BTSF in chronological order (most recent articles appear first):

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sanctuary for Edith Espinal

Image may contain: 6 people, people standingThe Church is a place of sanctuary. This legacy goes back to the earliest days of our faith, offering refuge and shelter for those being persecuted. Will God's people offer sanctuary today? 

Edith Espinal has lived in Columbus, OH a long time. Her three children live here too, and two of them are citizens. Four years ago, she applied for asylum but was denied, as were her subsequent appeals. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) has given her final notice and she now wears an ankle monitor. On September 18, she faces deportation.

"I don’t want to leave behind my children"

Edith has no criminal record, she's never even gotten a speeding ticket. 

"I'm not a bad person. I've always tried to follow the law"

Columbus faith leaders, spearheaded by Columbus Mennonite Church, are asking ICE "to hear the plea of our neighbor, and join us in keeping her home with her family...We will continue to walk with Edith and her family in hope and prayer until she receives a stay of removal." Without this stay, Edith will be deported. 

How do we as Christians walk in accompaniment with Edith and her family? 
Theirs represents the thousands of other families in similar situations. Afraid of being taken from their home. Afraid of losing their loved ones. Afraid of what comes next.

These are real people. They have faces, they have names. 
Moreover, they are the face of Christ. Will we offer him sanctuary, or will we send him away? 


Luchamos al fin.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dream on Dreamer

The following is adapted from a sermon originally given in honor of  MLK Sunday by Rev. Karen Cook. Today, it is reposted as a word of encouragement to DREAMers who face uncertain futures in these times. We love you, we'll keep fighting for you. Dream on.

He was one of the youngest of Jacob’s twelve sons, Joseph the dreamer.

How many of you dream?  What will it take for us to just let go and dream?  Why do dreams puzzle us?  What make a dream a good dream or a bad dream?  

Dream on Dreamer.   

Joseph had these two dreams and he made the mistake of sharing these dreams with his brothers. He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” (Genesis 37:6-7)

I didn’t have brothers or sisters but I can just image with my minds eye some jealousy was rearing its ugly head. How dare Joseph have the audacity share this dream with his brothers, his half brothers at that.  Before Joseph’s brothers could recover from the shock of his first dream he told them about the second dream.  

He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Gen. 37:9) Not only did the brothers react but daddy had something to say this time.  “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?”  (Gen. 37:10) 

Dream on Dreamer.

It was on a hot Wednesday, August 28, 1963, that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed for all American and all of the world to hear: 
Image result for mlk
"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood... 
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
Dream on Dreamer.  

Joseph’s half brother Reuben said, “let’ not kill him; let’s defer him.” Other brothers said, “Let’s sell him into slavery, and file him away in that part of the memory bank labeled deferred and forgotten.  
And we will see what will become of his dreams.”

Joseph’s brothers made a big mistake.  

Joseph tells his brothers about his dreamsThey didn’t know that the Dream-Giver was using what they meant for evil would be used to bring about the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream. They didn’t know that God was using the evil to fortify Joseph and his faith for that moment when Joseph’s own brothers would come to his doorstep begging for bread.  

Because Joseph waited on God, he had been allowed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Because he had trusted the God who gave him this dream; that same God had taken those same dreams that people said couldn’t and wouldn’t never be; and brought them to fulfillment.  That same God had taken those same dreams that folk said he was uppity for dreaming and had no right to dream and turned them into living realities.  I can see Joseph as he looked at his brothers and said, 
“You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

What happens when a dreamer is attacked and his or her dream deferred?  I’ll tell you what happens. The same God who gave the dream uses those hardships, uses the suffering, uses the pain, uses the obstacles which were meant to destroy God’s servants.  Hear this beloved, God will use it as a means to fortify and strengthen the dreamer.  Beloved, I know it may not feel like it now but hold on dreamer, hold on.

The bible says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

Complentative MLKHis body could be killed but neither Dr. King nor the dream itself could be destroyed because Dr. King had learned to trust the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the God of Joseph, the God of his mother and father, the God who had set his soul on fire and told him, “I have set thee a watchman on the wall” (Ezekiel 3:17)

Dr. King learned that in all things God’s grace is still sufficient and God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. (Hebrews 11:34)

Dr. King knew that no matter what people said about him or did to him he could not be discredited with God, who had put on his back the multicolored robe of mercy, redemption, salvation, love, and forgiveness which had been purchased by the blood of Jesus on Calvary’s tree.

