The Way Forward through the lens of “Right Intention” and the Connection of Jesus and Buddha

January 14, 2019

I was listening to a local radio station the other day and the host was talking about this fall and winter here in Omaha. He was speaking to the fact that he had never been able to get the leaves raked in his yard because of the rain and now snow that keeps coming. Just about the time he thought things had dried out enough to rake, here came another round of moisture preventing him from getting the job done.

I remember thinking to myself, “Yes, that’s why I haven’t managed to get the leaves picked up out of our yard too! It’s the rain and snow’s fault!” Friday, I had minimal tasks to do around the house, one of which was to take the outdoor Christmas lights down, which I did. The whole time I was outside unclipping them from the gutters and gathering the extension cords I was looking at the yard thinking, I should get the leaves picked up. Of course, then it was time to drive downtown and have lunch with TruDee, our Friday tradition. Then I had some other tasks to do in the house, you know like, do a little laundry, send some emails, …take a nap. The next thing you know TruDee is home from work and it is starting to get dark and then…well…yesterday morning, that dang snow again! I am the king of procrastination.  I saw a saying the other day, “If a man says he’ll do something he’ll do it. No need to remind him every six months about it.” It’s easy to blame the weather for the fact I still have the oak leaves in my yard now under the snow again, but obviously it is not the weather’s fault.

I think about the parable of Jesus we read this morning about the two sons in relation to our topic this morning, Right Intention. One son says he will do something and does not, a procrastinator. The other son says he will not do it and does, perhaps even a procrastinator of sorts himself. Which one, Jesus asks, does the will of his father? Well, the obvious answer is the second son who actually does the work. This parable could certainly be seen in light of intention. Perhaps even pointing to that tired cliché “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Perhaps, at least in this sense… having good intentions is not a way to practice our faith or life and place in the world. It is one thing to say we are an advocate and ally for justice, peace, compassion, and love in the world around us…but if our actions, practice, and lives do not reflect those ideals, the intention become empty hollow words. So, in terms of this parable and the concept of intentions there is truth to this, we are challenged in this story of Jesus to do what we say we are going to do, be who you claim you are, words are just words unless the come to life in and through your practice in the world.

While this is true, and it does relate to our theme and message for today, I think we need to take it deeper. Last week we talked about Right Mindfulness, if you were here perhaps you recall my suggesting Mindfulness can be seen as rather the foundational piece of the Eight Fold path we are working through. A presence of mind, a constant reminder to stay in the moment without judgement, a way to be in the world and hold all things in tension, embrace them for what they are; good, bad, ugly… and then release them. It is an appropriate segue into Right Intention, related in an inseparable way. For if we are mindful enough to hold all things in tension in this present moment, perhaps the question we ask ourselves is… what is our intent. In Buddhist thought, right intention is the intention and resolve to give up the causes of suffering, to give up ill-will and to adopt harmlessness. It contrasts with wrong intention, which involves craving for worldly things (wealth, sex, power) and the wish to harm. In this sense, right intention then, can become more than what we do or do not do… it becomes who we are and how we see and practice in the world. Right intention becomes the lens through which we see the world around us as we not only give up the causes of suffering (attachment) for ourselves, but alleviate suffering for others. Right intention become a part of our state of being and how we are present in this moment that we and others can draw from as we practice as well.

The Buddha said, “When you see someone practicing the Way of giving, aid them joyously, and you will obtain vast and great blessings.” A shramana asked, “Is there an end to those blessings?” The Buddha said, “Consider the flame of a single lamp. Though a hundred thousand people come and light their own lamps from it so that they can cook their food and ward off the darkness, the first lamp remains the same as before. Blessings are like this too.”

We are to be light in the world…in the moment that alleviates suffering, release ill-will, and to do no harm…which stirs others to be the same. I think of another parable of Jesus which takes the parable of the two sons deeper… the parable of the Samaritan who came upon the traveler beaten on the side of the road. The Samaritan tends to the stranger, cares for his wounds, provides shelter for him, and promises to return. The Samaritan has alleviated suffering, carries no ill-will, and does no harm, he is present in the moment without judgement of this man who presumably does not hold the same beliefs as himself, and yet he cares for him with no restraint or concern for what he himself believes either…other than a lens of compassion he obviously carries with him…the “lighted lamp” so to speak, others can draw from without diminishing the giver or the one who receives.

I think herein is where we can encounter difficulty in our own journey and practice, or at least I can. This practice of mindfulness and intention holding no judgement but rather is guided by compassion and non-violence, of word and deed. I would suggest right intention in Buddhist thought can be seen as a lens through which we approach the world. I suspect, based on the stories of Jesus we have, similar thought would be present there as well. Jesus, while turning over tables and making a whip out of cords were obviously in his tool box, he never walked away…he remained engaged with those he disagreed. Challenged them yes, resisted them yes, exampled for them yes, taught them yes, but never abandoned them. His “intention,” I believe, was always to alleviate suffering, release ill-will, and to adopt harmlessness.

This intention as a lens…as a posture and practice in the world…a way of being that holds the whole of the world in a place of peace making and reconciliation. Intention is the compassionate lens through which we are called to see and act and respond. Do you remember Jesus words in his sermon in Matthew… “Do not judge.” “Do not love only those who love you but love your enemies as well?” Intention then becomes less about what we do and more about who we are and how we are present in the world. Present to those around us for not only what we bring, but from what can we learn from them and the world, even those with whom we may vehemently disagree.

I remember several years ago I was taking a class at a Buddhist Sangha. Sitting on a cushion on the floor listening to the teacher a fly began buzzing around my head. I shooed it numerous times and it was really becoming an annoyance, it was a very persistent fly and I am not sure why it picked me out of the group of students in the class at the time, but it had. After numerous attempts to catch it, which in hindsight I am glad I didn’t, and numerous shooing’s… the teacher, Namdril, finally asked, “Kent, is that fly bothering you?” I apologized for interrupting the teaching, “So sorry, yes, it is a persistent one.” She answered, “Yes they are persistent and want to teach you, we call them our kind mothers…these flies, are teaching us patience and gratitude.” It is about our posture and presence in the world, our practice, and the lens through which we see and respond to those around us. What is our intent?

