Sunday School: Vol. 3

Sunday, September 1, 2019 San Francisco, CA, USA

Maybe the desire to create something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us. 
M A R Y  O L I V E R

I've finished Transformation Church's series on Relationship Goals! I know the title seems a little corny, but I really, truly believe that pursuing a biblical understanding and paradigm of relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, etc.) has fundamentally changed me for the better in a very short period of time. I'm still trying to find a comfortable balance between not oversharing my personal life and wanting to deliver earnest testimony, but the sequence of these episodes has exactly mirrored the lessons I've needed to learn lately. Like, exactly. This series was so good for/to me. I can't recommend it enough (or literally anything else in this post, I'm absolutely serious when I say that my life is changing and I want you to experience the clarity I've found, too.)

Related, part of the impetus for this "Churchless Christianity" series is that I grew up in Taiwanese churches that mostly served an older congregation. Beyond the slight language barrier, I really struggled to find much that resonated in sermons delivered to those with seemingly well-established faith and entirely different life experiences than mine. Curating my own Sunday School (in addition to being very on-brand for me) allows me to find Christian counsel on what's directly and urgently important to me every week. On that note, I'm renaming these posts to "Sunday School" in an effort to honor the churches that have actually always tried to give me a home, and those that have changed me without us having ever shared a physical space. I also just really love school.

This sermon by Brittany Packnett on why social justice is the will of God, and why discipleship today compels us to liberate first ourselves, then the oppressed, and above all else, our oppressors. That she attended my alma mater (and was in my honorary!) should really be our school's claim to fame. Read more about her here, then please watch/listen to her sermon. "When a pastor looks out," she begins, "he sees a congregation. When activists look out, they see a rally." Yes. It's all that good

She also cites the 1619 Project by The New York Times, a collection of essays about the true American heritage and legacy -- one I hope we would all recognize as a violent and unjust one. While I believe that the deconstruction of these structures is a secular imperative, Christians especially have a biblical calling for the liberation of all. Those who deny, dismiss, and destroy Jesus's example of radical social justice in His name are false prophets (we have one, for example, as president). The true Savior, Packnett argues, would have us sit among and heal the diseased -- not deny them affordable healthcare. He would have us welcome migrants into our homes, not incarcerate their children. The hopelessness we feel is man-made. The work ahead is God's plan for humanity. 
The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to re-frame the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

If all your prayers were answered today, would it change the world or just your life?
I'm probably just a simple and not-very-bright girl, but sound bites like this get me. I've always been very frustrated by the "thoughts and prayers" rhetoric, but I realize it's unfair to generalize Christians as apathetic and actionless when those who don't actually do the work are not, in fact, following Christ's example. I know I'm sensitive by nature (and always will be), but the world really has been breaking my heart lately. Between state violence in Hong Kong to migrant detention centers at our own borders and all the hurricanes, mass shootings, and heartaches in between, to the 5+ years that Flint, Michigan has been without clean water, if my faith were a fraction of a degree weaker, I'd feel nothing but despair. As an outsider, I've always wondered how people could put their faith in God to reconcile man-made systems of oppression and inequality. What sort of prayer was ever going to make insulin more affordable, or change a dictator's heart? Even last month's volume admitted to this doubt. Prayer, I now know, doesn't inherently change the circumstances; but they strengthen our own ability to do so. I believe, now, that every skill and characteristic I have - including my weepy, fiery little personality - when tasked with Christ's command for goodness, generosity, and radical justice, is unstoppable. Not because I am unstoppable, but because His will is.
So today, I feel less despair than I did yesterday. Everything we abhor reflects the hurt we have to heal. We can only free what we recognize as caged; only redeem what we find to be broken.

May we do right by each other in this lifetime.

With love, love, love,

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