Our outreach programs span the whole southern part of the Diocese and reach into Mexico and Honduras. We are known and respected in the community as a force for good. We are safe for people who don’t necessarily feel safe in worshipping communities. I thank God for the times we’ve had together and look forward to some exciting things to come. It’s always important to stop and look back. When we tell the story of where we’ve been we know where to go.

In the Old Testament, remembering lies at the very heart of what it means to be Jewish. Over and over again God reminds the people, “I am the one who brought you up out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Therefore, take care of the orphan, the widow and the alien among you because you were aliens in Egypt.” God gave them life in place of death, and they were to remember, and do the same. Looking back told the Israelites how to move into the future.

St. Paul challenges the Christians in Corinth to share in the relief of the Christians in Jerusalem generously. It is an act of remembering. God had generously shared salvation with them. Now fellow Christians are suffering in Jerusalem and are in need. The proper response to the generosity of God is to be generous. Looking back told the early Christians how to move into the future.

In Mark 5 Jesus calms a storm, showing himself to be the One who calms the storms within and without. He goes on to calms the storm for a grieving family and a desperately sick woman. Because he has, in a sense, looked back and touched base with who he is, he knows how to move forward. Like the grandmother in “Moana,” you can almost hear the Father whispering to Jesus, “People have forgotten who they are, but you, remember who you are! Now go and live that into a world that has forgotten.”

Remembering who we are as Christians lays the foundation for remembering who we are as Americans. We are a nation of immigrants. My ancestors came seeking freedom from oppression and a better life. I would bet that your story is not a whole lot different. If life in the home country had been good, your how-many-greats grandparents wouldn’t have left, but they did, and they found a home here. The African American Church uses the story of Moses to tell of their own continuing journey out of slavery into freedom. The same God who took the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land is the God who has brought us together in a community of faith to journey together. The values of life and freedom that inform our American ideal also inform our Christian calling. Looking back shows us where we are to go.

We have a crisis on our borders with people fleeing homes that have become places of death. Like our ancestors, they are seeking life and freedom. We hear rhetoric they are mostly violent criminals, but for every violent criminal that enters the US there are two native-born. The other 97% are fleeing what we would also flee from.

Looking back, we know where to go: There are constitutional protections and provisions by international law that call for treating these people as “orphans, widows and aliens,” in the ancient tradition of Israel and as Jesus’ “least of these.” Our own Statue of Liberty invites the world to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” for she holds the lamp beside the golden door.

Whatever one’s political persuasion might be is immaterial, blindly turning asylum-seekers back with no due process and separating their children from them cannot be justified by Scripture, tradition or even reason. Leaked sources indicate that, in spite of claims to the contrary, child-care in the detention centers is NOT adequate. The children cannot be touched, they cannot be held, and the one thing they need is not being provided: their families! It is sinful, it is unjust, and it forgets who we are.

A government official, justifying the separations, was heard to say, “But these are not OUR children.” Her words sound hauntingly like Cain’s retort to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” to which the silent reply resounds, “And if you are not, who is?” They are human beings created in the image of God like you and me. They have come seeking life and liberty, the same as our ancestors. If we claim to follow the God of Moses and the God of Jesus, if we hold dear the values of life and liberty that are woven into the very fabric of the American ideal, then we must care for them as if they were our own, for they are. And we must work to restore to the places from which they flee peace, hope, safety and dignity.

I fear that we have forgotten who we are. Let us remember that the underlying ideals of human dignity and freedom that undergird our nation are also central to our Christian faith, and every major religious tradition of the world. A great America is a generous America, a humble America and a kind America, that, remembering its roots, has the courage to extend the same grace that we received to those who come seeking it. As Christians, let us work to make America great again by working to reclaim the sacred ideals that light the lamp beside the golden door.