Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Here Come da Judge!

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told them a parable to show them that shey should always pray and not lose heart (give up). He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who niether feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in the town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'"

The Prinveville Bible Fellowship meets in a building that had a former life. We hope. We notice that the "Payment Slot" has been disabled with screws. That didn't disable someone's imagination in altering the text, however.

Some churches have worked that way. Many so-called justice systems around the world have never worked differently. Justice is given to the highest bidder, the one with the most power.

When Jesus sets the stage of the parable by introducing the corrupt, unjust judge, the one who decided not on the basis of his faith, public pressure or the human community's constitution and laws--but apparently on the basis of how he felt or how well he was paid by the powerful--I imagine someone in the crowd piped up and said,

"Yo, Rabbi, name me a judge that doesn't work this way!"

Point taken.

And imagine the widow going up against this kind of bullheadedness and corruption. What's she got going for her? Nothing. Total zip.

In Jesus' day, and still in our day in many places, you are the bottom rung of the ladder if you are female and without a family, without male power brokers. 'Specially if you got no bucks.

But the widow does not give up. She won't take no for an answer. She wears out the crooked, corrupt judge. Nags 'til the cows come home. Good on her!

So Jesus says, "If the most powerless person you can imagine can prevail against the most corrupt system you can imagine, what's keeping you from taking advantage of your much more favorable conditions?"

For the widow, the system is completely stacked against her. But it eventually crumbles her way.

For us, the God system is completely stacked in our favor. Do we have faith enough to ask? And keep at it? At all?

Do we have faith enough to ask?

If we don't, here's a piece of advice: Act as if we do.

Pray anyway. Pray until it hurts. Pray until it feels better. Don't give up. Don't quit. Don't lose heart.

Pray for what you really need. Which is the same thing God really needs. God can't be unfaithful to God's self. So, doggone it, ask for it!

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...


Pastor Roger

Saturday, October 9, 2010

EIA, not MIA

Mom is 103. Actually, 103.5. I brought her three yellow roses on her half birthday on Tuesday. It was humbling to see my sweet little Mom, carrying on the noble fight for her life with grace, peace and a little humor not common to the general lot of us.

Mom might not ever be able to walk much or very far again. A bum knee she's had for 50 years is really acting up now. That saddens me because it limits her so.

We shared some deep and wonderful time for four days this past week. We can talk about almost anything. Her mind is there still. She doesn't have the latest information on things. Who does? But she's willing to talk about what she knows.

She and I can talk about the war. Wars, actually. We can talk about Iraq and how we got there. We can talk about Afghanistan. And how we got there. And where we're going. We can talk about what it means to go to war and what following Christ calls us to do.

I deeply love and respect my Mom for this. Always have. She's an EIA, elder in action. On the life and death subject of war, she's willing to talk and use all the mental faculties she has left--which are quite a lot.
In her lifetime, Mom has seen the Great War, the Bolshevik Revolution, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, a bunch of Middle East Wars, the Cold War, the Iran-Iraq War, civil war in Yugoslavia, the First Gulf War, civil wars in Lebanon, the Chechen War, the Iraq War, nearly endless war in Afghanistan--and a pile of "ethnic cleansing" genocial wars in places like Cambodia, Rwanda and Kosovo.
Then, of course, there are the 11,000,000 human beings exterminated by our own ethnic blood brothers and sisters. (6 million were Jews; 5 million more were not.)
That's just the short list.

Mom stands in sharp contrast to a horrifyingly large number of Americans with far fewer years, far more energy, far more information and far fewer limitations but who are strangely MIA, missing in action, when it comes to talking and thinking and doing something about war.

Unwilling to volunteer for service, unwilling to buy war bonds and pay a tax surcharge, unwilling to send their own into harm's way, too many Americans are also unwilling to use their minds, their voices and their words--their practically unlimited opportunities--to think or talk about this war. These wars...
Oh, and what about using their faith? What about working feverishly to prevent war?

Too many are MIA, and I'm sad about that. That's not making very good use of the so-called freedoms which our so-called appreciation for veterans claims we are undyingly grateful for.

Freedom to be silent is what not what they fought for. Freedom to be inert is not what they served and died for. Freedom to be uninvolved is not what we live for. It's not why I gave four years of my life.

Let's give up being MIA, missing in action. Let's come home. Let's become CIA, citizens in action.

Afraid to start talking and listening?

"Every time I start talking politics, it simply leads to a blow-up and friends storm off in anger," you say?

Who said anything about talking politics? The subject is war, not politics. War has us by the throat, so we kinda sorta oughtta talk it out and talk it through. Isn't that what the Constitution we swore we would preserve, protect and defend requires of us?

Fear of possible verbal conflict is never an excuse. Not when violent conflict that sheds blood, ends lives and engulfs a nation's future well-being is done in our names.

Here's a helpful hint. Don't begin the conversation with any of the following:

"The Democrats..."

"The Republicans..."


"Bush and Cheney..."

Use this starting point instead: "Christ calls me to..."

Yeah, He does. As in "Blessed are the......."

Something about peacemakers in there. Yeah, those guys. And Moms.

I'm inspired by one little EIA, an elder in action: my Mom.

Pray for Mom, our country and one another. And end this pall of silence. Make peace, for God's sake. It's war.

Thank you. Amen.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Increase our Faith."

Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"

It comes like kind of a curveball amid Jesus admonitions about stumbling blocks and their implications. Something about putting a millstone-sized piece of ballast around our necks as we go swimming.

Not much forgiveness in that! But what do we think Jesus was talking about as a cause for stumbling or offending? Not saying please or thank-you? Talking out of turn? Dumping all over someone's favorite sports team, alma mater, style of worship, taste in music?

Could Jesus be talking about pedophilia, sexual abuse of minors, fascination wtih (additcion) to porn, cheating on our spouse?

All that... and more.

Trusting anything more than God. Putting anything in the place of God. That kind of thing.

Then Jesus goes on to talk about inexhaustible forgiveness, makes it sound as though one allows oneself to be completely ripped off, taken advantage of, in giving out forgiveness. Well... OhhhhhKaaaaaay.......

Then what about the spouse beater who has a five- or ten-day orbit cycle? Every time it happens she/he swears sorrow, that it won't happen again?

We have to mince words and protect the vulnerable, say that this kind of cylical behavior does not meet the standard of repentance (turning back) that is called for in order for forgiveness to be granted.

Jesus says that faith the size of a mustard seed could uproot mulberry trees. He talks about doing the servant's duty in coming in from the fields and then preparing our master's meal before we tend to ourselves.

In other words, be faithful and trust that we will be faith-filled in the course of doing so.

We should not pretend as if, act as if, we were the master. And we are well advised to not wait around until we have enough faith in order to set to work making the Master's meal--or anyone else's, for that matter.

Our Vietnam POW's held up very well considering. They might not have considered themselves strong enough to do so before finding themselves in the situation.

Odd thing about faith. It's not quantifiable or directly comparable. It is really only given in the doing of something that seems behond us before we do it. Kinda like comparing the size of the mustard seed to the full-grown mulberry tree.

The tree started from a seed even smaller than the mustard seed.

May we have and be given the life and faith to grow each day.


Pastor Roger