05 January, 2012

Occupy Church!

Occupy.  It’s the “word of the year” chosen by the linguistic gurus at some international press organization.  You’ve heard it used in reference to Wall Street, Little Rock, or perhaps even Louisville.  To “occupy” is to employment, inequality, financial regulation, or whatever else comes to mind for those who “Occupy.” Their claim to be the 99 percent is so inclusive it actually includes anyone earning less than a half a million dollars a year  The movement was inspired by the Arab Spring movement that gave rise to so much tumultuous change in the Middle East.  That movement continues to protest the abuse of power, tyranny, extremism, and oppressive governance. 
Have you heard Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55? 
“He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”
Or Hannah’s song in 1Samuel 2:4-7?
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. …. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. 8He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.
Both of these Biblical women sing about the lowly being raised up, the powerful being put in their places.  Isaiah, too, writes about the day of Jubilee when all debts are to be forgiven, the wealth redistributed, and the mighty made low.
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
Jesus, too preached about these things in his home town of Nazareth declaring that Isaiah’s prophecy ‘has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21)
My friends, it’s time for church members to join the Occupy movement.  Not on Wall Street, not in Little Rock, not in Louisville or Evansville, but right here at the corner of 10th and Jefferson Streets in Tell City.  It’s time to take over your church.  It is time to state your concerns, your disappointments, your frustrations, your hurts.  It’s time to give rise to your hopes and dreams for you church.  It’s time for your voice to be heard. 
Six weeks ago, the Interim Assessment was published.  It reflects the issues and concerns that were shared with the Interim Committee over a 12 month period.  It lifted up benchmarks that need to be addressed before a new pastor is called.  It laid out some goals and objectives for a future direction.  Now it’s time for you to speak up.  Your input is needed.  Please plan to attend the Pot Luck dinner following worship on January 15 when we will discern the approaches to these issues. 
The Search Committee also needs your input as they assemble a description of the church.  They will be distributing two different surveys – one demographic by household, the other on the qualities of a pastor to be completed by each member – that will be integral parts of the congregation’s “résumé.”  When you receive these surveys, please complete and return them as soon as possible so the search for a pastor can begin. 
Occupy Church!  It’s time for you to influence the future of your church!  Occupy!