In the book, “The Chocolate Cake Sutra” by Geri Larken, the author speaks of everyone as holy… in the context of intention I would suggest, all things holy; everyone and everything. It is about mindfulness and how we intend to affect the environment in which we find ourselves. In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, “Being Peace,” he writes of peace making. He says, “If we align ourselves with one side or the other, we will lose our chance to work for peace.” He goes on, “If our true nature is to be interconnected selves, then our peacemaking, if it is going to be effective, must flow out of our interconnectedness. That includes our interconnectedness with the people whose actions we have to oppose.” It is about mindfulness and intention in the moment to alleviate suffering even from those who do not know they are suffering. In Knitter’s book, “Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian,” he writes of this intentional posture when he says, “[In the Buddhist] there is an aversion to violence, I believe for the Buddhist there is no such thing as “just anger.” Of course, we feel anger and it will motivate and direct our energies. But, for Buddhists, it will not determine what those energies lead to. We will not act out of anger. Rather, when anger surges, we will be mindful of it, and that means embrace it, be kind to it. Our anger will point us to those people or events which, through mindfulness…[intentional]…we will seek to respond to with understanding and compassion. Yes, we may have to oppose them, seek to stop them from their agendas, but our opposition will be one of non-violent resistance; that means compassionate resistance. One of the most quoted verses of the Dhammapada is: “In this world hatred is not dispelled by hatred; by love alone is hatred dispelled. This is eternal law.”

So, in this sense, Right Intention is a lens through which we see everything with compassion and love, even those things that we must resist. In Knitter’s book, he suggests Buddhist thought would be, “Justice will, as it were, take care of itself if compassion is truly present.” The lens of Compassionate Intention will not judge, will be mindful of the present moment, will resist non-violently, will stay engaged, and such presence will change the world for the common good of all.

I think about these things with our upcoming informational meetings, letter writing campaign, and our United Methodist Special Called General Conference on a Way Forward in February. At the Conference there will be three primary plans presented as a Way Forward of our denomination in relation to full inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer, plus…persons in our United Methodist Denomination. As I consider and reflect on the current state of things in the church, I see the plans as the United Methodist “Intention” of how they are going to relate to LGBTQ persons in our congregations and in ministry. The three primary plans are identified as The Traditionalist Plan, The Connectional Plan, and The One Church Plan.

The Traditionalist Plan leaves the current discriminatory language in our UM Discipline as well as adds more stringent penalties for those who do not abide by the rules regarding same gender weddings and ordination of LGBTQ clergy candidates. It also requires clergy, churches, conferences, and bishops to sign off on the language and if they refuse these will be invited to exit the denomination. In my opinion, this plan, if we use the language of Intention and Practice, is grounded in an intention of fear and judgement. It is a plan formulated with an intention that does not alleviate, I would say increases, suffering, promotes ill-will, and does harm to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in our congregations and the world at large. This is a lens of intention that does not follow the Way of compassion and love Jesus lived and taught.

The Connectional Plan is a plan that recreates the structure of the church in terms of conferences and jurisdictions. Creating a theological and philosophical divide where clergy churches can relate to conferences that fit their theology and view regarding LGBTQ persons role in the church. The conferences and jurisdictions will no longer be geographical in nature, but rather theological and philosophical in nature. While it follows some other models that seem to work well in other denominations it will take a great deal of constitutional changes to get it into place and I do not think it will pass any vote. For me, in terms of intention, I think it is a good intentional view of a way forward…but a complex and difficult journey at best.

The One Church Plan creates a denomination that also allows for differing theological viewpoints. In essence it creates local control and decision making. Each clergy, church, and conference will decide if they will or will not officiate or host same gender weddings or ordain LGBTQ persons in the church. I believe it is important that  you, our community of faith here at FUMC know where I stand, and of the three plans this is the one I support. I support it because it reflects the long history of the United Methodist Church of openness and conferencing. The One Church Plan brings to the table a mindfulness and intention of recognizing we do not all agree one this and makes room under a large tent non-judgement and compassion for both sides of our struggle. This plan gives opportunity to continue to practice patience, to hold in tension opposing viewpoints, to resist non-violently and compassionately, to stay engaged and not walk away from those we are called to love. The One Church Plan makes great strides to alleviate suffering, gives space to release ill-will, and offers hope in doing no harm.

Beginning Sunday, the 27th of this month and the next three Sundays, we here at FUMC will invite our entire congregation to participate in a letter writing campaign to delegates who will be voting at the General Conference in February. I hope we all participate, this is an important and crucial time for our denomination and our church. As one of, if not the, flagship Reconciling Congregation in Nebraska and our Annual Conference we need to make our voice heard and I believe of the plans to be brought before the Conference, we need to support the One Church Plan. We need to make our voice and our intention known at General Conference.

I think of the world in which we live today and the deep divisions we have across our country and in our church. There is too much vitriol, there is too much hate, there is too much walking away and not staying engaged. It is time we truly open ourselves, not to just those who agree with us, but engage and embrace all persons with compassion and love… for this is what will change the world for the common good of all. May it be so. May it be NOW. Amen.

Rev. Kent H. Little, Lead Clergy

First United Methodist Church, Omaha, NE

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We Can Be Better in 2019

December 31, 2018

I am here in the continued afterglow of the Season… of Christmas Eve Services, study, writing, sons and daughters-in-law, and three perfect granddaughters, life is good here in the Little home. It is New Year’s Eve day and I have been pondering this year past and what the new year might hold. I am hopeful about many things, and I am frustrated about many things as well.

My frustrations come from many venues. However, I think right now my main frustration is my continued attempts to understand our current administration and our President as well as those who so adamantly support him. I write this not to look for an argument or a debate, but mostly to vent a little and continue to try and understand. I watched as he mocked a disabled person, a war hero and former prisoner of war, a veteran’s family, women, promoted violence against those who would oppose him at rallies and found myself in disbelief that we would elect such a one.

Since his election I have watched and listened to him continue to diminish our allies, our courts, and our federal law enforcement agencies. Refusing to take advice from his advisors on things such as Syria or his own party on the proposed border wall. I have found myself rather aghast at his hesitation, or even seeming refusal to denounce white supremacy groups. His policies continue to threaten the safety of those who seek asylum in our country from other parts of the world that threaten life and livelihood. The list grows ever longer of things I see as injustice, xenophobic, a threat to the common good of all, and just honesty in general. Just recently he compared the wall he wishes to build on our border with Mexico with the ten-foot wall around President Obama’s current home…a wall that does not exist.

