Pilgrim Church UCC Homily Outline, July 12, 2015, Staying in Covenant, (Exodus 32:7-14)

-General Synod—a Resolution of Witness: “A Call for the United Church of Christ to Take Actions Toward a Just-Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”

1.) Calls upon UCC churches/members to study the Kairos Palestine document

2.) Calls upon the UCC Board, Pension Boards, United Church Funds, Conferences, Local Churches, Members and all UCC entities to divest any direct or substantive holdings in companies that profit from human rights violations arising from the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel

3.) Calls upon all UCC entities to boycott goods identified as produced in the occupied Palestinian territories

4.) Calls upon the UCC to persist in the request to Congress that U.S. aid to Israel doesn’t violate the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act or the U.S. Arms Export Control Act

5.) Continue to engage in interfaith dialogue, including Jewish colleagues and organizations

-This Resolution advocated acts of solidarity with the Palestinian people, but how does it affect our relationship with our Jewish friends?
-Central Conference of American Rabbis: “Reform rabbis are particularly saddened by this development, because of the long-standing and meaningful relationships that many of us and our communities have cherished, and will now be forced to re-evaluate with UCC clergy and congregations. We note with disgust that our UCC colleagues chose to consult a virulently anti-Israel organization, calling itself ‘Jewish Voice for Peace,’ rather than their trusted friends and allies who lead the organized Jewish community.”[1]
-Jewish Voice for Peace advocate BDS as a tactic to achieve peace; the only Jewish presence at General Synod  -Didn’t hear much of a CON position (besides 20% of Delegates who voted against the resolution)
-Resolution Process—neutral education, sponsors’ speech, clarifying questions, edits, floor debate, vote
-How do we deal with the fallout from Synod?  Especially if we don’t agree with a passed Resolution?

-In Exodus, it’s striking that God doesn’t give up on God’s people even though God is so angry!
-Human/anthropomorphic presentation of God—hopeful for the rest of us
-God remains in covenant despite the mistakes God’s people have made–Loving Parent
-NOT trying to say I’m like God/always in the right, but Exodus points to the actions of those you love sometimes disappointing you and how to stay in relationship despite the anger/hurt
-Moses and God talk it out.  The Covenant God made with God’s people remains.
-For the first time in my ministry, profoundly disappointed in a decision that our national UCC advocated
-Having grown up UCC, not used to the Church disappointing me like this!
-Does this Resolution truly promote the peace process?  Did we just choose the Palestinian side without affirming Israel’s right to defend itself and Israel’s complex place in the Middle East?
-Keep going back to Covenant–central to what it means to be the United Church of Christ
-We are a people of Covenant, not hierarchy or rules or demands
-Even General Synod speaks TO the Church and not FOR the Church
-Covenant are promises, a coming together.  God says, “I will be your God and you will be my people.”
-Covenants are based on grace, built on love, nourishes us, mutual accountability, and we have to reaffirm our covenants especially when we may hurt each other
-Don’t have all the answers—dialogues continue within the UCC and beyond
-Already a UCC group has organized called UCC Clergy for a Just Middle East Peace, believing that a more balanced, fair, and realistic approach to peace and justice in Israel and Palestine is necessary

[1] https://ccarnet.org/about-us/news-and-events/statement-condemning-ucc-vote/