Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
I was looking over the Lectionary this morning and Jesus words to the 70 stood out. In particular were the words, "Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you." Considering where the Episcopal Church is currently, they are words to consider. TEC has taken a stand, a very unpopular one at that. We have decided to live out the Gospel message and welcome all and fully include them in our common life regardless of who they are.
This is a message that is difficult for many. Here in Northwest Arkansas, it is an especially hard message to deliver. Our struggles against years of fear and prejudice based on misunderstandings of the different seem to fall on deaf ears. The message today, like it was 2000 years ago, is unwelcome. So what are we to do? Do we simply move on; leave our families and friends? Do we simply give up?
I don't think so. A seed has been planted; one that is slowly taking root. We are the receivers of this message. We who welcomed the inclusiveness of the Gospel have to stay and tend to it. Like all seeds, the message of the Resurrection must be fertilized, watered and cared for if it is to grow properly. Even now the weeds of doubt, hatred and fear threaten to choke out the love of God that begs to be shown to all people. It is up to us to tend this garden, even when it seems a lost cause.
Jesus also said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." We are those laborers. Rather than rail against those who would reject the message of all encompassing love, we need to show them that God's Grace is extended to all. That is our mission.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Please pray for Jacob he isn't doing good we are going on 48 hours of no sleep and he is hallucinating..... I'm very scared. I think it is time I let him go to professionals that know what they are doing...
Well I just called Youth Villages a councelor is on her way here now, should be here within the hour. Jacob is walking around hallucinating still, calling me that girl saying I talk just like his mother, he has fallen he tried to get out the front door thank goodness I managed to get up a hotel lock yesterday morning or he could of been a missing little boy. Please pray, sounds like we are lakeside bound.
Lisa has been going through so much right now with a divorce from a abusive relationship. Please pray for her and for Jacob.
Gracious and loving God: be with Lisa and Jacob in their time of need. Comfort them in their time of need and heal them as only you know how. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
This Just In... Archbishop Of Canterbury Sends the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church in Canada to Their Rooms Without Supper
+++ Rowan's actions remind me of the President in Monsters Vs. Aliens, "Listen up! I'm not going to go down as the President who was in office when the world came to an end, so somebody think of something, and think of it fast!" That train has already left the station. ACNA is now a separate entity from us. Time to move on.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy labourers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns.
19 ‘Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.’ All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
10 do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.
49 This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The closest that anyone comes to saying is the writer of the Gospel of John. John 15:19 says, "If you belonged to the world,* the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. " Further along, in chapter 19: 13-16 Jesus says in his prayer, " But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.* I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.* They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. "(emphasis mine) Quite a different view.
In 1st century Judaism separations were everywhere. There was a class structure in place of clean and unclean. People who were deemed "unclean": gentiles, women who were menstrating or had just given birth, lepers, the sick and poor, were not able to enter into society and were kept on the outside margins. Jesus ministry was as much about breaking down those barriers as about anything else. His resurrection was about reconciling all of humanity to God, an open invitation that put the Samaritan and Roman on the same footing as the Pharisee and Scribe. That is the gospel, the Good News, that the Apostles were told to spread.
But somewhere along the way we lost that. Today we hear devout Christians talk about home schooling their children, listening to only Contemporary Christian music, reading Christian fiction, watching only Christian TV stations, voting for only Christian political candidates. This dilutes the inclusive message of our Savior. Christians now look at those that are "Unbelievers" as the "Other", when our own holy writings tell us that there is no difference between us. St. Paul boldly says in Galatians 3: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. " and in Romans, "For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..."
Looking back on a campaign started by an Evangelical pastor, I have to ask, would Jesus wall himself off like this? Would he tell us to create our own culture, or would he instead encourage us to go out into the world and be a force for change? Will we continue to look at those most in need of love as "other", or will we instead "embrace the leper" as St. Francis did, and see that divine spark, the Christ in everybody? Will we continue to shun someone because they are different, speak differently, love differently, or worship differently, or call God by a different name than we do? Will I continue to do this? Will you? What Would Jesus Do?
Monday, May 10, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
This morning Chris' prized Yorkie, Chief, was hit by a car. Without going into details, I can tell you from my limited medical expertise with humans that it was over too quick for him to know what happened and that he didn't suffer. Apparently he snuck out of the house in the midmorning to go see his friend (a white fuzzball of a dog) across the street. A lady from the neighborhood came and told us what happened, and I ran outside to get him out of the street. I cradled him for a bit and just came unglued. I don't know how long I cried and babbled.
