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Remembering

Remembering

When he (Jesus) tells his closest friends over a last meal to remember whenever they gather around the table together (Luke 22:7-23), he is inviting them to notice the holy in the mundane, to acknowledge his presence in the unremarkable, to make acknowledging him part of the normal rhythm of life.  This is perhaps the greatest challenge we experience along the spiritual journey:  remembering.”  John Pavlovitz
Deceived

Deceived

“Both North and South looked to God for meaning, and each side believed—with equal fervor and certitude—that God was on its side.“ Harry S. Stout

Feeling rather plucky, I took the MSN.com link to an article by The Hill, entitled “Billy Graham’s Granddaughter: Evangelical Leaders are Failing Us by Supporting Trump,” and copy/pasted it in the comment section of one of Mr. Trump’s posts on his FB page.

This is not the first time I have stepped out of my comfort zone, of flying under the radar, and making a ‘controversial’ comment. A person responded by writing one word, “Deceived.” I did think of replying, “yes, you certainly are” but thought my snarkiness was best left unsaid.

Who is deceived? Is she deceived or am I deceived? Or are we both deceived? If there had been social media during the Civil War, would Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, or Robert E. Lee have been accused of being deceived? I wonder.

But more importantly, if someone is deceived, what is the deception?

“Jesus said repeatedly to defend the poor and show kindness and compassion to those in need. Our president continues to perpetuate an us-versus-them narrative, yet almost all of our church leaders say nothing,” Jerushah Duford

This statement seems perfectly reasonable to me. Where is the duplicity?

According to Mr. Stout and other historians, both the North and South believed God was on their side. Does God even take sides? If so, how does She decide who is right and who is wrong? If not, then why are we as a nation so divided?

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not survive.” Matthew 12:25

God does NOT take sides, we do.

We may not be divided geographically—north and south–for this upcoming election, but it certainly appears we are extremely divided religiously and/or politically. If Mr. Trump is to be believed, everything wrong with the country is the Democrats’ fault. From the Government sites I researched, it seems the failure is with the Republican led Senate, namely Mitch McConnell. Have I been deceived by reliable and trustworthy sites, or have others been deceived by the “completely unbiased” Fox News, Breitbart or Prager University?

Back to my original question, who is deceived?

All of us, unless we remember otherwise!

Because “in the beginning” humanity believed the lie that we are alienated/separate from God. As long as we continue to believe in this illusion, the more deluded we will become and the “us-versus-them narrative” will continue unabated.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-29

There is no ‘us’ or ‘them,’ there is only God.

“The orphan is not a cause. The orphan is not an issue. The orphan has a human face, and that face is Galilean. Jesus tells us that when we see the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, the tossed aside, we see Him there.” Henry Harry Duke of Sussex

… or everyone else, for that matter.

“We believe that God sees us from above, but He actually sees us from the inside.” Shams Tabrizi

Shouldn’t this knowing be the fundamental justification for all our decisions?

https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/life/entertainment/story/2019/nov/23/both-armies-civil-war-god-churches/508964/

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/nineteen/nkeyinfo/cwsouth.htm

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/billy-grahams-granddaughter-evangelical-leaders-are-failing-us-by-supporting-trump/ar-BB18mBCW?ocid=sf

Remembering

Doubt

“Doubt isn’t the sign of a dead faith, not necessarily even of a sickly one.  It’s often the sign of a faith that is allowing itself to be tested, one that is brave enough to see if it can hold up under stress.  God is more than big enough to withstand the weight of your vacillating belief, your part-time skepticism, and even your full-blown faith crises.”  John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table:  Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community

Be

Be

“We are human beings not human doings.” Dalai Lama

Had it not been for the pandemic, I might not have taken the opportunity to genuinely watch and listen to the seasons change. Living on the east coast of the United States, I have been observant of and awed by the distinct seasonal shifts over time. However, the noticing is more subtle and acute.

For much of the last 40+ years, I have been preoccupied with consumerism—doing and consuming, rather than mindful contemplation. Careers, materialism, raising a family, clubs, volunteering, church, school, sports—none of which are wrong in and of themselves, but can be when we allow any or all to become all-consuming.

Since moving in with my father towards the end of winter, I have been keenly aware of the sights and sounds of cyclical variations. The relative silence of winter beautifully contrasts the birdsongs of Spring. Have you noticed how loud tweeting birds are as they sing to attract their mates? Then as Spring gave way to Summer, the chirping of grasshoppers, crickets and cicadas picked up the melody. What will the sounds of fall be, I wonder?

My mother loved flowers and I would not be surprised if the following was by design on her part–since spring there is always some plant blooming. First to erupt were Hyacinths and Irises; yellow, lavender, and purple blossoms bursting forth. Some of the purple Irises were so dark, they looked iridescently black—absolutely gorgeous.

