05 February, 2017


I don't choose the weekly readings from scripture. They are assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary and were chosen on a three year cycle in 1994. Yet the texts for this Sunday contain biting and pointed commentary on our current world situation. 

"Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.... Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?"    
Isaiah 58:1-2, 6-7 NRSV 

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." 
Matthew 5:17-18 NRSV

Friends, I do not know what is happening in our country that people who call themselves Christians are ignoring the very heart of that for which Jesus lived and died. I do not understand how we can express love for the fetus but fear the refugee child. I do not know what leads people to live in fear of the outsider and suspicion of those who differ from them. I cannot account for the masses of people who believe that their lives are more important that the lives of others. But I see, hear, and feel it every day.

I hear it in the voices that say they care about the homeless but they just don't want to see them in their neighborhoods lest their property values fall. I see it in the call to close our nation's borders and stop refugees from finding safety within our land. I hear it in the fear and suspicion raised and amplified by leaders. I hear it in people whispering behind the back of the woman wearing a hijab or the man in a turban. And I feel it in the timbre of the nation as we cut off the means of birth control and view health care as a privilege not a right. I feel it in the pulse of a government that puts a leader of a hate group in the position to guide and council our president. These are faith issues, friends. These reflect a people who depend not upon their faith but their own self sufficiency.

Friends, we cannot claim to be followers of Jesus and then choose to ignore Christ's mandate: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Nor his prayer that things shall be "on earth as it is in heaven." Our role as followers of this teacher is to live out the teachings and profess the ways that he taught. Our job as members of the Body of Christ is to actively work to bring God's realm into being. We cannot look out for our own interests before the interests of others.

For Jesus, there are no countries to be conquered, no ideologies to be imposed, no people to be dominated. There are only children, women and men to be loved.
Henri Nouwen 

We are living still in a time when the ideals of our society and the ways of our faith are in conflict with one another. What do you choose? How will you live? These are not rhetorical questions.

"If you decide that it's a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you'd rather serve-and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you're now living. As for me and my family, we'll worship God."                                                                           
Joshua 24:15 The Message.

May you be blessed in your discernment.