Message: The Reign of God is Like…

These comments were prepared as introductory remarks for discussion of a memorial calling on the ELCA to commit itself to address bullying, harassment and violence at the 2011 Metro Chicago Synod Assembly, titled “The Reign of God is Like…”

A copy of the original version of the Resolution can be found here.

MCS2011Reverend Chair,

My name is Erik Christensen. I am the pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square, and this is my first time addressing this assembly.

Trusting that we, as a church, stand against every form of bullying, harassment and violence; and knowing that this assembly will hear from educators and others who have witnessed and worked with those who bully and those who are bullied, let me simply offer this as a starting point:

The reign of God is like this: a child

some mother’s precious first-born who made her soul sing

some father’s beloved with whom he was well-pleased

a child who was born during a census

whose family fled from political torture

and were immigrants in a foreign land

who spoke a language other than the dominant culture’s

who had an accent

who was a religious minority

who grew up working with his hands and didn’t have much,

who hung around with a lot of men

and a lot of women

and behaved in ways people said were “gender-inappropriate”

who didn’t look like the officers of the law, the peace-keepers of the Empire

who was friends with all the wrong, unpopular people.

This child was called wonderful.

Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting head-of-household. Prince of Peace.

This child was mocked, was beaten up, was publicly humiliated and, ultimately, was bullied to death.

This child God raised up from the dead as a sign that God stands with,

and God dwells within,

every bullied person.

And, when we were baptized, we were brought into solidarity with every bullied body, each one a child of God, beloved, a pleasure in the heart of the Maker.

Sisters and brothers, as we discern how best to stand with, to serve and protect, all who are targets of bullying, harassment and violence, remember your baptism.

I urge the adoption of this resolution.

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