The election is over; now we start on the days to come

Throughout the day I have been logging into my Facebook page and generally checking in with everyone I connect with on social media for their reactions and responses to the surprising results of the election. I do not chose/use the word “surprise” as my own description but as it was described by others. For some it was a pleasant surprise and for some it was not. Amongst the circle of people I connect with through social media and face to face, the majority feel it was not a pleasant surprise but something they feared and continue to fear. And is so often the case, when one fears, one lashes out. And I have heard/read a lot of lashing out. But I have also read/heard voices of hope and determination to make the best of it and work towards compassion, acceptance and unity.  And that is good.

But . . . but . . . these voices of hope and determination also tell me there is great pain and fear underneath. That they have not turned to anger but love and caring is a good and positive thing. It still, however, speaks and indicates the presence of pain and fear.

I have written a time or two about fear and that God does not call us to a life of fear. Not that the Divine does not acknowledge that we fear, but that the Divine does not wish us to live in fear, but in hope and courage. And not because we fear, are afraid and act out of fear but that we banish fear and replace it with trust in God/the Divine.

This is not the first time the nation, individually or as a group, has feared for itself and others. And without being a pessimist or doomsayer, it will not be the last. We, as a nation have lived in fear and through fear. Fear may be out hope, determination and courage – but it does not always bring out the “best” of us. That is what I hope in the days, weeks and months to come we can do – bring out the best of ourselves and bring out the best in others. We can do that by not letting our fear spread and multiply; no, our fear must be set aside in favor of traits that lead to care, compassion, acceptance, understanding, and unity.

This is not “new” exhortations or encouragements. In fact, this sort of encouragement is pretty biblical. I do not have any bible verses to back this up, and these are not reflections that come from the Revised Common Lectionary. Indeed they are kind of extemporaneous in nature. But written from the heart. And these are comments not just from a national perspective, but global. While this election took place and directly impacts the United States, the U.S. is part of the global community and what happens has impact in other parts of the world. The days, weeks, and months to come will be played out against the backdrop of the global community, and the global community will also impact us.

Living in the United States but being a Canadian citizen means I did not have a part in the election process but I still live in the outcome of the election. It has been a interesting position to be in. I feel both a part of the global community and a resident of the United States – not having a voice but still being a presence. In other words, my opinion did not and does not much matter. So I have not shared much as to what I have felt inside.

What I hope has come across is hope in the Divine, and a desire to see love, compassion, caring and peace spread to all people. In the grand scheme of things, a very simple desire. It is my hope and pray that those traits are what fill our nation and the global community. And I hope and pray, beloved reader, that is your desire too. Selah!

 

Season After Pentecost: The Psalms Passage – Finding comfort in the psalmist’s words

You are righteous, O Lord, and your judgments are right.
You have appointed your decrees in righteousness and in all faithfulness.” (Psalms 119:137 – 138)

It is supposed, and I am not questioning it, that the Psalms were written before the birth of Jesus. Often passages from the Psalms are said to foretell or predict what Jesus will/would do, and what he will/would mean to the Jewish people of that time – and what he means to us. That being the case, these declarations concerning God came into existence longer ago than 2000 years. And will probably withstand the test of time for the next 2000 years – if human existence lasts that long. And this gives me comfort when current events in the United States loom on the horizon.

If you reside in a country other than the United States beloved reader, these events might be more at a distance for you. And their implications not as great; but I suspect that what the people of the United States decide will still make ripples in the global pond. And that gives me comfort too.

My zeal consumes me because my foes forget your words.” (Verse 139)

This line puzzled me, so I looked at in according to the Easy to Read Version – “Something that really upsets me is the thought that my enemies ignore your commands.” Now, this sounds kind of political. And these days I have been very reluctant to dip my toe into anything political; even more so than previously. I found myself, however, pulled into politics. Or more accurately, dismayed when I discover something I previously thought non-political having political underpinnings. Of course, it may be the times we are in that has me giving political shadings to this verse. I should move on quickly.

“Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.” (Verse 140)

Yes, much better. As I said, these words come from several centuries back, and I hold tightly to me the promise and premise that God is unchanging, and that the God that Jesus the Christ points to was the same at this writing of the Psalms as he was when Jesus walked the earth, and as the Lord God is now.