I know many who support President Trump, so much so to the point, it almost seems it doesn’t matter what he does or says. I want to understand, I really do, but now after listening to his speeches and reading news stories for nearly three years, I still cannot seem to wrap my head around what we were thinking or what he is thinking. I cannot decide if he is really just trying to distract the country, and if so, distract us from what or if he is just being intentionally obtuse. I see the struggle in our country and I think of a favorite movie of mine, Remember the Titans, and the struggle the team was having to come together at one point, Gerry tells Julius he needs to fix his attitude, Julius responds, “Attitude reflects leadership.” I don’t know, maybe that applies to us today, our leader is a mess…and thus…so are we.

All this being said, as 2019 rolls into the present, I will continue to keep President Trump in my prayers, our country in my prayers, and our world in my prayers. I will pray for understanding as I continue my unwillingness to settle and my commitment to actively resist any policy diminishing the poor, oppressed, discriminated against and the least of these in our midst.

With the continued struggle of the last few years I am still hopeful. I am hopeful because I find myself to be one who must be. I will continue to try and understand and listen more. However, I refuse to let fear, distrust, chaos, injustice, and violence of word and deed be a directing force in my life.

I believe, whether we are people part of a community of faith or not, we are all called as a community of humankind to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper…ALL of them, and especially those who are the poorest and most vulnerable among us. It takes all of us, yet the division that continues to be driven like a wedge among our fellow humankind in our country and our world will in the end destroy us unless we come together.

However, I believe more in the Kindom, the Beloved Community dreamed of by one of our finest…I believe in our country and our founding documents, I believe more in who we have been and who we can become more than I believe in who our current administration and government are. I refuse to believe we are stuck in this descending spiral of vitriol and disrespect. I am willing to extend a hand and have the difficult conversations to find a way out of this fog of disillusion.

We can be better in this 2019.

My hand is here. My heart is here. Let us begin again on this New Year.

Rev. Kent H. Little

The Magnificat; Love is Resistance!

December 23, 2018

We have journeyed through Advent this year through the lens of the wisdom of Mr. Rogers addressing the traditional themes of the season; Hope, Peace, Joy, and today…Love. Love. I confess sometimes I struggle a bit with the word itself. It seems to me in our culture and society, even in the church, there are times if not most of the time we have watered it down, relegated it to a gentle, non-threatening, innocuous, rose-colored glasses kind of sentiment. We use it in so many ways it can feel like it has lost its edge, like a once interesting, unique, rock in the rough after being polished smooth in a rock polishing machine. We love so many things now… I love coconut cream pie, I love my shoes, I love that haircut, to an entire car ad campaign, “Love, it’s what makes a Subaru.” Every time I see that ad, I want to say… “Really?” We have spread the use of the word love so thin it has lost its meaning.

To some degree…I think we can be in danger of doing the same thing with the whole of the traditional themes of Advent and Christmas. We have domesticated the season into a manageable and tame mawkish time of gentleness and warm fuzzies. We have turned hope from a driving force to a pie in the sky attitude, we have turned peace from an active way of life into individualistic isolation, we have turned joy from a frame of mind contagious to those around us to something that denies the struggles of life, and we have turned love from a foundation through which to change the world to a feeling that only feeds to ego.

Too many in the church, in society and culture, dismiss love as some kind of mushy, dreamy, emotion without force or cause. I have heard colleagues say to me, “All you liberals ever preach about is love, love, love.” To which I rely, “Well, yeah, what else is there?”  But too many have lost its edginess. Granted, it is still there if one looks for it… but we have done it to ourselves in a culture and society, in a church who refuses to do the difficult work of looking for the depths of the meaning in the simple nature of what love is suppose to be and look like.

Too many in the community of faith, this time of year, look at Mary’s song we read this morning and only hear her simple words of gratitude and the praising of God…

With all my heart I glorify God! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. The Divine has looked with favor on the low status of this servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is God’s name. God shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors God.

We celebrate the young woman who is pregnant with the child of God and sing songs and feel hope, peace, joy, and love in our hearts. And we leave our churches feeling warm and fuzzy and for too many of those who have worshipped on Sunday morning this time of year that is as far as it goes until the next week. Mary, meek and mild, humble, submissive, and obedient to the end, and this is where too many in our communities of faith end the reading.

As I pondered this simplistic notion of love and the season of Advent over the last couple of weeks, words of Mr. Rogers came to mind from the book of his sayings…

Love is like infinity: You can’t have more or less infinity, and you can’t compare two things to see if they’re ‘equally infinite.’ Infinity just is, and that’s the way I think love is, too. Perhaps you can hear him saying that in your mind like I can, the simple, inviting, gentle way he spoke and welcomed us into his home. I remembered an episode of Mr. Rogers that they spoke of in the documentary about his life. It was an episode in which he spoke of the many different ways we show or tell others we love them. The episode began simplistically and uneventful. Mr. Rogers arrives at home as he does every time, singing his song, putting on his sweater, and taking off his shoes. But this time he does something very different, he has a pair of “slippers” he calls them, I would have referred to them as flip flops but I suppose for a national television show slippers sounded more appropriate. Anyway, in this episode he takes off his socks too, he points out that it is different, that he has never done that before. He puts on the slippers and goes outside to soak his tired feet in a plastic wading pool. He says he has been thinking about the many ways we show or tell someone we love them. The camera shifts from Mr. Rogers sitting on a chair soaking his feet to images of children and adults being present to one another in wide variety of ways. This goes on for several minutes. One, like myself, might be carried off into their imagination of ways I have been told or shown I am loved or ways I have told or shown others I love them. It is a hopeful, peaceful, joyful, gentle journey through the memories in my mind, certainly sentimental.

Love in our faith tradition has been, or at least should be, the foundation of who we are. However, I recognize with the 40-some thousand expressions of Christianity in our world to ask each one of them to explain or define what love means, one may receive numerous definitions and explanations that may be similar or not and certainly not agree. We are in the midst of that right now in our own Global UMC, we are in the midst of that right now in our own country here in the U.S.A. What does love look like? What is it suppose to be? What is it suppose to do? Makes me think of the Tina Turner song… “What’s love got to do with it?”

