Lectionary Scriptures and Comments

English: A picture I took on my senior trip

 

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Forgiving Charles Taylor’s Blood Diamonds 053012

Usually, I avoid preaching or writing about current events and the news. One reason is that it is so easy to draw these times, and horrific news into a discussion which we intend to be about you, your prayer life and your reading of the Bible. Forgive this exception.

Charles Taylor, the ex-general and President was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his part in directing and allowing the terrible murder of 50,000 civilians by Sierra Leone rebels, who were paid and financed with ‘blood diamonds’, diamonds which were mined and sold to finance war. The holocaust many say was encouraged, financed and led by Taylor includes the most terrible of actions—beheading of people at highway checkpoints, disemboweling a victim and stretching his intestines across the road as a roadblock, burning families alive in their homes, public and celebrated rapes of thousands of women…it goes on.

But Jesus calls us to forgive, the Bible calls for forgiveness. In today’s scripture from John 20: “23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”

This is yet another biblical idea that escapes me, even though I’ve read a good deal on the subject of ‘binding and loosing’ which is the power given to the disciples in this passage. As we do on earth, it is done in heaven is one way it is said. (John Howard Yoder, the Mennonite theologian, discusses this at length).

But in the situation at hand, if you and I forgive Charles Taylor, and forget the 50,000 murdered humans, does this mean he is forgiven also in heaven?

A problem we can all see is that Taylor was able to sell his diamonds to greedy and hungry buyers, right? Do we all know anyone who has diamond jewelry or decorations, or has diamond needle on their old record player, or like me, who has a diamond coated saw-blade for cutting metals in my workshop. All diamonds, potentially, are blood diamonds, and what about blood gold, blood titanium, blood oil? All of us, each of us is poetentially involved in what Charles Taylor did.

If we choose to forgive Taylor, or if we choose to ‘bind or loose’ Taylor’s demons, who will we be binding or loosing?

Pray for peace

brother Bill

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

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We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

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Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Ezekiel 37:1-14

John 20:19-23

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

24O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.

26There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

27These all look to you to give them their food in due season;

28when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

29When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

30When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.

31May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—

32who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.

33I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

34May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.

35Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!

Ezekiel 37:1-14

37The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 7So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 11Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

John 20:19-23

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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