Saturday, February 18, 2017

All Are Welcome

Jesus tells us that it's not enough to love those who love us.  We must love even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48,) every human being in the world.  In the light of what's happening in our country this means that we must love immigrants and refugees.  This is not just a political issue.  It is a serious moral issue.  Jesus tells us that we will even be judged on whether we welcomed the homeless.
Through the prophet Isaiah (58:7-10) God tells us, "Shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked when you see them....If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech, if you deprive yourself for the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light will rise in the darkness and your darkest hour will be like noon." 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Love Your Enemies?!

These people aren't my enemies.  I was just trying to find a picture of people who are not my neighbors.
Uneasy timing!?  Sunday's Gospel selection is Matthew 5:38-48 which flies in the face of all that is going on now in our nation.  Jesus says, "Offer no resistance to one who is evil....Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."  I don't find it hard to love people of every color and of every religion.  I do find it hard to love those who don't love people of every color and of every religion.  I  see such people as the enemy, yet Jesus commands that I love them as well.
Jesus doesn't base this command on the sentimental excuse that deep down they are not so bad or that they mean well.  Jesus accepts the category of "enemy" but demands that we love them simply because that is the way the Father acts.  With sunshine and raindrops the Father shows equal love towards good and bad, not because God is indifferent to morality but because our Father loves without limit.  Jesus calls us to love, not because the other deserves our love, but because the very Source of Love lives within us and expects us to act as His children.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Belonging to God

Again with holiness!  Because the Spirit lives in us we are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-23.)  St. Paul says "God's temple is holy and you are that temple."  He's not asking us to make ourselves holy. 
Sacrifice means to make holy.  In his dying and rising Jesus sacrifices himself to God.  He makes his and our human nature holy.  Paul concludes, "You belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Be Holy

"You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy." 
This lofty command from God (Leviticus 19:2) is not a call to high moral behavior.  It is a call to loving surrender.  When the Bible says that God is holy it means that God is totally Other, entirely separate from all that is not divine.
We humans are not called to be holy in this sense.  Holiness in humans is the state of belonging to the Divine, being designated God's very own property.  It is not earned by our moral behavior.  God lives within us and graciously claims us as God's own.  What is required of us is surrender.  Our unearned goodness flows from that union. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

St. Valentine

Just as I sat down to pray this morning I saw two swans (this picture was taken several months ago.)  I thought how appropriate for St. Valentine's Day.  Both Chaucer and Shakespeare mentioned that birds chose their mates on February 14.
Valentine was a priest who was beheaded on February 14, 269, for his faith in Jesus.  80 years later a church was dedicated to him.  Those are the only facts we know about him.  Legends grew up.  Valentine would marry young couples secretly because the emperor would not allow soldiers to be married.  While he was in prison, the children to whom he had been very kind wrote little notes to "Dear Valentine," and slipped them through the bars of his cell.
This is a day to tell those whom you love that you love them.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Statue of Liberty

A recent magazine cover had a drawing of the arm of the Statue of Liberty holding the lamp.  The flame has been extinguished and a wisp of smoke rises into the air.
Here's the end of Emma Lazarus' poem (November 2, 1883) that is on the base: 
"From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome....
 Give me your tired, your poor,
 Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
 The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
 Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
 I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
We pray that all Americans extend this invitation.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A New Birth of Freedom!

President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863, Gettysburg:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.  We are met on a great battle-field of  that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate--we can not consecrate--we can not hallow--this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. 
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of  freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.