What happens when the dreamer is attacked and his or her dream deferred?  If you trust God, he will let you see the fulfillment of your dreams.

Beloved, if God has shown you a book and it says authored by________, yet you don’t have a computer or a laptop, or an iPad, baby write that thing out long hand. 

Dream on Dreamer.

If God has put a song in your heart and a melody in your soul, yet you can’t play a lick, baby write down those words and keep humming that melody.  

Dream on Dreamer.

If you are the best cook this side of Parsons Ave. and you see yourself in your own restaurant, baby keep on cooking.  

Dream on Dreamer.

If God has called you to teach, yet you don’t have a degree don’t let that stop you, teach baby teach. Teach your children, teach your grandchildren, teach in Sunday School, teach a bible study. 

Dream on Dreamer.

There maybe one here today, your dream has been laying dormant for many years. If that is you, today starts your journey of fulfilling your dream. I need somebody to shout…I’m getting my dream back!

Dream on Dreamer!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Labor Day

Cartoon: Executive hanging a 'happy labor day' sign while standing on the back of a laborerOnce per year the USA celebrates Labor Day, a national holiday originating from 1800's celebrations of trade workers and the social/economic benefits they bring to our society. So, is this holiday only an antiquated excuse for an extra time to sleep in?

Let's use the day to examine the serious economic and labor struggles that still plague our country.

It is increasingly difficult for the average worker to support a family. In most states, minimum wage is well below the living wage (there is a big difference between the two). Ironically, thousands of folks will go to work on Labor Day because they need the money and can't afford a day of rest.

When folks are desperate for work, they will endure any number of abuses or indignities. They may work in dangerous environments, or be paid less than promised. Workers may be given insufficient training, leading to injury or embarrassment when they don't perform to standards.

A cartoon shark dressed as a loan shark
Employees may be held at work long after their shift is over, if that is what the boss deems necessary. Maybe they need to pick the kids up from school, but they don't dare leave and risk losing their jobs. Workers may be required to maintain an open schedule to be placed in shifts as is convenient for the company, but may not be told their schedule until the last minute, and so cannot line up child care or other jobs.

Folks may spend an hour on the bus to get to a job, only to arrive and find out they aren't needed that day. Or they work for two hours and then get sent home. "Try again tomorrow." And if they don't show up for that chance, they know they loose the opportunity for later.

There are serious consequences of this labor disparity. Workers skip meals so that their children may eat. Folks turn to loan sharks to make ends meet, entrenching themselves in a spiral of debt (see post: The Cost of Being Poor). Families make tough choices to cut out "non-essentials" like medicine (see post: Healthcare Reform), clothing, and nutritious food.

And as the nation bemoaned the 7% unemployment rate, unemployment in communities of color remains at 13%--the same racialized wage disparity ratio that Dr. King bemoaned in 1967. Indeed, while analysts fret about about the housing market, there continue to be huge disparities in homeownership across race.

Book cover: Nickel and Dimed
Take a close look at the words of Jeremiah 22:13-16. Woe to we that profit from injustice and gain economic security at the expense of others! We "who make our neighbor serve us for nothing and do not give them their wages." Jesus himself urges that "the workers deserve their wages." And yet, as more states put an end to collective bargaining, the wealthy receive a smaller tax burden now than they have in the last 80 years.

Part of our problem is that we have a very warped perspective of economic reality. Particularly since housing in the United States is largely segregated by economic standing, people look around themselves and feel that, on the whole, there is equal opportunity and prosperity for everyone.

PBS News Hour recently conducted an informal survey, asking people identify the sort of economy that exist in the USA. Their findings are telling. Also, Jon Stewart points out the huge economic disparities that most folks gloss over. Both of these videos are embedded below.

Take time this week to give thanks for your own economic security, no matter what level it is at.
For more insight into the issues mentioned above, read Barbara Ehrenreich's 'Nickel and Dimed' or play this excellent interactive game to see what choices you would make given some stark realities.




Thursday, August 31, 2017

Friday Fruit (09/01/17)

Lorna Simpson, candid. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...


Weekly Round Up:



These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Friday Fruit (08/24/17)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...


Weekly Round Up:


These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.
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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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