“I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.” (Verse 141)

Other translations tell me “small and despised” is meant to convey the idea that the writer is young and inexperienced – not well thought of by his elders. I am not sure that is true in my case, but I too cling to God’s precepts.

“Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth.
Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but your commandments are my delight.
Your decrees are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.” (Verses 142- 144)

Throughout the history that the bible has as its backdrop, there were political situations and issues that were as unsettling then as our modern times are now. The Psalms passages comforted and sustained the people then, as they do now. It is good to remember. And it makes me feel tied and connected to my spiritual forebearers that they looked to the Psalms for comfort and strength. I would encourage and exhort you beloved reader to look to them also. Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Psalms Passage – Lamenting and mourning for all losses

By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.” (Psalms 137:1)

When I read the Lamentations passage of yesterday, I was reminded of this psalm, and here it is! I have to wonder if the writer of Lamentations and the psalmist were of the same time and place. It does seem in its histories Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem have similar sorrows and woes.

“On the willows there we hung up our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Verses 2 – 4)

But the would appear (and sounds like) the psalmist is with the captives as opposed to one of those left behind or mourning what was left behind.

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.” (Verses 5 – 6)

Gone from but not forgotten.

Sometimes I think back to my previous live, when I was a child and living in Ontario, Canada. Not that I have regrets or sorrow about my life now. But I think back to the town I grew up in and the way of life there. And I wonder – what is going on back there. How are the friends and family I still have there. What has changed. It is not with sorrow, but with reminiscence. Curiosity, and not anger. But the writer of this psalm is angry. And vengeful.

Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem’s fall,
how they said, “Tear it down! Tear it down! Down to its foundations!”
O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us!” (Verses 7 – 8)

Hatred begets hatred. It is a lesson each generation and each nation must learn. Or they are destined to repeat the actions and mistakes that went before. What seeds does a conquering and destroying nation plant when they ripe asunder those weaker and vulnerable then them. How often has history seen the fruit of hatred and war spring up where it has been sown by a stronger nation. In each continent it has happened. And invariably it is the weak and defenseless that suffer. Let it be a grime epitaph when one nations says of another . . .

Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock.” (Verse 9)

And it is a curse upon each nation that it happens to. For anger and vengeance shall rise up in defense only to become the offense and oppression, and death, that is visited on each successive nation and generation. Yes, beloved reader, let us mourn!

Season After Pentecost: The Old Testament Passage – When things fall apart in old Jerusalem town

How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal.” (Lamentations 1:1)

When the United States was still growing and expanding, towns and cities would rise up as commerce and businesses were established. Where jobs and trade were, people would flock to. But when the reason for the growth faded away, so did the people. Jerusalem, according to the writer of Lamentations grew and expanded under the kings of the Old Testament. But when the surrounding nations invaded and made of with people and treasures, the city became barren and deserted. But like the “ghost towns” of the United States, a remnant was left behind. A remnant that held firm in the city and thrived against terrific odds and under terrible conditions. But for the writer of Lamentations, the glory was gone.

She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies.” (Verse 2)

What was it like, I wonder, to have the city emptied out, and the infrastructure collapse? I am sure there are stories and books about the ghost towns in our nation. And stories and books about similar events in other nations. It seems to me it would be the people who had the resources and means who “escaped” and those left behind had no way of leaving. Or, in the instance of Jerusalem when peopled and property were taken away, those who were left were the poor and marginal.

Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives now among the nations,
and finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.

The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan;
her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter.” (Verses 3 – 4)

Was the writer of Lamentations one of those left behind? Or is the writer one who was taken and imagines what it must be like in the city of Jerusalem? I think the latter, because the despair in these verses seems magnified and mournful as if the writer is longing for what had been instead of describing what now is.

Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the Lord has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe.
From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty.
Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.” (Verses 5 – 6)

One could have guessed that the writer of Lamentations suggests it was the Divine who allowed this to happen. And it was the rulers and elders who failed to follow God, and so all of Jerusalem suffers! Alas!

But truth be told, beloved reader, it was not 100% of Jerusalem that fell away from God, anymore than it was 100% of Jerusalem that was taken away. So often it is those who are held in high profile whose actions are personified and magnified as the majority or the whole. What you must decide for yourself is whether you are one of the token group; or whether you are the stalwart minority who continue on when all around you is falling apart. Interesting to consider.