Monday, April 26, 2010
As many who friended me on Facebook already know, Kathy Berg, a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bentonville, died this past Sunday. Mrs. H, Spud and Sprout took dinner over for her surviving partner/wife and daughter. We listened to what happened at the hospital, and what Philine went through that fateful afternoon, and I thought I would share it with all of you.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Initiated Act 1 was approved by approximately 57 percent of the voters in the 2008 election. I believe the people of Arkansas deserve to have the state’s highest court decide whether or not to override their decision. Therefore, I have instructed attorneys in my office to appeal the Circuit Court’s ruling on Initiated Act 1 to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
McDaniel's earlier statement said, "A number of factors will have to be considered and evaluated before a decision is made as to whether an appeal would be in the best interests of the state." I've asked the AG's office what those factors were.
UPDATE: McDaniel called the Times this afternoon to answer our questions. "I’m not offering any predictions on how it’s going to come out," the attorney general said, "but I think that everyone would expect it to be appealed. Avoiding an appeal is very unlikely so the question is whether the state’s lawyer is a participant in that and I think we almost have to be."
Monday, April 19, 2010
There is nothing I like better than spending a hot summer day next to a cool river or pond fishing. As a young hillbilly, my two brothers and I would take our loaf of stale bread and our little Zebco fishing poles down to the pond in the middle of the mountain we lived on. We could spend hours down there catching and releasing brim and perch until sunset, then retire first to the house for dinner, and then to the tent in the middle of the yard where we spent our summer nights. Such carefree days were always welcome.
I imagine Peter was thinking something similar when he told his fellow disciples, “I’m going fishing,” and took his boat out to see. Fishing was more than just a livelihood to him, it was familiar. And really, who could blame him for looking for something familiar. Already the man whom he considered a great friend and teacher had not only been brutally tortured and murdered by Roman authorities, but now had come back to visit him not once, but twice! If it were me in the same situation, I would be looking for something more familiar too, after I pried myself off the ceiling, of course.
And I think Jesus understood this, too. When he appears to the disciples from the shore, he doesn’t announce himself or yell at them to get back to work. He even helps them haul in the biggest catch they had probably ever seen before whipping them up a hearty breakfast. I can just see Jesus cooking over the fire smiling and muttering to himself, “I did everything but draw them a picture saying I’d be back and they still didn’t get it…” and then nearly rolling on the ground with laughter seeing Peter tripping over himself to get dressed and swim back to the shore when Peter realizes who is waiting for him. He helps keep up the familiarity by having breakfast with them as they probably did many times before.
Let’s take a look at what happens when people move out of that comfort zone, that area of familiarity, and answer the call:
Peter and the disciples answered that call and began spreading the “evangelion” the good news throughout the known world. Today we still see the results of this call.
In 1955, a Montgomery, Alabama woman moved out of the familiar and refused to be moved to the “colored” section of the bus she was riding. That decision helped to spark a civil rights movement that in 2008 saw the first African American elected to the highest office in the United States.
In 1974 11 women stepped out of their comfort zone and answered a call to ordained ministry within the Episcopal Church. 36 years later, we have seen not only the election of women bishops within the Church, but in 2006, the election of the first woman Primate in the Anglican Communion.
More recently, at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco: a life-long atheist and partnered lesbian heard the call and not only walked into the service there, but shared in communion. Just taking that small step out of her comfort zone lead to the establishment of a food pantry that feeds over 900 people daily.
Further forward, in 2003, the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of New Hampshire heard the call to “tend my lambs” and elected the first openly gay and partnered bishop not only in the Episcopal Church, but the Anglican Communion. Now we have elected a second openly gay partnered bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Episcopal Church has moved to the forefront of a movement of a socially relevant, inclusive gospel seeks to emulate Jesus life and ministry by welcoming all and realizing that no one person is better or worse than another.
And, of course, in 2006, a newly ordained vocational deacon moved out of his own familiar ground in his native Texas and moved into the heart of Razorback Country to plant a new Episcopal Mission. That leap of faith established a counter culture congregation that now boasts of membership between 80 and 100 English speaking parishioners and between 25 and 30 Spanish speaking parishioners and the return of a married former Roman Catholic priest to ordained ministry.
