Archive for the ‘justice’ Tag

Two more BRAND NEW Carols from OZ   Leave a comment

Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic responses, shares, and praise for George Stuart’s lyrics! In response, George has written two BRAND NEW sets of lyrics.  More Christmas than Advent, one is to the tune of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and the other is to the tune “The First Nowell.”

In keeping with LtQ’s encouragement to actually read the birth narratives in the Bible (see our “Version Births” Christmas Pageant for children), these carols stick to each gospel’s unique story without blurring the lines.

We think you’ll find the theological perspective, the inclusive language, the social justice bent, and the keeping of the two stories separate as refreshing as we have.

Thank you, George!

Matthew’s Story

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: Mendelssohn (77.77 D with Refrain) 
“Hark the herald angels sing”

As we ponder Christmas tales,
And a hope that never fails,
We give thanks for all new birth,
Wondrous miracle of earth;
Jesus, helpless, meek and mild;
New born baby, undefiled;
Mary’s, Joseph’s great delight;
Jesus grows to be ‘The Light’;
In his human-ness we see
What our lives can truly be.

Ancient stories set the stage
For this humble Jewish sage;
Wise men come; look for a king
With the precious gifts they bring;
Herod was perplexed when told
What their searching could unfold;
Blameless infants must be killed;
Scripture thus, can be fulfilled;
Modern Herods work against
All that loving has commenced.

In a house is where they find
Jesus, born of humankind;
Frankincense and myrrh and gold
Are their gifts; and we behold
Jesus and his star so bright
Shines for us each day and night;
So for infants born today
Stars shine brightly as they play.
Deeds of love are gifts we bring;
Joyful praises we now sing.

Luke’s story

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: The First Nowell  (Meter: Irregular)  
“The First Noel”

When Christmas comes it brings great joy;
This story of a baby boy;
These tales that tell of this new birth;
The miracle of Mother Earth;
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

No room was found for this young maid;
She felt alone and quite afraid;
A shed was where his birth took place;
It was unclean, a sad disgrace;
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

Some shepherds woke and searched to find
A baby born to humankind;
They felt at home where herds would feed;
These outcasts were the lowest breed.
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

So all are welcome to the stall;
For us, this is the gospel call.
We join to lift the chorus swell;
For God is here; Emmanuel.
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

 

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

Lyrics by George Stuart. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Without any further permission, the lyrics herein can be copied, stored or printed for public worship or private devotions, screened through a data projector or projected by an overhead projector, as required.

When the lyrics are used, acknowledgement of the author is requested.

There is however, a strict copyright prohibition regarding copying any of the lyrics in any way whatsoever for re-sale.

Seriously. A New (and Singable) Advent Hymn   1 comment

More and more, practitioners of Progressive Christianity are speaking out about the beloved but threadbare hymns in current denominational hymnals. Most are intolerable. The rest are downright counter-productive to the foundations of 21st century faith. As George Stuart has noted, these traditional hymns use lyrics and words that “express ideas which singers no longer enthusiastically or wholeheartedly endorse,” resulting in “much personal irritation” from “a growing and significant number of people.” The result has been Stuart’s efforts to use traditional hymn tunes to be the vehicles of contemporary, progressive Christian ideas.

“I write my alternative lyrics particularly for many of the older members of congregations who have grown up in the church and love the many old tunes they have sung over the years, but who now find that the traditional words are no longer meaningful, helpful or even tolerable.”

— George Stuart

As Bishop John Shelby Spong says that Stuart’s work “meets a critical demand. It is terrific,” here’s just one example of Stuart’s poetry: an Advent hymn called “The Search for Hope.”

The Search for Hope

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: Darwall (66.66.88)
[“Rejoice, the Lord Is King” #715 in the United Methodist Hymnal]

1. We search for lasting hope
To help us face each day,
To give us reason to pursue a different way.
In Christ we see
A way to go through ‘high’ and ‘low’
And set us free.

2. Sometimes the hope we want
Is difficult to find;
It falls to us to foster it in heart and mind.
In Christ we know
A path to tread through peace and dread
And help us grow.

3. When others seem to break
When hope seems at an end,
We may be able to give hope
just as a friend.
In Christ we share
A call to be in ministry,
To love and care.

4. Hope brings us back to life
In hope we can proceed;
God of the future calls to us if we but heed.
In Christ we view
How God can reign in our domain;
Make all things new.

5. This Christmas brings new hope
For justice, peace, goodwill;
This Advent time may bring with it a secret thrill.
With Jesus born
New hope can be reality
With each new dawn.

 

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

Lyrics by George Stuart. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Without any further permission, the lyrics herein can be copied, stored or printed for public worship or private devotions, screened through a data projector or projected by an overhead projector, as required.

When the lyrics are used, acknowledgement of the author is requested.

There is however, a strict copyright prohibition regarding copying any of the lyrics in any way whatsoever for re-sale.

 

Refusing to Reflect Anger Back into the World   Leave a comment

Marley How Can I

 

Hugh SherlockWhat do Bob Marley and Hugh Sherlock have to do with one another? The Rev. Hugh Sherlock was a Jamaican, a Methodist minister, the first President of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas — and, of all things, author of Jamaica’s National Anthem. He also ran a boys’ club in the shanty towns of Kingston. “Operation Friendship” he called it. And it was in such a township, under the tutelage of Christian teachers, that Bob Marley lived. That’s where he formed his political and social views. That’s where he developed his music. And that’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that, through his music, he wanted to address the society around him.

