Breaking out the Bat Signal for Christians – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

Rev. Lori Walke is presenting for our annual speaker’s series. I thought her words about homophobia can give an example of what a prophetic witness looks like. I’ve also included information on her two talks that she’ll be doing for our church.

Break Out the Bat Signals for Christians

For as long as I can remember, there have been giant crosses made from the lights on two buildings in downtown Oklahoma City during December.

And for as long as I can remember, those giant crosses have confused me.

Even as a kid, I knew the cross was the wrong symbol for the season. It’s Christmas, not Good Friday. The cross was the instrument of Jesus’ death. A manger would be more appropriate.
Yes, I know that whoever insists on putting them up wants to remind us of “the reason for the season,” and the cross is definitely the most recognizable symbol of Jesus and Christianity. There is no mistaking the person or religion it represents. But just how effective is trimming the city with Christmas light crosses?

While using a skyscraper to display multiple crosses may seem absurd to out-of-towners (or insensitive to the significant number of Oklahomans who practice a different religion or none at all), the cross as decoration is standard around here. I wonder how many Oklahoma Christians even notice them anymore?

They have become part of the landscape, like the 163-foot monstrosity on the side of I-35 that declares the piety of Christians in Edmond.

Oklahoma’s Christians also use the cross as personal adornment; not just as necklaces, but splashed on boots and outlined in golden thread on the back pockets of jeans. Craft stores offer wall and tabletop crosses in every style imaginable: rustic, glossy pink and polka dot. The BeDazzler is the perfect tool for sprucing up an otherwise plain and boring cross, wouldn’t you say?

Nothing says “Jesus Loves You” quite like a cross adorned with rhinestones.

All of this is enough to make one wonder if the crosses outlined on our buildings, decorating our living rooms and hanging around our necks are masking a sad reality: Our lives offer scant proof that we really do follow an itinerant peasant preacher who was crucified for teaching radical hospitality, grace and love.

If it weren’t for the obnoxiously large crosses lighting up the skyline, how would anyone know that an overwhelming number of Oklahomans practice Christianity? To be fair, in a state with the second-highest incarceration rate, it really is difficult to believe that most of us are people who follow a man who claimed his mission was to set the captives free.

But maybe I’ve been thinking about these crosses all wrong. Christianity in Oklahoma is in distress. It needs help. Maybe, just maybe, in a state where Jesus and his parents would have been turned away by “Christian” lawmakers for being Middle Eastern refugees, a gigantic glowing cross in the heart of our capital city might be exactly what we need – a Bat-Signal, if you will. Instead of merely decorative trimming, those crosses should be a call for those who claim that Jesus is Lord to stop dressing up like Christians and start acting like Christians.

A short list of sins that Christians should consider

The Gospel of Matthew, which tells us of Jesus’ birth (remember: the reason for the season), includes this part: “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” This Christmas, Oklahoma Christians could stand to be reminded of the sins from which we need to be saved.

For starters, consider the sin of refusing to welcome the stranger, which Christians should be hypersensitive to since the Holy Family had to flee to another country in fear for their lives. Oklahoma has taken in only a handful of Syrian refugees despite more than 22,000 refugees resettling in the United States.

There’s also the sin of capital punishment, which should be particularly offensive to those who claim to follow someone who was murdered by the government. And let’s not forget the sin of greed, manifested in tax cuts for the wealthiest while one out of six Oklahomans lives below poverty level. Keep in mind that Jesus said of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and caring for the sick, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it for me.”

If it means rescuing one of the most important symbols of Christianity from the home dcor aisle and saving our state from becoming one of the most inhospitable places on earth, this pastor is all for increasing the wattage on those giant crosses.

Break out the Bat-Signal for Christians. We could use some real-life superheroes this Christmas.
I’ll be the first in line to buy more lights.

Want to hear more?

RESISTANCE AND THE CHURCH
REV. LORI ALLEN WALKE
“A THIRTY-SOMETHING IN THE PULPIT”

FREE TO THE PUBLIC
FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 7PM SAM NOBLE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

also

WORKSHOP: SATURDAY, APRIL 1, 9AM-NOON “POLITICOS IN THE PEWS”
$20.00 REGISTRATION UNITED MINISTRY CENTER, 1017 ELM, NORMAN. SEATING LIMITED.
REGISTER TO ATTEND the WORKSHOP
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resistance-the-church-tickets-32433396161

Rev. Walke is a young Oklahoma leader known for speaking out about the church and its role in seeking social justice. She is an advocate for civil rights for all citizens. She has been a voice in the Resist Movement. She is Associate Minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC. She holds a Master of Divinity from Phillips Theological Seminary and a Juris Doctorate from OCU School of Law.

 

 

 

Church Events

One Great Hour of Sharing is one of the 5 charitable missions supported by the National United Church of Christ. Donations to One Great Hour of Sharing enable the organization to build sustainable communities. It supports self-help programs in more than 80 nations to build sustainable communities that enable people and communities to stand against and rise above hunger, disease, illiteracy, and other forces of injustice that deny and destroy dignity. It provides emergency and long-term assistance to people in the aftermath of hurricanes, tornados, storms, floods, tidal waves, fires, explosions, technological disasters, civil strife, war, or other natural or human-caused events. On average, OGHS responds to a disaster once every 2.5 days. It uses the funds to responds with advocacy and help, hope and hospitality for people who have been uprooted from their home of origin.

In cooperation with Global Ministries, it is part of a remarkable network of service and caring that is efficient, effective and faithful. Please consider making a donation on April 2nd.

April 2nd Don Holladay will lead a discussion on ideas raised by Lori Walke during our speaker’s series for Conversation Sunday. Join us for conversation and a shared potluck Sunday at 9:45 a.m to 11:45 a.m..

Social Justice Happenings

April 2nd, after church, the social justice committee will be meeting.

April 5th on Wednesday 6 pm at the Norman Public Library is an exploratory meeting of the Norman Peace and Justice group. which is an attempt to house the church’s social justice work while connecting with and providing support to other like minded efforts in Norman.

April 8th on Saturday 1 pm 4 pm Norman United is hosting a social justice mixer. We have been invited as a church as a means to connect with other social justice and advocacy groups in Norman for this social get together at the Norman Public Library.

 

 

 

Book Club April 10th

 

We’re discussing the opening chapters of a new novel by Anthony Doerr at Nancy Logan’s home 3200 Summit Bend at 7pm.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

A New Recycling Box

Given the number of paper products we use for our morning gatherings and conversation box the Social Justice committee has set up a recycling box to discard those items. Look for it on Sundays