SERMON 3-10-19 Lent 1C St. Monica’s Episcopal Church

Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13

Survival Shows

In the last few years, there has emerged a whole new genre of television shows on the Discovery and Science Channel. A series called Man, Woman, Wild was about a married couple (one, a Special Forces operative, the other a journalist) who teamed up to face the wildernesses of jungle, tundra, and desert. Another great series is called Dual Survival that pairs a naturalist skilled in Aboriginal living skills and a U.S. Special Forces operative, and they are dropped into some very difficult, wild places and forced to survive off the land.

My favorite survival series is called Survivorman,” which stars naturalist Les Stroud, who is not a Special Forces operative, nor aboriginal expert, nor is he specially trained survivalist. Stroud is a regular guy each week he goes up against some of the most difficult survival wildernesses known. The most interesting part of this show is that Stroud is always alone: no camera crew, no backup plan, just himself, a few cameras, and the elements.

Stroud is a self-assured and independent kind of guy, and despite his skills and rugged individualism, things do not always go his way. His show is the “real deal” because sometimes he fails at surviving, and he does so at his own peril. Christian discipleship in the 21st century can often seem like a survival television series. In this journey of discipleship, we think we are like Stroud, out there all alone in the spiritual elements, trying to rely on our self assured, rugged individualist, attitude. Sometimes as Christians we fall short, and just crash and burn because we try and do it all alone. I have even heard people say, “I really do not need to go to church to be a good person do I.” Jesus was all alone in the desert trying to survive the temptations many of us face, but by his example and faithfulness, he taught us something we could never learn watching a television survivor shows.

Ultimate Survivor Showdown

Listening to today’s gospel reading, can you picture Jesus’ wondering around for 40 days in the desert like “Survivorman.” He was out there in the arid climate with no disciples around, no camera crew catching his every word, no knapsack filled with energy bars and no magnesium flint fire starter. It was just Jesus, the elements, and the temptations that often come in the weakened state of hunger, fear, and being left to the elements, of our own character.

Scripture tells us, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit.” From the baptism in the Jordon, from the voice from heaven declaring, “You are my Son, with you I am well pleased,” Jesus was led into a desert place and at his weakest, a situation in which, he was deprived of sustenance, he was without the aid and protection of others. There in that condition, Jesus engaged directly with all that the “oppressor” could bring upon him..

Jesus faced the same challenges we face, when it comes to the choices we have with the freedom we carry. This freedom gives us the option to choose an easy path of discipleship; a more fulfilling road, a more self-comforting option. We also have another choice, which is the one that will test our faithfulness, our character, and our metal. Let me give you an example. Three times, the devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God.” Jesus was being challenged with the truth of who he was in the wilderness. If you are this, then test God by doing this. Our temptations in life come when we face the uncertainty of who we are and whose we are.

Maybe we face the temptations to cheat a little on a work project, talk about a sister or brother behind their back, plot to undermine someone, or scheme to get our way, and at those moments we must ask, “As a follower of Jesus, how do I respond?” Jesus knew what it is like to be human, because he was both divine and human. It was there in the weakened state of temptation that he showed us how to face those desert moments faithfully, by understanding whose we are and who we are. We find the strength to survive the trials, when we surrender and become reliant on God, knowing the Holy Spirit is with us, and we are never really alone. In those moments of temptation, we must trust thatGod is not trying to trip us up.

Tripped Up

Some of our brothers and sisters in the faith believe that being a Christian is like a survival showdown. They believe our hardships, uncertainties, doubts, and tragedies come to us so from God, so we might be tested and tried by God, all to experiment whether we are faithful enough and worthy enough. Remember, it was Satan who was tempting Jesus in the desert, trying to trip him up.

Maybe we get the idea that it is God trying test our metal, from the story of Job. That story seems like a showdown between God, and Satan trying to see whether Job will succumb to the test. Satan fails with him as well. Maybe we get the idea God is trying to trip us up, from that part in the Lord’s Prayer, that states, “And lead us not into temptation,” as if God would lead us to sin. Franciscan priest and monk Fr. Richard Rohr asserts that this phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, and the whole notion of God’s test is really about who we are and whose we are. Rhor asserts that it means, ‘Lead us away from any illusions about ourselves.” 2 In other words, God would never tempt us to sin, God wants us to learn that we are God’s children and to reject any other identity we might desire.