Season After Pentecost: The Gospel Passage – Being a “presence”, and doing “good” at “good” times

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.” (Luke 14:1)

I am running a little behind, beloved reader. Not that you will notice, but it is already Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) when I am sitting down to write this. After sunset, so technically no longer the Sabbath. I had the day off from work Friday, and by the time I got back I was tired enough that I could not think to write. And Saturday during daylight, time just flew by! So here I am Saturday night doing Friday’s “work.”

My “working” on the Sabbath/Saturday would have provoked more comment back in the time of Jesus then it does now. The verses that the lectionary does not include describes Jesus healing someone who needed to be healed, and should not have had to wait until the next day. Maybe in the same way writing these posts is important enough work to break the no working rule of the Sabbath. I hope so, because tomorrow/Sunday I will have to write the post for Saturday!

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Verses 7 – 11)

In thinking about these verses and the parable, I humorously compared it to seating as church, where some pews (whether they be the front or back or the sides) are seen to be more favored. Or the “right” to sit at the end of the pew and then be told by the usher to move down!

O beloved reader! Humanity does like its status and symbol, and does these as rights rather than privileges. Jesus is correct that it would be humbling to be asked to move; and exalting to be invited to a more favored spot.

He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Verses 12-14)

Scripture does not say for sure, but I have my doubts that Jesus was invited back! Do you seek to curry favor, beloved reader? Some one I know commented that some politicians seem to have planned out each speech, presentation, and statement etc to make a certain impression or present a certain image. I imagine that goes to the heart of politics, and may be why I don’t have much patience with it. That is not to say I am not concerned with my own image; but I try to be true to who I am and not invite or create false impressions. I don’t know if I am humble; I think it would be counter-indicative to try to “curry” humbleness. And when offering hospitality, I don’t expect to be repaid. Be aware, beloved reader, that offering hospitality can be done in many ways. Being “hospitable”, caring, giving etc needs to be done freely without of reward or reciprocation. Thus endth the lesson – mind and Jesus’! May you carry these lessons with you. Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Gospel Passage – The sign of our times

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12: 49- 53)

I have heard a good many people speak on and about this passage, and similar ones in the gospels. It is a provocative and distressing passage, in that it confirms division and disunity. But as Barnes explains it, Jesus is saying this based on the human heart, not that the Lord Jesus desires division and discord; but that the human (meaning humanity’s) heart will find reason and cause to separate themselves over issues of theology. And it is true; there is great disunity, discord, and all other manner of separateness among us. And that it is not just among nations/countries, or even within countries, states, areas or neighborhoods – but within families! Furthermore, Barnes interprets Jesus’ words, Jesus wishes it would be over and done, because the divisions will be so painful. Whoever and whatever other interpretations and understandings there might be, my spirit and soul finds peace and acceptance of this understanding.

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens.” (Verses 54 – 55)

We can all, or we believe we can, read the signs of weather change and predict what will happen – global climate change notwithstanding. We may disagree on the whys and the outcomes, but we agree on the basics. Rain is rain, snow is snow; dry weather, hot weather – we know and understand it. Where we divide and disagree, just as there is division over faith systems, is what the future holds based on the events of the present times.

You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Verse 56)

What does it mean that this nation is doing such, and that country seems to be going this way. Geopolitics, political scient, diplomacy and other such terms and studies do not seem to have stopped wars, world wars, skirmishes, and the trickledown of violence, hatred, racism, and prejudice. In fact, things seem to be getting worse.

And if you say, beloved reader, I don’t know what is coming! I can’t see or predict what may be in store of nations and countries, and humanity – I would agree with you . . . . . in a way. But any one can see and should see that violence and hatred among members of humaity will lead to what, well, what it has lead to. I do not know how deeply and intensely Jesus expected his listeners to read the “sign of the times.” It just seems to me that if you hear more about hatred and violence, abuse of people, and all the horrific news that abounds . . . you should not be surprised at what happens. As to the solution, each person must search their own heart, soul, and spirit. And pray. Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Epistle Passage – How we ought to live

Last week we considered whether the writer of Colossians was reproving the church at Colossus or whether he was exhorting and encouraging them. While I do not present myself as an expert on such things, my sense was that it was a church that was new and still testing out how to live. The writer of Colossians seems to be setting out basics of faith, or at least what we who have been will soaked in the faith consider basics.