Reggae became the soul music of Black Caribbean people. And it became the vehicle for giving black people their pride. The only way black people could be superior to whites, argued Marley, was by refusing to practice the racism of white people. Marley was a peaceful, gentle, man who’d known great suffering but refused to reflect anger back into a world that had already seen too much of it.

Bob Marley ShotTwo days before Bob Marley was scheduled to perform at the “Smile Jamaica” peace rally, a gunman came to his house and shot Marley and several others. Despite his injuries, he walked out on the stage and wowed the crowd for 90 minutes. Impressed by his determination, somebody asked him, “Why?” He said, “The people who are trying to make this world worse are not taking a day off.
How can I?

From the authors of “Living the Questions: The  Wisdom of Progressive Christianity”  www.livingthequestions.com

Bob Marley portrait by Scott Guion (c) 2006. Visit Scott’s website by clicking HERE.

Crossan on Structural Injustice – be it Vineyard OR Fast Food Workers   Leave a comment

STRIKE-McDonalds-v2As fast food workers strike across the U.S., the idea of structural injustice takes center stage:  low-wage fast food workers are pitted against owners who feel confident that if their current employees are unhappy, there are plenty of other people who are desperate enough to take the non-living wages they offer without complaint.  Jesus had something to say about that.  In First Light, Living the Questions’ DVD curriculum on “Jesus and the Kingdom of God,” Dom Crossan and Marcus Borg explore the culture and times in which Jesus lived.  For Labor Day here in the U.S., here’s an excerpt from the participant guide: John Dominic Crossan reflecting on the structural injustices that Jesus is critiquing in the parable of The Vineyard Workers.

vineyard_workers_cropped_medTHE VINEYARD WORKERS.

Imagine, for example, how that process worked in an oral delivery of the Vineyard Workers in Matthew 20:1-16. It is harvest time in the vineyards and a landowner goes to the marketplace to hire day laborers. But instead of hiring all he needed at once, he went out five times—at 6am, 9am, 12 noon, 3pm, and 5pm. (Are you already sensing a comment on his character in that procedure?).

At the end of the day, all alike are given a silver denarius for a full day’s pay. They grumble immediately about the landowner’s injustice. And, from Matthew on, we tend to focus on that problem of personal and individual justice or injustice. Was it fair? Was the owner equitably generous or provocatively condescending? And in focusing there, we do not focus elsewhere.

But think about this interchange: “About five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard’” (20:6-7). How would Jesus’ listeners—especially poor day-laborers—have responded to that interaction? Would nobody from the oral audience have objected to such a blatant blaming the victim? Would nobody have protested that looking for work all day was not laziness?

What would have happened in such a discussion was a raising of the audience’s consciousness on the difference between, in our language, personal and individual justice or injustice as against systemic or structural justice and injustice. Why did it happen mysteriously that, even at high harvest in the vineyards when labor should have cost top denarius, day-laborers were still looking for work at the end of the day? And, of course, the owner knew that situation full well since he had tried all day to have just the amount of labor needed and no more. He knew he could go out as late as 5pm and still find workers. How did things happen just as the landowners wanted?

The audience would have been lured by that story into thinking, debating, and understanding the crucial distinction between individual charity (a denarius for each) and structural justice (no work for all), and in that collaborative process they would—Jesus hoped and intended—begin the collaborative process of eschatological transformation with a God of distributive justice.

— Dom Crossan excerpt (from First Light reader) © 2010, livingthequestions.com, “Vineyard Workers” graphic by Ky Betts

FirstLight4First Light is a 12-session DVD and web-based study of the historical Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Follow John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, two of the world’s leading Jesus scholars, on location throughout the Galilee and Jerusalem as they ask, “Why did Jesus happen when he happened?” “Why the tiny villages around the Lake?” “Why were the titles of Caesar Augustus — Divine, Son of God, God from God, Lord, Redeemer, Liberator, and Savior of the World — taken from a Roman emperor and given to a Jewish peasant?”

John Dominic Crossan says that First Light “is all I have to say about Jesus after half a century of study — in succinct summary.”

Crossan for webJohn Dominic Crossan is one of the world’s most respected Jesus scholars and author of numerous books, including “Jesus, a Revolutionary Biography” & “God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now.”  He is featured in a number of Living the Questions programs, including “First Light” and “Eclipsing Empire.”  In 2012, Crossan served as the President of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)

An Antidote to Suspicion and Fear   Leave a comment

MLK promise

“Martin Luther King may have never made it to the promised land, but the vision of that promise inspired him to do everything he could to get there.

That vision — that promise — requires of us what it required of King: to be in solidarity with the poor, to counter the idolatry of wealth, to practice non-violence, and to seek justice and inclusivity in a culture dominated by suspicion and fear.”

Book Cover high resFrom “Living the Questions:
The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity”
by David M. Felten & Jeff Procter-Murphy

“Felten and Procter-Murphy give voice to a faith that provides a profound alternative to the dominant ideology of ‘American Christianity.’ Attention should be paid!”  – Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary

www.livingthequestions.com

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