Text: 1 Kings 19:1-4,8-10
Statement of Worship
Good morning to the highways and the byways, the dirt roads and the cul-de-sacs, the way over yonder and the right next doors, wherever you have come from, you are welcome here.
This morning, we are honored to host Dr. Ekaputra Tupamahu. Dr. Tupamahu is an assistant professor of New Testament at Portland Seminary and George Fox University. A native Indonesian, he earned a master’s degree and an MDiv from Asia Pacific Theological Seminary, and master’s degrees from the Claremont School of Theology and Ph. D. from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Tupamahu has a broad range of academic interests, including the politics of language, race/ethnic theory, postcolonial studies, immigration studies, critical study of religion, and global Christianity (particularly Pentecostal/Charismatic movement). All these interests inform and influence the way he approaches the texts of the New Testament and the history of early Christian movement(s). I know Eka also as friend and comrade, and his life challenges me to be more open, more understanding, more compassionate.
Much of Dr. Tupamahu’s work centers around the place of language and the importance of that language as a signifier of identity and culture. Particularly his reading of New Testament underscores that living and existing in a multilingual society leads people to think and rethink themselves and their collective identity as people of faith. This is an important reminder as we reflect on why we gather weekly at the elven o’clock hour. We are not a group that gives idle talk to an ego-driven and distant deity, but a community that creates its values based on the divine presence found in all living creatures. Our time emphasizes the attributes and characteristics that bring worth to this place, to this life, and to this world. It is not stagnant, but, as we say, is ever becoming, and it causes us to think and rethink, say and re-say, move and move again in order to be a vibrant people creating a justice-centered, love-abounding, and peace-filled world. Eka, thank you for being among us and sharing your talents and gifts. We hope that this place, because of our lives together, will always be a place where we can all be transformed.
Would you please rise as you are able and join me in the morning contemplation and call to worship.
Recently, I had a birthday, and I am now of a certain age where I can make a rather judicious pronouncement: I have seen this before. The phrase is quite useful as it quells the overt excitement often found in younger people displaying their fashionable goods as if they were treasures that had been newly recovered from the ocean’s floor. “Look at my neon yellow sweatshirt with blue geometrical shapes, isn’t it cool?” “Yes, yes, yes. I have seen this before, “ I reply while having mild nostalgia for 1983. “Ooooooh, I love how high waisted these jeans are—awesome!” My nostalgia for the 80s slumps into a disdain for the early 90s as a I sigh, “Yes, I have seen this before.” From the resurgence of vinyl records to the revival of the wristwatch, I can summarize their newly found place in society with, “Well, I have seen this before.”
This phrase is also useful beyond the realm of sartorial choices. On June 14th I read the following CNN Headline, “Tennessee Preacher-Cop Calls For Execution of LGBTQ People.” Grayson Fritts, a Baptist minister in Knoxville, called members of the LGBTQIA+ community, “sodomites,” “freaks,” and “filthy animals,” single-handedly stripping a group of people of their humanity with the quick onslaught of words. Citing Leviticus, Fritts continued his diatribe and demanded queer people be subject to federal trials and state executions solely based upon their gender identity and sexual orientation. In a fail swoop, Fritts bastardized the freedom of the church from the state, a belief held dearly by Baptists; he denied the inherent responsibility found within those Baptist traits of Biblical freedom and the priesthood of all believers; and he compromised the integrity of a justice system designed to protect all people. When faced with criticism, Fritts unapologetically returned to the pulpit the following Sunday with more incendiary speech. Less stunned than sickened, I looked over at Charles and uttered, “Well, I have seen this before.” [Read more…]