In his book, God Believes in Love, Bishop Gene Robinson writes of the love of God… [The Divine] is all about love. Whatever is at the center of the universe, whatever gives meaning to creaturely existence, whatever we mean by “God,” it is all about love. There is no more fundamental belief among people of faith. Many adjectives are used in the holy texts of major religions to describe God – what God is like, as experienced by human beings, what God is apt to favor, what God abhors. In Christianity, God is defined quite simply in the [Second] Testament’s First Letter of John: “Love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

No religion can claim to know all there is to know about God. Each religion, and each practitioner of religion, can only claim to know a part of God. But this is a startling claim that the First Letter of John makes, that to love is to know God. I take this to mean that there is something about loving another that participates in the reality that is God. For those who desire to know the nature of God, indeed to “know” God, this is very significant because it plots a pathway to the Divine Mystery. It beckons to those who want to experience the divine: If you want to know God, you will find God in the loving of another.

According to Robinson, according to the Sufi Poet Rumi, according to our faith tradition, Love is all there is! And it is not some sentimental, rose colored glasses, emotion that is only about feeling good about ourselves and the world. Love is a world changing force for the common good of all. Love is edgy, love is challenge, love is prophetic, love changes us and the world from the inside out.

Too many in the church stop reading or stop listening after the first part of Mary’s song when she is praising God and giving gratitude to the power of God. They do not hear, or refuse to hear, the deeply political and prophetic words in her song… this is not a simplistic song just about humility and being favored, this is a song about the Kindom of God… the coming Way that will be… this is a song about Love… the love of God, the love of the world and the Love to which we are called to participate…

The Spirit has shown strength with its arm. God has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. The Divine has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. The Spirit has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.

Scattered the arrogant and the proud…pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly…filled the hungry and sent the rich away empty handed.

THIS is the Love of God. THIS is Love come down at Christmas. THIS is the coming one for which Mary sings.

Love is Resistance! Just Ask Mary….

As I continued to watch the episode of Mr. Rogers the images of those sharing loved ended and the scene cuts back to Mr. Rogers sitting and soaking his feet. About that time Officer Francois Clemmons comes strolling into Mr. Rogers yard. Mr. Rogers invites him to join in soaking his feet in the pool with him, retrieves a chair, and they both sit and visit about the day and about love. Francois sings a song about the many different ways of loving. Finally, he must leave, Mr. Rogers helps him dry his feet and away he goes. It is a statement about love. It is a statement about race relations as Francois is African American. Mr. Rogers is showing us love is not just some sentimental emotion… love is about taking a stand against those things that diminish and belittle love.

That being said, it is important to note that while Mr. Rogers was willing to take on racism at the time he was unwilling to address full inclusion of LGBTQ persons. Francois was gay, as a result the show would require him to stop going to a gay bar at which he had been seen and he would never be allowed to stay with the show as an out gay man. It would not be until years later Mr. Rogers would come around and be fully accepting and embrace Francois as he was.

It is an important lesson for us all, it is an important lesson for the church and in particular the United Methodist Church. It is a testament to the love that transformed Mr. Rogers’ heart to finally embrace Francois. It gives me hope for our denomination.

Mr. Rogers, in our context today…is taking a knee in solidarity with the those who are oppressed and discriminated against. And Mr. Rogers is a testament to the transformative power of love.

Love transforms us from the inside out and…

Love is resistance! Just Ask Mr. Rogers!

I look at our current state of church, not only the UMC but church in general and the exclusion and hate that is done in the name of love and I wonder where is the voice of Mary… where is the voice of Mr. Rogers? Where is the voice of the church who knows what love ought to be about? I look at the state of our nation and our administration and I wonder where the voice of the church is.

When children are ripped from their families filled with uncertainty and fear. When a 7-year-old Guatemalan Child turns ill and dies while in the custody of our government. When the government shuts down denying payroll to those who count on those wages and vouchers to pay their bills. When spending an estimated between 12 and 21 billion dollars [with a B] on a border wall…and we are told health care for all is too expensive, clean water can’t be cleaned up, sustainable energy is too costly, adequate housing can’t be provided… where is the resistance of the people of Mary, this prophet, this voice of one crying out to portend the Way things ought to be in the Kindom of God. This wall, this government shut-down, this treatment of immigrants and refugees, …these are not just political issues… these are moral issues… these are theological issues… these are children of God… each and every one of them. And the Love of Mary, the Love of God calls us into the fray this Christmas Season…to be a voice, to be active in the Way of Love.

Love is Resistance. It is So. It. Is. So.  Amen.

Rev. Kent H. Little

The Vulnerability of Christmas

December 23, 2018

Of course, this time of year I have been pondering, neck deep so to speak, the Advent and Christmas Season. One of the most profound images of the birth narratives of Jesus is that of vulnerability. The family is forced to make a long journey only to find the meagerest of shelter which sufficed for the moment. And so, Jesus would not come in the grand palaces of the wealthy and powerful, but the least of places celebrated by the lowliest of social status. Jesus was born, like you and me, vulnerable and dependent on his parents for his every need and wellbeing.

Using this image as a template upon our current society and I find it disturbing. Two weeks ago, a father and seven-year-old daughter forced to leave their country of Guatemala for their wellbeing, are placed into custody, a cell. After several days the little girl has seizures, has a high temperature, is dehydrated, and dies just a day later.

Our immigration system is broken, I am not sure how anyone could disagree. However, until we find a solution that welcomes those who seek refuge in our country we must act with compassion. Building a wall should not be who we are, we should be providing doors, wide open doors, of compassion and welcome. To lose even one child of God such as this seven-year-old from Guatemala is too many. Such a loss while in the care of our country is unjust, cruel, and wrong.

Too many in the halls of government, as well as religion, continue to posture themselves with power and privilege at the expense of the most vulnerable of the world. We must find our way to be a compassionate place of welcome and love. Otherwise this ever-widening chasm of division will continue a spiraling descent into fear of the other and a dispassionate isolationist existence.

Our country, our churches, our communities and people of faith must practice the welcoming and inclusive Way of Jesus especially for the most vulnerable, whether they are already among us or traveling great distances for the safety and wellbeing of their families. Our country, our administration needs to take a long look in the mirror and decide who we want to be; a place where the most vulnerable can find safety and compassion even I the most meager of shelter or a place where the norm is fear of the other, suspicion, and even loss of life. I pray we find our way to justice, kindness, and humility, where we love one another. Every. Single. Other. Until there are no others, only One Beloved Community of All.

