Martin Niemöller is one of my models for faith—a deeply religious pastor who recognized he made some mistakes along the way. Niemöller was initially supportive of Hitler and the Nazis, and made some comments that were vaguely anti-Semitic. But when he realized the direction the Nazis were taking Germany, their attempts to co-opt the church, and their Aryan supremacy views, he joined the opposing Protestant forces which became known as the German Confessional Church. Imprisoned from 1937 until his release in 1945, Niemöller barely escaped the horror of the concentration camps. After his imprisonment, he expressed the deep regret that he didn’t do more to help the victims of the Nazi horror, much like Oskar Schindler did after the war. Niemöller’s famous quote was:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Dietrich Bonheoffer, Niemöller’s colleague, said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Pusillanimity is probably the most common “sin” and many of us have never even heard of it. Pusillanimity is living in a state of cowardliness and literally means “puny spirit.” Thomas Aquinas used the word to describe the sin of not doing the good you are capable of doing, as in, not speaking up, not acting when action is warranted. We so often think of “sin” as what we have done, when in fact, it’s what we haven’t said or done that’s the greater issue.
When Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, summed up his effort in a conversation with Richard Rohr, he said, “We are only the light bulbs, Richard, and our job is just to remain screwed in!“ That’s a winner. Over the years I’ve been asked the question I was asked once again Thursday: How do you keep going when there seems to be so little hope and so much wrong with the world? It’s not my job to manage the universe, or even be the Assistant General Manager of the Universe, although that may be the job way too many of us are applying for. My job is to show up and do the next right thing twenty-four hours at a time until I’m relieved of duty in death and go “home.”
In the important parable (Matthew 25) Jesus told about the last judgment, he described the nations being separated between sheep and goats on the basis of whether or not they reached out to those in need—“the least of these.” The “sheep,” the ones who have reached out to those suffering to offer a cup of water, a cloak, and comfort, are surprised they are being commended and rewarded: What did we do?” they ask. What they did was the next right thing and put into practice the commandment to love God and love your neighbor. They spoke. They acted. They didn’t remain salt in the shaker—out of the shaker they went to partner with God’s Spirit in the world. They didn’t hide their light under the basket—they let it shine. I, too, will stand before the throne in judgment. On that day I trust God’s gracious mercy will cover me with forgiveness. But I also hope that when my life is reviewed, the Lord will welcome me home with the words, “Well done.”
Here are the passages I’m reading this week:
Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Amos 5:21-24: The LORD says, “I hate your religious festivals; I cannot stand them! When you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will not accept the animals you have fattened to bring me as offerings. Stop your noisy songs; I do not want to listen to your harps. Instead, let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes dry.
Luke 4:16-21 (TEV)
Then Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath he went as usual to the synagogue. He stood up to read the Scriptures and was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All the people in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on him, as he said to them, “This passage of scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read.”
More Sunday…Here’s what I have on my desk…
4TH OF JULY FOOD BOOTHS ARE IN NEED OF –
Sunday, July 3
—Food Prep in St. Andrew Kitchen (slicing onions, tomatoes, lettuce)
—Set-up on the Sonoma Plaza (pick-up trucks needed)
Monday, July 4
—Cashiers, BBQ, Ice Cream Scoopers
—Clean-up on the Sonoma Plaza (pick-up trucks needed)
FOR THE ROOTBEER FLOATS
2-LITER BOTTLES of Name Brand Root Beer (not diet)
NAME-BRAND DRINKS AND CHIPS
1,000 BOTTLED WATERS (people are making more healthy choices – we sell a lot of water)
NAME-BRAND SODAS—Pepsi, Coke, Sprite, A&W Root Beer and Orange Soda.
CHIPS: 1 oz. bags (individual servings)
Join st. Andrew’s Relay for Life team! Relay for Life will be held at the Presentation School on August 27-28th. We are looking for a St. Andrew Team Co-Leader to assist Eileen Haflich with fundraising and participating at the event. If interested, please contact Eileen at [email protected]
POPCORN PARABLES is coming soon! We’ll be watching the following films this summer:
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
August: Osage County
Now you know what I know…