Yearly Archives: 2017

Living In-Between: Observations from 2017

We see so many “resistance” movements. How about a “surrender” movement?
Today I surrender…NOT to fatalism, but to:
The holy love of the Trinity. The reconciling and restoring mission of Jesus.
Compelling love that serves others in all I do. Listening deeply to the hurts and hopes of others.
The moral absolutes in the teachings of Jesus, ending my excuses for compromise.
Helping make the world a better place.
It is easy to resist with anger…harder to surrender with love.

How we feel matters…how we think matters more…and what we ultimately do matters most.
Agape love is both affection and action for the good of others.
A critical mind is not a judgmental heart.  May we (re)learn the art of evaluating arguments and evidence, without castigation or hypocrisy.
Disagreeing with another’s perspective – even on moral and political issues – does not mean hatred or intolerance. Living peaceably with our deepest differences while we find common principles of ordered liberty requires humility and courage.

(From September 2017) Dear Republican and Democratic leaders,
While the public is distracted by kneeling, standing and tweeting, you are failing in your public service. Only courage will stop the polarizing forces tearing us apart.
Republicans, you were elected so we can have better stewardship of policy and public funds…and you cannot seem to pass any bills of note.
Democrats, you keep drifting to radical extremes while most of America wants a principled middle…can’t some of you propose bills for negotiation and eventual passage? Lock-step voting is a tired excuse for serious labor.
To both parties: Please stop the grandstanding and self-righteousness and start doing your job.
The president is not a king or a savior…and the courts are not legislatures (in spite of some of both branches antics over the past half-century).
Instead of hand-wringing and blame-shifting, start working. I want to believe you have the best interests of our citizens in mind.
Prove it.

Christmas History

In the comic strip Peanuts, Charlie Brown is lamenting that Linus will have to go to school twice as long as others…in order to unlearn everything big sister Lucy (mis)taught him! This humorous aside reveals something important: sometimes we have to shed wrong ideas in order to understand the truth of any matter.

The Advent Season and celebration of Christmas is a wonderful time to reflect on the Incarnation of the Almighty, the arrival of Jesus as God with us. We are astonished at the mystery of Mother Mary nursing her Creator and Redeemer. We offer our worship as we join with the angelic hosts proclaiming peace with the birth of our Lord and Savior. As we, like Mary, treasure in our hearts the profound truth that the crèche of Bethlehem will soon yield to the Cross of Calvary as Jesus atones for the sins of all humankind.

It is also fitting that we unlearn a few things about this moment in history:

  • Joseph, Mary and Jesus were not homeless and poor. They we returning to their ancestral home for the census and found overcrowded conditions leading to modest lodgings in a barn. Jesus’ upbringing would be classified today as an artisan, small business owner or working class.
  • The Wise Men from the East arrived about 18 months after the birth of Jesus in an entourage of scores of people. These were Persian leaders and scholars alerted to Messiah’s birth by heavenly signs.
  • Christmas as a Christian holiday has been controversial from the 4th C to the present, with many rejecting its materialism and syncretism with winter solstice celebrations. As late as the mid-19th century, many churches and even states in the USA has no official Christmas Holiday!
  • Jesus is born in a geography that was a crossroads of the continents and cultures. Though considered a country backwater by the Roman Empire, Judea was in fact a place of deep learning and tradition in Judaism as well as a locale where the Greek was the marketplace language and Roman Law provided stability.

Celebrating Christmas is good. Adapting local cultural expressions into Christian worship is accepted by most around the world. As we enjoy this Season, it is fitting to renew our covenant with the Lord and share this Good News with a confused and rebellious world.

Lights in the Darkness and Prospects for Peace: Special commentary on the Middle East: Part 2

Here are some thoughts connecting political, religious conviction and prospects for peace:

We must remember that our Christian faith arises from the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish history. Underneath our beautiful Nativity are the trials and triumphs of Chanukah, that moment of Jewish liberation from pagan powers and consecration of the Temple in 164 B.C.

Just over 2500 years ago, a remnant of Judah rebuilt a modest Temple and here the Lord promises to send the Desire of Nations (Haggai). This moment in 516 fully ended the 70 years of exile for a people that had built Jerusalem as their capital in 1000 B.C.

In 1917, one century ago, the Balfour Declaration supported a Jewish homeland in their ancient geography…and in 2017, the USA declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Peace will only ultimately come when our Lord returns. But as peacemakers, we are called to welcome the future reign of God into the present. Here are the keys to Middle East stability:

  • If they want a sovereign state, Palestinian leaders must affirm Israel as the home of the Jewish people and recognize her national integrity within defensible borders. This will require courage and good personal security!
  • Israel must protect all religious rights and be open to an East Jerusalem capital of a new Palestinian state.
  • A new Palestine must renounce terror and agree to diplomatic and economic exchange.
  • A handful of Arab nations must agree that a secure Israel and a new Palestine at peace will help resist the hegemony of Iran and her terrorist agencies.
  • The best brokers of this are Christians from both the Middle East and the West.

The Bible enjoins us to pray for the shalom of Jerusalem. May our leaders find courage and wisdom and may we never give in to hatred.