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Tag: fear

heart

heart

“We’re going to show great heart. DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have … because you have these incredible kids, in many cases.” (Donald Trump)

Heart. Heart, indeed! I do hope “we” — “we” the American people and “we” the government elected to represent us does show great heart! It is an encouraging statement. I will pray that heart does hold sway over fear and suspicion and prejudice and pride, and that the virtues the president sees in such children he will also recognize in their parents and those like them.

on the subject of the war in iraq

on the subject of the war in iraq

I reprint for you here an excerpt of the remarks Jim Wallis will make at a Christian peace rally to be held this evening in Washingon, D.C. His words are powerful and passionate and perceptive and faithful to the gospel of Jesus. As Christians, we must discern and root out the fear in our own hearts and minds, let it be rooted out as the love of God fills us more and more. As Christians, we take no sides, nor enlist God to defend “our side,” but do our best to put ourselves on God’s side …

For all of us here tonight, the war in Iraq has become a matter of faith.

By our deepest convictions about Christian standards and teaching, the war in Iraq was not just a well-intended mistake or only mismanaged. THIS WAR, FROM A CHRISTIAN POINT OF VIEW, IS MORALLY WRONG – AND WAS FROM THE VERY START. It cannot be justified with either the teachings of Jesus Christ OR the criteria of St. Augustine’s just war. It simply doesn’t pass either test and did not from its beginning. This war is not just an offense against the young Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice or to the Iraqis who have paid such a horrible price. This war is not only an offense to the poor at home and around the world who have paid the price of misdirected resources and priorities. This war is also an offense against God.

And so we are here tonight, very simply and resolutely, to begin to end the war in Iraq. But not by anger, though we are angry, and not just by politics, though it will take political courage. But by faith, because we are people of faith.

This service and procession are not just another political protest but an act of faith, an act of prayer, an act of nonviolent witness. Politics led us into this war, and politics is unlikely to save us by itself. The American people have voted against the war in Iraq but political proposals keep failing, one after the other.

I believe it will take faith to end this war. It will take prayer to end it. It will take a mobilization of the faith community to end it – to change the political climate, to change the wind. It will take a revolution of love to end it. Because this endless war in Iraq is based ultimately on fear, and Jesus says that only perfect love will cast out fear.

So tonight we say, as people of faith, as followers of Jesus, that the deep fear that has paralyzed the conscience of this nation, that has caused us to become the kind of people that we are not called to be, that has allowed us to tolerate violations of our most basic values, and that has perpetuated an endless cycle of violence and counter-violence must be exorcised as the demon it is – THIS FEAR MUST BE CAST OUT!

And to cast out that fear, we must act in faith, in prayer, in love, and in hope – so we might help to heal the fears that keep this war going. Tonight we march not in belligerence, or to attack individuals – even those leaders directly responsible for the war – or to use human suffering for partisan political purposes. Rather, we process to the White House tonight as an act of faith, believing that only faith can save us now.

making sense, moving forward

making sense, moving forward

We live in a world that is so different from the world of the generations that have preceded us. The pace of change is dizzying. The amount of accessible — unavoidably accessible! — information is overwhelming. We bear the burden of knowing too much, almost more than we can bear to know. It is not only the problems of family and community and region that weigh on our hearts, but the problems of a whole world: famine and disease and natural disaster, war and oppression and unabashed genocide, injustice and mistrust and entrenched hatred. We know so much about the world and about the people who fill it, so much more about so many more people, so many people so different from us as we are so different from them — different traditions, different dreams, different perceptions, different values, different beliefs.

How do we make sense of this world? How do we stretch minds and hearts to “fit” all the information, all the people, in a way that allows us to move forward with eyes and ears still open? As believers, how do we reconcile ourselves and our faith to diverging and even openly hostile points of view?

Some do it by holding tightly to received traditions, by clinging to a clearly defined spiritual calculus that distinguishes between those who are right and those who are wrong, by subscribing to a parochial religious worldview that leaves most of humanity on the outside. In the face of a world full of questions, these folks survive by adopting a faith full of ready answers.

Others do it by redefining “truth” and “righteousness” and “salvation:” what matters is what is true for you, what is right is what allows us to co-exist, salvation is avoidance of conflict. In the face of a world full of questions, these folks survive by believing there really aren’t any answers.

But is there a third option? Is there a way for believers other than strict fundamentalism or uncritical pluralism? Can we make sense of this world without ignoring the majority of the facts? Can we move forward without abandoning our loyalty to a personal God? We need a third way, because the church is being torn apart, dangerously polarized, torn apart by people who are scared, scared of losing their faith, scared of losing their lives, polarized by people scared of obsolescence, scared of irrelevance, scared of being marginalized, scared of losing their souls.

I believe there is a third way. The first two ways have one important feature in common: fear … fear of losing, fear of criticism, fear of being wrong, fear of being irrelevant, fear of the daunting and dizzying and befuddling and overwhelming world in which we live! And the natural response to fear is … fight or flight! Taking control of a situation that is out of control by removing myself or by arming myself. “Solving” the threatening situation by taking a unilateral course of action. But, as believers, when we act unilaterally, when we “take control” — one way or another, we leave God out. We discover a third way when we let God in, when we listen — really listen — to God, instead of deciding for ourselves what we must do to survive and to “protect” the faith!

Perfect love drives out fear.

Love is the third way! Loving God with all your soul and all your mind and all your strength … and loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

God is not a cipher! God is not whatever we think God is or whatever we want God to be! God is a particular being, with a distinctive character and distinctive intentions. It is possible for us to be right about what we think we know of God, and it is possble for us to be utterly wrong about what we think we know of God! We must seek God, listen to God, wait for God, not pretend we already know exactly what God wants, or that we can never know what God wants. Our task is not to use God, as a war club or a slogan, but to love God.

In the same way, your neighbor is not a cipher, but a person, a person who deserves to be loved. Your primary task is not to defeat your neighbor, protect yourself from your neighbor, convert your neighbor, enlighten your neighbor, but to love your neighbor. Love your neighbor!

Don’t be scared! Love God and trust God to love you. In the face of a world full of questions, you don’t have to have all the answers … but you know there are answers!

You don’t have to fight or run away. You can move forward, with confidence in God, with hope for the future, with readiness to love your neighbor who is so very different from you, but equally loved by God. As believers, we take our cue from God, the God revealed in Jesus Christ, a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of grace. We love, we show mercy, we extend grace.

We don’t need to take control. We leave that to God. We know our job …

martin luther king still has something to say to us

martin luther king still has something to say to us

An excerpt from the last speech given by Martin Luther King:

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus; and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters in life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and through this, throw him off base. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But with him, administering first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother. Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to church meetings—an ecclesiastical gathering—and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.” That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effort.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that these men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as a setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles, or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question …