May it be so. May it be soon.

Rev. Kent H. Little

One Church

August 23, 2018

It’s no secret I consider myself a progressive when it comes to my faith, theology, and my politics. It is also no secret where I stand on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer persons and my passion for their full inclusion in the United Methodist Church. I confess prior to Thursday, August 16, 2018 while I believed I could exist as a clergy in my beloved UMC if the One Church Model being proposed at the Special Called General Conference in February passes, I was not a big fan of the plan. I was not a big fan because it doesn’t go far enough for full inclusion. The plan, while it gives local control to clergy, churches, and Annual Conferences, it still allows clergy, churches, and Annual Conferences to discriminate against LGBTQ persons. I still unwaveringly believe that is wrong.

I had the opportunity to attend an informational meeting with Rev. Mark Holland and MainstreamUMC for a presentation on the One Church Model. After an hour and a half of solid biblical interpretation and political analysis of the upcoming vote in February regarding the role and place of LGBTQ persons in our church I came away convinced the One Church Model, though I still believe does not take us far enough, is the only model with a chance of passage that holds to true Wesleyan roots and belief as well as the Gospel of grace and love.
There are so many references and stories in our biblical texts speaking to unity, grace, inclusion, and love it is difficult to focus on just one. However, as I consider the state of our denomination I find myself pondering Paul’s letter to the Romans. A community of churches deep in conflict not only among its own, but in the culture and society in which it existed. And here are some of the words and encouragements he shares,
“Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good. If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.”

 

These are words of challenge and admonition to remain in unity with those the church disagrees with. Welcome strangers. Bless people who harass you don’t curse them. Don’t think yourself so smart. Show respect for what everyone else believes is good. And…my favorite/least favorite…If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people… in other words it’s up to you….me.
I guess, as I ponder these words of Paul and as I reflect on the consequences of the vote to come in February…the consequences that each plan, and which ones stand the best chance of passing it really boils down to two, in my opinion. The Traditionalist Model, and the One Church Model approved by nearly two-thirds of the Council of Bishops. And when I think of these two models it once again boils down to two things. The Traditionalist Model is based on exclusionary language, divide and conquer, so to speak. Clergy, bishops, churches, and Annual Conferences must certify they will not disagree with and will uphold this plan or will be invited to leave the denomination. And the One Church Model is based on inclusionary language, taking a step to recreate the Broad Tent Denomination we used to be. A community faith that made room for difference, that thrived on tension, and made the table wider and longer and deeper, and more welcoming rather than building walls of separation and forced agreement.
This One Church Model seems to me to not only be the one grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but grounded in and echoes the theology and faith of our founder John Wesley in his sermon “Catholic Spirit” and the words, “Is your heart is as my heart,” do you love God and all mankind, I ask no more: Give me your hand.”
All this being said, while I will continue to be passionate and work for full inclusion of my LGBTQ sisters and brothers in our beloved United Methodist Church, if I am a true progressive, truly inclusive, I must be willing to extend my hand across the aisle, to better understand where those who disagree with me are and what and why they believe, I pray others will give me the same grace and inclusive stance.
I cannot support a plan and policy that is specifically designed to exclude and separate. I can only support a plan that includes and welcomes… even those with whom I disagree.
As a progressive United Methodist, I too must love those with whom I disagree, I too must be a promoter of that Big Tent denomination I so remember of my youth, and embrace my Wesleyan heritage more robustly by extending my hand in peace and hope.
To practice what I preach every Sunday morning, to…
Love One Another.
Every. Single. Other.
Until there are no others, only one beloved community of all.
May it be so. May it be soon.
Rev. Kent H. Little

A Weed in the United Methodist Church

July 25, 2018

I was on my hands and knees in the cool morning hours a week ago pulling weeds out of the rock landscaping we have in front of our home. I do not know what kind of weeds they are, someone told me they call it Creeping Charlie, though looking at pictures I really do not think that is what it is. It may be Spurge. Anyway, I was pulling weeds, and though it is not a favorite pastime of mine, these weeds were pretty easily uprooted. While the tap root is long and can run deep, it is thin and brittle. The plant creeps along the ground, or in our case the rocks, and sets down roots, the roots are shallow, and while the plant is very invasive, unsightly, and annoying, it is easily uprooted because of its lack of depth.

It was the first thing that came to mind as I was reading the recently released United Methodist Church Commission on a Way Forward’s Report to General Conference. Let me qualify that statement. The image of the invasive weed in my rock bed was not related to the whole report but rather, a certain section of it. Let me explain.

The Commission’s report contains three possible plans for our Denomination’s continued struggle to include, or not, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, and Queer persons in the full life of our church. I finished reading the entire report yesterday and came away rather depressed, heartbroken, and even angry.

I did fine reading through the One Church Model, which in essence creates local control in the denomination for clergy, local churches, and Annual Conferences in terms of whether they will officiate or host same gender weddings and whether Annual Conferences will ordain LGBTQ persons. While my conviction is I cannot sign on in full support of this model, to me it is the sanest of the three. I believe I can probably exist in the environment this model would create though, I cannot fully support it because it continues to allow the United Methodist Church to discriminate and do harm to our LGBTQ members and clergy. It is wrong and needs to be rectified and should this pass I would continue to be a voice of advocacy and change until the denomination makes available to the whole of the church the grace and life we claim to all persons including LGBTQ persons in our communities.

The second model I read was a little more difficult to get my head around though in theory I think I understand. The summary version is it would create three conferences in the U.S.A., a Progressive (Fully Inclusive) Conference, a “Traditional” (as we have now) Conference, and a Uniting Conference (agree to disagree). Once again, while this seems to be an attempt at a step forward, it allows our churches to discriminate and do harm.

The third model is called the Traditional Model, herein is where the image of the weed in my rock bed began to take shape. This model would leave our United Methodist Discipline as is, continue to discriminate against and do harm to LGBTQ persons within and outside the church. But it would not stop there. This model creates even more punitive reactions to those who long for an open inclusive church. Clergy, churches, boards of ordained ministry, conferences, and bishops who we unable to sign on to an agreement that they support this model would in essence be invited to leave.

