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Mennonites and inclusion

The largest Mennonite group in the United States, Mennonite Church USA,  is trying to come to terms with limited or full inclusion of sexual minorities.  The discussion has to do with the hiring practices of Mennonite institutions, ministerial credentialing, clergy performing same-sex ceremonies, and general acceptance of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) folks.

 

Some things to consider (gleanings from various sources):

 

  1. Hate and homophobia are pervasive in American culture. School kids call each other “fags” and insult people by calling them “gay.”  Bullies of all ages beat up gay and lesbian people.  A decidedly secular fear and lack of knowledge about homosexuality shapes many of the negative Christian attitudes about our brothers and sisters who are LGBTQ.
  2. Families disown their gay and lesbian children, a key factor in the alarmingly higher rates of homelessness and suicide in these kids.
  3. Science tells us that homosexuality is not a choice; it is a biological fact. God creates (maybe ten percent) of people with diverse sexual orientations. People are born gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender.
  4. Homosexuality is not the same thing as being sexually ‘loose’ or permissive.  Heterosexuals in our community often fail to respect their own bodies and those of their partners.  Sexual integrity is a separate issue. Mennonites should continue to support a culture of sexual integrity for both heterosexuals and homosexuals, as we live in a world that teaches us to abuse others and ourselves.
  5. It is because of my faith, not in spite of it, that I believe Mennonite Church USA and institutions should accept all people – including those with a LGBTQ identity.  Many Mennonites can trace their roots 500 years back to ancestors in Switzerland who opposed the Church hierarchy and challenged all to follow the radical way of Jesus at all costs.
  6. Some church leaders, like their Anabaptist ancestors, are taking great risks to follow Jesus’ Way of Love.  When they advocate for dialogue or discussion they received hate mail, belligerent phone calls from colleagues and ostracization.  The most important part of our dialogue is the tone it sets on how we deal with differences in our community.  Can we practice the skills detailed in the Mennonite Church USA’s statement, “Disagreeing in Love,” or is our pacifism only a theological position?
  7. Mennonite teachings understand the Bible as a call to the Law of Love and to practice radical inclusion.  Mennonites learn not to water down the Bible, but to read the Bible alongside its culture and history.  Mennonite learn not to stand on a selective reading of the Bible’s convenient passages, but to more fully understand that Jesus’ teachings can help human beings live in an increasingly chaotic world.
  8. The Bible’s primary message is about acceptance, inclusion and an embrace of diversity.  Jesus spent most of his time with people that the Jewish leaders of the day called “sinners.” Jesus embraced everyone, no matter who they were or what they had done.  Jesus never practiced exclusion. He welcomed all people to the table. Jesus defended the humanity of all people, even society’s outcasts.
  9. The Biblical passages on homosexuality overwhelmingly refer to male slave owners who abusively sodomized their male slaves, often boys.  The Bible refers to male rape as sin.  Rape is always wrong.  Rape is prevalent in our culture. But rape is completely different from homosexuality. Rape is a crime of power and domination. Homosexuality is not the same as rape.  The Bible does not provide any comment on a loving relationship between two people of the same sex.
  10. Jesus does not command us to judge our neighbors or form an exclusive church for those without sin. Jesus does the opposite.  He tells us to focus on the “log in our own eyes rather than the speck of dust in our neighbor’s eye.” Jesus repeatedly warns people against judging others.  Perhaps the very arrogance of judging another is the highest form of sin, as feeling entitled to judge places us apart from God and divides the human community.
  11. Even if we read the Gospel without understanding its cultural context, Jesus mentions many different types of sinning or brokenness.  Mennonites sin in many ways. Who would dare cast the first stone against another’s sins?  If we agree with Jesus that it is harder for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God than for a camel to go through an eye of a needle, why are we silent about our addiction to wealth?  There are too many Biblical passages on the sin of gluttony to mention and too many delicious Mennonite recipes for any of us to point fingers at the extra inches on our waists.  Are any of us without sin?  Or do we want to start ranking some sins as worse than others?
  12. Where is the Biblical precedent for a policy of exclusion of any type of people?  Would Jesus have turned away anyone seeking to learn how to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God?
  13. In the past, the Mennonite church has closed its doors to African Americans. The Church has been wrong in the past. Christians twisted Biblical passages to make it seem that slavery was acceptable.  At times, the Church has been judgmental and racist. It took the leadership of courageous Mennonite women and men to insist on the full humanity of African Americans to eventually change the church to welcome people of all colors.  In the footsteps of these women, we must stand beside our LGBTQ sisters and brothers.
  14. How will the world know that the Mennonite church is a home for spiritual growth?  They will know we are Christians by our love, by our tolerance for diversity, for the way we care and respect each other even in the midst of our differences.  No one will know we are Christians by our homophobic policies of exclusion and judgment.
  15. I hope we will continue in the Anabaptist tradition of following Jesus’ radical love for and inclusion of all people, no matter the financial or institutional costs.