Like Jesus, in our deserts, we seem to find ourselves in a weakened state of a deception that in this life, we are able to rely on our own spiritual survival skills—that somehow, we are capable alone, to deal with the wilderness temptations of our own freedom. The truth is that as Christians, we face spiritual survival, fueled by the freedom to follow the illusions of ours own grandeur. In other words, we are deceived into believing that we can survive this life without God.

Surviving those spiritual caverns of self-assurance, those thick jungles of rugged independence, and that frozen tundra of a “git-er-done” attitude, will require us to accept that in all things, we must rely on God and not on ourselves. When we embark on this journey of faith, what we have to bring along with us will never fit into a backpack, but is carried in our hearts and souls. That survival skill training happens when we spend time each day with God, especially in those desert places.

Lenten Survival

Lent, is a forty-day wilderness journey, in which we like Jesus have the opportunity to face head on, our own human frailties. Lent reminds us, “what it is like to live by the grace of God alone and not by what we can supply for ourselves.”1 Lent is like the ultimate spiritual survival series, because it is intentional time to follow a spiritual discipline. “Giving up” or “taking on” during Lent is virtuous, and I commend wholeheartedly a discipline of self denial or spiritual practice, however, these things alone do not a wilderness journey of spiritual growth make.

You can prepare for this rugged spiritual mission by transforming your minds and hearts. You can ask God to go with you into deep valleys of your need for God’s grace. In the next few weeks, I encourage you to trod through those unexplored caverns, thick jungles, and frozen tundra of your very soul. Explore the depths of those never seen crevices, those illusions of character, and those places where the fear of our own vulnerability lie.

Desert Places

Commit to a practice of daily scripture reading: poke around in the psalms or Old Testament, take a hike in one of the gospels, or wander around in one of Paul’s letters. Take a leisurely stroll with God in prayer by committing to a few minutes a day to quiet your spirit with God. Invite God’s Spirit into your present moment, and seek God’s movement in your life. Share that experience with another sister or brother in Christ. You can also attend our Thursday night “Soup and Study” where we will do just these things together.

If we are going to be intentional about entering the desert places with God, we have to remember that God is more than merely a guide. God is our survival partner from whom we obtain our strength, sustenance, and wisdom in our weakened and vulnerable places. In God, we find out who we truly are because with God beside us, we release the illusions of our own self-reliance.

I have to warn you though as you embark on this sojourn in the deserts of the soul, it will be tempting as the days of Lent wonder on, to cast it all aside for an easier path. You may want to grab the remote control and turn off the survival show, because it is much easier and less treacherous to just watch a more relaxing movie on the Hallmark channel. Please for this Lent, stay in the desert awhile. It may not be easy, it may become uncomfortable, it may even be treacherous, but if you truly rely on God to lead you, and if you let go of the illusion that you can do it all alone, then I promise you this, you will survive Lent and maybe survive the temptations of our own delusions of our own self-reliance. Remember, the Psalmist promises, “You will live in the shelter of the Most High, and abide in the shadow of the Almighty, and you will say to the Lord, “(you are) My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Trust God, and go take a walk in the desert this Lent.

1 Taylor, Barbara Brown. “Settling For Less.” Christian Century 115.5 (1998): 169-318. ATLASerials, Religion Collection. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.

2 http://richardrohr.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/lead-us-not-into-temptation/

SERMON 11/18/18 Pentecost 26B St. Monica’s Episcopal Church

Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16 ; Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25; Mark 13:1-8

The Perfect Temples We Create

A few years ago, I was sent into a church that was deeply divided and in conflict, and the purpose of my ministry there was to help that community through their crisis.  I listened, provided pastoral care, and to tried to uncover the source of the strife. I was hopeful for this church, because on my first Sunday the choir sang the hymn, “We are one in the Spirit.” The lyrics are:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Later that same week I remember vividly a conversation I had with one woman about her experience of church there.  She said, “I came here two years ago, seeking a community where it was different from the outside world.  I wanted a community that did not fight, where power struggles did not happen, and where everyone treated each other with love and respect.  I always felt church should be better than the outside world I lived in, but I was so disappointed.”  Many of us have come to church expecting it to be the perfect society, and we too have been disappointed.

Often we create false relational edifices in our minds that come with misconceptions of what church should be.  We construct images and expectations of the perfect temple we hope to one day stumble upon, only to discover that once we arrive, everyone there still comes each week with the same attitudes, challenges, and problems, they have out there in everyday life.  We all show up with our stuff, our spiritual needs, and yes, our sin, plus we think the grass is greener on the inside of the church walls, but wherever we go, we are there.

