Pastor’s Corner 10/27/2019

Pastor’s Corner

                Reverend Wade Watts was a civil rights activist and head of the Oklahoma NAACP in the 1970s. One day, while sitting in a diner, he was accosted by a group of Ku Klux Klansmen, who told him this: “think very carefully about what you do to that piece of chicken in front of you, because whatever you do to that chicken, we’re going to do to you.” Watts leaned over, picked up the chicken on his plate, and gave it a kiss. I love this story; instead of reacting violently or cowering in fear, Watts responded humanely, while still forcing his oppressors to recognize his dignity.
               This week, we are looking at Jesus’ command to love our enemies as part of our Prophetic Jesus sermon series. Many find this teaching difficult to swallow. No one likes to be a doormat, after all. But as we will see this Sunday, loving one’s enemies isn’t just a warm, fuzzy ideal…it can be a radical act of protest. Walter Wink writes about the famous passage in Matthew 5, where we find both Jesus’ command to love our enemies and Jesus’ instruction to  “turn the other cheek” when we attacked. Wink Jesus’ cultural context: the “turn the other cheek” piece refers to the ancient custom of hitting someone with lower social rank with the back of your hand to avoid having to look the person in the eye. If the other cheek was turned, you would make the aggressor look at you, as if to say “if you’re going to hit me, hit me like an equal.” Jesus is telling us to oppose injustice in a nonviolent, subversive way, not asserting a quiet consent to injustice, but asserting our humanity. 
             In a world powered by hate, Jesus’ call to peaceful resistance is crucial. Often, the most radical and courageous thing we can do is love our enemies…by seeing and acknowledging their humanity while still insisting that they acknowledge our own. My prayer is that we find a way to strike a balance and that we can love all of our neighbors, and to “be perfect as God is perfect.”   
 
Anna