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Pride, The Sin that Keeps Us from Eden

3/28/2017 3:38 PM

Fake News verses Real News. Alternative Facts verses Facts.  Broad sweeping allegations are often lacking substantiating data.  News reports and weather reports are filled with adjectives and descriptive language giving interpretive spin and commentary.

Eye and ears fixated at computer monitors, TV screens.  Ears are tuned to the latest pronouncements of this or that political figure -- this or that commentator -- this or that insider -- this or that expert.

Conservatives verses liberals -- Republicans verses Democrats -- us verses them -- rich verses poor -- insider verses outsider each making pronouncements -- each writing their own justifying commentary.

Missiles launch from North Korea landing in the sea of Japan.  Russian spy ship sails up and down the U.S.'s east coast. More troops are deployed. Nations engage in military build-up.  Refugees displaced by war long for a safe haven.  While pressures within the earth build from unseen forces seek release to release great pressures that make the earth quake or erupt in volcanic tumult.  Anxiety runs high.  Cynicism grows.  Mistrust increases. lines are drawn by race, ethnicity, gender, social class, and religious perspective.  Everyone claims to have the truth, but whose truth is it.  So many say their position is the correct stance.  But, how is that so?  What makes it so?

Someone once said, "Reality is what you make it to be."   The human experience appears to me to be a vast wilderness of wild beasts and tempters.  The serpent that invited Eve and Adam to eat the forbidden fruit in Eden so they could become like God seems alive and well as egos lust for power, wealth and control.  As Satan tempted Jesus with quotes of scripture, so religion has been twisted and distorted to advance causes that are neither holy nor righteous.  Like Peter who claimed he would never deny his Lord and Master on the night of Jesus' arrest and kangaroo trial -- deep and significant principals biblical teaching are misused, taken out of context, or ignored.

These days are like the days the Apostle cautioned Timothy that would be coming -- days when people would not listen to sound doctrine, but rather gather to themselves what their itching ears longed to hear. In self-righteousness people proof text   Still proof text without context is no text and no text without the full text is any text.   And quoting the written word apart from the One who is the living Word, is no word.  As in the time of Timothy, so is ours; where everyone does what is right in their own eyes.  As Jesus weeps from the cross and prays for the world that nailed him to the cross, saying: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Faintly heard is Micah: "He has shown you, o man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  While Jesus, the Living Word commanded; "You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great commandment the second is like it you shall love your neighbor as yourself."  Ah but the desire for control, power, and to be right, keeps the spirit from saying, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner," as the Devil says; "Pride is my favorite sin."

 

 

An Open Letter to Religious Community

1/23/2017 12:01 PM

Dear Friends of Every Faith:

It is a deplorable state of affairs when 16 different Jewish Community Centers in five different states receive bomb threats, as was recently reported.

As an interfaith community, I believe and contend that we all must stand together with and for one another.  Hatred directed towards any faith group or house of worship is hate that is given permission to be directed at any other faith group or house of worship.

We must from our respective houses of worship let our congregations know that we here in Brick Township stand united in affirming the values of religious freedom and mutual respect.  I urge each of us to proclaim a divine love that overcomes hatred -- a forgiveness that overcomes the powers of guilt, shame and intimidation -- that we, by our unity can demonstrate a divine power that overcomes divisive estrangement-- and that we embrace a love that embrace true justice for all.

As we gather to lead our respective houses of worship, let us pray for our unity with one another in that which we hold in common, while respecting our unique diversity.  Let us pray for the peace of all of God's people, regardless of religious label.  Let us pray for a love that conquers hatred -- a unity that is stronger than the powers of divisiveness -- a forgiveness that heals guilt -- a courage that is greater than fear -- and a hope that overcomes the forces of despair.

As we meet together from time to time, let us seek ways to address the causes of hatred and perceived injustice where we might.

My dear friends, let us be watchful and vigilant, not just for our own particular faith communities, but also for each other and our collective faith communities.

May the Holy One give us a Strong faith -- Courage -- Wisdom -- and guidance as we journey through this wilderness of hatred, anger, and depravity into the great Shalom.

Shalom,

Rev. Douglas G. Chase

 

 

Theological Reflections on the Current Race for the Whitehouse

10/16/2016 1:06 PM

Regardless of one's political affiliation, the current presidential campaign has left many registered Republicans, Democrats and others with a sense of despair.  While my wife and I were in Scotland, we were asked, "Hey there, Yank, what's with your country?"  The questioner was clearly dismayed by the current state of political discourse in our nation.

Reflecting on what has been taking place and not endorsing any particular party or candidate I have observed serval things.  First, John Calvin was correct in his doctrine of the utter depravity of our fallen humanity.  Calvin was addressing how our fallen and sinful nature is so flawed that  we cannot fix ourselves, but stand in need of Christ's redeeming and transformative love , if we are to have any hope for ourselves.

Secondly, just as it was difficult to find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, known for its violence, rape, and immorality, so it seems that righteousness is a rare virtue these days as we observe each party's candidates frequent distortion of the truth and falling short in fact checks.  Each candidate has demonstrated problems  truthfulness and trustworthiness.

Thirdly, the wisdom of Proverbs will not be overturned regardless of who wins this elections as Solomon once stated, "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." What has fallen because of the mud-slinging in this year's political campaign has been a respect for candidates who engage in the politics of character assassination.  What has been destroyed is the ability of the electorate to trust those who seeking elected office.  And, along with that has fallen any notion of elected public service as being both a humble and honorable profession of service that raises up humble and honorable persons to leadership.

Fourth, that for things to change in a substantive manner--for redemption to come, there must be a humble confessing of one's sin and a desire to repent (engage in an actual and intentional turn around of thinking and behavior) of one's former life to the ways of the Lord as one accepts the unmerited gift of forgiveness.

Lastly, if our political process and our nation are to have hope of regaining the respect and admiration of the world, so we might be a "light unto the nations," we must all fall down on our knees and pray to the god of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, remembering what was attributed to the Lord in 2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land."

Surely what this political contest has shown us is that we are a nation torn apart politically, religiously, racially, economically and in serious need of healing. While Christians may have aligned themselves with each of the candidates, even those claiming to bear the name and values of Jesus have also become divided and in need of healing.  Perhaps the Almighty is telling all of us to wake-up and get back to our spiritual core with humility be God and one another. Perhaps it is time to return to mutual civility, even in our disagreements and differences.  Maybe it's time for us to love our neighbor as ourselves, even if our neighbor might be our opponent.

 

 

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