Posts

Showing posts from October, 2017

Creation Care - Genesis 2:4b-23

Jewish understandings of Genesis chapter two have long focused on God's ideal design for the world. The contrasts between Genesis two and three focus on how the reality of life on earth is different from the way God created the world to be. Sin intervened and life no longer flows according to God's original purposes. When Jesus spoke of Genesis chapter two, he called attention to the ideals of God in establishing the world, even as humanity has departed from those same purposes. First of all, we find in this text that the world order was established with the purpose of sustaining human life in all its fullness. The order of creation here is different from that in the first chapter. The narrative is so told in order to highlight God's design for creation. That is the point behind addressing the creation of humanity first, then turning around and completing the creation of humanity at the narrative's end. For the first narrative, humanity was God's crowning achievemen…

Always Under Reform

This month we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. That officially began with Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenburg. These theses were a response to three essential issues he had with the Catholicism of his day. First of all, he took issue with the practice of selling indulgences. Secondly, he took issue with the need to hold to the Bible as the central authority for Christianity. Thirdly, he defended the issue of salvation as the result of faith rather than the quality of one's actions. Luther was not the first to have espoused these ideas, but it was under his influence that a swell of support arose to bring these issues into the limelight. His purpose was not to create a new church. His purpose was to call the church back to the gospel principles taught by Jesus. He wanted reform. He wanted the Church to take itself seriously in regard to following Jesus' teachings. That meant the church needed to …

Protecting the Vulnerable - Genesis 4

It is easy to give up on people. We find people in all walks of life we are willing to write off or walk away from. We give up on people for slighting us or disagreeing with us. God's way is different. God seeks out the vulnerable to offer protection, encouragement, and a better path forward. It is really so hard for us to do the same? Our sense of justice does not mesh too well with God's sense of justice. We find a few texts in the Bible to substantiate our notions of how justice ought to work, but then we encounter God acting in a different fashion than what we would expect. Sometimes we are simply reading a passage incorrectly or attributing human concepts to God. We take the actions of human beings and assume they represent God's purposes. At other times, we simply can't figure out what to do with how God surprises us. It should not be that hard, as God begins working in those surprising ways as far back as the opening chapters of Genesis. Genesis chapter four begin…

The Bible on Homosexuality

The Bible on Homosexuality The Bible is not arranged topically to address the issues that arise in our lives or in the consciousness of any culture or society. It is not a book we can easily run to in order to find neat answers to the concerns raised by people living far removed from the circumstances of the Ancient Near East of First Century Palestine. That is just not how it was designed. Life's issues are generally much more complex than what we might dig from the Bible by quickly looking up a few words in a concordance or web search. Some themes are treated throughout the texts that compose the Bible. Others are hardly present at all. What one text may seem to say another might spin differently, challenging us to take a closer look at the first passage and the second, as well. When it comes to a topic like homosexuality, we are dealing with a short list of passages that may or may not have anything to do with what we understand as homosexuality. To further complicate matters, …

Hospitality to Strangers

We all have our circles of acquaintances, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, and colleagues. We travel within our circles of friendship, camaraderie, social class, and economic standing. We are most comfortable within those circles where we find a sense of belonging. Stepping beyond them makes us a bit uncomfortable, perhaps even worried or afraid. Within our cultural and social settings, we know what to expect. We know how to organize our actions and reactions to others. We know how to interpret another's words and gestures. We can navigate body language and cultural cues rather successfully. When we step outside those known circles, life gets a bit more complicated. We feel unsure about ourselves and unsure about the people we encounter. We do not have the assurance needed for interpreting cultural cues correctly. It makes us uneasy. Then we find the gospel calling us to reach out in love, compassion, and grace to all sorts of people who are not like us. We find that we are to treat…

The Respect of Equality - Exodus 23:1-12

One of the celebrated principles in founding the United States of America was a proclamation of equality. The Declaration of Independence referred to the equality of all men as sharing the very same Creator. The men writing such words and founding the country were struggling against a system of wealth and power tied to a powerful minority who controlled the land in England. They recognized the glaring injustices of a system in which the landed class held wealth and power at the expense of those who struggled as serfs to the land. The Constitution they devised decreed that titles of royalty were not to exist in this new country, but that all would be considered equals. We are aware of the failings in their application of these ideals. Slavery yet existed. Only those who owned land could vote. Women had neither a political voice nor a vote. These were more than simple issues of oversight in their proclamations. These were problems living up to the ideals they proclaimed, yet the principl…

Regulations to Limit Gun Violence

1. Limit ammunition sales and add restrictions to ammunition production equipment;
2. Allow hand-gun sales only to active Law Enforcement Officers and issue to active/reserve military, and members of state militias (National Guard);
3. Institute gun buyback programs;
4. Run gun education campaigns aimed at increasing gun safety and keeping guns out of the hands of children;
5. Allow CDCP to conduct its study on the health effects of guns;
6. Withdraw legislation exempting gun manufacturers from liability;
7. Require gun owners to carry liability insurance, requiring minimum coverages of $1Million per death, $500,000 per injury, plus all associated medical, disability, and legal costs resulting from gun usage;
8. Re-instate and strengthen the assault rifle ban;
9. Increase monetary penalties for crimes committed with a firearm with a minimum of $25,000 per incident per victim;
10. Allow general public access to hunting weapons, limited to bolt action rifles and up to 3-round magazine s…

Almighty Gun, We Worship You

Almighty Gun, we worship you.
It is in you we place our trust and hope for our security.
Where fifty-eight or more lie dead,
We pass legislation for more of your presence.
We hope you will protect us from our fears,
Our fear of the "Other," the immigrant, the stranger, the colored ones.
We fear our lives might be taken by those marketing terror.
All the while, we are the ones in terror.
We are the ones who instill, promote, and extend our own terror.
We live in fear.
We pack heat to make us feel stronger, more virulent, more protected.
We return to the world of make-believe, in which we are the heroes standing up to the enemies all around us.
We pray you will provide the energy and the aim we need.
We pray you will protect us from our fears of unknown enemies.
Then one of us takes a last stand, firing rounds from automatic weapons.
"No, the guns are not to blame!"
If only there were more gun worshippers present to stop the hail of lead!
If only there were one more gun to halt the a…

Electing Immigrants - Acts 6:1-7

Power structures and the gospel are basically at odds with one another. Politics and social institutions by their very design prop up our social structures, political institutions, and cultural norms. This has been true from the beginning of human society in nation after nation. We protect ourselves and our ways of doing things, often without considering how we impact others. While this is often little more than following established norms, it may also turn to active discrimination of the other as a way to increase power and control. By contrast, the gospel would have us look first to the disenfranchised and only then look to our defined patterns for living. When do we ever take the powerless and elect them to positions of responsibility? Why would we? Would it ever make sense to even consider it? Apparently, the early church did. They followed Jesus' example of calling fishermen and tax collectors as his disciples. Electing the powerless to positions of responsibility is exactly w…