After decades of Biblical study, I continue to discover there is much deeper meaning than I had ever imagined.
Christ calls me to
-people I'd not expect;
-be politically active for justice;
-love without restriction;
-accept those from whom I would normally recoil;
-be a student of the Bible and also the society in which I live;
-see the economic, social, and spiritual struggles of others;
-be a prophetic voice for justice, mercy, compassion, grace, and love;
What about you?
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Pet Bible-Thumping Peeves: Where Two Or Three Are Gathered
“Where two or three are gathered, there am I in their midst.”
I have heard that sentence used all my life to encourage a small gathering that their faithful presence is rewarded with God’s presence. Where do I start?
1- What I do, where I go, and what I think does not impact God’s presence. As the Psalmist declared, “If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” (Psalm 139:8) As Jesus said later on in Matthew, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
2- The number of people gathered for prayer meeting of Sunday worship is not what Jesus was addressing. God is with me already. If two of us get together, God is already there. God was already with each of us en route, so saying that our gathering makes a difference makes no sense.
3- Jesus was actually talking about people being reconciled to one another. That is the theme of Matthew 18. Jesus was talking about forgiveness and the lengths we should travel for the purpose of being reconciled with one another.
Let me offer this translation of the passage. It fits better with the context than our traditional stress on seeking God’s blessing for a low turnout at church: “For where two or three are reconciled (joined together, made friends, or united) in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)
When we do the hard work of becoming reconciled after a disagreement, we are inviting Jesus to be the healing ointment that draws us together in unity. We don’t need to twist Jesus’ words to make us feel better about a low turnout at church. Instead, we should be focusing on the hard work of getting beyond our disagreements and arguments to work for unity in the body of Christ. When we do that, we make Christ’s presence a reality, the glue that effectively binds us together.
constantly hear folks talking about how horrible socialism is. In the
USA, we have fashioned a definition of socialism that has little to
do with socialism and much to do with the vague ideological enemy of
the cold war era red scare.
of all, socialism is an economic system, not a political one. It is
on the continuum with capitalism. Communism lies on a different axis
with democracy, theocracy, autocracy, and such. While capitalism
elevates capital as the most important element in an economic system,
socialism elevates the public welfare as the most important and
valued element. This is often looked at as labor versus capital, but
my understanding is that it is more than labor. It is the social
sphere that includes labor as well as those who are unable to provide
labor in the economic system.
to theology, doctrine, and Biblical witness, however, we find those
attitudes cast against the nebulous enemies of the nation from our
Red Scare days greatly impacting our attitudes …
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…
are hard-wired to feel compassion on an individual level. We see
needs around us and are moved to offer a meal, a pair of shoes, a
shirt, a pair of pants, a coat, or a sleeping bag and willingly offer
them to meet an individual's need. At least momentary needs within
our grasp are elements we readily and willingly address. In so doing
we often fail to address the larger issues that bring people to those
conditions from which they may seek escape and the comfort of our
band-aid compassion. The
Bible is an ethical document in many respects. It is a compilation of
ethical documents that are religious but advance very specific
ethical teachings. We can't say the Bible is always consistent, for
it includes various streams of thought which come from diverse
traditions within the bounds of a Yahwistic faith. What we find
ourselves having to do is read these various streams of doctrine,
ethics, and tradition to determine the higher standard among them and
so apply that to our lives. …