“Juden” // Dr. Everhart video reflection from Germany

“Juden” // Rev. Dr. Dana Everhart’s reflection on the Garden of Exile at the New Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany.

// this film is a part of a series sharing our Continuing Education group’s experience in Germany (Berlin, Chemnitz, Fürth/Nuremberg, Göppingen, Albstadt) to learn about resistance, healing, reconciliation, and asylum seekers & refugees. Our group seeks to be “Intellectually Curious, Socially Holy, and Conscious” and to explore ways that we might help pastors, institutions, and other groups to appreciate people of difference and work together across lines of race, class, and other boundaries.

2019 ACE Germany Tuesday (Berlin)-43

This 2 year initiative is funded through the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Academy of Clergy Excellence (ACE2) Program. http://ngumc.org

World Refugee Day Homily

2018.06.20 MidWeek Communion Service Homily (World Refugee Day) at Oak Grove United Methodist Church

Scripture: Matthew 2:13-15
“When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died.”

In this part of the birth narrative of Jesus, Matthew’s gospel is telling us the story of love coming into the world through Jesus–fully human, fully God. The obedient Magi have just left the scene, being warned in a dream to flee from the somewhat insecure, and certainly murderous, King Herod.

And so, we come into the story at the point where Joseph is also being warned in a dream to escape. They go to Egypt, fleeing for their lives.

We don’t get a lot of details about their experience getting to Egypt, nor how they were received in Egypt, but shortly after this scripture they do return and move to Nazareth in Galilee.

Today is international World Refugee Day. A day created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 4, 2000. The assembly noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This 1951 convention determined who qualified as refugees, set out the rights of individuals to be granted asylum, and defined the agreed-upon the responsibilities of nations granting asylum.

The UN High Commission of Refugees says that a refugee is: “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion,” and notes that refugees are typically unable to return home for those fears of persecution or unable to return home. (more info)

We see in the early text of Matthew’s Gospel narrative that Jesus, God incarnate, was forced to flee with his parents for fear of persecution and violence. Matthew’s portrayal of the birth narrative is mostly a story of God’s activity. The story is about the baby, infant Jesus, so Jesus here is not saving himself nor are these particularly really heroic  deeds from Mary or Joseph, but rather faithful action–just as any parent would do what they needed for their children. This minor digression in the birth narrative is only found in the Gospel of Matthew and is often an overlooked portion of scripture. It reminds us that we are called to pay attention to the minor digressions in stories and that even through unappreciated and seemingly less important people God might be trying to show us something.

Photo Jun 23, 11 16 53 AM.jpgImagine being someone in Egypt who met a baby/toddler version of Jesus brought in by two young parents, likely scared and yet hopeful. They went to Egypt with dreams for a better life for their child, the baby Jesus. And we don’t know that they found welcome in Egypt, but I like to imagine that some Egyptians saw them, had pity on them, recognized their gifts and abilities, and wanted to help them succeed.

World refugee day is about the celebration of not just the triumph of the human spirit, but also of the provision and welcome offered by host countries and community members.

How might we be called to pay attention to make room in our own lives for unexpected people or to create a space for others who are looking for a place of safety.

Sometime this week, whether tonight or later this week, perhaps re-read Matthew 2:13-15a and perhaps imagine yourself as an Egyptian seeing the holy family coming into town.

How do you feel drawn to help to encourage or to provide welcome?
How might God be using that to encourage us all to find a little more room?

Let it be so. Amen.

//

FYI: MidWeek Communion is a weekly Weds 5pm Worship service of prayers, a song, a Homily, and Holy Communion held in Grand Hall at Oak Grove UMC–feel free to drop by if you’re going to be out of town over the weekend or wanting to stop in & say “hi.” –JMcBray

“Why Stand So Far Away My God”

“Why Stand So Far Away My God” — my homily in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting and devastation in Puerto Rico — with musical selections of “Why Stand So Far Away MY God” (Ruth Duck) and Prayer of St. Francis (Trinity Anglican) with Atticus Hicks. The homily was given on Oct 8th, 2017 at the MidWeek Communion Service (Weds at 5pm) at Oak Grove United Methodist Church (ogumc.org).

Our continued prayers with the people of Las Vegas and Puerto Rico and friends Glen and Bill and their teams serving and working there.

chords & lyrics:
Why Stand So Far Away My God (fws 2180) by Ruth Duck
Prayer of St Francis (G) by Trinity Anglican

 

re-Hymn: In the Garden (of Gethsemane)

In thinking about preaching this year on Good Friday, the idea came to me to create a minor-keyed arrangement of the classic hymn “In the Garden (I come the Garden Alone).”

