Monday, September 26, 2011

God and Humanity

As you know, our church has lay leaders that lead a morning prayer service on the 2nd, 4th and 5th (if we have them) Sundays of the month.  (Insert shameless plug inviting anyone who would like to attend to join us )  Well, yesterday's reflection (this takes the place of a sermon) comes from Rev. G. Cole Gruberth, and fascinated me with regard to the relationship of God and humanity:
If John’s teaching or the teaching of Jesus or of the priests themselves were solely and unambiguously a matter of channeling God’s will, everyone would recognize its divine origin. The human teacher would be nothing but a mouthpiece for God, but would become less human for being so. On the other hand, if John or Jesus or the priests were acting only from their own human understanding, their teaching about God would lack any special authority.

By leaving his own question unanswered, Jesus suggests that doing God’s will requires a human being in relationship with the divine. If our work is based on an arrogant claim of our own authority, it can’t long remain true to God’s will. But neither does God require that we minimize our own humanity in order to do God’s work in the world. We are fallible creatures trying to teach and heal and love other fallible creatures, and perhaps our humility in teaching, healing, and loving is a more essential ingredient than our authority ever could be.
This would suggest that while, as many non-believers state, religion is a man-made creation, it still receives its authority from the divine, and our acts of faith are what matter.  Thoughts for contemplation...

Thursday, September 15, 2011


This was shared with me, and I thought you might appreciate.  For those with the faith that God exists, they will appreciate the gorgeous reminders in this video, and will both pity and never understand those who can't see the proof in front of their eyes.

Now of course, how the creation came into existence is up to interpretation, with many thinking, despite scientific proof to the contrary, that the Earth is only a few thousand years old.  Others believe that God built the codes for evolution into his initial matrix, still making us all creations of God, and not contradicting "science" in the slightest.  And then there are those who believe we're all a happy circumstance, an accident of molecules and atoms smashing into one another.

Do feel free to leave your thoughts.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Steps of Forgiveness

There was an interesting section in the reflection shared yesterday, the 10th anniversary of an attack on our country.  A quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a retired Anglican bishop of South Africa, and formerly chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission begins with him stating that to forgive goes beyond the unselfish devotion to the cause of others.
To forgive is a process that does not exclude hate and anger.  These emotions are all part of being human.  You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things; the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger... When I talk of forgiveness, I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person.  A better person than the one being consumed by anger and hatred.
The Gospel and New Testament readings also talk about forgiveness.  Jesus' instruction to forgive someone seventy-seven times, and Paul pointing out that, "We will all stand before the judgment seat of God."  It's not our responsibility to judge others. 

I think the most interesting part of the reflection by Harry Denman said this:
We often think of forgiveness as something that someone who has done us wrong must ask of us!  Let's take the high road, difficult as it may be.  Let us forgive the person who has wronged us before the hatred eats away at our ability to forgive.  It will not be easy, but God is there to help.  We can do this by offering that individual up to God, not sitting in judgment, but by simply saying, "Help so and so and mend our relationship." ... When we withhold forgiveness, we remain the victim.  When we offer forgiveness, we are doing it only for our own well-being.  Forgiveness allows us to move beyond the pain, the resentment, and the anger.  We always have a choice; to forgive or not to forgive.  When we forgive, we make the choice that heals.
The whole sermon the above was taken from can be found here

When we think about the acts committed on 9/11/2001, maybe now, ten years later, we can begin to make the choice that heals.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Importance of Two

Today's theme, in both Gospel and New Testament readings, was the importance of two. 

In Romans 13, Paul reminds us that Christ, when asked which was the most important of the laws, responded:  "’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 and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

The first of the two new Commandments covers the first three of the Ten Commandments and comes from a Jewish prayer called the Shema:  "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."  It talks about how we are to love God - "You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve,” “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

The second of the two new Commandments covers the next seven of the Ten Commandments, and talks about how we are to treat one another:  “Honor your father and your mother,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s property.”

Then in the Gospel of Matthew, Christ tells us, "Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."  If we took this as we are meant to do, can you imagine what we could accomplish?  Christ empowers each of us to do our part, find ways to agree and then ask.  Now, how and when God chooses to respond is, of course, not up to us, but if we focus on the promise that all we must do is agree, we have a tool at our fingertips to reform the world into the vision Christ had.

The power of two seems to be both a huge simplification, and a huge responsibility for people at the same time.  The rules are both simple and quite complex - to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  In this age of internet connectivity, where people all over the world contact people across the globe, "our neighbor" has become a lot broader in meaning - but likely exactly what Christ meant when he talked about it.  Our neighbor is everyone with whom we interact - and our responsibility is to treat each one with care and kindness, as we would hope others would treat us. 

Powerful concepts.