After the Irises faded pink Cora Bells, White Lilacs, Peonies and various lilies cascaded through her flower beds. As they began to pass, Snapdragons and Resurrection Lilies flowered and have now given way here in late summer to the flowering Butterfly and Crepe Myrtle bushes.

The family of Robins that nested under the porch have flown the coop as well as two broods of cute Carolina Wrens. Delighted by their antics, I miss their winged presence. But I now find myself keeping company with graceful Monarch Butterflies and hovering Dragonflies that frequent the yard.

Gone for four years, my mother left a true living legacy for me and others to enjoy.

“The quote, “Stop and smell the roses,” is often attributed to golfer Walter Hagen in the 1956 book “The Walter Hagen Story” but he didn’t mention roses. The quote: “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.

In these days and times, there is much that one could worry about. Perhaps the idea of stopping to smell the roses is not just about “being” but about receiving a gift, whatever the gift may be.

Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose … Romans 8:28

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry.  And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

Open your heart.  Receive.  Be.

Questions

Questions

“Abortion is the dividing line for me as a Christian voter. A party that associates itself with infanticide can never have my vote.” Adriaan Jenkins

Why is this the one issue at which she draws the line? What about all the many ways our world supports actions that are directly or indirectly the cause of infanticide, genocide, and war crimes?

A dividing line of this sort implies there are “sins” to the right and left or above and below. What is it about this “sin” that makes it better or worse than all the rest? Is there a scale of sins of which I am unaware? If so, which transgressions are “worse” and which are “better” and where do I find this “sin scale” in the Bible?

I am well aware of the Ten Commandments but when did they become a sliding scale of offenses? And what qualifications determine the order from most sinful to least sinful?

Is Ms. Jenkins, and those who re-post her quote on their FB pages, aware of all that this limited and narrow-minded thinking implies?

Does it mean that habitual, pathological lying is okay within a political party? How about sexual assault? Is it permissible for us to elect a sexual predator as President? What about a political party that systematically dismantles environmental protections? Why is that issue not the dividing line? What can I get away with and still be voted into office? If the 2016 election is any indication, then apparently quite a bit.

“If Jesus had a gun, he’d still be alive today.” (as seen on a Bumper Sticker)

How and when did Jesus become associated with guns? Did I miss that verse in the gospels? When did Jesus become a card-carrying member of the NRA? Is the originator of this quote talking about the same Jesus that said, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” in Matthew 26:52?

Can this gun-toting Jesus be the same one that spoke these words? “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Matthew 5: 40. Isn’t this person missing the point of Jesus’s death and resurrection in the first place? I guess his or her pro-gun preference takes precedence over the redemptive message of the gospels.

When did healthy debate between opposing points of view become vilified? When did either/or thinking become preferable to and/both logic? When did we, as a nation, move from pro-humanity to pro-American? When did hating someone because of their association with a political party become acceptable? I have friends that have said, “I hate Democrats.” Why?

Oops. Wait a minute.

I just fell down “the rabbit hole into a subterranean fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures” one of which asked me, “can you stand on your head?” while his headless body was precariously balanced atop his own.

Trying to figure out or argue with insanity only makes one insane as well, thus perpetuating the insanity. I can only point towards logical and reasonable implications and inferences.

Jesus did not enter into the apparent lunacy of his day and time.

I will defer to William Barclay from his insightful book, The Mind of Jesus to explain.

“He used the reductio ad absurdum. He was accused of casting out devils by the help of the prince of devils. His answer was: ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.’ Mark 3:23-26. With one shrewd blow Jesus reduced the charge of his opponents to an absurdity.

He used the logical dilemma. He did not break out in railing rebuke against those who brought to him the woman taken in adultery. He simply said quietly: ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ John 8:7. He silenced his opponents by impaling them on the horns of a dilemma.

He used the argument a fortiori. ‘If you then,’ he said, ‘who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?’ Matthew7:11.”

However well-intentioned the arguments of many of the current Republicans, Conservative Christians and those with similar extreme opinions are, their beliefs have originated within minds that see themselves separate from God. Until they examine the pain, hurt, prejudices, and conditioned beliefs in their hearts, very little for them will change. They will continue on a path towards an ever-hardening heart.

Do not give in to discouragement, and do not lose hope.” (Pope John Paul II) This is what I imagine Jesus saying to those who have had abortions.

Jesus did not argue an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” with a gun in his robe. Jesus, with open hands and an open heart, said “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:39

To all of us he says:

“For I am telling every single one of you, through the grace that has been given to me, not to have exaggerated ideas about your own importance. Instead, develop a sober estimate of yourself based on the standard which God has given to each of you, namely, trust.” Romans 12:3

I feel better now.