Even though the Body of Christ carries the scars of battles and spats, she must remember that she is called by God to serve as a witness, where God’s grace can emerge and abound through her authentic self.  Grace is effective when we can take off our ego armor, and we can pull down the great stones of our ego walls that keep us from being vulnerable to and open to the saving grace of God.

Temples of False Expectation

Today, in the gospel reading, Jesus was leaving the temple with his disciples and one of them pointed out to him,  “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings.” Jesus responded, “Do you see these great buildings, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” I wonder if after being disappointed with how people in the temple system treated one another, and how that system created relational divisions among God’s people, Jesus rolled his eyes at the disciple’s star struck comment about the temple.

I wonder if Jesus thought, “Wow, all those false structures of expectation and grandeur about the temple, which they have, and all of that false perfection they seek in that place are mere spiritual window dressings that cover up the desperate need for reconciliation and forgiveness within themselves.” We too get star struck when we hope for that perfect church.  It is like planning to go on a dream vacation, building it all up in your mind, only to arrive at your destination, and you are disappointed with the reality of the food, the service, and the décor that your hotel brochure promised.

Jesus’ warned his disciples about putting too much hope in the temple, and his forewarnings of its demise were not about its literal destruction by the Roman occupiers in 70 AD.  Jesus was telling the disciples that worldly edifices do not last, unless they are a place where justice abounds, oppression ends, mercy overflows, and reconciliation is the way of life. Then and only then will it withstand any false ideals of perfection that we construct in our minds?   In other words, we have to hope that our life together will always provide opportunities for grace to be made present, even in times of trouble.

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Jesus warned his disciples of these kinds of apocalyptic end times, and he used foreboding imagery to describe it. Today, on television and the big screen, real calamity and chaos is being played out on the world stage.  We live in a time when the heat of the Cold War era rivalries is rekindling.  The world power relationships that we thought were reframed by former “wars and rumors of wars” are being pushed to back to the brink of division, and the battles do not stop there.

Some of us have experienced the pain of family relationships being torn apart.  Some of us have been separated from long-time friends because of social media political tweets or Facebook posts.  Even in churches, among sisters and brothers in Christ, we have unfortunately hurt one another.  Even though strife, disappointment, and broken relationships permeate our times, we can still live in the hope that these tragedies are not the end of the story.

Jesus said, “These are but the beginning of the birth pangs.” Why do you think he used this metaphor?  I believe it’s because after the life threatening, body changing, experience of childbirth, the parent’s lives are never the same again.  Someone new is now in the midst of the once couple and the child has changed everything. That sounds hopeful to me.  “In the middle of those cataclysmic, apocalyptic, foreboding, and fear-inducing events, which the “end times” promise to bring, Jesus is offering us the hope of new life – which God desires for all creation.”.

 Life Together

We are supposed to be a people of hope and promise even when this common life together is challenging, imperfect, and filled with little spats and misunderstandings.   When we show up expecting this or that to be perfect we are not putting our hope in Christ but in something or someone else.  I think we need to let go of unrealistic expectations of Church and of all relationships, and we need to approach things differently.

In her book Daring Greatly, author, researcher and Episcopalian Brene Brown writes, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” (4)

When the little “wars and rumors of wars” of life raise their ugly head, reconciling love and forgiveness is the only way lasting new life and new beginnings are possible.   In order to practice reconciliation, we must take off the armor of perfection, and get real with one another again.  If we can be vulnerable with one another, then love for one another has a chance to flourish and grow.   Then and only then can we be the kind of community that will be a shining example of reconciling love, especially for this world fraught with “wars and rumors of wars.”

Imagine what could happen in the world, if our political strife, broken families, shredded friendships, and tumultuous organizations were transformed by unity and love.  It is possible if we choose to live and love as if the end were coming tomorrow. What if the church universal recognized her frailty and faults, and embraced the fact that her true strength is found in the vulnerability of the cross. What an example we could be of God’s transformative grace if we but strive to live in peace, and at the same time, believe God’s grace can truly change us. Then our example will transform the hearts of unbelievers in the world that is if they can recognizewe are Christians by our love.

