Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cesar Chavez Prayer

Show me the suffering of the most miserable, so I will know my people's plight. Free me to pray for others, for you are present in every person. Help me take responsibility for my own life, so that I can be free at last. Grant me courage to serve others, for in service there is true life. Give me honesty and patience, so that the Spirit will be alive among us. Let the Spirit flourish and grow, so that we will never tire of the struggle. Let us remember those who have died for justice, for they have given us life. Help us love even those who hate us, so we can change the world. Amen.

- A prayer by Cesar Chavez

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Equality & Justice

The LORD promotes equity and justice; the LORD's faithfulness extends throughout the earth. ~Psalm 33:5

I don't know about conservatives, but as a liberal, this is what I think of when I pray "Thy kingdom come." ALL men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights."

Maybe the right wingers aren't so off when they say that our laws were based on the Bible. Ya suppose Jefferson ever read this verse in Psalm 33?

Ah, but to we Americans really believe in and treat everyone equally? Throughout the Earth? Do we evenly & fairly offer genuine justice? To everyone?

I don't have a problem including "under God" in the pledge, so long as we remember the "with liberty and justice for ALL" part, and try to make it come true.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

POEM; Denominational Deconstructionism

The end is near

God is angry
about permissiveness
about abandoned traditions
about relativism most of all.

there are bats in our belfry
and snakes in our basement
disregarded Tupperware in the kitchen
that the Ladies' Aid would like to have claimed
or they will put it on the auction block next Summer
Should we contract ahead for fuel oil now
for next winter?

Somewhere between esoteric eschatology
and banal minutia

I sit


with Tillich and Kierkegaard,
Barth and Dostoevsky
and stewing
in Purgatory.

No matter how many indulgences
Tetzel would sell
he'd never get me out of this Earthly Hell.

Its not other people, as said Kant
but out of this church voters' meeting
that I want!

Motion to adjourn

to the tavern
with professors Luther and Melanchthon
for a pint

will join us.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Luke 11:29-54

When you read Luke 11:29-54 (especially the 7 woes), what you might notice is that it's not that Jesus is such a social or political revolutionary (He is first and foremost the Son of God and our spiritual messiah, He is about our souls), but those who opposed Him, the Pharisees & teachers of the law- they were all about social & political power and prestige when THEY'RE the ones who should've been concentrating on the spiritual.

It's kind of like how those who claim to oppose class warfare are usually the ones who've already been benefiting from waging war on the poor.

Jesus makes clear that God desires mercy over sacrifice, sincerity over lip-service, a real relationship with Him rather than just fiercely identifying yourself with Him. Repentance and regret over the sins of our ancestors rather than fancy memorials. And justice, liberty, and equality rather than institutionalized religious elitism.

I can see participants in the reformation seeing Luke 11:29-54 as applying to the church of the renaissance as much as to the Pharisees. We need to read it as if it applies to us in the 21st century West too.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The War's Over!

Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us.
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpow'r us.
This world's prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none,
He's judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him. 
~'A Mightly Fortress' by Martin Luther

This past week things just seemed to pile on. I admit, I'd succumed to the "diabolical D's;" doubt, discouragement, and depression. It felt like I was under attack. Too many hassles seemed to continue to wear me down. I really began to wonder if there wasn't some kind of spiritual aspect to my stress. Was this "Spiritual warfare?"

While I'm not so fundamentalist/evangelical to blame every problem, stressor and mistake on Satan- I'm also not skeptical/humanist enough to discount or deny the existence of angels and demons. I may be my own worst enemy and there are plenty of obstacles provided by the world itself, but I also know that the Devil would love to see us harm, whether he has a direct hand in it or not.

So, I hunkered down on my daily scripture reading/devotions & prayer time and I sought some prayer-cover from some warriors I know. 

Two things got me thinking about the very concept of spiritual warfare though. First (and most importantly) Easter. Jesus paid the ultimate cost on the cross, but then He didn't descend into Hell to suffer more, He went there to declare victory. Christians should always remember that Jesus won the victory against sin, death , and the Devil. There is nothing that we can add or detract (like Lincoln said about Gettysburg). 

The other thing that got me thinking was how many (so called "Christians") use fear and anger to manipulate people into accepting Christ. Hell, judgement, an angry God, torture by demons all seem to be ways that some among us seek to guilt and pressure us into falling into line with their positions and opinions. They want us to believe that we're either on God's side, or on Satan's side.

First of all, Satan is NOT God's equal and opposite. Satan is finite, individual, limited, and defeated. Secondly, God IS love. He does not coerce or manipulate. He is patient, kind, and merciful. He loves us enough to sacrifice His only begotten Son so that we can become His adopted sons and daughters.

Now, I'm still a bit beleaguered and fatigued, anxious and stressed. And I'm sure's heck accepting and grateful for the prayers of others. Perhaps I'm being tested, or "on the anvil" as author Max Lucado calls being tempered and prepared by the Lord. Perhaps I'm not facing anything that anyone else goes through. But no matter how tough it gets (and believe me, a lot of people have it a lot worse than I do), I know that my Redeemer lives. I also know that I don't have to worry about fighting, all I have to do is stand firm and claim the victory Jesus already won.

See also Psalm 46: 1-11, Romans 8:31-19, Ephesians 6:10-17, and Revelation 19:11-16

Thursday, April 04, 2013

No Harm (so no fear)

Luke 10:19-20 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Monday, April 01, 2013

Love enemies | Do unto others | Judge not | Produce good fruit

I read Luke 6:27ff for morning devotions today.

Once again I'm dumbfounded how anyone could read Jesus teachings and claim to believe & follow Him, yet also behave the ways we often do and support media, business, & political leaders who behave the way they do.

Luke 6:27-45, reminds me of kind, compassionate, & humble people who advocate for the oppressed and oppose bullying.

How if one reads & internalized Christ's teaching in Matthew 5 & Luke 6 could anyone still hold onto a philosophy focused on self interest?

I encourage my non-Christian and skeptical, agnostic, & humanist friends to read just these 2 chapters of the Bible. I'll bet you'll end up appreciating, respecting, even admiring Jesus in spite of how ridiculously hypocritical His followers can be.

I also encourage my conservative and religious friends to review Matt 5 & Luke 6. I'll bet the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to just how much 21st cen American Christians are just like the Pharisees and teachers of the law during Jesus time. My prayer is that God will reveal to you how the media demagogues, political shills and televangelists we listen to and support are just the blind leading the blind.

May knowing what Jesus really taught change all our minds... and hearts.