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Showing posts from June, 2017

Jesus in Detention

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Jesus in Detention
The Jews solemnly lined the streets of Jerusalem as they once again watched invaders march triumphantly through their “Jewel on the Hill”. This time, it was the great Roman general Pompey. He had taken advantage of a family squabble between the formerly ruling Hasmoneans, which left Jerusalem vulnerable. The Romans had been on a tear through the area for years, consolidating power as they incorporated Syria into their ever-expanding empire.

Much to the Jewish peoples’ surprise, Pompey was friendly and respectful. He and Caesar both had trusted Jewish advisors and were familiar with the people and their customs. It was also characteristic of the Romans to allow conquered people to continue their traditions, if respect and money were paid to Rome on a regular basis. When Pompey marched into Jerusalem, he saw himself as emancipator rather than conqueror.

Unfortunately, Pompey was a general, not a bureaucrat. The Romans installed a new governor in Jerusalem, Antipater. …

World Refugee Day

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World Refugee Day
There are millions of people around the world who have been displaced and seek refuge in a friendly land. Nearly 4 million South Sudanese face a nation with no future unless food and medical care can be restored. In total, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. 65 million! My friends, that is an appalling number for a global society that claims to be the most civilized ever on planet Earth.

Let’s take some time to pray and educate ourselves today. Please visit the UN Refugee Agency website at http://www.unhcr.org/ to learn more about opportunities to help and events in the U.S. today (and ongoing). The number of refugees around the world is jaw-dropping and disheartening. Our only civilized response (not to mention Christian response) is to assist, whether that means educating ourselves and our friends; donating time, supplies and money; and/or praying for love to eradicate fear.

One of the most important programs for our denomination…

Monday Meditation

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click to play video
Holy God,
answer to all mysteries,
restore our curiosity and wonder.
We have lost our imaginations
both individually and collectively.
Once we wrote with poetic flourish;
created abstract art
open to interpretation;
and built structures that represented
our inventive ability.
Now we approach the world
with cold, conformist,
formulaic practicality.
Need a new building?
Here’s a glass rectangle.
Producing a new movie?
Here’s another sequel.
Writing a new novel?
I hope the main character is Harry Potter.

With this forfeit of imagination
we have conceded our ability
to consider that
the universe is more than
what we can perceive.
Our senses are limited,
but our minds are not.
Why do we continue
to let our physical nature
define who we are
and of what we are capable?

We need more Einstein and Tesla,
more Marx and Heidegger,
more Musk and Jobs,
more Tubman and Sojourner Truth;
people willing to think differently
despite being told
“This will never work.”
We should insist on
more original thought
and fewer peop…

The United States is Not a Christian Nation. Thank God.

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Among the many utterly unacceptable and uneducated statements I’ve heard since the disaster that is the Trump Presidency began, the most heinous is the claim that Herr Donald is somehow making America a “Christian” nation again (although I suspect that the people I hear that from are using “Christian” as a secret code word meaning “White”).

America is not, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation—well, at least not with respect to state religion. Perhaps we were a nation with genuine Christian values once upon a time, when we still warmly welcomed refugees and immigrants, believing what is etched on the Statue of Liberty; when we provided affordable, quality health care; took care of our elderly; worked hard to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty; put people to work on infrastructure projects and… well, you get the idea. Those are Christian values. Caring for the other—especially the stranger—is core to Christ’s teachings. A nation with Christian values does not build walls. I…

Monday Meditation

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God who is our fountain of light and truth,
restock our arid hearts and souls
like the rains filling parched desert lakebeds.

Open the eyes
of those who cannot see,
or worse,
choose to ignore
the pain and suffering
of a planet in the throes
of self-inflicted wounds.

Open the hearts
of those who would deny
the most basic human dignities
to any brother or sister
subjugated to terror and slavery;
in need of medicine and doctors;
looking for shelter and a kind word.

Inherently, we understand
that we all deserve shelter, medicine, and kindness.
We know that those of us who have much
are obligated to give to those who lack.
Remind us of our obligation
to be your hands and feet in this word
by motivating us to serve each other
more compassionately
and completely.

Open the wallets of the greedy few
who hoard all the money
and refuse to share it
with even those whose backs they have broken
on their way to the top.
There are too many broken backs,
and too few open wallets.

Perhaps more than anything else, Lord,
I pray for you t…

Reset

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We are firmly in the grips of a Southwest Florida summer. It’s ludicrously hot, the humidity is a zillion percent, and you can count on regular rainstorms and power outages.

If your house is anything like mine, power outages are a major inconvenience. The TV, stereo receiver, even the fridge and microwave all click, beep and buzz their way back to life as lights flicker on and off like a scene from Poltergeist.

While I was working at home one day, there were several of these outages in a row. This got me thinking about resets. Since it was just before Pentecost, it occurred to me that in many ways, the Pentecost experience was a global reset of sorts. As I continued down this rabbit hole, I realized that video games are a terrific example of what happens to us when God resets our lives through both Ascension and Pentecost.

I grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s when video games were starting to take root in American culture. I remember my parents dropping me off at the Prien Lake Mall in Lake C…