Commentary

Will we be chaplains of the empire, or chaplains of the resistance?

Posted on Aug 10, 2018

Two young parents, María and José, left home in the middle of the night, carrying their newborn son, Jèsus. A power-hungry dictator and terrible political situation made it unsafe for the small family to remain at home, and they fled across the border to another country for sanctuary.

Sound familiar? It should. This story from Matthew 2:13-14 has been playing out on the U.S. border for months.

Read More

The Sinai-Pentecost moment

Posted on Jul 28, 2018

In Exodus chapter 20, the children of Israel had recently been liberated from slavery in Egypt, and they gathered at Mount Sinai to hear the word from the Eternal One. They were not assembled to hear the voice of Moses -- even to hear God's voice through Moses -- but rather the whole community was ready to hear God's voice for themselves.

Read More

Justice is a verb!

Posted on Jul 28, 2018

News about the hateful words, policies, and practices of the Trump administration dominate the airwaves.  That’s understandable.  President Trump’s comments, policies, and practices should be discovered and exposed. 

However, we who believe in love and justice should focus more attention on building a counter-movement to the hate, fear, hypocrisy, deceit, and authoritarian mindset that Donald Trump represents, and that is particularly evident among white religious nationalists in U.S. congregations

Read More

Doing the next right thing

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

I wear a little pin on my employee identification badge that says "Chaplain," but I don't get much chance to make a typical chaplain visit these days.  

This is not because I don't still love those one-on-ones. In fact the sacredness of those visits is what led me into Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) supervisory training 20 years ago.

Read More

These are my friends

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Tea and Jilda pictured above are my friends -- my Muslim friends. These are the kinds of people now barred from entering the United States. Tuesday's ruling of the Supreme Court does not speak for me or for the Alliance of Baptists. We reject any ruling that discriminates on the basis of religion, race, culture or country of origin.  

Why this photo? It puts a human face on the ruling of the Supreme Court upholding the travel ban that focuses on predominately Muslim nations.

Read More

The Second Amendment has limits

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

When the Parkland mass shooting occurred in February I came to believe, and still do, that our cynical national conversation regarding gun control would change. It was the sudden prophetic and articulate burst of political activism by young people that captured our collective imagination. Emma Gonzales and other students spoke truth to power.

Read More

When you are ready to do more than talk, let's talk

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Near the end of a conversation I was having with an African American pastor, he said, "When you're ready to do more than talk, let's talk." As a white pastor of a predominantly white congregation, I had earned those words.  

In some ways I was more hopeful about the Church becoming a place of racial reconciliation when I graduated from seminary 30 years ago than I am today. Though maybe naiveté was just masquerading as hope.

Read More

Split-screen world

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Editor's note: This reflection by Steve Hyde, co-pastor of Ravensworth Baptist Church in Annandale, Va., first appeared in the church's newsletter on May 15, the day after the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. 

I would love to write a happy column for this edition of the newsletter. Our life together at RBC gives us plenty to be happy about, and is a living source of deep joy for many of us. Yet, I cannot bring myself to write a split-screen column, one in which I'm exulting in the dynamic life of our congregation, while at the same time feeling enraged and distressed by yesterday's killings in Gaza. 

Yesterday's split-screen events on television were surreal and infuriating, in one corner a happy gathering of smiling faces at the new United States embassy in Jerusalem; in the other corner smoke and fire in Gaza, Israeli soldiers, and Palestinian bodies lying on the ground. The list of 43 fatalities I've seen is incomplete (the current number is 60) but includes one 14 year-old boy, one 15, and three 16. Thirteen were in their 30's, and 23 in their 20's.

Read More

Everyone has value

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Sometimes I have a hospice patient who has lived a long time and is frail and wonders why she or he is still alive. They may say something like, "Why is God keeping me alive? I can't do anything for anybody else." Many of them have lived lives of helping or supporting others. I thought of these patients when I came across the following ancient fable.

Read More

Renewed by the kinship built between Baptists and Muslims

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

"When we encounter diversity it is an opportunity for us to acknowledge our limits." In these words from Dr. Raimundo Barreto, assistant professor of world Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary, I heard God's invitation to listen deeply and intentionally at this Third National Baptist-Muslim Dialogue April 16-19. 

As Dr. Barreto spoke, I looked around the room at the Anglo, African American, Latino, Asian, and Arab brothers and sisters who had traveled across North America to Green Lake, Wis. 

Read More