4pm thursdays in december, we’ll jump into the question of prison: what does the bible have to say about them, and how should a christian think about them? prison abolition was a hot topic over the summer, though it seems to have fallen out of the national conversation. but all the problems that were talked about some months back, questions of justice, punishment, mercy, and rectitude, are as important as they ever were. these are weighty topics. join us, over zoom or in person.
Judgment and wrath, as in divine judgment and God’s wrath, are ideas that have been harmfully misused. I know this. It is wicked for people to use scripture and theology to do harm. At the same time, though, when there is great, sustained, even normalized injustice, as there is in this country, I meditate on God’s righteous judgment and wrath and find comfort in it: Not easily turned toward evil like human vengeance, but bright and true.
I believe that the sin of racism is very deeply embedded in the foundation of the United States. It contributes to the shape of everything around us, so that no one is free from its effects: its targets are harmed in health, in opportunity, in spirit; and those like me who benefit from it are sickened in soul and mind, though we often believe that we are perfectly fine. The charges handed down to the men who killed Breonna Taylor were an insult, as over and over these cases end in insult. I believe that it is right for God to be angry at the oppression of God’s precious children. I have been turning to Jeremiah often recently: He saw the destruction of his home city, understanding it to be recompense for the injustice and oppression committed by their leaders and elites against those with less power (sound familiar?). He lamented and grieved the loss of his land and cried out in fury against the injustices that brought it about. This complicated double viewpoint feels really resonant lately.
Here’s a little bit from the book of Jeremiah. If PCM can support you in any way—if we can meet with you to listen, if we can pray for you, if there is something material you need—tell us.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Glean thoroughly as a vine the remnant of Israel; like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again over its branches.Jeremiah 6
To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? See, their ears are closed, they cannot listen. The word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.
But I am full of the wrath of the LORD; I am weary of holding it in. Pour it out on the children in the street, and on the gatherings of young men as well; both husband and wife shall be taken, the old folk and the very aged. Their houses shall be turned over to others, their fields and wives together; for I will stretch out my hand against the inhabitants of the land, says the LORD.
For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.
They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the LORD. Thus says the LORD: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it.”Also I raised up sentinels for you: “Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!” But they said, “We will not give heed.”
Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not given heed to my words; and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.
Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me. Therefore thus says the LORD: See, I am laying before this people stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble; parents and children together, neighbor and friend shall perish.
time has seemed so flat and even fake for so long that it’s hard to believe that something is happening, but here we are! and here’s what pcm is up to as the semester begins:
- Bailey is praying for you.
- this week, the first week of the semester, we won’t meet—focus on settling in to whatever rhythm this semester has in store for you. if you’d like to chat, Bailey is only an email away.
- next week, the second week of the semester, we will meet over zoom. date and time are flexible; we have historically met at 6 on Tuesday, but all bets are off during coronatide. watch for updates here, and email us for the link.
- beginning the third week of the semester, we plan to meet outside, in the grassy area across from the ccc or in front of the museum, as a reprieve from the hours you’ll be on zoom. we’re a small group. however, please let us know if you want a zoom option.
also, remember romans 8: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” the list could also include “pandemics” or “online semesters” or “months of uncertainty.” God loves you very much. see you soon.
simpler, cleaner, fewer aesthetic choices left up to bailey. a win-win. wins all around.
the new semester starts in three weeks! we are nervous; we imagine everyone is nervous. we want to meet to talk and worship, and also, we don’t want to be foolish or put anyone in danger for the sake of doing something “normal.” our plan for the fall is to meet outside, on blankets in the grass, six feet apart from each other. this seems to be the only remotely responsible way to gather in person, and we are a very small group. if anything changes, we are flexible and able to change as well.
see y’all soon!