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” (Colossians 3: 1 – 4)

However even those of us who have weathered much need to be reminded of how to live for, and according to Christ.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (Verses 5 – 11)

Core basics of how to treat each other, live with each other, and interact with each other. The writer of Colossians may have told the believers that this is how they should treat each other. But I tell you beloved reader it should also be the way you treat those who are not a part of your faith circle. I have been “hammering home” lately the dichotomy between the events of the past few weeks and living as called people of God. And it would be tempting to call it a “sign of our times.” But the truth is that humanity has lived in opposition to itself for all the generations of recorded history, and most likely before that.

So, I want to step down from that “soapbox” and simply move forward. There is portions of scripture ahead and they deserve to be seen and pondered upon for what they have to say. But I will not hesitate to speak out again as the situation and the scripture passages merit. Thank for listening/reading me beloved reader. Shalom!

Sixth Sunday of Easter: The Psalm Passage – Praising in a broken world {Preacher/Seekers and I both speak}

Preacher: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,”
Seekers: “Selah”

Preacher: “ . . . that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.
Seekers: “Selah”

Preacher: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us. May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.” (Psalm 67)
Seekers: Selah!

Since first starting to write this blog, I have seen come to the United States and to the world. I first started contributing to this blog back in 2007. It is coming nigh close to 10 years. I don’t remember if then the world seemed as fragmented and chaotic as it does now. I do not remember if violence and natural devastation was to the level it is now. The news media and social media do an ever increasingly good job of keeping us apprised and informed of world happenings. I am not even sure it is good to know about such things as soon as they happen; if one’s stance is to pray as soon as bad news is heard and rejoice when good news comes, then knowing is good. But if one would pray for humanity regardless of the most current happening, and rejoice that there is still good in the world, then you would not have to know the particulars.

It cannot be said with real accuracy and authenticity that “God is in control” because that does a disservice to the Divine. Humanity is in control of its self, and God is begging us to follow the principles and guidelines that the Lord has set down. Nature is under no one’s control but is spinning off wildly because of what humanity and time have done to it. So if there tragedies to mourn and pray for, it is because humanity has not let God be in control of their actions. And if there are natural devastation, it because nature is running just as amok as selfish human will.

But there is reason to praise. Preacher speaks it and Seekers affirm it. God is gracious to us, when we allow God’s grace to move and work through us. God has set down a template for humanity, if we would but follow it. God judges us, but has established a means for mercy and forgiveness to mediate that judgment. There are stories of God’s blessing and if we listen, we will hear those stories. So let us praise God where praise can be lifted up, and appeal to God when we find ourselves mired in the problems of the world. Selah!

Third Sunday After Epiphany: The Epistle Passage – A whole new take on the “body”

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

The writer of I Corinthians intended this to be a teaching on the accepting of different types of gifts in the church. I imagine that church in Corinth had people who felt some gifts and skills were more important and worthy than other ones. It is in verse 27 that he starts to center in on this theme. But it occurred to me as I read verses 14 to 26 that if we would set aside this focus and theme, these verses can have a very different and strong lesson and message. There is great pathos in thinking that parts of a body would feel unneeded and rejected. We need diversity in humanity; if everyone were the same, it would be a sad (to say the very least) world indeed. Read verses 14 to 26, beloved reader and listen to that message; I will insert my thoughts and reflections to help illustrate this point. (And hold on, because quite honestly, I don’t know where this may take us.)

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?” (Verses 14 to 17)

There has been, and I am sure there will continue to be, a good deal said about racism, prejudice, and basis. For a time while I was growing up, the barriers of skin color seemed to be coming down and divisions amongst people were being worked out and disappearing. But lately, that is in the past years, that does not seem to be the case. If anything, it is getting worse . . . again. As it was in the 50’s and 60’s. We seem to forget . . .

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (Verses 18 to 21)

You may not understand or agree with my new analysis of this passage. But is that not what society is doing when one group of people dismisses or goes so far as destroying another group, even if it is done individual by individual? There is not greater hate than hate that leads to killing someone. And is that not saying the ultimate “I don’t need you or want you!”