While this model is referred to as Traditional it is anything but. It is certainly not in keeping with Wesley’s model of grace, for in my opinion, this model is devoid of grace, compassion, and understanding. Such legalism and punitive faith is not traditional as its literalness is only two hundred to three hundred years old at best. Its roots are shallow, thin, and brittle, invasive and unsightly.

When looking at loving relationships between same gender couples, the prohibitions are simply not in the scriptures. The clobber passages that are cited in our bible do not address same gender relationships as we know them today. To continue to cite these passages to discriminate and do harm to LGBTQ persons is uninformed at best and disingenuous at worse. John Wesley’s commitment to education should lead us further to understand this. To continue to cite two thousand to four-thousand-year-old understandings and writings without consideration of twenty first century education, science, reason, and experience is ludicrous and unfaithful.

As I read this so-called traditional model it occurred to me in my fifty-nine years in the Methodist/United Methodist church and my twenty-six years of ministry I have never read a supposed United Methodist/Wesleyan document so devoid of understanding, compassion, and grace. It boggles the mind that we as a denomination, founded by Wesley and his commitment to grace, understanding, and education, are even giving this model a voice and place on the floor at General Conference.

It is a weed. A weed with at best a thin and brittle taproot creeping across the landscape of our beloved United Methodist Denomination setting down shallow roots in an attempt to cover the foundational bedrock of the Grace and Love of God so treasured by our church.

February is still months away. There is much work to be done in preparation for this Special Called General Conference. There will be much work to be done after it is completed regardless of what the decision is. I will be there, not as a delegate, but as an observer and in prayer. I hope you join me in earnest prayer and action for our United Methodist Church, its soul is at risk. May we once again be a church grounded in grace, immersing in love…a church making justice happen, loving as God loves, and being the very reflection of God in the world.

Love is Love!

Love will Win. Love Always Wins…

when we Love One Another. Every. Single. Other.

Until there are no others. Only one Beloved Community of All.

Peace and Light for this Journey.

Pastor Kent

The Word

July 17, 2018

My struggle to put my thoughts into words comes from my wrestling with who I am and whose I am. There is a tension for me between my citizenship and my chosen vocation. As an ardent supporter of our constitutional ideal of separation of church and state I have a difficult time wearing the simultaneous hats of citizen and clergy.

I have long been an advocate, voice, and practitioner of justice making for all of our citizens, in particular those who are discriminated against, marginalized, and oppressed. I rarely wade into partisan politics when it comes to my writing and never when it comes to my role as clergy. While I believe Jesus was certainly political, I would posit he was never partisan. His critiques of empire and the political domination system was about policy and practice, never a particular philosophy of politic. He was certainly critical of those leaders who practiced and condoned policies of injustice, violence, and oppression. It is within this tradition I write these words.

That was two rather long paragraphs to get where I am trying to go as I wrestle with my thoughts and words. Over the last year and a half, I have struggled with our current political environment and in particular this administration and our president. I have watched and listened as he bragged about objectifying women. I have watched and listened as he belittled war heroes and their families. I have watched and listened as he mocked the disabled and the sexually abused. I have watched and listened as he continuously disparages our free press and anyone who disagrees with him. I have watched and listened as he denies at best and lies at worse about things he has verifiably said and done. And most recently has once again diminished our own intelligence agencies and multitudes of others who have confirmed via investigation and fact a foreign country technologically attacked our country and its election process.

As I continued to ponder and wonder all this again this evening it struck me…the word…the word I had been searching for. Contempt. I am not sure I have ever known a person, certainly not a leader, with as much contempt as our president. At least in my perception, and perhaps this is an exaggeration, but it appears to me he holds in contempt almost all things; the world, the world’s leaders, our allies, the poor, foreign persons in our country, the differently abled, his own party, his supporters, even perhaps his country, and his office. Maybe I am blowing this out of proportion, but when I read his tweets, listen to his speeches, watch him encounter others on the world stage, with the exception of a handful perhaps, transgender persons in our military, other religions, …the list is too long finish…. I hear so much contempt. And what deepens my struggle and heartache are those who continue to support his actions or turn a blind eye as if it is all okay and just part of the plan.

I will not be one to say, “He is not my president,” he is, right, wrong, or indifferent, for now he is our president…but I cannot support his actions and contempt for our standing in the world and his contempt for the least of these in our midst here in the USA. As a Christian clergy I will continue everyday to keep him, the administration, our governing leaders, and our country in my daily prayers… but I will not condone his contempt and I continue to resist at every turn words, practices, and actions that diminish the office of our Presidency, weaken our country’s standing with those who work for justice, belittle the oppressed and impoverished, mock the abused and differently abled, and looks with contempt on the freedoms and justice for which we contend.

To continue to support the levels of contempt and disregard for justice and compassion we are seeing in our country today will surely cause us to reap what we are sowing if we have not already begun. It is time to wake up we citizens, it is time for the church, all communities of faith, who long for and work tirelessly for the right, good, just, and compassionate beloved community to become that for which we dream! We need to pray for our country… but not just with words, with our hands and feet, with our work and our passion, with our hope and our compassion, with our voices of justice and reason! Speak up! Show up! When the time comes… Vote!

Make justice happen. Love as God loves. Be the very reflection of God in the world.

The soul of our nation depends on it. Perhaps even… our own.

May it be so. May it be now.

Rev. Kent H. Little

It’s About the Children!

June 20, 2018

As a Christian clergy let me begin by saying our current leadership should be using the constitution not the bible to either uphold or critique a law of our land. There is a reason our founders included a non-establishment of religion statement in our founding documents, and the citation of any religious text, including the bible as a legal document to uphold the enforcement of a law is not only inappropriate but counters the very constitution that forms our nation!

As a Christian clergy my faith and the faith documents that are a part of the forming of my own journey shape how I choose to speak to and live my life in the country of my birth. While I am a staunch advocate of our founder’s commitment to the separation of church and state I am well aware of my faith’s influence on how I work to affect policy making that promotes justice, equality, compassion, and the common good for all persons not only of these United States but all persons around the globe. As a person of faith the general well being of all of God’s children, and that means all of humanity, is both a passion and foundational to my calling and vocation.

So, I implore the administration of these United States to stop using the bible and the Christian faith to support a perceived interpretation and enforcement of a law of the land. That should apply to any law, but especially an unjust law interpreted so as to separate children from their parents and place them in the equivalent of cages. Just STOP! One does not enforce an unjust presumed law simply because it is on the books! One should choose to break that unjust presumed law and then change it!

