“What to do With a Scoundrel” – from Rev. Kaji Douša

July 7th,2022 Categories: Weekly Letter

Continuing with Dr. Wil Gafney’s Year W texts, this week we return to the Hebrew Scriptures with a curious story of Eli’s sons . Eli was the penultimate Judge of Israel (Samuel succeeds him.) And while Eli was considered a good judge, his sons…not so much. The text this week calls them “scoundrels” and gives an example of just how dastardly they were.

In preparation for Sunday’s worship, I researched synonyms for scoundrel, realizing that my vocabulary for such was limited. Upon reflection, I realize that I have under-used the word scoundrel, too! I hope to correct this in Sunday’s sermon and moving forward. Because scoundrels, scallywags, miscreants, reprobate lowlifes, crooks and rascals abound, and the Bible has words for:

How we can recognize them
How we respond to them
How we can make sure we aren’t them.

Join us as we learn from the sons of Eli. Who doesn’t love a good villain story?

Finally, we have a special treat from the UCC Stillspeaking Writers’ Group (for which I’m an editor & contributor.) With permission of the group and publisher, I will be sharing periodic reflections on Communion from this beautiful resource that is not yet published! I’d love to hear your reactions to the provocative invitations we’ve made to think about what it means to live and be in communion with God and each other, anew. These writings are gorgeous – can’t wait for you to experience them!

Pax Christi,
Pastor Kaji

Scripture: 1 Samuel 2:12-17:

12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless; they had no knowledge of the HOLY GOD. 13 The practice of the priests toward the people was: when any woman or man sacrificed an offering, the priest’s boy came while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 14 Then he violently shoved it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot, and all that the fork brought up the priest took for himself. This is what they did to all the women and men of Israel who came there, to Shiloh. 15 Even more, before the fat was burned to smoke, the priest’s boy came and said to the one who was sacrificing, “Give up some meat to roast for the priest; for he will not accept boiled meat from you, but only fresh.” 16 And if the woman or man said to him, “Let them burn the fat to smoke first, and then take for yourself what you wish,” he would say, “No! Now! You will give it, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of [Eli’s] boys was very great in the sight of the HOLY ONE OF OLD; for the men treated the offerings of the MOST HIGH with contempt.


Refusing to Forget

Mary Luti

“He took bread, and after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper…”— Luke 22:19-20

When Christians talk about Communion, we say it’s a remembrance of Jesus, a memorial. Which is true, but also potentially misleading, as if what we’re doing at the table is reminiscing, like you would maybe at a wake.

But in the gospel’s original Greek, the word for remembrance is stronger, edgier, more demanding—anamnesis—literally, “against amnesia.” It turns out that remembering Jesus in Communion is oppositional, like standing up to something, an adversary. Remembering at the table is not reminiscence, it’s resistance. It’s refusing to forget.

There are forces around us and within us that want us to forget what they’ve been up to for eons, wreaking havoc, taking up all the breathing room, squeezing the life out of everything for ego, profit, supremacy, and power. Killing for sport.

They’re still at it, night and day, trying to fog over all traces of Jesus’ love revolution in the world and in our hearts. They hope we’ll lose his trail, his story’s thread. They hope we’ll forget we ever knew him.

For if we forget, we’ll be putty in their hands. If we forget, they can tell us anything they want, and we won’t know they’re lying. In the vacuum of forgetting, injustice has it easy, violence rules the day.

Communion is dangerous memory, it’s our uprising. At the table we take a stand. We remember him. We remember each other. We remember everyone and everything hate wants to erase. We refuse to forget.

We will not forget you, Jesus, 
we will not forget.
We will tell your danger story 
at this table met:
how you lived in truth unbending, 
faithful through the awful ending,
love the reason, love the debt,        
we will not forget.

We will not forget you, Jesus, 
we will not forget
all the shamed and all the slaughtered, 
all who cried for breath.  
Every victim has a place here,
they will never be erased here;
singing resurrection’s threat, 
we will not forget.

We will not forget you, Jesus, 
we will not forget.
When the world conspires to make us 
lose your story’s thread,
we will come and eat, defiant,
revolution’s bread of triumph, 
hearts shored up and faces set, 
we will not forget.

We will not forget you, Jesus, 
we will not forget.
When we eat this meal together, 
bless and break the bread,
you are here with us in power, 
now the day and now the hour,
rising, rising from the dead, 
we will not forget.