“Mountaintop Experience”

March 2, 2014– Transfiguration Sunday

 

Exodus 24:12-18

12The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” 15Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Psalm 99

The Lord reigns;
Let the peoples tremble!
He dwells between the cherubim;
Let the earth be moved!
The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is high above all the peoples.
Let them praise Your great and awesome name—
He is holy.

The King’s strength also loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His footstool—
He is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among His priests,
And Samuel was among those who called upon His name;
They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.
He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar;
They kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them.

You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.
Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His holy hill;
For the Lord our God is holy.

2 Peter 1:16-21

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

19So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

 

 

Comments

Transfiguration Sunday marks the end of the season of Epiphany, the series of weeks after Christmas when the church lingers on the significance of the appearance of Jesus on the stage of human history.  With the Transfiguration story, the church turns toward the season of Lent and Easter, a time of reflecting on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.  The luminosity of the transfiguration story reaches toward the vision of God as transcendent, other worldly, mysterious and dimly apprehended.

The story of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop is found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The Matthew and Mark versions are very similar.  Luke’s version varies a bit and has Jesus praying and Moses and Elijah’s words are described as saying something about Jesus’ impending death in Jerusalem.  The transfiguration story is not in the Gospel of John.  The word “transfiguration” is used to translate the Greek word METAMORPHOO in Matthew and Mark.

The setting of the story has Jesus fully aware that his journey is toward suffering and death.  The disciples, initially feeling very good about being with Jesus and having this mountaintop experience, end up being fearful and not sure about the future.  Jesus touches them and tells them not to be afraid.  I think this is the heart of the story.

Through the ages this story has influenced Christian spirituality.  The Eastern Christian Church interpreted the story as representative of the human transformation possible in Christ.  Western Christianity tended to emphasize the cross experience of Jesus.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus opens the awareness of God’s presence in the lives of previous heroes of the faith. The mountaintop experience of Moses and the mountaintop experience of Elijah are well known narratives of Israel.

After encountering a burning bush on the mountaintop, Moses leads the transformation of a slave people toward self-determination.  After encountering God on the smoky, fiery mountaintop, Moses helps Israel find its character and vision as a people of law and justice and shalom.  Moses’ final mountaintop experience was overlooking the Promised Land before his death.

Elijah’s mountaintop experience was different.  The sheer sound of silence, or a small inner voice, guided Elijah in speaking God’s word to the powerful and to those in need.

Jesus in conversation with these figures reminds the reader of the long history of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the establishment of a covenant community and the sometimes irksome habit of God calling and raising up prophets to remind everyone of this intersection of divine and human activity and the ongoing dream of humankind’s transformation.

A few years ago a prophet appeared in the life of this nation and offered these words:

I have a dream…

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Martin Luther King Junior was a modern prophet who helped this nation move toward a more expansive view of humanity.  The “I Have a Dream” speech was a mountaintop experience for many of that generation and continues to inspire.  King was giving a speech to 250,000 people who had marched to WashingtonD.C. to demonstrate for civil rights.  As King was speaking Mahalia Jackson called out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.”  And he did.

What is the expansive vision we need today?

  • Care of creation?
  • Narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor?
  • Including sexual minorities fully in the church and society?

Some Christian spiritualties, if not all of them, have emphasized the role of prayer in Jesus’ transfiguration.  Jesus and the disciples going to an isolated setting is interpreted to mean they spent time in prayer and meditation.  The disciplines of prayer and meditation as a ways of raising awareness of the divine presence and mystery have motivated many to work at disciplined ways of finding the presence of God.  Controlled breathing, chanting, meditating on words and phrases, observing extended times of silence, fasting, and praying have been pathways to mountaintop experiences for many through the ages.  As we struggle to stay afloat in the deluge of the information age and navigate the complexities of the 21st century, we often long for the focus and simplicity of a quiet place and a method to journey into God’s presence.

