Easter 2 - Year C
Any current religious organization has an investment in the past being continued into the future. This keeps current leaders in place. Should there be a challenge to the past that has arrived in the present (a burning-bush focused Moses, a manger and empty grave way of Jesus, or your own experience) it must be dealt with by insisting only current religious rule will help us simply survive.
A quick look will reveal that no religious organization lasts forever. Bidden or not, G*D will not be constrained by survivalist rules.
While not everyone needs to be able to articulate a future appreciative of the past, but not bound by it, everyone is capable of playing the role of St. Gamaliel (Feast Day, August 3) to encourage careful thinking. Knowing your history (here tracing Theudas and Judas the Galilean and bringing to mind others) remind us to look again lest we end up denying G*D and making martyrs - a deadly duo to resistant souls both individual and religio-institutional.
Where today would you counsel listening for G*D? You might try asking “What’s behind this piece of news?” and “What more than eye can see is going on here?” These aid us in not falling prey to lowest-common-denominator responses or entrenching our penchant to deny G*D room to move beyond our past understandings of G*D. Go ahead, be a Gamaliel — if you can’t join the resistance, the movement of a new day, at least allow the possibility that more is going on than a simple narrative of prevailing power.
It's tax day in the USofA.
"We must obey God rather than any human authority."
Taxes are for the good of the community, but they can be misused. The Bible is for the good of the community, but it can be misused. You are for the good of the community, but you can be misused.
Obedience in regard to GOD is good-of-the-community-tropic. It slouches and careens and starts-and-stops toward the good of the community. Along the way it is misused. Along the way it gets back on track again. Continual evaluation is in order.
So how are you using your money these days? How are talking about taxes and how they represent you?
The War Resisters League shows where your federal taxes go:
33% Human Resources
13% General Government
6% Physical Resources
18% Past Military
28% Current Military
3% Iraq & Afghan Wars
The government is charged with Common Defense and General Welfare issues. It might seem that a 50/50 split of money would be appropriate, but that is false. The two systems are related and anything that is not very overbalanced toward the General Welfare is unbalanced. The well-being of the community is the basis for defense. When "defense" comes to the fore, it turns all too quickly from defense to preemption and is a poor basis on which to build community.
Though this country was born in revolution its vision was not perpetual revolution and fighting, but care for one another and others.
What is GOD asking of you in regard to changing our tax reasoning and participation? Imagine investing as much again as you pay in taxes in people who are building community. This wouldn't show up in the tax chart but would put our money where our hearts are and energize our involvement in life.
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I am exploring the Acts reading. As United Methodists approach general conference later this month, it seems like a reading that can speak to us (on all sides of the issues we face). We worship Christ who is about new things that seemingly defy human authority; how does one discern if the "leading" that defies human authority is from God or a projection of our own making?
What is the difference between Jim Jones and the Apostle Peter?
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Since 1972 the United Methodist church has morphed legislation regarding the civil rights of homosexual persons into a theological dismissal of them as incompatible with Christian teaching.
As I prepare to go to General Conference [GC] and to vote on such "stuff and nonsense" I find my Wisconsin Annual Conference has sent a petition to simply delete the incompatibility language and my Methodist Federation for Social Action has sent a petition to nudge it in a different direction by saying, ""Differences of opinion among faithful Christians regarding sexual orientation continue to deeply divide the church. We stand before God admitting that we have thus far been unable to reach common ground. As we continue to discern God's will together, we are united in declaring our understanding that God's grace is available to all."
I won't have any control over which comes first, one of these or something that equates homosexuality with bestiality. Would you try to pass whichever of these two came up first or choose one and put all your eggs in its basket even if it came up last? So, practically, how would you prepare to stand before the council of GC and say, as Matthew has Jesus say numerous times, "You now have it on the books one way, but I'm saying, 'That ain't necessarily so.'"
Repentance and forgiveness really do defy human authority and can seemingly only be evaluated in hindsight. So let's explore away, witness where we can, and leave it to be sorted out in due time.
So often this passage is read as though it were a debate that was going to go to the side with the most passion or power. In light of Holy Humor Sunday it might be best to read verse 29 as, "But Peter and the apostles laughed and responded, ...."
So often experiences of religious differences devolve into bitter separation. I can't help but wonder about the lives of the saints and reformers being portrayed as so diligent that there was no time for laughter. Luther has famously been known to pray the more, the busier his day was to be. Imagine prayer as laughter and what it would mean to laugh the more, the more expectations are being laid on.
If Peter and the disciples were proclaiming good news, they might as well enjoy the telling as well as the results. How about us?
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good news scowled he
trying to be as serious
as a god should be
as ultimate arbiter
made in the image
he portrayed disaster
all that was forgotten
in light of creation's dance
leading to forgiveness
choose wisely your god
for your face will follow
with furrowed brow
with laugh lines
See what an excellent illustration this is for not giving any quarter in an ideological battle. Gamaliel got all reasonable and the disciples were let off to build their base and cause more trouble.
Can you imagine a Gamaliel in the inner circle of the Bush/Chaney administration or the current Republican House of Representatives or Senate? Truth is, the same need for a Gamaliel is present on every side. No one is exempt from the quest for power or its overreach when achieved.
It's easy to play the part of the disciples - I've got a message and I'm going to deliver it. It is much harder to play the role of the loyal opposition. Who has the time to see how things will develop when there are points to score and scores to settle? The loyal opposition brings a troublesome, though real, presumption that we may be in the wrong and any hint toward that possibility scares the bejesus out of many. In that fear, they then can't be Jesus in their situation and choose a compassionate and rational stance.
With what group do you need to play the loyal opposition. If you are uncertain, here's a book by that name that points to one important arena, The Loyal Opposition: Struggling with the Church on Homosexuality.