All of these things started with just one person moving out of his or her comfort zone and taking that brave step forward into the unknown. We each hear this same call today in big and small ways. From offering the young LDS missionaries an umbrella when it is raining to even just a smile, a touch or a kind word to a total stranger, Jesus is calling us to move beyond the familiarity of our church pews and our places of work and into a world of possibilities. But, like Peter and the Apostles, and like Paul after the Damascus Road, we have to have the courage to take those first steps. In those first steps, we have the potential to see something truly glorious.
It was 15 years ago today that the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed in an act of domestic terrorism. Let us today not only remember the lives lost then, but the danger we face today of another tragedy.
From the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love ofpeace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity your dominionmay increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of yourl ove; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Dear Lord, look with pitty upon us, your servants, as we mourn those that were lost in the tragedy in Oklahoma City this day. Give us comfort in our loss and wisdom to prevent the mistakes of the past from being repeated in the future. We ask this in the name of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom with you in the Holy Spirit be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.
Friday, April 16, 2010
ARKANSAS ACT 1 HAS BEEN RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY THE POLASKI COUNTY COURT OF APPEALS!
THANKS BE TO GOD!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
This man was a great teacher and a great friend. He was one of the few at my old high school that believed there was more to me than just a skinny kid who didn't do his homework. He and my dad used to give each other grief (in fun) about the Navy vs Marine Corps. When he heard I had signed up as a Corpsman and was serving with a Marine unit he said, "I guess we both got him." Rest in peace, Coach. Semper Fi!
Michael B. Riley, 71, passed away at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at the Freeman West Hospital, Joplin, Mo.
He was born Sept. 2, 1938, the son of William Bernard Riley and Elizabeth Faye (Green) Riley. His parents preceded him in death.
He was a 1957 graduate of the Bishop Ward High School, Kansas City, Kan. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan., where he was a member of the 1961 NAIA National Championship football team.
He married Phyllis L. Redmond on June 17, 1959, in Kansas City, Kan. She survives him. Four sons, Michael L. Riley and wife Antoinette, Texarkana, Texas, Thomas Pat Riley and wife Jane, Fairfax, Va., Scott E. Riley and wife LaDonna, San Antonio, Texas, Kevin R. Riley and wife Michelle, Atlanta, Ga.; a brother, Richard Riley, Rockaway Beach, Ore., and 10 grandchildren also survive him.
He proudly served his country as an officer in the United States Marine Corps from Feb. 12, 1962, to July 1, 1982. He served for two years in Vietnam and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
He was also a teacher and coach at Yellville-Summit High School in Yellville, Ark., from 1984 to 1999.
He was a member of the St. Ann's Catholic Church, Carthage, Mo., Rotary International, Knights of Columbus, Coordinator of the Ambassadors of the McCune-Brooks Hospital, a board member of the Broadview Country Club and the Parish Council at St. Ann's Catholic Church.
A visitation will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 9, 2010, with Recitation of the Rosary from 7:30 to 8 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 10, 2010, at the St. Ann's Catholic Church. Fr. Bill Hodgson will officiate.
Inurnment will be in the Park Cemetery, Carthage, MO.
Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Ann's Catholic School, the Fisher House or the Mike Riley Memorial Fund (Scholarship) in care of the Knell Mortuary, Carthage, Mo.
Arrangements are under the direction of Knell Mortuary, Carthage, Mo.
From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus
Christ destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to
light: Grant that your servant Mike., being raised with him, may
know the strength of his presence, and rejoice in his eternal
glory; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our
understanding: Deal graciously with The Rileys. in their grief.
Surround them with you love, that they may not be
overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your
goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I've heard some people say, "Why should I worry about the planet? Jesus is coming soon and it will be all over." Here's a question to ponder. If you can't take care of this planet, what makes you think Jesus is going to let you try to take care of his perfect Kingdom in the New Jerusalem? Remember the story of the three servants with the talents? Or the story of the bridesmaids and the oil lamps? What happened to those that didn't properly take care of what was given to them?
Whether we're going to have to wear bikinis in December in Anchorage or not, part of our responsibility is taking care of this world we live on.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income." 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.'
Isn't it funny how even 2000 years ago we see people separating themselves into "us" and "them"? I am good, we are saved...you're bad, you're a *insert race, religion, ect.*... The Kingdom of God isn't about "Us vs Them". When we divide ourselves in this fashion, we tend to "dehumanize" those that are "other". This makes it easier to hate the "other".
Humbling ourselves doesn't mean seeing ourselves as the lowest of the low. It's realizing that we are are neither better nor worse than the person next to us. Paul tells us that no one is righteous; that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".