The disciples thought they had found that place.  “Wow! This is good, Jesus.  We’ll stay right here.  We will build new institutions to commemorate and perpetuate this mountaintop experience.”  As they are speaking and carrying on and planning, they are interrupted by divine speech.  “This is my beloved with whom I am well-pleased.  Listen to him.”

Almost the same words were heard at Jesus Baptism and the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days of testing.

This time, God’s voice declares, “Listen to him.” Then there is a series of exorcisms, confrontations with the authorities, healings, teachings and parables by Jesus as he continues his ministry among the people and continues the journey toward Jerusalem and his death.  This the Jesus we listen to.

We are not a people called to linger long on mountaintop experiences.  If we listen to Jesus, we will be a people who are transformed as we engage in the work of creating a world as God intended it to be.

 

Maybe the ultimate transformation is the movement from loving our idea and image of God to loving our neighbors in all their variety of colors, social class, physical appearance, gender, sexual orientation and circumstances.

A Dispute About the Poor 091913

English: "Malnourishment in Niger" M...

English: “Malnourishment in Niger” Malnourished children in Niger, during the 2005 famine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Today’s Scriptures Click the following links to read today’s scriptures or scroll to the very bottom of this blog post for those scriptures also. Lectionary Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Psalm 113 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20113&version=MSG

 

Exodus 23:1-9 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2023:1-9&version=MSG

 

Romans 3:1-8 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%203:1-8&version=MSG

 

A Dispute About the Poor 091913

One of the current debates amongst our political representatives (who are not our leaders) about cutting or eliminating funds to the poorest of our nation’s people. The program is called SNAP, the acronym for ‘Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.’ Many might agree that the poor who receive these benefits could do better for themselves, and that SNAP doesn’t help as much as could because the poor ‘always buy unhealthy, high carbohydrate foods’. But being poor causes one to acquire the habits of poverty, that is, if you are poor you tend to buy cheap, high-carbohydrate foods that cause one to feel full easier than fruit, vegetables or meat, nutritious foods.

Do you see malnourished children on a daily basis, close up? Has a member of your family ever suffered malnourishment or extreme hunger? It is impossible to not carry a profound, daily, omnipresent ache in one’s soul knowing of these things in the world.

Accompany a hungry person, or stay with a person in pain and get down on your knees and pray for peace.

Pastor Bill

Read today’s scripture and notice whenever the word ‘poor’ is used.

Prayer List: 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).

Pray with us!

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

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

 

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Psalm 113

The Message (MSG)

113 1-3 Hallelujah!
You who serve God, praise God!
Just to speak his name is praise!
Just to remember God is a blessing—
now and tomorrow and always.
From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
keep lifting all your praises to God!

4-9 God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
Who can compare with God, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash,
Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best.
He gives childless couples a family,
gives them joy as the parents of children.
Hallelujah!

Exodus 23:1-9

The Message (MSG)

23 1-3 “Don’t pass on malicious gossip.

“Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. And just because someone is poor, don’t show favoritism in a dispute.

4-5 “If you find your enemy’s ox or donkey loose, take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, don’t walk off and leave it. Help it up.

6 “When there is a dispute concerning your poor, don’t tamper with the justice due them.

7 “Stay clear of false accusations. Don’t contribute to the death of innocent and good people. I don’t let the wicked off the hook.

8 “Don’t take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of good people.

9 “Don’t take advantage of a stranger. You know what it’s like to be a stranger; you were strangers in Egypt.

Romans 3:1-8

The Message (MSG)

3 1-2 So what difference does it make who’s a Jew and who isn’t, who has been trained in God’s ways and who hasn’t? As it turns out, it makes a lot of difference—but not the difference so many have assumed.

2-6 First, there’s the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for God’s revelation, these Holy Scriptures. So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Scripture says the same:

Your words stand fast and true;
Rejection doesn’t faze you.

But if our wrongdoing only underlines and confirms God’s rightdoing, shouldn’t we be commended for helping out? Since our bad words don’t even make a dent in his good words, isn’t it wrong of God to back us to the wall and hold us to our word? These questions come up. The answer to such questions is no, a most emphatic No! How else would things ever get straightened out if God didn’t do the straightening?