I have been dismayed, disheartened, and angry at the attempts to justify the separation of children from their families simply because it is the law. I am sick to my stomach at the current administration blaming everyone but themselves as if they are powerless to do anything but put children in prison. I am furious at persons who say if they did not want their children in prison they should not have come here illegally. I am livid that anyone, for any reason would try and justify putting children in chain link cages!

Our immigration system is broken. We cannot not continue to victimize the victims who come here seeking refuge and sanctuary. For those who say they need to come legally, few of those crossing our borders have the kind of resources or the time available to navigate the complicated and time-consuming process that we as a nation set before them. Many of them come here with no other choice, literally running for their lives with nothing but the shirt on their back, if that, with no where to go and nowhere to return. It is a privileged and uncompassionate position to look down on these persons with such hate and judgement! We need to welcome them and find a way to help them become citizens without fear of being returned to the violence and hopelessness they have fled.

That being said. I really don’t care what the argument is that attempts to justify pulling families apart and placing children in prisons of chain link fence, tents, and detention centers… there is no justification, it is wrong, immoral, and heinous!

As I said, we need to rectify this as a country, honoring all of the people who are in our midst regardless of their religion or lack thereof. However, if I were to seek a citation from my faith tradition it would not be a reference that says we have to follow the law regardless of what it is because it is the law. I would choose a citation such as the words of Jesus who spoke of this journey of life and faith this way, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” This administration and its attempts to use the bible to promote heinous acts as a way to somehow appeal to their base with religion is at best misguided and manipulative and at worse and blasphemous and evil. This administration and its unjust policies, and too many in our country who support such policies, will reap what it sows’.

It is time for the church, it is time for our citizens, it is time for all persons not only here in this country but across the globe to stand up and speak, and act, and to say enough is enough! It is time for all of us to take a stand, to speak up, and to make justice happen! Silence cannot be an option! I believe the character of our nation is at dire risk, but I also believe in the genuine goodness of those of us who believe in compassion, justice, and love for all. But we must rally together and make a difference and fight for the common good of all persons. Until that day when all persons, ALL persons are welcome at the table of abundance and hope.

May it be so! May it be Now!

Rev. Kent H. Little

Maybe the Church is Dead

May 20, 2018

Today is the Sunday in the Liturgical Season of the church when we celebrate Pentecost. Some say this is the Birthday of the Church. Some of us recall the story from the book of Acts about the Disciples gathered in a room and there is a sound like a rushing wind. And the Spirit like tongues of fire appear and rest on the heads of those gathered and they begin to speak in various languages. When the people outside hear all the commotion and speaking they are in wonder of what is going on and some of the crowd accuse the Disciples of being drunk. And Peter stands up and proclaims they are indeed not drunk but inspired by the Spirit to remind the people God is still at work, young and old, male and female, will prophesy and bring the good news of God’s love and justice to the world through this event.  It is a Birthday Party! The church is being born! Break out the balloons, the wine, the party hats, the cake! Let’s have a party! A 2000-year-old birthday party.

But, then I wonder…as I look across the expanse of the Church and its presence and image in the world….

Is the church too tired? Is the church too worn out? Has the church finally become irrelevant, out of touch, stuck in its stale and ineffectual dogmas and doctrines, stuck on life support and no one has the ability, courage, or compassion to pull the plug? I hear the voices of some colleagues and others who say what the church needs is an old-fashioned revival… we need to get back to the way things used to be, back when the church was new and fresh and just getting started when preachers and lay folks were on fire with the spirit like that first Pentecost and the sounds of rushing winds and the vision of flames and the sound of diverse languages were the norm… we need a dose of the old-time religion. The problem with that is those who often long for, yearn for, the way things used to be… the ones who long for a revival of the church and a fresh outpouring of the Spirit will often tell you exactly what that Spirit will look like and exactly where it will take us, which, is not necessarily something new…

But rather perhaps it just keeps the church on life support longer as we tell it what it should say and do and be. The church longs for the way things were, in the heyday, in the grand old days, in the good old days, when we knew exactly what we believed, how we were to behave, what we were to do… life and faith were simplistic… days when the cliché of “The Bible Says It, I Believe It, That Settles It,” was the mantra…back when we knew what to expect and didn’t have to think and feel so much…. Maybe that’s what we need to do, just we sit by the bedside of the church, listening to the hum of the systems, and wait for a miracle revival to bring it all back. But nothing seems to be happening and sometimes, sometimes, it even seems to be getting worse, more disconnected, unresponsive, more distant.

As I was pondering the church in this light it made me think of the movie some years ago… “The Sixth Sense” the story of a successful psychiatrist who is trying to help a young boy who sees ghosts, but the psychiatrist’s life seems disconnected, his family distant and unresponsive, there is just something not right, it feels like he is just going through the motions with not much success at anything, until the end, when he discovers… he is dead, he just didn’t know it.

And I wondered, maybe for all intents and purposes, the church is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet. Today we celebrate the birthday of the church, but I wonder, maybe it is too late?

You have probably noticed by now, I did not use the passage from Acts and the traditional reading for Pentecost Sunday today. I used the Hebrew Scripture reading for this Sunday, the reading from Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones. I used it because of the stark image of death, pondering perhaps, is this where the church is today? Dead, Dry, Piled Up, Deserted, Unknowingly Gone, Irrelevant?  I used this reading because it is a national story, it is a national prophecy. It is the story of not individual faith, but of a people, and as I ponder the image of the dry bones of the people of Israel for Ezekiel I have to ask myself, is the church dead and it just doesn’t know it yet.

The Church is certainly tired. The Church is certainly Tattered. And as I look out across the landscape of the church in our nation I have to consider the church is dead.

The Church is dead when it participates/remains silent in the demonization of the poor and the programs of social uplift helping feed and clothe God’s children.

The Church is dead when it participates/remains silent in the dehumanizing of immigrants and the separating of mothers and fathers from children through deportation and punishes children whose parents chose to escape torturous conditions.

The Church is dead when it claims it loves all and includes all and continues to deny LGBTQ persons full access in its life.

The Church is dead when it ignores the cries of those incarcerated unjustly and without recourse.

The church is dead when it refuses to stand for the full equality of women both within its institutions and in society.