REFERENCES

1 Anderson, Mary W. “Time’s Up.” Christian Century 120.22 (2003): 19-318. ATLASerials, Religion Collection. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

2 McGrath, Alister E. “Christian Theology: An Introduction” Blackwell Publishing, 2007, Oxford, p. 475

3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope

4 https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/19175758-daring-greatly-how-the-courage-to-be-vulnerable-transforms-the-way-we

General Convention 7/10/18 Day 9

Yesterday was filled with debate, discussion, and voting on legislative resolutions to include:

Ethical investment Gun Manufacturers

A just Peace in the Holy Land

Pension Equity for Lay Employees

Inclusive Language Policies

Inclusion of Transgender People

Commend the Evangelism Charter

And many more …

Today, we work on the resolution to address prayer book revision, as amended by the House of Bishops, and the new Triennial Budget.

More updates to come.

Peace,

Fr. Eric

General Convention 7/9/18 Day 8

Monday 7/9/18 was a day filled with legislation matters for the House of Deputies. Resolution B012 “Marriage Rites for the Whole Church” was debated and discussed, and passed by HOD. Many other resolutions came to the floor. More information can be found here.

Today, we begin our deliberations in Joint Session (HOD and HOB) to discuss “Care of Creation,” which will inform and impact our legislation, related to our call to care for and be good stewards of God’s creation.

More updates later. Please keep your Deputation in your prayers.

Peace,

Fr. Eric +

GENERAL CONVENTION 7/6/18 DAY 5 (MORE COMMITTEE HEARINGS, HOUSE OF DEPUTIES LEGISLATIVE SESSION)

Yesterday was another busy and meeting filled day at General Convention. My day began early with a Legislative Committee meeting with the “Evangelism and Church Planting Committee.”  After much testimony, our committee completed its work and sent our resolutions to the Consent Agenda.  The resolutions we proposed are listed at the end of this blog.

In addition to committee work, we gathered as a Joint House (Bishops and Deputies) and listened to some of our sisters’ and brothers’ stories of racial prejudice and injustice.  We discussed as individual Deputations, our own responses to those stories, and how we might both in parish and diocese, respond and reconcile.

The afternoon legislative session focused on the resolution to revise the Prayer Book.  This legislation promises to be one that will garner much discussion, debate, and emotion.

Here is a link to today’s legislative calendar:  https://www.vbinder.net/calendars/11?house=hd&lang=en

On a personal note, I was unable to serve at the Military Chaplain booth yesterday, but I have it on my schedule for Sunday afternoon.  This morning, I have the joy of having breakfast with my dear seminary friend, The Rev. Christopher Caddell.  I have not seen Chris since we graduated from Sewanee in 2010.  Chris and his awesome family live about 20 minutes from Austin, TX, and I look forward to reconnecting with him.

Stay tuned for more updates as General Convention continues.

Peace, love, and blessings,

Fr. Eric+


Evangelism and Church Planting Committee Resolutions

A005: Continue a Church-Wide Network For Planting Churches—2018. Full text.

A006: Collect Demographic Data of Leadership. Full text.

A029: Commend the Evangelism Charter for the Church to All Episcopalians. Full text.

A030: Small Evangelism Grants. Full text.

A031: Evangelism Staff Officer. Full text.

A032: Congregational Redevelopment. Full text.

A081: An Episcopal Theology of Evangelism. Full text.

A082: Training For [Digital] Evangelists. Full text.

A196: Fund a Full Time Evangelism Officer. Full text.

General Convention Day 1 (Travel)

I arrived at the airport at around 7:30 AM, and my flight departed at 10:00 am. I traveled with two of my clergy colleagues Fr. Roy Tuff and Fr. Cesar Olivero)to Atlanta, then we met the rest of our delegation, and traveled on to Austin. We arrived at AUS at around 3:15pm central time, and we finally arrived at our hotel at about 5:00 pm.

We are going to have a nice dinner together tonight. Most of us will begin reviewing the agenda again, reviewing legislation again, catching up on emails, and trying to get some rest for the weeks ahead.

Registration and orientation begins tomorrow, and the “Church Planting and Evangelism Committee”, of which I am a member meets for its first meeting tomorrow afternoon.

Please keep the Bishop’s, Deputies, and Alternates of the delegation from the Diocese of Southwest Florida in your prayers.

More updates to come.