7-8 It’s simply perverse to say, “If my lies serve to show off God’s truth all the more gloriously, why blame me? I’m doing God a favor.” Some people are actually trying to put such words in our mouths, claiming that we go around saying, “The more evil we do, the more good God does, so let’s just do it!” That’s pure slander, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

 

English: Logo of the .

English: Logo of the . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Along the River 090513

Katy Trail Entry

Katy Trail Entry (Photo credit: fotobydave)

Katy Trail Boonville, MO

Katy Trail Boonville, MO (Photo credit: robertstinnett)

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Today’s Scriptures Click the following links to read today’s scriptures or scroll to the very bottom of this blog post for those scriptures also. Lectionary Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Psalm 1 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%201%09&version=MSG

 

Genesis 39:1-23 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2039:1-23&version=MSG

 

Philippians 2:25-30 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians%202:25-30&version=MSG

 

Along the River 090513

 

Occasionally, I get the chance to ride a bike on a trail beside the great Missouri River, on a level, pebble paved riding surface.

 

The trail cuts through forests, plain areas, swamp, upland, etc. I’ve noted that every time I follow this path by bicycle there is some or several types of wildflower in bloom. This continuing array of blooming, pollinating and fading flowers that continues through to fall always brings me to a state of humility in the universe, of unity with this natural continuing evolution of blooming and death.

 

And people are a blended part of this array and display of change, and I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, when I can say hello to people of the greatest diversity and hear their response. People generally are friendly and kind and I enjoy the realization that humanity has the capability to understand problems and solve them, with the help of God.

 

Pray for peace, when you see people, and welcome all into the Kingdom of God.

 

 

Prayer List: 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).

Pray with us!

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

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

 

Subscribe to our blog!Delivery daily by e-mail.Click the button on the right.

Psalm 1

The Message (MSG)

1 How well God must like you—
you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.

4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
unfit company for innocent people.

6 God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.

Genesis 39:1-23

The Message (MSG)

39 After Joseph had been taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelites, Potiphar an Egyptian, one of Pharaoh’s officials and the manager of his household, bought him from them.

2-6 As it turned out, God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian—all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.

6-7 Joseph was a strikingly handsome man. As time went on, his master’s wife became infatuated with Joseph and one day said, “Sleep with me.”

8-9 He wouldn’t do it. He said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master doesn’t give a second thought to anything that goes on here—he’s put me in charge of everything he owns. He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?”

10 She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground. He refused to go to bed with her.

11-15 On one of these days he came to the house to do his work and none of the household servants happened to be there. She grabbed him by his cloak, saying, “Sleep with me!” He left his coat in her hand and ran out of the house. When she realized that he had left his coat in her hand and run outside, she called to her house servants: “Look—this Hebrew shows up and before you know it he’s trying to seduce us. He tried to make love to me but I yelled as loud as I could. With all my yelling and screaming, he left his coat beside me here and ran outside.”

16-18 She kept his coat right there until his master came home. She told him the same story. She said, “The Hebrew slave, the one you brought to us, came after me and tried to use me for his plaything. When I yelled and screamed, he left his coat with me and ran outside.”

19-23 When his master heard his wife’s story, telling him, “These are the things your slave did to me,” he was furious. Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the jail where the king’s prisoners were locked up. But there in jail God was still with Joseph: He reached out in kindness to him; he put him on good terms with the head jailer. The head jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners—he ended up managing the whole operation. The head jailer gave Joseph free rein, never even checked on him, because God was with him; whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best.

Philippians 2:25-30

The Message (MSG)

25-27 But for right now, I’m dispatching Epaphroditus, my good friend and companion in my work. You sent him to help me out; now I’m sending him to help you out. He has been wanting in the worst way to get back with you. Especially since recovering from the illness you heard about, he’s been wanting to get back and reassure you that he is just fine. He nearly died, as you know, but God had mercy on him. And not only on him—he had mercy on me, too. His death would have been one huge grief piled on top of all the others.

28-30 So you can see why I’m so delighted to send him on to you. When you see him again, hale and hearty, how you’ll rejoice and how relieved I’ll be. Give him a grand welcome, a joyful embrace! People like him deserve the best you can give. Remember the ministry to me that you started but weren’t able to complete? Well, in the process of finishing up that work, he put his life on the line and nearly died doing it.