This Lent, let's try to see Christ in all people, especially those we find difficult or uncomfortable to be around.
As an aside, I wanted to add two things:
First, please pray for the family of Terry Hardesty, who passed away yesterday.
Second: This Friday and Saturday I may be breaking my Facebook fast in order to blog the Arkansas Diocesean Convention. I was elected a delegate this year, so I'll have a ringside seat. It doesn't look like there is anything exciting or controversial this year, but just in case...
Monday, February 15, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
WISH TO MARRY LEADS FORMER CATHOLIC PRIEST TO EPISCOPAL CHURCH
By Bettina Lehovec Friday, January 29, 2010
BENTONVILLE - Guillermo Castillo began preparing for the priesthood as a teen. He spent three years in a junior seminary and another seven at the seminary of San Jose de la Montana in his native El Salvador.
"I was very happy about my vocation, my calling to serve the community," Castillo said with the help of an interpreter in a recent interview. Yet after his ordination at age 28, doubts began to creep in.The celibacy he had taken for granted as a condition of the priesthood began to seem like an unbearable weight. A desire for the companionship of marriage and family competed with the vows he had made as a Roman Catholic priest."I was suffering very hard," Castillo said, raising his fists to chest height and pressing the knuckles against each other to illustrate the dilemma. "I tried to come to terms with it, but as the years went by it became a vicious cycle - over and over the same feelings, the same situation."
Castillo had joined the staff of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Rogers in 2005, on a three-year loan from his diocese in El Salvador.He took his inner turmoil to Monsignor David LeSieur, who counseled him with compassion, Castillo said.Several months before his threeyear contract would have ended, Castillo returned to El Salvador and renounced his priesthood in the Catholic church. He feared that if he continued, something scandalous would result, he said."It was a difficult decision. (The priesthood) was my vocation ... (but) I didn't want to wound my church or my family."
Castillo returned to Northwest Arkansas in May 2008. His brothers live here, he explained.He thought it would be easier to find work.He began courting Araceli Herrera, a parishioner at St.Vincent de Paul and a widow.Both say their former relationship was strictly pastoral.
Several months after he returned to the area, they married.Araceli has two daughters, Audrey, 12, and Kimberly, 13. On Sunday, she gave birth to a son, Anthony."We are very happy," Guillermo said with a big smile on his face."Before I was alone. It was a big struggle for me. Now I'm veryhappy. I have somebody to share (life) with."
From One Priesthood To Another: On Sunday, Castillo was received into the Episcopal Church, part of an ongoing process toward Episcopal priesthood.If completed, he will be the first Hispanic Episcopal priest in the state.The Right Rev. Larry Benfield, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, said he is "tickled" at the prospect of having Castillo as a priest."There's a burgeoning minority (of Episcopalians) among Latinos in this state," he said, citing a congregation in Newport that has more Latinos than Anglos."There's so much we have to offer in the Anglican Church with our liturgical tradition."
The Rev. Roger Joslin, vicar of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bentonville, which Castillo attends, added that Latinos alienated from the Roman Catholic church because of policy issues such as birth control, divorce and the marriage of priests find a welcoming home in the Episcopal Church.
Such is the case with Castillo, he said."To see him fulfilling his vocation is very exciting to me.Guillermo's a priest. He needs to remain a priest."
Not everyone sees the situation that way. A number of parishioners at St. Vincent de Paul were upset by his decision to leave the Catholic priesthood, Castillo said. Reactions ranged from shock and grief to anger and criticism.Those who view the celibacy of priesthood as divine rather than as a discipline had the hardest time understanding, he said.
The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock was not available for comment by press time.Some who know Castillo support his move to the Episcopal Church."I believe in God, not religion," said Rosa Tenas, a lifelong Catholic who attended the special service at All Saints. "If you believe in the Lord, you can go anywhere. It's the same to the Lord.""I think he made the right decision," said her husband, Danny Tenas, who is not a Catholic. "I'm glad that he's coming to this new church so he can continue to serve the Lord."
Castillo will begin leadingSpanish-language services at All Saints this week. Joslin tried to start a Spanish-language service in 2008, with little response.He speaks Spanish fairly well, but lacks the cultural grounding to reach native Latinos.Having Castillo in the pulpit will bridge that gap, he believes.Joslin will celebrate the Eucharist during the Spanishlanguage services until Castillo is accepted as a priest.
