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Showing posts from September, 2012

New heavens and a new earth

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The terrible violence maliciously stirred up by forces unknown in the Middle East over the last few days in Libya, Egypt and Yemen, using an inflammatory video as the catalyst, is a sobering reminder that the prince of darkness still rules this world. "For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh," Ephesians 6 :12 reminds us, "but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

The writer of Ephesians then exhorts us in stirring language to take up "the whole armor of God." First, though, it is key to acknowledge what we are dealing with and what the larger context of that battle is. Jesus tells his disciples in John 14:30-31 that "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know I love the Father."

Know…

The heart of worship

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Yesterday we reflected on works righteousness as if affects philanthropic giving. The statistics seem to suggest that large donors give generally not out of genuine concern for the needs of humanity, in particular the poor, but in order to be noticed. We give to see our names on a building, or to be placed in the top 10 list of donors to our university, or to make a lasting impact on the life of some nonprofit institution for which we will be remembered. (James 2:15-16: "If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,' and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?")

This same attitude dominates the life of our congregations, at the expense of what we need most -- the growing awareness within each of us of the light of Christ which burns at the center of our being.

In many parishes activity is perceived to be the main sign of life. (We have given up on growth as …

Good giving

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We are convicted by the numbers.

In yesterday's Epistle reading as assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary, we heard in James 2 that "If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,' and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."

America gives generously, but a story in the New York Times this weekend pointed out that the bulk of charitable giving is not earmarked for the poor. Indeed, if you research the Chronicle of Philanthropy, you will find that of the top 25 gifts so far in 2012, only one was designated for a recipient which might actually help people in need (a gift of $150 million the Oregon  Community Foundation in Portland). The others went to colleges, museums, libraries and the arts. Scrolling further down the list, it is revealed that only two in the top 100 gifts are designated for social s…