What to Feel and Do About Syria? 082913

English: Columns in Palmyra, Syria, 2009.

English: Columns in Palmyra, Syria, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A BGM-109 Tomahawk land-attack missil...

English: A BGM-109 Tomahawk land-attack missile (TLAM) is fired toward an Iraqi target from the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63) at the start of Operation Desert Storm. Deutsch: Ein BGM-109 Tomahawk wird von der USS MISSOURI am Beginn der Operation Desert Sorm abgeschossen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Launch of a Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile f...

Launch of a Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile from the USS Stethem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Islam invasion of Syria, Hebrew map

English: Islam invasion of Syria, Hebrew map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Today’s Scriptures Click the following links to read today’s scriptures or scroll to the very bottom of this blog post for those scriptures also. Lectionary Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Psalm 112 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20112&version=MSG

 

Proverbs 15:13-17 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2015:13-17%20&version=MSG

 

1 Peter 3:8-12 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Peter%203:8-12%20&version=MSG

 

What to Feel and Do About Syria? 082913

 

We’ve talked some the last few days about the pending, expected, inevitable, perhaps, US ‘missiling’ of Syria. It doesn’t seem like a bombing, because we’re not dropping bombs out of an aircraft. I expect that a button will be pushed aboard a Navy ship, and Tomahawk missiles will fly off to kill and destroy.

 

There are numerous fascinating and complex issues to politically, militarily, internationally consider. But it almost seems like evasion. At the base of this situation is the action that will result potentially in the death of many, unnumbered and uncared-for human beings. At the base, the root of this pending action is death and destruction. This is war, in its darkness, whether or not there is a declaration.

 

With this choice of death there are lots of speeches, but no formal legal declaration of war.

 

Instead of this ‘missiling’, what if the US, via Obama, simply announced that we refuse to do anything to put Syrians at risk of death and injury. Instead, the US will recruit 30,000 social workers to travel to Syria, as individual Christ-disciples, and arrange and help to provide food, clean water, medical care, housing and education for the Syrian nation.

 

This offer should be shared with beloved humans, Muslim, Jewish and Christian, and within all sects of Islam, (and neither ‘side’ in the Sunni v. Shiite conflict).

This type of discussion is seldom heard from a Christian minister. Why?

Pray for peace. Pray for food, clean water, medical care, housing and education for Syria. Read today’s Bible verses. Do they apply to this issue?

Pastor Bill

Prayer List: 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).

Pray with us!

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

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

 

Subscribe to our blog!Delivery daily by e-mail.Click the button on the right.

Psalm 112

The Message (MSG)

112 1-10 Hallelujah!
Blessed man, blessed woman, who fear God,
Who cherish and relish his commandments,
Their children robust on the earth,
And the homes of the upright—how blessed!
Their houses brim with wealth
And a generosity that never runs dry.
Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people—
God’s grace and mercy and justice!
The good person is generous and lends lavishly;
No shuffling or stumbling around for this one,
But a sterling and solid and lasting reputation.
Unfazed by rumor and gossip,
Heart ready, trusting in God,
Spirit firm, unperturbed,
Ever blessed, relaxed among enemies,
They lavish gifts on the poor—
A generosity that goes on, and on, and on.
An honored life! A beautiful life!
Someone wicked takes one look and rages,
Blusters away but ends up speechless.
There’s nothing to the dreams of the wicked. Nothing.

Proverbs 15:13-17

The Message (MSG)

13 A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

14 An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth;
fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.

15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

16 A simple life in the Fear-of-God
is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches.

17 Better a bread crust shared in love
than a slab of prime rib served in hate.

1 Peter 3:8-12

The Message (MSG)

Suffering for Doing Good

8-12 Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.

Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things.

Jesus and the Spiritual Plateau 011413

Disciples

Disciples (Photo credit: Mr Mo-Fo)

Jesus and the Spiritual Plateau 011413

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Today’s Scriptures Click the following links to read today’s scriptures or scroll to the very bottom of this blog post for those scriptures also. Lectionary Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Psalm 106:1-12 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20106:1-12&version=MSG

Judges 4:1-16 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges%204:1-16&version=MSG

Ephesians 6:10-17 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%206:10-17&version=MSG

Jesus and the Spiritual Plateau 011413

Sometimes I’ve thought that following Jesus and becoming a disciple was maybe like other religions, in that, after considerable effort and discipline, one ‘gets there’, I’m not sure where ‘there’ is, but in Buddhism and or some other religions there is a ‘there’ we seeking to get to, eventually.

