Friday, November 28, 2008

Fret not over Global Realignment, should it come

Sure, in Scripture Jesus prayed that we all might be one, noting that this would be a sign to the world of the truth of the Way. But then again, he seems to have had personal experience here below of division and discord among his followers; from the synoptic narratives:

(Mark 9, NRSV):
38 John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ 39But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward....'

(Luke 9):
49 John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ 50But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’

While it is easy to take issue with my application here, the basic idea seems sound: at some point we are on the same side, in spite of all the wrangling, and what's more: even if the Secessionists deny that we are on their side. It's not as if converts to the conservative variety of evangelical Christianity can be safely contained in a bottle, to be uncorked only when needed to elect Republicans. The Spirit: taking care of business is its name.

Or, from Mark 4:
26 He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

That's right: it is not our job to know how, or even to be anxious about how. We have been given the seed, and it is our job (1)to go out from wherever we are, (2)to scatter seed on the ground, and (3) sleep some. Do not lose any sleep over realignment: it is of no ultimate importance.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Community Dying From Avarice?

Our dessicated prattling around secession--pro and con--invites trivial ripostes constituting a degenerating discourse full of sound and fury, strutting and posturing--in the end signifying nothing.

In case we have not noticed, our nation and its saints here below are in the midst of an economic crisis of historic proportions, one that challenges the foundations of our republic--a challenge moreover that comes at a very bad time, as we are trying to wrap up two lingering wars without pre-emptively starting a third. Chaos is upon us--families are suffering, children are suffering, and things could get much worse for very many very soon.

Shouldn't the church address these realities directly, acknowledging them in their due weight and noting their roots? How many pulpits have sounded out on our crises? Or do congregations-at-worship exist in parallel worlds really disjoint from the mundane one in which crises and storms break out, only appearing to be part of it?

Maybe the problem is we do not have the habit of addressing personal sin by name, especially the sins of the middle class, our principal constitutency, and so we do not have the habit of calling for personal conversion--much less repentance.