So many stories teach simplicity. Jesus says, “Live the Gospel; heal, teach, love.” How about beginning with something as simple as praying with or for each person we know?
Faith is Bilbo Baggins in Mirkwood Forrest or one of the servants in Downton Abbey trudging along but knowing that they have been placed on that path by a God who loves them and impowers them to go on.
For fun do this: take an empty chair and put it out in front of the congregation. Say, “Here sits the invisible man. Jesus tells us that his name is Lazarus, but none of his neighbors know that. He sits here hungry, but no one notices his situation. Lazarus is homeless, living in the street near the rich man. Since he lacks an address, the census doesn’t count him, he can’t vote, and his congressman doesn’t see him as a constituent, and his president considers him a loser...
It outrages us when a company chooses profits over life. Yet most of us, in our day-to-day choices, will honor money above relationships. We will cut off the neighbor or family member who borrows from us and fails to return the money. We will balance our checkbooks to the last penny and yet do not find time for daily devotional reading or weekly worship.
A young married couple find their money disappearing and their credit cards running amok, until they draw up a budget and measure where it’s all going to. So much in life doesn’t count unless you count it carefully.
Today we see “good” church-going people supporting systems that lead to human bondage. Often, undocumented immigrants are held as slaves, that is not permitted to decide their own future or leave a certain location, or paid for their labor, whether it be at a farm, a chicken processing plant, as landscapers or maids, or in a sex trafficking ring. Slavery still shapes our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools. Until recently, the banking and real-estate system of our country prevented people of color from owning certain homes, thus denying these families the opportunity to build equity. Segregation is a denial of freedom and unloving.
Jesus says that at the end of the world he will divide the nations according to how they treated the lowest and most marginalized among us. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” will be his greeting of those nations that show hospitality (Matthew 25:35). But, I have been wondering lately if our nation’s shift away from showing Christian hospitality towards refugees and immigrants didn’t begin in the church. Is your church intentional about hospitality?
The current moment is what matters most. The Pharisees were only asking that Jesus delay his healing of this woman for one day. What is the value of one day of suffering? How can we make the gospel immediate?
The 11thchapter of Hebrews is a long catalogue of saints and what they did to earn our remembrance. David made the list, but Solomon did not. In fact, David is the only king mentioned, a grim reminder that for early Christians those with political power were always respected, but rarely considered righteous.
What do we do if we lose our preacher, our organist, our choir? How will we go on if our church building is torn down, or worse yet, made into a beer hall? (which is what often happens in Pittsburgh) How can I worship God in without my holy stuff?
What do you need to get out of your worship experience? I think religion is all about living right and being at peace. Or to put it another way, doing day to day the things that prove us to be godly, principled, people of integrity – and, at the same time, having an inner peace.
Amos is an important prophet in the Old Testament. Why? Because he speaks a timeless message about social justice. If social justice bothers you, then take a pair of scissors and chop out of the Bible the parts that you don’t like.
The Apostle Paul makes a bold statement at the beginning of his letter to the Galatians. He says, “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” In other words, a major reason for Jesus to come into our lives is to make us free. Paul means this first in terms of our inner spirit. The fruit of that freedom loving spirit is compassion.
Jesus is always busy doing good, but he’s never in a hurry. Obstacles are placed in his way, but he remains calm. He also remains compassionate. The 8th chapter of Luke describes a really stress-packed week for Jesus. Yet Jesus isn't stressed.
There’s a vicious circle that I often get stuck in; I think that because I am a Christian, I should always have the right answer, never have any doubts, and in practice, be a model of perfection. Guess what? I’m not perfect yet.
There are many people today who once they become Christians, become less valuable to their employers, because they aren’t willing to lie or do things that are unethical at work anymore. Christianity is a dangerous thing. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas went to jail because of the gospel of truth and justice.