But I’m less certain now that this is the case with being a disciple of Jesus; I don’t think there is a spiritual plateau we reach. Instead, with Christian discipleship is seems more like continual discipline, continual prayer and allegiance are necessary, as if the spiritual struggle goes on and on.

And for those who have watched the ebb and flow of Christian discipleship, and watched our spirit and discipline come, and sometimes quickly go in an instant, as if all our learning, prayer and discipleship just disappeared in a second, as if we had just forgotten everything we ever knew about Jesus.

Partly, this may be the reason we believe as we do, in evil, in the devil, in a lifelong struggle against our own internal evil…we believe it because we see it happens in ourselves.

Pray for peace,

Bill

Prayer List: 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).

Pray with us!

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

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

 

Subscribe to our blog!Delivery daily by e-mail.Click the button on the right.

M 01/14 Psalm 106:1-12

Judges 4:1-16

Ephesians 6:10-17

Psalm 106:1-12

The Message (MSG)

106 1-3 Hallelujah!
Thank God! And why?
Because he’s good, because his love lasts.
But who on earth can do it—
declaim God’s mighty acts, broadcast all his praises?
You’re one happy man when you do what’s right,
one happy woman when you form the habit of justice.

4-5 Remember me, God, when you enjoy your people;
include me when you save them;
I want to see your chosen succeed,
celebrate with your celebrating nation,
join the Hallelujahs of your pride and joy!

6-12 We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents;
We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people.
After our parents left Egypt,
they took your wonders for granted,
forgot your great and wonderful love.
They were barely beyond the Red Sea
when they defied the High God
—the very place he saved them!
—the place he revealed his amazing power!
He rebuked the Red Sea so that it dried up on the spot
—he paraded them right through!
—no one so much as got wet feet!
He saved them from a life of oppression,
pried them loose from the grip of the enemy.
Then the waters flowed back on their oppressors;
there wasn’t a single survivor.
Then they believed his words were true
and broke out in songs of praise.

Judges 4:1-16

The Message (MSG)

Deborah

4 1-3 The People of Israel kept right on doing evil in God’s sight. With Ehud dead, God sold them off to Jabin king of Canaan who ruled from Hazor. Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim, was the commander of his army. The People of Israel cried out to God because he had cruelly oppressed them with his nine hundred iron chariots for twenty years.

4-5 Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah’s Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The People of Israel went to her in matters of justice.

6-7 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “It has become clear that God, the God of Israel, commands you: Go to Mount Tabor and prepare for battle. Take ten companies of soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun. I’ll take care of getting Sisera, the leader of Jabin’s army, to the Kishon River with all his chariots and troops. And I’ll make sure you win the battle.”

8 Barak said, “If you go with me, I’ll go. But if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

9-10 She said, “Of course I’ll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there’ll be no glory in it for you. God will use a woman’s hand to take care of Sisera.”

Deborah got ready and went with Barak to Kedesh. Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together at Kedesh. Ten companies of men followed him. And Deborah was with him.

11-13 It happened that Heber the Kenite had parted company with the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ in-law. He was now living at Zaanannim Oak near Kedesh. They told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. Sisera immediately called up all his chariots to the Kishon River—nine hundred iron chariots!—along with all his troops who were with him at Harosheth Haggoyim.

14 Deborah said to Barak, “Charge! This very day God has given you victory over Sisera. Isn’t God marching before you?”

Barak charged down the slopes of Mount Tabor, his ten companies following him.

15-16 God routed Sisera—all those chariots, all those troops!—before Barak. Sisera jumped out of his chariot and ran. Barak chased the chariots and troops all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. Sisera’s entire fighting force was killed—not one man left.

