You know the commands; First, Love God. Second, Love your neighbor.
Who is my neighbor? EVERYONE, all human beings on the planet. Yup that’s right all 7.7+ billion of em! God did not make exceptions for us to use against folks we don’t like or agree with or who don’t look like us etc. etc. Practically speaking we must start with who is outside our door, in our neighborhood, city and county. If you are fortunate to be able to travel around the world, great! Love folks wherever you are. Show them dignity and respect and they will reciprocate. Yeah, yeah, I know we have “enemies” and “bad people” … those kinds of people have always been around and they are a very small percentage and not worth the worry, if they appear in your life God’s love will get you through, “fear not for I am with you saith the Lord”.
There is always excuses and reasons and whatever, but in the end it is a decision to step back from the “world”, as it is presented to us, and get a clear picture of the REAL WORLD as God created it! It is beauty and order and LOVE and GOD said IT IS GOOD!
Now it is up to you and I to LOVE that world!
Enough, says Mary Poppins, is as good as a feast! Well said MP! It’s the only line from the original movies that I remember. But one that holds a huge meaning for me. My family was never wealthy but we always had “enough”. Doesn’t matter what you think of, we had enough of whatever it was. Food, clothes, shelter, education etc. The details of how that all happened may have been complicated at times, but so goes the world. I witnessed no great largess as a child and therefore did not consider myself deprived. I later learned about great wealth and saw it and even worked in the financial field where I assisted people in investing large sums of money. I have a finance/business degree, I learned much about economics, capitalism, marketing, accounting etc. Capitalism works; but only so long as people are not GREEDY. Well of course you and I know that greed is everywhere so…? Second President of U.S., John Adams, wrote something like this; that capitalism is incompatible with democracy in the long term. It will work for awhile but eventually when greed kicks in, as it always does, wealth will become concentrated in the hands of the few and it will restrict access for the many. As you undoubtedly already know, that is where we are now in 2019. The top two tenths of a percent have more wealth than they could spend in twenty lifetimes at the same time as many in the world have little or nothing, not even the basics of food and shelter. I could give you a lengthy lecture on how this has happened, but you probably know most of the reasons. The only question is what to do? Let me know what you think about this worldwide problem.
God said to love everybody! Guess what? He wasn’t kidding!
All God’s people have a place in the Kingdom! You know the deal, Jesus said to love our neighbor, all our neighbors! Yup, all 7.7 billion! But for now start with those in your neighborhood and city! Some of the folks in our midst have some serious problems and need help coping with life. Brain illness can strike anyone and it doesn’t limit itself to the “homeless”. We ALL know someone who has needed some help with this delicate issue.
A mental Health chaplaincy can be a part of the answer. Learning to become a “companion” specifically to help a person suffering with brain illness can be a great way to reach out to someone that really needs a helping hand traveling the tough road of mental illness.
Check in with Pastor Alan Eschenbacher at All Saints Lutheran Church in Browne’s addition. He can answer any questions you may have!
Why do I think “participation” is a problem? Especially in the church, participation is critical. Members of a church must participate in order for the church to continue doing ministry. Over the last 50 years active participation of members (defined as activities beyond simply attending worship services) has dropped from 60-70% to less than 20%. The reasons for this are many and varied from family to family, I won’t go into that here, but you know what they are. Distractions and busyness of life simply get in the way of having the time to give to church things. Finances at the church have followed this downward path also because if members are not participating in the ministry they “forget” to give an offering as well.
Now to change gears quickly, I am not publishing this to complain or accuse or shame any members of any church. People must set priorities in order to navigate life. If church has dropped on the priorities list then the church needs to address why that has happened. In order for the church to “figure out” what’s going on though, members must give input so that needs can be met and the future of the church can be looked at with accuracy. If there is no information given from members, church will continue on the same path until it meets it’s end.
The competition for your time and money has intensified greatly in the last few years. There are more charitable organizations vying for what seems to be less and less time and dollars. Taking care of ones self and family seem to be all that is manageable in a most cases. This 50 year “trend” has caught up to the institutional church and decisions must be made. Change is no longer an option but a necessity. I am in favor of change and am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the church. However, some modicum of participation in this process must happen from members if they are interested in what happens to their church. This participation, here at All Saints over the next 5 months, will determine the “way” we will go into the future. We have options and opportunities, but we need participation in the process to avoid the predicament of “having no choice”. If we do nothing the time will come when there are no options or opportunities left, and we will join the list of “what might have been”.