On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, [now let me insert a clarification here; the writer of I Corinthians means “members” that are less desirable or not publicly shown because they are not consider fit for public display] and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor [i.e. are hidden away] , and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect [i.e. are are not talked about]; whereas our more respectable members do not need this.” (Verses 21 to 24a]

Okay, I admit my new way of looking at this passage is weaker here. What the writer of I Corinthians is saying is that the part of the body whose function is not part of “polite” conversation are kept hidden away and treated in different way. Digestion, sexual functioning, and the like are not topics of public conversation. They are personal and private matters. In the same way that mistreat of certain people was not talked about and no one would correct racist talk or actions. But that was part of the problem! Let’s continue.

But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (Verses 24b to 26)

I feel on firmer ground now. Part of the corrective for racism is talking about how our (that is, Caucasian) attitudes and advantages blind us to the reality of what is happening (and has happened) to our brothers and sisters whose skin color has made them targets. And that makes people (again, Caucasians) feel uncomfortable. Either because their prejudices are exposed; or because they are trying to be open, fair and equal. One of the things that truly bothers me is the notion that a person of light “white” skin color is by that very skin color “guilty” of prejudice, bias and racism. And that is something I have been waiting and wanting to say for many years.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” (Verses 27 to 31a)

I can not change my skin color anymore than anyone whose skin color is different than mine can. But I am not any better or any worse than anyone else whose skin color is not the same as mine. And there is only one thing more that I hate than it being assumed that because I am of Caucasian coloring I am racist. And that is because of my skin color I should be afforded more preferential treatment than anyone else. And those whose color is different than mine should and would be treated less “honorably” than I am.

People are people. Each person is in and of themselves a special gift to the world. Our task as people of faith is to discover the special gift that each person is, to insure that they have access to what they need to nurture that gift, and to journey with them as they grow into what God desires them to be. And that I believe, beloved reader, is one of God’s excellent ways! Selah!

What teaches best (The Psalms Passage)

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honour; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.” (Psalm 62:5-7)

The question has been, beloved reader, how do we preach to the generations who have no fear of this world ending, and so have to urgency to prepare for the world to come. Or as I posed the question back on Tuesday, “How do we preach, teach, and guide for the life to come when life here is defined only by age and calamity?“ In the past the foretelling of end times would motivate people to come to faith. But that is not as powerful a motivation now as in the past. When Christ walked the earth during his ministry people were drawn to him and coming to faith when you had a tangible and Divine guide seemed so logical and inevitable. But now, as “only” human flesh ourselves, the draw and pull to faith is not the same.

But I do have the answer, beloved reader. And you may well think that I am making more of this “question” than I ought to. Or that when you hear my answer, you might think I have been “stringing” you along. But in this year of renewal and recommitment, I am deeply about how one might draw people back to faith who have drifted away.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8)

It is implicit in our modern times that life is difficult and there is heartbreak along the way. There are some who survive it, and some who are destroyed by it. Many who survive (I do not say “all” because I do not believe in being absolute or all-encompassing) have found strength and endurance to carry on because of their faith. And in a world that seems to be running headlong into ruin with no end in sight, having “help and hope along the way” is a tremendous blessing.

Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.” (Psalm 62: 9-10)

It is not so much, beloved reader, what you say to others if/as you preach and teach to them, but what they see as evidence in your life. The wealthy and powerful have as much problems in life as the poor and needy. We see that in the news and in the social media everyday.

Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all according to their work.” (Psalm 62:5-12)

So . . . now . . . the answer to the question . . . it is this. Preach and teach not about theology, philosophy, or any world to come doctrine. Preach and teach about what it means to live in the world today. To live each day . . . with compassion, caring and integrity.

I am sure some days or weeks or months down the road, I will probably talk/write about the “world to come” – the eternal hereafter. And no doubt I will warn you about what will happen if you do not pay heed to this. But when I think about the world today, what each of us wakes up to face each day, I realize we all need God. Not for the time to come, but NOW! Today! This second! Because without God what ever days may come in the here or the hereafter will be empty.

Blessing to you, beloved reader. I will talk to you again next week.