Ephesians 6:10-18

The Message (MSG)

A Fight to the Finish

10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

 

Aside

Being now or to be? 101212

Mennonite church IMG_2101-2

Mennonite church IMG_2101-2 (Photo credit: OZinOH)

 

Being now or to be? 101212

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Today’s Scriptures Click the following links to read today’s scriptures or scroll to the very bottom of this blog post for those scriptures also. Lectionary Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Psalm 90:12-17 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2090:12-17&version=MSG

Deuteronomy 5:22-33  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy%205:22-33&version=MSG

Hebrews 4:1-11 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%204:1-11&version=MSG

 

Being now or to be? 101212

 

Hebrews 4 is an interesting mix of two opposed, I think or maybe opposite ideas, or at least verbs with different tenses. Faith, in my own definition tends to mean ‘to be in the moment or being now. It is all in the present.

 

But ’to be’ means that the promises of God are in the future and always are relating to the ‘coming’ answer or the coming arrival.

 

And it seems to unify our experience of God in the present through our present faith and the promises of God in the future—with our present faitj and experience of the future.

 

Science fiction of course, and mayve someday science will transport us to the future, but in this Paul is saying even more—that God and Christ unify our faith now with the future promises of God, not that the promises come only if we have faith, but that we really don’t hear the promises with faith, and both are right now, here.

 

Whew.

 

Pray for peace,

Bill

 

Prayer List: 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).

 

Pray with us!

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

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Subscribe to our blog! Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the right.

 

Psalm 90:12-17

Deuteronomy 5:22-33

Hebrews 4:1-11

Psalm 90:12-17

The Message (MSG)

12-17 Oh! Teach us to live well!
Teach us to live wisely and well!
Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?—
and treat your servants with kindness for a change.
Surprise us with love at daybreak;
then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.
Make up for the bad times with some good times;
we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
Let your servants see what you’re best at—
the ways you rule and bless your children.
And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us,
confirming the work that we do.
Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!

Genesis 20:1-18

The Message (MSG)

20 1-2 Abraham traveled from there south to the Negev and settled down between Kadesh and Shur. While he was camping in Gerar, Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She’s my sister.”

2-3 So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelech in a dream that night and told him, “You’re as good as dead—that woman you took, she’s a married woman.”

4-5 Now Abimelech had not yet slept with her, hadn’t so much as touched her. He said, “Master, would you kill an innocent man? Didn’t he tell me, ‘She’s my sister’? And didn’t she herself say, ‘He’s my brother’? I had no idea I was doing anything wrong when I did this.”

6-7 God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know your intentions were pure, that’s why I kept you from sinning against me; I was the one who kept you from going to bed with her. So now give the man’s wife back to him. He’s a prophet and will pray for you—pray for your life. If you don’t give her back, know that it’s certain death both for you and everyone in your family.”

8-9 Abimelech was up first thing in the morning. He called all his house servants together and told them the whole story. They were shocked. Then Abimelech called in Abraham and said, “What have you done to us? What have I ever done to you that you would bring on me and my kingdom this huge offense? What you’ve done to me ought never to have been done.”

10 Abimelech went on to Abraham, “Whatever were you thinking of when you did this thing?”

11-13 Abraham said, “I just assumed that there was no fear of God in this place and that they’d kill me to get my wife. Besides, the truth is that she is my half sister; she’s my father’s daughter but not my mother’s. When God sent me out as a wanderer from my father’s home, I told her, ‘Do me a favor; wherever we go, tell people that I’m your brother.’”

14-15 Then Abimelech gave Sarah back to Abraham, and along with her sent sheep and cattle and servants, both male and female. He said, “My land is open to you; live wherever you wish.”

16 And to Sarah he said, “I’ve given your brother a thousand pieces of silver—that clears you of even a shadow of suspicion before the eyes of the world. You’re vindicated.”

17-18 Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his maidservants, and they started having babies again. For God had shut down every womb in Abimelech’s household on account of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Hebrews 4:1-11

The Message (MSG)

When the Promises Are Mixed with Faith

1-3 For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said,

Exasperated, I vowed,
“They’ll never get where they’re going,
never be able to sit down and rest.”

3-7 God made that vow, even though he’d finished his part before the foundation of the world. Somewhere it’s written, “God rested the seventh day, having completed his work,” but in this other text he says, “They’ll never be able to sit down and rest.” So this promise has not yet been fulfilled. Those earlier ones never did get to the place of rest because they were disobedient. God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation:

Today, please listen,
don’t turn a deaf ear . . .

8-11 And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience.

 

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