So often the music and key of a song can greatly impact the words and meaning. After all, “the medium IS the message” and the WAY we communicate deeply influences WHAT we are trying to communicate.*

In thinking about preaching this year on Good Friday, the idea came to me to create a minor-keyed arrangement of the classic hymn “In the Garden (I come the Garden Alone).” This much beloved (and yet also critiqued as being over sentimental or potentially romantic**) hymn from C. Austin Miles was composed in 1912 and made it into our United Methodist Hymnals soon thereafter.

This re-arranging of this hymn text is heavily influenced by re-imagining the text as written about the Garden of Gethsemane (in Matthew 26:36-46) instead of the resurrection garden encounter (in John 20:11-18) and is also influenced by Black Liberation theologian James Cone‘s God of the Oppressed. Placing this hymn tune’s normal major progression in G C D into and Em Am Bm minor progression and adapting the melody leave it with a haunting, appropriate sense of what it means to sing about being with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that fateful night just before his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. Here is a rough version of the chords written out.

In the Garden (of Gethsemane) from joseph mcbrayer on Vimeo.

I’ll be singing and preaching more about this hymn at the Emory Office of Spiritual and Religious Life Good Friday service April 14th, 12noon at Cannon Chapel, Emory University.

___
Footnotes:

*Media theorist and author Professor Marshall McLuhan, The Medium Is the Massage (New York: Bantam Books), 1967, 10.

**Choir master and hymnal editor Carlton R. Young, Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: Abingdon Press), 1993, 432-433.

Doctoral Work: Boundary Leaders

The goals of this curriculum will be for students to gain a deep and practical understanding of boundary leadership, to understand what boundary leadership does for community formation, and how students/leaders can become/create other boundary leaders…

For my Doctor of Ministry Final Project I am filming a series of interviews with a remarkable set of leaders in and around Emory University: Rev. Lyn Pace (Oxford College Chaplain), Carlton Mackey (Emory Center for Ethics and Artist), Dr. Elizabeth Corrie (Candler School of Theology), Danielle M. Bruce Steele (Emory Office of LGBTQ and the Center for Women), Rashika Verma (Emory undergraduate student), Ruth Ubaldo (Candler Theology Student), Kevin McIntosh (Emory Housing and Residence Life) and Dr. Bobbi Patterson (Emory Graduate Dept of Religion and Professor of Pedagogy).

This project is born out of my research on Emory undergraduates and from our course work around Asset Based Community Development and Alternative Leadership models–like “Boundary Leadership.” Boundary Leadership is necessary in order to build vibrant, thriving communities of inclusion, wholeness, and mutual prosperity, which, for Christians, is exemplary of the in-breaking Kin-dom of God made manifest through our loving actions.

My structural and social analysis research into the difficult and challenging issues in the Emory University community have further impressed upon me the importance of remarkable and adaptive people in leadership positions both in institutional and community settings. Author and researcher Gary Gunderson calls this “Boundary Leadership,” which “is the practice of leadership in the boundary zone, the space in between settled zones of authority, where relationships are more fluid, dynamic, and itinerant.*”

In order to learn more about how Boundary Leaders function in different spaces and areas of community life, practice self-care, act with intentionality, and help create other Boundary Leaders, I have conducted video interviews with both known and emerging boundary leaders in the Emory University community. This information and research will be compiled into a three to six week video small group curriculum for collegiate ministry.

The goals of this curriculum will be for students to gain a deep and practical understanding of boundary leadership, to understand what boundary leadership does for community formation, and how students/leaders can become/create other boundary leaders.

Below is the first edit of my interview with Chaplain Rev. Lyn Pace of Oxford College of Emory University, which serves as an introduction to Boundary Leadership.

*Gunderson, Gary; Cochrane, Jim (2012-02-15). Religion and the Health of the Public (pp. 119-120). Palgrave Macmillan Monographs. Kindle Edition.

filming setup at Lyn Pace's office

Power, Fear, & Love

“Power, Fear, & Love”  // The sermon I preached on Sunday October 18, 2015 at University Worship at Emory University on following Jesus, servanthood, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Civil Rights, Selma Alabama, and Mark 10:35-45.

University Worship in Cannon Chapel, Emory University, Atlanta, GA Emory Office of Spiritual and Religious Life.

“The Greatest Must be Servant of All”

“There’s something about kids and how they can make us stop in our tracks…a child changes our perceptions of a scenario or situation….”

This was a difficult sermon/homily to write in light of the ongoing crises in our world and how they disproportionately affect vulnerable people groups and children. This is my Homily/Sermon from this past Weds Night Worship on Mark 9:30-37 at Emory Wesley Fellowship, the United Methodist Campus Ministry at Emory University in Atlanta, GA on 2015.09.16.