Tikkun Olam - Heal the World - Laurie Morgan - https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tikkun-olam-heal-the-world-laurie-morgan.html

Tikkun Olam – Lenten Reflection (17)

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 8:1 – 9:6, Ecclesiastes 3

One Jewish account of creation is as follows: God contracted the divine self to make room for creation. Divine light became contained in special vessels, or kelim, some of which shattered and scattered. As a result, good and evil remained thoroughly mixed in the created world, and human souls became imprisoned within the shards. Humans have been charged with the work of tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase that can be roughly translated as “repair of the world.” We repair the world by claiming the Divine light and choosing to embody goodness by engaging in the healing of the world.

The Hebrew word for world, olam, appears in Ecclesiastes 3:

God has placed eternity (olam) in our hearts, yet we cannot fathom what he will do from beginning to end.

Wow. God, the creator of all, placed a piece of the eternal world in our hearts.

I find it difficult to expand on this profound truth, and I don’t want to. Rather, I can share the moments in my life where I might have begun to grasp God’s eternal presence in me.

These are moments that seem too big for our bodies: a dear friend finally conceiving and bearing child after years of trying, finding someone who loves even the most human parts of you, connecting with a stranger as if you had known them for years. In these moments of profound connection and intimacy my heart feels like it’s going to burst into shards of light. Eternity is in me.

These moment are breathtaking.

These moments are frustrating.

As much as I try, I cannot create, manufacture or grasp these moments. They are fleeting, brief encounters with the eternal wisdom that was beside and with God from the beginning of the world (Prov 8:9).

This, I think, is the reality of the human experience. We were created by God to be God’s very image. The Holy Spirit, described beautifully in Proverbs 8, is ever crying within us to embody her way. And sometimes, we get it. However, we are often frustrated (understandably so) because we cannot see the whole picture from beginning to end.

So what do we do?

We pay attention to the voice of God that is within us. We follow the way of righteousness and justice. We enjoy the bits of the divine we are graced to encounter. We eat. We drink. We take pleasure in our work. We do what is placed before us and trust God with the rest. We try our best to engage in the repair of the world, one eternal moment at a time.

Prayer: May I embody the light of God.

Reflection: How can you create space to listen to wisdom speaking within you? How do you feel called to engage in the repair of the world?

Art: Tikkun Olam: Heal the World by Laurie Morgan

Attribution: The description of Tikkun Olam comes from My Jewish Learning.

From - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2267/2503232332_7491c708d1.jpg

We are the Powerful – Race and Power in the Church

It is in many ways unfair for me to speak about issues of race and power. I have a college degree. I practice Christianity. I have a thin body. I have white skin. In our culture, I am a woman of power. Power is a complicated and loaded word. Today I will define power in terms of personal privilege: I can assume that in most situations I will enter into a room knowing I will receive attention, respect, assistance, and to a varying degree, I can get what I want, because of the qualities I possess.

That said, I feel I must speak. The recent deaths of Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, John Crawford III and Tamir Rice have reminded our country of the lingering presence of racial inequality and I am challenged with how to respond. I am saddened by the loss of life, the perpetuation of racism, and I feel powerless. Especially because I practice a way of life modeled after Christ who proclaimed that love always conquers death.

I suppose I could join a protest, grab a microphone and speak out against the murders. I see many churches acting this way and I applaud their desire to speak out against violence and be witness to compassion. However, I worry that these actions risk missing the root of the problem in the way that they are addressing these flashpoints of violence rather than the underlying power dynamic that perpetuates this problem. Some may argue that something is better than nothing but in this case, I am not sure. I believe that the paltry “somethings” the church has done for years has actually allowed people of faith to perpetuate existing power structures.  The current violence cannot be addressed in isolation but must be a call to align our way of addressing power and race through the example of Christ.

Commission on Racial Understanding Leadership Team in the Diocese of Ohio - A Group Seeking to Address the Root Causes of Racism
Commission on Racial Understanding Leadership Team in the Diocese of Ohio – A Group Seeking to Address the Root Causes of Racism

Church’s Current Relationship with Race and Power

For years the Christian faith has promoted half-solutions that keep us, the (white) people of power, in power. We provide just enough food so black kids are fed but we don’t fully address the hunger problem by arguing for living wages. We take time to tutor one child that “had it rough” rather than using our collective voices to promote policies that develop healthy and vibrant schools in all neighborhoods. We donate old clothes to the poor, never stopping to ask ourselves why we need to make such a large income that allows us to accumulate extra but others to scrape by on with not enough. We, through our paltry attempts at charity, create a world in which we have power in the dominant systems.

Read More »

Communal Healing – Sermon on John 9

Today I had the joy of being with St. Christopher’s Chatham, my sponsoring parish for ordination. Yesterday I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for this group and their willingness to wade through this process of discernment with me. I have inherited 6 new wonderful pseudo parents … which we all need.

Discernment Committee at St. Christopher's Chatham
Discernment Committee at St. Christopher’s Chatham


They also let me have the honor of preaching on the story of the healing of the blind man in John, chapter 9. When reading this gospel message I was struck by John’s attention to the communal nature of change. Rather than focusing the story on the individual’s transformation, John pays attention to the way that the blind man’s transformation agitates the power structures of the community. In my sermon, I tried to pick up on our unwillingness to look at change that way, we would rather continue to look as individuals as sinners or results of other’s sin rather than take account for our own part in the problem. In fact, when confronted with power shifts, we like the Pharisees would rather attack the person who changed or look for some one to blame than celebrate the miracle of healing! 

Read More »