God gives us free will to make decisions and to “do” what we think is best. As Christians we are called to using that freedom in defense of those who have no resources or ability. We are called to serve one another and to love those we serve. HOW that is done is NOT etched in stone, there are new ways and new ideas, lets find some together.
The “Church” seems to be on the wrong side of the success equation. Church advocates a society built on community, whereas the society we have created here in the United States, is built on individualism, greed and competition. This has created, as Walter Brueggemann states, a Predatory Economy. This type of economics creates inequality, suffering and environmental disaster. The capitalism we are so proud of in “first world” countries will be the end of society if we are not careful. Some of the more pessimistic among us believe that it is already too late to stave off environmental disaster.
I am a little more hopeful … My faith leads me to hope in a “different future” that is more just and peaceful. I also think that the “Church” is one of the places that this transformation will take place. I am hopeful when I hear the generation behind me saying they want a church home that is acting on justice and peace issues. My message to them; Please take your youth and resolve to the next level and dive in and help with a local church that is doing something about justice and peace!
Guaranteed by the grace of God … we serve, live and build community boldly going where we can and doing what we should in faith and joy!
I struggle with what to do and where to go sometimes. I get invited to, and am aware of multiple events, in which I should be interested, given my role as pastor in the community. In other words, I am “busy” most of the time and I am forced to make decisions about how I spend my time. I could not attend, even if I wanted, ALL the events. This busyness is forever, it would seem, and I am NOT forever. That’s right, I must admit that I will not go on forever and that I must learn to prioritize.
I see the “busyness” of the people as well. Young or old, everyone seems to have PLENTY of things to do … every day … day after day.
My question is this, unless the church gets a high priority in, at least some people’s lives, amidst all the “busyness” … can it survive?
This sounds like a very large question. Far too much for a short article like this one would say. On the other hand, one might say the message of the Gospel is, and has always been, very simple.
Love God with all your heart and soul, love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus fleshes it out at the end of Matthew 25 in the “Great Judgment”.
You know the words… I was hungry, you fed me … I was thirsty, you gave me drink … I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and so on.
You get the idea, these are NOT impossible expectations! These are “being a decent human being” things that anyone can do. These are also the things in which the church needs to take the leading role, now and in the future!
What do you think?
What does it mean to be a companion to a mentally ill person? Can I, an ordinary citizen, do it?
Being a companion is as simple as being a friend, a friend that has learned a few insights and boundaries, and who has a large capacity for compassion. There is no medical advice, or monetary help but there is a lot of listening and care given. Any person can be a companion, share a cup of coffee or tea in a public space and simply “be there” for another human being who is in need. Mental health professionals like psychiatrists and nurses and peer counselors and the like are very important, but there are not enough to do all the caring that is needed. We need more “everyday” people to pick up the slack, devote some time and reach out to make a difference in a fellow human beings life.
What in the world … are we (the world) coming to? I am sure all of you have heard this or similar statements regarding unusual or bizarre or heinous events. The killing in Paris this past weekend, along with similar atrocities across the globe that seem to occur every day, are becoming the new norm of terrorism. These folks engaging in this hate filled action are trying to inflict their world view on as many people as possible in the most violent way. World leaders need to be united in their stand against this hate, and they must also realize that responding with violence will only worsen or prolong things. A message must be sent that as much as can be done to prevent these attacks, will be done. We cannot allow this to become a “war” in the standard definition. We should reach out to the citizens caught up in these areas with love and hope and humanitarian aide, eventually they will see their captors for the hate filled violent people they are and they will come to see us as loving and caring. This change cannot occur while conducting surveillance raids with drones and while bombing villages in attempts to “get” one terrorist and at the same time killing many innocents. War is profitable. Many corporations and their stockholders benefit from war, with government arms contracts being very big business. Many of us, for too many years, have turned a blind eye in the name of “big business”. The assumption being that anything that benefited business was good, the bigger the better. After all, lots of people working in the military arms business have good paying secure jobs, and that’s what we need to secure our economy! ?Unfortunately that security comes at a price, and that price is the insecurity of many parts of the world, where people cannot defend themselves and rely on us to do the right thing. FAR too often the largest countries in the world are guilty of sacrificing the poorest in favor of profits. Jesus said in the gospel of Mark chapter 13 that the Temple would fall and not one stone would be left on another … all of the powers and principalities of this world WILL someday fall, the only thing we have control over … is how are we going to live and treat one another in the here and now? In peace and with love or in hatred and with violence? It is not a hard decision and if we can get the profiteers out of the way, we (the world) can make it happen.