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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Commentary by Bruce Ray, Pastor

On May 25, a Chicago Tribune article revealed that retired Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, Jr., received a $126,004 pension last year–much more than he ever made as Senate President.  Thanks to legislation he helped craft and pass in 1989, he saw his pension increase over $41,000 after his first year of retirement.  And it’s all legal.

This news came on the heals of news of inflated pension payments for former Mayor Richard J. Daley, who according to CBS News and the Chicago SunTimes started receiving $184,000 a year following his retirement in 2011.  AND, he will receive an automatic 3% cost-of-living adjustment annually.  And it’s all legal.

But “legal” doesn’t make it right.

I’m no tea-partier, but this makes me outraged–both as a citizen and as a follower of Jesus.  The people in power make rules that benefit themselves while at the same time cutting funds for services to those who are most vulnerable.  We will continue to pay out inflated pensions, but we cannot find a few thousand dollars a year to help a household of 4 making less than $30,000 a year with their childcare expenses.  For the sake of fiscal solvency, we must cut millions for housing services to help the homeless (24% of them children and 17% of them working in low-wage jobs); we have no choice but to cut Medicaid payments for old people in nursing homes (they’re going to die sooner or later anyway), but God forbid that we ask Emil Jones or Mayor Daley to contribute even a small percentage toward their currently FREE health insurance. The powerful get wealthier on the backs of the poor, the children, the sick and the homeless. The “least of these”–these brothers and sisters of Jesus–suffer. I can just hear the prophets of the Old Testament now.  “Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land: ….The Lord has sworn, ‘I will never forget anything they have done.'” Amos 8:4, 7

God will not bless any nation (or any state) that disregards the needs of the poor for the advantage of the powerful.   Shame on the Illinois General Assembly.  Shame on Paul Ryan and his immoral national budget that called for billions of dollars in cuts to poverty programs while increasing the military budget by 20% and his own salary.  (Thank God the Senate defeated that one by a narrow margin).  Shame on the Democrats.  Shame on the Republicans.  Shame on us.  We keep handing these people the keys to the car even though we know they’ll drive intoxicated with their own power.

We need some righteous indignation.  We need to raise some holy heaven.  We need to find our prophetic voice.  We need to think and pray before we punch a ballot.  We need to put some boundaries around power.  We need to pray, “Arise, O Judge of the earth!”  We need to stand up in the name of Jesus and defend the needy from the schemes of the unjust.  Our faith does not command us to blindly obey those in authority.  There are times when tables need to be over-turned.

We’re turning our empty lot into community garden space and we’re looking for neighbors and friends who are interested in raised bed gardening.  If that describes you, join us at the corner of Kimball and Medill for an informational meeting on Saturday, May 19, starting at 11:00 am.

Our Ascension Sunday worship service with St. Luke’s Lutheran and First Lutheran has been relocated to our empty lot at the corner of Kimball and Medill Aves.  The service will begin promptly at 10:30 am.  (It was to be held originally at Palmer Square, but we could not get the required permits approved.)  Join with our neighborhood brothers and sisters to honor the One who is exalted above all.

Today is Mother’s Day.  Grace and peace to all the moms.  Today is also the 6th Sunday of Easter.  I was reflecting on the relationship of women to Easter.  It was the women who first went to the tomb–not the men.  It was the women who first met Jesus–not the men.  It was the women who were first instructed to take the news of the resurrection to the disciples–not the men.  Without the women, there would be no announcement of resurrection hope.  So, why has the church historically silenced the women?  Forgive us.  Today, we’re honoring not only the women who bear children, but all women who bear good news of hope and faith.  Thank you for your faithful proclamation by word and action.

A block of $10 tickets for the May 19th premiere of “On Any Given Day”, a play about homelessness, has been offered to Kimball Avenue Church.  If you are interested in reserving tickets, please contact the church at kimballavenuechurch@yahoo.com.  For more information about the play and details about location and time, visit www.kimballavenuechurch.org.

Commentary by Pastor Bruce Ray

Many of us are not looking forward to the arrival of NATO in mid-May.  It will interrupt transportation.  It will create gridlock on highways.  The police will be on high alert, creating tension and increasing the likelihood of conflict with expected protesters.  Downtown will be being turned into a military zone complete with combat personnel with automatic weapons.  And this is supposed to be a good thing for the city.  I’m not so sure.

However, there are two special days on the May church calendar: Ascension Sunday when we recognize only one sovereign Lord: Jesus Christ, and Pentecost when we celebrate the formation of the global church by the coming of the Spirit.  I find the juxtaposition of current events with these church days challenging.

The Ascension is a reminder of Who sits upon the throne and Who is above the nations.  While the heads of state gather to strategize and conspire to shape the future of the globe, I am reminded that “The the One who rules in heaven laughs.”  (Psalm 2:4)  I am challenged to consider my allegiance and my priorities.  I am a follower of Christ.  I heed the call of Christ.  I proclaim that Jesus–not NATO or any other nation or gathering of nations–is LORD.   I am also reminded that changing the world does not come through “swords loud clashing” in the words of the great hymn, “Lead On, O King Eternal”, but through deeds of love and mercy. The methods and strategies of NATO know little of the justice of God’s rule.  But there is more.

That first Pentecost was also a gathering of the nations.  And what the nations heard was not a strategy for peace through control and coercion, but a proclamation of Christ, crucified, resurrected and exalted.  And they were cut to the heart, led in repentance and given a new orientation.  Out of the many nations, a unifying movement toward God’s new creation was birthed.

The nations are gatherings in Chicago.  Protesters will be present.  Police will be present.  Politicians will be present.  And everyone will have something to say.  The Church of Jesus must also be present, finding it’s spirit-empowered voice to proclaim Christ boldly and to be a witness of God’s global plan for change, justice and righteousness.  Just maybe the nations will adopt a new battle plan.  Shalom.

This is the official Blog of Kimball Avenue Church.  We’ll post updates, news, relevant links, commentary and more.  This is a supplement to Kimball’s web site.  We want this to be interactive, so we welcome your comments and posts.

Enjoy!