Walking Together in Faith
Reflections, thoughts, ideas on life, ministry, and the church
I retired from active ministry in December of 2020 and now devote my time to writing and serving the church however I am needed. More about my ministry in the About tab on the menu.
My travels on behalf of the church have taken me to Africa, Central America, and Europe. Our church has relationships with companion synods in these countries. Thus, we sense God’s call to partner with God’s people everywhere to carry out God’s mission for the sake of the gospel.
As people of faith, we are called to be a reflection of God’s love as Christ modeled for us and for all humankind. There will be times that opinions differ. It is in those moments of discord that we look to the cross, which reminds us that we are reconciled to Christ so that we may be reconciled to each other.
I am most disillusioned with the Christian faith when in the presence of a Christian who refuses to name the traumas of this world.
I am suspicious of anyone who can observe colonization, genocide, and decay in the world and not be stirred to lament in some way. For all the goodness of God, my ancestors were still abducted from their homes, raped, and enslaved. I will not be rushed out of my sorrow for it. And we can delight that God made the garden with all those trees of fruit to feast on, but the earth is ailing and eroding from overconsumption and neglect. I shouldn’t need to recite a litany of wounds and injustices and decay in order to justify my sadness. In lament, our task is never to convince someone of the brokenness of this world; it is to convince them of the world’s worth in the first place. True lament is not born from that trite sentiment that the world is bad but rather from a deep conviction that it is worthy of goodness. I can only wonder why we have so many depictions of the cross with Christ looking stoic and resolved and so few with him crying out in pain and abandonment. When I read the story, he does not seem composed; he seems devastated. When we reconstruct a Christ whose very face remains unmoved, how are we to trust that he feels or longs for anything at all? A passionless savior cannot be trusted to save. I have never felt closer to God than when he has tears running down his face. I don’t delight in this, but by this, I know that I am seen…
Cole Arthur Riley
This Here Flesh (p. 98)
The word “liberation” bothers many people, but it is the reality of Christ’s redemption. Liberation does not mean only redemption after death, so that people should just conform to the system while they are alive. No, liberation is redemption that is already beginning on this earth. Liberation means that the exploitation of one human being by another no longer exists in the world. Liberation means redemption that seeks to free people from every form of slavery. Slavery is illiteracy; slavery is hunger, not having money to buy food; slavery is being homeless, not having a place to live. Slavery is misery; they go together. When the church preaches that Christ came to redeem us and that because of that redemption no form of slavery should exist on earth, the church is not preaching subversion or politics or communism. The church is preaching the true redemption of Christ. Christ does not want slaves; he wants all people to be redeemed; he wants us all, rich and poor, to love one another as sisters and brothers. He wants liberation to reach everywhere so that no slavery exists in the world, none at all. No person should be the slave of another, nor a slave of misery, nor a slave of anything that supposes sin in the world.
The Scandal of Redemption (p. 107-108)
If we are to think biblically about social responsibility and public policy, then we rightly focus on the book of Deuteronomy that is, in the Bible, the document and tradition that most powerfully transposes the covenant of Sinai into the realm of public practice. Indeed, it is not a stretch to say that Deuteronomy, in its context, became a charter for what we now call liberation theology, namely, the insistence that faith concerns the sustained enactment of public economic justice…
For that reason, we must pause to consider the neighborly presuppositions of Deuteronomy that commend love of neighbor as an economic policy and practice.
The book of Deuteronomy commends that “quadrilateral” of the vulnerable in its community: the widow, the orphan, the immigrant, and the poor. These are the ones without conventional protection in a patriarchal society. The argument is that the body politic must protect and sustain the vulnerable who have no other guarantee of protection and sustenance. Very often the focus is on the first three classes of persons – widow, orphan, immigrant – without naming the fourth, the poor. But either way, all that disadvantaged and marginalized are in purview.
Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture (p. 122-123)