Peace, Fr. Eric+

SERMON – Pentecost 4B Proper 6-24-18, St Monica’s Naples, FL

Job 38:1-11; Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

The Boat:  A symbol of the Church

On mine and Terri’s cruise last year, it was pretty rough the first night of our voyage.  Even as a pilot, who never gets air sick, I have to say that I was a little queasy and nervous. Even so, I prayed that we were in a sturdy ship with an experienced crew, and interestingly, I was at peace.   Sometimes the seas of life are rough and we need that same kind of reassurance.   In today’s gospel reading, Jesus and his disciples are on a boat in a violent storm. The disciples are afraid and Jesus is asleep on a pillow.  The disciples are desperate, and with a cry of despair, which I bet many of us have prayed before, they said, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Sometimes when we face terrible events, we cry out to God as if God may not be aware of our troubles, and we might say, “Do you not really care Lord?” Our faith may seem challenged in those moments, but I believe it is in those moments that there is a power beyond our imagine, which is available to us.  “Peace be still,” our Lord proclaims, and through these words, he reminds us that we often have a resilience to tap into that carries us through.  We can with confidence rely on God’s grace in our despair, and God gifts us with a community of faith, on which we can lean, when all around us seems to be beyond our ability to cope.

Bernard Baruch an early 20th century business and policy consultant and advisor to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and a philanthropist said, “We did not all come over on the same ship, but we are all in the same boat.”  In other words, we all traverse this life from different histories, backgrounds, and experiences, but we are all in the same family of God, all of us, and we must all care for one another.  We are all in the same boat.

The church in our ancient history was symbolized as a rescue boat set about in the rough seas of life.  Some church’s architecture often resembles a boat. “For example, the area between a narthex and sanctuary was called the “nave.” This word comes from the Latin navis, or ship and was meant to portray the reality that the Church is a ship, protecting those inside it from the waves and buffets of the world.” (4) Several of our churches in the diocese of Southwest Florida have this type of architectural design, and when you sit in the pew, and gaze at the ceiling, it is as if you are looking at the hull of a boat.  We the church have a long history of being a rescue boat, protecting others from the seas of despair and injustice.

Rescue Boat or Cruise Ship

Carrying the symbolism a bit further the sea is often described as a place of despair, hopelessness, and death.  “ Old Testament creation is described in part as a great struggle between God and the sea. In fact, the sea is presented as a monster that only God s ineffable power can tame.” (3) In the ancient baptismal rites, full immersion in water was normative, and as the candidate walked into the pool, the water covered their head as a symbol of dying to our old self.  Rising out of the water was symbolic of being raised to new life.  As Paul writes, “We die to a death like his, so we might rise to a resurrection like his.”    So, the symbols of the church as a boat of rescue, and the violent sea as a symbol of death is pretty serious business for we Christians, and today’s gospel reading gives us the origin of that symbolism.  We have to be careful though that we not take this symbolism into the wrong direction.  The church is a rescue vessel, and it is not a seafaring cruise ship for the faint at heart.

I recently read a funny article by Mark Ralls, Senior Pastor with the First United Methodist Church in Hendersonville, N.C.  He comically compares how some churches act more like cruise ships rather than rescue boats. Pastor Ralls wrote “People on cruise ships are passengers, which is a very passive role.   People on cruise ships all pretty much do their own thing. People on cruise ships dine at separate tables.  People on cruise ships are entertained, because it does not take much courage to sign up for a cruise.” (5) Please hear me say this clearly, I know that St. Monica’s is no cruise ship as Ralls describes, because we are out there on the high seas trying to pull others into the boat of God’s grace.  Sometimes it is helpful to know what we are not, so we can clearly know what we truly are.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cruises and I enjoy the disengaged world of cruising.  There is nothing like being fully detached from the troubles of life, the internet, the news, and my phone, and living for a time in bliss, which cruising offers.  Nonetheless, you do understand the metaphor, and we all know the church was never meant to be a cruise ship, which disconnects us from what is going on in the tempestuous seas of life. We the Body of Christ are meant to be a life boat.

Church as a Respite on the Tempestuous Seas

“We did not all come over on the same ship, but we are all in the same boat.”  The church is supposed to be a rescue boat for all those dying and suffering and those who are without hope in those waters of death and despair.  We cannot merely be a closed-in ship in which, we huddle in the holds below staying dry and calm, or resting in our staterooms being comfortable and entertained.  We have to be out there on the decks of the ship hauling in those who are drowning.  To ALL of God’s people who are suffering injustice, oppression, abuse, neglect, and horrific suffering, Jesus says to his church, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  I worry that some Christians today are like the law expert in Luke’s rendition of the Good Samaritan parable who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” The law expert tried to minimize Jesus’ command, as if it allows some ideological boundaries that limit whom it is we are commanded to love and show mercy.

