Living & Growing: ‘The last shall be first and the first shall be last’

The Rev. Tari Stage-Harvey is pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. (Courtesy Photo)

The Rev. Tari Stage-Harvey is pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. (Courtesy Photo)

“The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

Jesus says something like this close to a dozen times, so that’s a signal to me as a preacher to pay attention.

I think he means it.

I invite the church to clearly state:

Black lives matter,

LGBTQ lives matter,

Native lives matter,

Women’s lives matter,

Disabled lives matter,

Refugee lives matter,

Poor lives matter.

The church needs to clearly state these lives matter not because they are noble or worth more, but because the state and church have historically and repeatedly deemed them as worth less.

It’s exhausting to reread the history of the Three-Fifths Compromise or the Dred Scott decision where a Supreme Court justice stated that Black people were of “an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race …(Black people) had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Church documents are equally as belittling and demeaning in their support of white, landowning men as the ones with authority and worth. I was going to pull out some historical documents, but reading what churches are saying right now became depressing so I stopped.

I know that some of you will be irritated and offended. I’m kind of sorry. I try to be nice. But …

The proclamation that the last shall be first isn’t any more popular now than it was during Jesus’ time.

It’s uncomfortable when you are the ones in first right now. We don’t need to make any proclamation that “White male lives matter” because the state and church have said that clearly for hundreds of years. You are loved; you do matter. There’s really never been any doubt about that so please breathe through the bubbling defensiveness and listen to some other voices for a bit.

Here’s the fun and wonderful news of God’s kingdom — it’s not a hierarchy.

The vision of God’s kingdom is communion, so first and last are absorbed in the circle of saints. We get to follow Jesus to the fringes, to those places where people feel discarded, and break bread together, listen, feel uncomfortable and learn to love. All of us do matter, but some need to hear it a little louder over all the voices saying they don’t.

• The Rev. Tari Stage-Harvey is pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.

More in Neighbors

Courtesy Photo / Iola Young 
Marla Berg presents $22,750 in “mattress money” to the Glory Hall, recipient of this quarter’s 100+ Women Who Care’s donation. Shown here (left to right): Bruce Denton, president of the Glory Hall Board of Directors; Marla Berg, member of 100+ Women Who Care’s organizing team; Maria Lovishchuk, executive director of the Glory Hall; and Glory Hall board members Deb Maas and Jorden Nigro, who is also a member of 100+ Women. Nigro made the winning pitch to the giving circle that now numbers 279 members. When collection of each $100 donation is complete, the Glory Hall award will total $27,900. Enough to purchase all the beds, mattresses and locking trunks needed for the new facility.
Organization donates over $22K to the Glory Hall

100+ Women Who Care’s 279 members pitch in.

This photo shows Adam Bauer and his granddaughter. (Courtesy Photo)
Living & Growing: At its core, the Bahá’í faith is a practice in hope and optimism

Today, the Bahá’í faith circles the globe with adherents in virtually every country in the world.

teaser
Thank you letters for the week of May 9, 2021

Thank you, merci, danke, gracias, gunalchéesh.

Courtesy Photo
Erin Walker-Tolles, executive director of Catholic Community Service, stands with Wayne Stevens, president and CEO of United Way of Southeast Alaska. CCS was among the organizations to receive grant funding from UWSEAK’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
United Way of Southeast Alaska distributes over $52K to local nonprofits

Juneau Empire United Way of Southeast Alaska has distributed $52,375 in grants… Continue reading

teaser
Living & Growing: Baptism in Water

By Joab Cano The baptism of Jesus Christ was a unique event… Continue reading

“Non-meat grillables are spendy, you know?” writes Geoff Kirsch. “I couldn’t trust either parent with Portobello mushroom steaks, let alone heirloom tomatoes and Halloumi cheese (which cost like $10 for a six-ounce block, and that’s 1992 dollars).” (Unsplash)
Slack Tide: Grillin’ like a villain

This week’s column gets up in your grill.

teaser
Living & Growing: Sorrow transformed

By Laura Rorem While pondering together Henri Nouwen’s words: “Out of his… Continue reading

teaser
Gimme A Smile: What national day is it today?

You don’t need to wait until May 31 to smile.

Courtesy photo/Troop 11 
Scouts from BSA Troop 11 gathered and donated 562 pounds of food to the food bank at Resurrection Lutheran Church on April 17. The troop meets at the downtown church and collected food from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Scouting for Food helps stock local food pantries

Local Scouts collected more than 9,000 pounds of food

Guy Crockroft is Executive Director of Love Inc, Juneau. (Courtesy Photo)
Living & Growing: Jesus is coming back. Are you ready?

Let’s do our best to love our neighbors and be salt and light.

Web tease
Juneau students earn academic honors

Recognitions for the week of Sunday, April 18, 2021.

teaser
Foodland and Super Bear customers donate to United Way

Customers donated over $4,700 by rounding up their change at the end of each transaction.