Archive for January, 2009

Henry Neufeld offers his insights on what “belief” means to a “liberal charismatic”/ “passionate moderate,” in one of those posts I wish I had written — it’s more than worth your time.  Henry was prompted by this post on “bringing back belief.”


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Methodist Thinker reports that the General Board of Church and Society has withdrawn its support for the Freedom of Choice Act, which support had previously been expressed through the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s open letter to President-Elect Obama. The Board eventually came to realize what some of us have been saying all along: support for FOCA flatly contradicts the UMC’s stance on abortion as articulated in the Social Principles.

Praise be to God.

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How long, O LORD?  Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,

for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13.

John Meunier asks, “What do you do with anger?”.  Specifically, John refers to this situation involving the former “John the Methodist.”

I’m not a pastor, but I have dealt with people who feel like they have been cheated, mistreated, defamed, or taken for granted.  (Make no mistake: both plaintiffs — because they are, in their eyes, injured by someone else — and defendants — because they’ve been sued, in their eyes, unjustly — feel this way.)  And the initial challenge is always the same: while it is okay to let the client vent, we have to resist the urge to take a flame-thrower to the immediate object of our fury and everything associated with it.  We have to…calm down…and trust that, working together and through the system, we can come to a reasonably satisfactory resolution.  We can’t just give in to the rage or the sorrow.

Which brings me to the importance of “but.”

“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.”

“But” is the first ray of sunlight that shoots above the horizon into the blackness.  “But” is the last dry sob, the last little sniffle, the moment we can finally see with clear eyes that all is not lost, that we will not perish, that hope remains.  “But” is the empty tomb on Sunday after the agony of Friday and the despair of Saturday.

The psalmist got there: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and have sorrow in my heart?…But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

My student, Trevor, got there: “Life is like a pig and a farmer.  The farmer and the family love the pig, but as soon as they get a little hungry, it’s off with its head. … You worry about the trials and tribulations in life and it makes you want to commit suicide.  You can’t prevent the inebitable [sic].  You die and that’s it. … If life is so precious, why do I waste it?  If you have free will, why force yourself to do wrong?  It should be so evident what the right way is, but it isn’t. … But the Lord is my Shepard [sic] and I will not be in want. … His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.  He watches me.  He cares about me.  He loves me.  He keeps me in perfect peace.  Halelujah [sic] to God Almighty, to Jehova Jira [sic], to the Awesome Ruler.  To Him which is Yes.

We serve a God that believes in the power of “but.”  We know because God is faithful, because God has redeemed us, that there is another sentence, and it starts with that most amazing word.  “But” is our trump card for life.

“But God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The promise of Christ is not that we will no longer be sinners or victims of the sins of others.  The promise of Christ is that sin need not have the final move, the final victory, over us.  It is not a promise of immunity and immortality — it is a promise of restoration and resurrection.

Knowing this good news, we Christians may still feel despair, sorrow, and anger — but we must resist the temptation to wallow!  We must not hide our lights and lose our saltiness.  We must not lash out, as our sinful nature wills.  They must know we are Christians by our love.

“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”  This is the ultimate destination, the place we must seek to end up when we experience injustice.  The secular world cannot get there, and no lawyer can promise his client a victory like the resurrected Christ.   We can only get there because of “but.”

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