In the story I reference from Luke’s gospel, the Good Samaritan is the unlikely outsider, who showed heroic mercy to a dying man in a ditch, a beaten man who was passed over by two holy and devout men.  After telling the story, Jesus asked the law expert,  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  When others suffer, Jesus calls us to be bearers of mercy, love, grace, peace, and reconciliation, and to do likewise without walls, boundaries, or divisive criteria.

The church has a long history of speaking out for the least, lost, and lonely in this world.  Dietrich Bonheoffer, a well-known Lutheran pastor, stood in defiance against the atrocities of the holocaust by Nazi Germany, and was made a martyr for the cause of justice.  Bonheoffer is quoted as saying, “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”  Bonheoffer stood boldly against such atrocities in the name of Jesus Christ, and suffered death because of his courage, and we are to do likewise.

The Church as Rescue Boat

We are not merely individuals who enter the rescue boat for our own benefit, and climb aboard to do our own thing.  We are bound together in common mission and  what we do in our individual ministries connects us to one another, and together connected to the mission of God and thus, connected to all humanity.  We do not function independently from one another, but everything we do has an impact on all of God’s creation. In the midst of all that is changing around us in this world, it is clear that we must advocate for our neighbor, to love our neighbor, and to invite all peoples into the boat.

At our baptism we made promises to God and to one another, about how we will love ALL people.  We committed to those baptismal promises, and we responded, “We will with God’s help.”  I invite you to consider again two of those promises we made, which are found on page 305 of the Book of Common Prayer.  First, “Will you seek and serve Christ in ALL persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”  Second, “Will you strive for justice and peace among ALL people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”   I pray in these days of incredible injustice, unprecedented intolerance, and unimaginable pain heaped upon God’s people, we all will have the courage to take a stand for ALL people.  My prayer is that with commitment, compassion, advocacy, and love for our neighbors, when the call to stand for injustice comes, and my friends that call is ringing loudly in our world today, I pray we can claim all of God’s children as our neighbors by saying, “I will with God’s help” and then, go and do likewise.  Please never forget, “We did not all come over on the same ship, but when it comes to loving our neighbor, caring for the least, lost, and lonely among us , and standing for justice for all, we are all in the same boat.”

REFERENCES

(1) http://leftbehindandlovingit.blogspot.com/2015/06/piety-and-panic.html

(2) King, Michael A. “Storm System.” The Christian Century, vol. 123, no. 12, 13 June 2006, p. 19.

(3) Callahan, Jim. “Weatherproof.” The Christian Century, vol. 117, no. 18, 07 June 2000, p. 643

(4) http://www.philipkosloski.com/how-the-church-is-portrayed-as-a-ship-in-theology-architecture/

(5) https://www.faithandleadership.com/mark-ralls-it’s-not-ship-it’s-boat

Listen to the Children

We the people …

Our founding fathers and mothers dreamed of a society where all could be free to pursue their dreams. The central idea of our young nation is grounded in a phrase, “we, the people.” As a constituent in a society based on what is best for the community as a whole, we as individuals sometimes may be called on to give up our own individual desires, needs, and wants, for what is best for the whole.

My mother used to tell me about her childhood during the Second World War. She, her family, and most Americans had to give up a lot of things, in order for our nation to be able to defend freedom and justice in Europe and the Pacific. Sugar, flour, meat, gasoline, and other products were rationed to civilians, so our troops overseas would have enough to sustain them in battle.

You see, when we are a society whose ideals are greater than any individual’s desires alone, we must sometimes make difficult decisions to do what is best for all. The debate before us now is about perceived rights to own and use certain self-defense tools, which have shown to threaten the security of the whole, and each of us as individuals. Do we as a nation of “WE, the people” merely hold onto these so-called self security objects merely to falsely satiate our own fears?

Yes, all of this debate is complex, but some parts of the solution are easy. I am no politician, but I am a father of a young woman who will one day teach in our classrooms. I want to be assured that she, and all children in this nation, will be able to go to school every single day without fear.

“We the people” have all seen the images on TV of brave children speaking out and being activists. “We the people” have heard from parents whose hearts are broken beyond repair. “We the people” also have heard the messages of our politicians. “We the people”, can no longer be silent. “We the people” must speak about this issue now, and “We the people” must act for change.

Our voices must join with the voices of those who have experienced incredible pain and anguish as a result of all of these tragedies. If we stand together as “We the people” and listen to the children, the path ahead will set the tone for how we live as a nation of brave and loving people, and not a society of fearful and divided individuals.