The Church is dead when it categorically proclaims those who disagree with its doctrines and dogmas are destined for a hell of God’s choosing.

The Church is dead when it turns a blind eye/remains silent to the sins of its nation and leaders and buys into partisan politics.

The Church is dead when it does not speak up in defense of our school children because of its love of guns.

The Church is dead when it participates/remains silent, consciously and unconsciously in the evil of racism.

The Church is dead when it says everyone should only speak English when Pentecost is testimony against such things!

The Church is dead when it would rather split over who it can keep out rather than finding a place for everyone.

The Church is dead when it would rather cater to its membership than serve its community.

The Church is dead when it is more worried about how things have always been done rather than dreaming about how to embrace new ideas.

The Church is dead when it gives up on being the prophetic voice of change. The Church is dead when it would rather look back on the old dry bones of past ideas, past days, past preachers, past teachers, past unrealized dreams.

The Church is dead when it refuses to listen to new leadership, new innovations, new ways… the Church is dead when it is more focused on surviving than it is on thriving.

Maybe… the Church is Dead.

And then, sometimes things need to die before resurrection can happen…

And you know what? Says God to Ezekiel. God is in…The Church of Jesus is in…

The Prophecy Business…The Love Business…Is in the Resurrection Business!

Because … Love, True Love… Never Dies!

The Church is in the Resurrection business because that is what we do!

You can’t kill a church grounded in…

Steeped in… Saturated in… Immersed in… Dripping with… Oozing with… Wrapped up in… Inundated with… Besieged with…

LOVE… Pentecost is about the love of God for ALL persons! Pentecost is about bringing new life and insight to the world…

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it Lifts the poor and supports programs of social uplift…

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it stands with immigrants and their families…

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it speaks up in support of LGBTQ persons in the full life of the church and community.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it disdains the unjust incarceration practices of its nation.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it votes to support the FULL equality of women in the church and society.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it Uses its prophetic voice to say love conquers any kind of hell that others may proclaim.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it points out the sins and injustices of its nation and leaders.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it puts the lives of our children before the agenda of violence!

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it condemns racism in ALL its forms!

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it opens its doors to ALL persons!

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it serves its neighborhoods and community.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it embraces new understandings and ideas.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it learns from its past but doesn’t live there.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it finds its prophetic voice of Justice, Compassion, Welcome, Life, and Love!

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it is inspired by the Spirit to remind the people God is still at work and Love is the Way!

The Church or portions of it as we have known it…

The Church or portions of it as we know it…

May be in its last throes of death… or worse…

But, we are an Ezekiel Church!

Prophecy to these old dry Bones… says God.

Live… LiveLOVE

For it is the power of love that will renew and resurrect the best of what is to come…

This is So. This IS So!  Amen!

 

Call Me a Dreamer

May 18, 2018

So, I’ve been doing a lot of pondering lately about the state of our union. Union…a funny word actually, especially in terms of what I see happening in the news, on social media, and in our society. We are anything but united. The only union I seem to see is us versus them, whoever us is and whoever them is. (I just sent chills up the spines of my English teachers). It seems to me we only unite with those who hold our same biases, prejudices, and bigotries. Now, before you call me out, I am no less guilty. I too tend to gather with those who are of like mind. And in general, I do not believe there is anything wrong with that.

When this dis-union becomes problematic is when we begin to think us or them are less than, less than us, less than them, less than worthy, less than enough, less than…human? And as a result, become targeted by violence of word and deed. Think about it, in our tradition, every since the story tells us Cain knocked Abel in the head with a rock we have been identifying those who are less than and imprisoning them in camps, building walls to separate, hanging, beating, shooting, and otherwise trying to eliminate the other who are other than us.

Just the history of our own country, this dis-unified union… the government sponsored and sanctioned genocide of Native Americans, called them uncivilized animals, thus justifying the atrocities we committed against them. Forced slave labor of Africans, brought over on ships and tortured, beaten, stripped, whipped, lynched, and called less than human, uncivilized animals, which once again we justified our actions because they are less than. African Americans who still face devastating racism even now in the 21st Century, what is wrong with us? Indentured servants from England and Ireland and other countries, who for some reason could never quite get out from under the powerful elite who brought them here. We demonize the poor and those on assistance trying to feed their families while working two and three jobs and call them less than. Women, continue to be treated less than in the work place, in society, via access to better paying jobs, healthcare choices, and targeted as objects by powerful men who use and abuse and control. Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender persons who are fired from their jobs simply because of who they are and who they love…refused and turned away at the doors of the church and forbidden from full participation in the community of faith…beaten in the streets, laws passed to discriminate against them under the guise of religious freedom and I call BS! Religious bigotry directed at Muslims and other persons of faith because they practice differently, treated as other and less than. Immigrants and dreamers, refugees who have come here some legally and some undocumented because they are willing to do anything to save the lives of their children and families from the brutalities of their home country, treated like and called uncivilized and animals. families broken apart, children and mothers separated, because we see them as less than. This list is far too long.

Why do we continue to do this? Why do we as a country as a dis-union continue to fester the need to identify another group of humankind so that we can feel superior and special? When will we acknowledge we are all brothers and sisters, we are all children of the Divine, we all belong to one another… how long must we continue to pretend white, Christian, male, heterosexuals are the master species… I call BS!

This prejudice and bigotry, obviously, is not new, it has been going on for centuries… from the beginning really… to some degree early on it was about survival. But surely, we can evolve beyond what our earliest ancestors needed to survive. Surely, we can evolve beyond violence for violence and hate for hate. Surely one day we will lay down our weapons of war, our weapons of violence, our weapons of words and extend an open hand rather than a clenched fist…surely.

As for me, I will continue to hope, I will continue to speak to the best of who we should be, because even though my heart is hurting watching all this belligerent hate and vitriol language and violence laden dis-union of which we are a part… I still believe we can become who we are called to be. A beloved community where love is the rule and not the exception. A world where violence and war are a distant memory. A world where guns, and bombs, and swords, and spears are relics in a vast museum that simply serves to remind us of what we used to be and have no need of any longer. To such love and justice, I will commit my life. As a prophet not long ago once said… “You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Dream and act with me, won’t you? Make Justice Happen. Love as God Loves. Be the Very Reflection of God in the World.

One Day… One Day…May it be so. May it be soon!

Kent H. Little