AT A GLANCE ALL SAINTS SERVICES English service: 11 a.m. Sunday Spanish service: 1 p.m. Sunday Location: The church meets at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Bentonville, 406 W. Central Information: 426-1561,
www.allsaintsbentonville.org SOURCE: STAFF REPORT Religion, Pages 8 on 01/30/2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
"The 700 Club - Bring It On: Moral, Social, and Ethical Issues ------------------------------------------------------------ Subject: Forgiveness I am asking God to help me to forgive you for your complete lack of compassion in the wake of the disaster in Haiti. How dare you use this in order to grab press time by spouting garbage that only benefits your noteriety. I am offended in the worst way. It was ministers like you who drove me away from the love of Christ for so long. I pray that I am able to someday offer you the same forgiveness that Jesus has. May God have mercy on you."
Short, bitter and to the point I thought. I got a response today from Elane at CBN:
"Thank you for contacting CBN. We appreciate this opportunity to serve you.
On the January 13, 2009, edition of The 700 Club, our CBN News department showed a feature news story about the devastation and suffering resulting from the earthquake in Haiti. After the news story, Dr. Pat Robertson interviewed Bill Horan, President of Operation Blessing International (an affiliate organization of CBN) about its efforts to bring aid and relief to the people of Haiti. Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti's history (see an actual transcript below). His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed.
Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God's wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson's compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for the people there. Operation Blessing has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and has launched a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are working to relieve the suffering."
She goes on to add a complete transcript of the now infamous video clip, which I will not burden you with here. And, knowing me, I couldn't just let this go unanswered:
I usually would let the matter rest after venting my frustration, but I fear your response has lead me to do otherwise. I realize that Mr. Robertson did not say that the earthquake in Haiti was God's wrath. However, was there a reason that this alleged pact with the Devil needed to be mentioned at all? It can not be proven that this event actually happened and mentioning it does not help in the relief efforts of a nation that has already suffered greatly and now suffers even more. So why say it? These words do not build up the people of Haiti or preach the Gospel. They only portray Haitians as "devil worshipers" and primitives, which does nothing to further relief efforts, promote healing or solace the wounded and grieving.
No amount of aid work can heal what damage harmful words coming from a man of influence bring about. Yes, we need to pray for the people of Haiti. Yes we need to help them in any way we can. But we do not need to look down on them, or cause others to do the same. We should pray for them as fellow human beings and inheriters of the same Kingdom of God that we claim membership to.
I still believe that this was an ill thought out attempt by Dr. Robertson to grab headlines in the press. There is no other reason I can see why this needed to be mentioned at all, except to get attention. I would like to hear Mr. Robertson officially appologise to the people of Haiti for what he said, and I continue to pray that compassion will win the day in this.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
You can use the Charity Navigator to find a charity you wish to use to donate money or simply follow this link to the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund where you will be able to ear mark the donation specifically to the Hatian relief effort.
Gracious God: We lift up the people of Haiti to you. Send them aid and comfort in their time of need. In Jesus name, Amen.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Since Luther's interpretation of "justification by faith", we have looked at our salvation and justification to be enough; that it was all we needed for God's grace to be extended to us. Where we start to go askew, according to Dunn, is when we talk to Jewish scholars and modern historians we find that the view of Judaism that Paul seems to be talking about doesn't match the Judaism that seems to have actually existed at the time. So where does that leave us, especially knowing that Paul was a member of the Pharisees before his conversion, and should know what his own people believe.
What if Paul is not talking about works in general, but about specific works related to the Jewish faith and nationality: circumcision, observing the Sabbath, and the purity codes? What if the argument isn't so much about belief in Jesus vs doing what is right but rather about who Grace is extended to? Let's dig a little deeper.
Even today, in order for a man to be Jewish there are certain rituals that he must go through. If we look at Paul's argument through this lens, something different emerges. Paul isn't so much arguing against works, as expanding the idea of God's Grace beyond the Jewish nationality. Circumcision, following the purity codes and observing the Sabbath were physical parts of being in the covenant with God. It was a matter not just of religious identity, but of national identity as well. If we apply the faith/works argument with this in mind, it isn't that Paul is touting faith over good works, but rather placing faith in Christ as the Messiah as the new Jewish litmus test. This would expand Grace beyond the Jewish nation and into the world of the Gentiles.
It also explains the tone within the letter of James. James, rather than trying to refute Paul completely, is trying to explain that doing good works are still necessary. For me it helps to reconcile James 2 with Galatians 5 and Romans 10.
I encourage you to read the lecture that sparked this posting. It definitely gives some food for thought.