God’s Wrath or Man’s Ignorance


A Meditation for 21 August 2016, the 14th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). The meditation is based on Jeremiah 1: 4 – 10, Hebrews 12: 18 – 29, and Luke 13: 10 – 17.

There are quite a few comments floating around over the Internet rejoicing the fate of a right-wing religious person whose home was destroyed by the recent Louisiana floods.  Those who are rejoicing feel that this is either God’s retribution or something similarly appropriate for this individual’s previous rather hateful statements.

Now, maybe it is right that anyone who has spoken words of hatred and exclusion should feel the same pain that they themselves have brought unto others but I don’t believe that is, if you will, the Christian way.  And I would say that if this individual or his supporters feel that their proclamation of self-based Christianity make them somehow more worthy of support than others, then I would suggest that they go to the end of the line until the truly needed have been helped.

I have heard those kinds of statements of how natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes are signs of God’s Wrath.  But as I once pointed out, how do we interpret the fact that the one of the most likely targets for a lightning strike is a church steeple.  In an Internet search I did a few years ago, I find over 100,000 instances of lightning hitting a church steeple.  Are the people who make up the church doing things that have incurred God’s Wrath or is it more likely that the steeple is the highest point in the area and, thus, more likely to be struck by lightning (from “And What Will You Say?”)?

But the God that seeks to invoke wrath on a person is not the God of my faith tradition.  This may have been the God of the Old Testament but my own faith tradition includes the New Testament and the God of the New Testament cared enough for all the people on this planet to send His Son to save us from sin and death.  And this is my own thought but I think God is smart enough to realize that retribution and anger don’t work.

Besides, if God was really that angry at mankind, he could have wiped us off the map years ago (and we know that He did this once before; he also told Noah that the rainbow would be a sign that never again would He destroy the world).

I also think that those who want an angry God do so because that’s the God of their lives.  They have transformed the Bible into what they want it to be and what it actually is.

The theme throughout the Old and New Testament is not one of anger and hatred, of war and violence, but of openness and acceptance.  A second theme, and the one that may, in part, account for our problems with floods and fires and such, is that we are stewards of this planet.

From the very beginning, we have been tasked with being good stewards, of taking care of this planet, our home.  And when we don’t take care of the planet, we can expect to be in deep, deep trouble.

There are those who have been saying that the severe weather that we have been dealing with for the past few years are only the beginning and the result of failure to heed the warnings that we were doing unalterable damage to the environment.

God sent His Son because the people ignored the prophets.  If we are to ignore His Son, if we are to ignore the teachings given to us for so many years, then we can expect what is to come.  It will not be God’s Wrath that destroys us; it will be our own ignorance.

Week in the World: A Moral call to the Nation


This comes from a blogging friend in North Carolina.  What I find interesting is that Reverend Barber asked to speak at both political conventions because the nature of his talk went beyond political boundaries.  And yet the Republican party, despite all their talk about being pro-Christian, refused to let him do so.

You cannot say that you are a Christian when you refuse to hear the Word of God, especially when it calls you to task.  What was it that John the Baptizer and Jesus Himself called us to do?  It was to repent and change our ways!


During the dueling Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Rev. Dr. William Barber’s Moral Movement asked both parties to allow him to address with them the Scripture’s call to …

Source: Week in the World: A Moral call to the Nation

An Open Letter To Donald Trump


Dear Mr. Trump,

After the latest terror attack in France, you proudly proclaimed that you would have Congress declare war on ISIS if you were elected President.

I will give you credit. There have been perhaps one or two candidates for President who have campaigned on the platform of starting a war. At least you have declared that you will follow the Constitution and have Congress declare war instead of taking off on your own.

And it makes a little difference because of the number of proposals that you have previously made that defy Constitutional authority.

But what are you going to do if Congress doesn’t do as you ask? Remember, Congress does not work for you nor does it automatically do your bidding; Congress works for the people (though they have to be occasionally reminded of that fact).

And, if they do agree, how are you going to do this? Where will this battle be fought? Will you simply bomb ISIS wherever it may be? Do you even know where these criminals hide? Or do they all look alike to you? Since ISIS is not a country or geographical entity, will you seek the help of countries in which ISIS is operating? Or will you simply invade these countries? Do you intend to include France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom on your list of targets because elements of ISIS are in those countries? How much of the world do you plan to destroy in this quest?

Will you send the youth of this country, our wives and husbands,our brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren, to fight this war? Or will you proclaim that the other countries will pay the price for this war?

And what sort of bombs will you drop if this is your course of action?

What will you do that we are not already doing? And more importantly, what are you going to do when this war is over, if it is ever finished? Do you intend to keep us in a state of war forever?

Who will pay for this war that you propose? Who will rebuild the world that you seek to destroy? What will happen to all of the people whose homes and lands are destroyed in the process of defeating ISIS? Will our doors be open to those who only want to live a life in peace? Or will you slam the doors in their face and say that they are part of the problem?

Being President is an important task and decisions made by our President reverberate throughout the world.

You may say that this is a world at war; how will you make this a world at peace?

Knock, Knock! Who’s There?


As I have noted before, growing up in the South I have personally experienced the effects of segregation (many of classmates did so as well but they didn’t understand because they didn’t know).

In the spring of 1969, I stood by my friends in protest of unfair housing practices in Kirksville, MO. It was a peaceful sit-in but it could have gone bad quite easily. And I will be honest, my parents went ballistic when they found out what I was doing.

I participated in the Moratorium in 1969 in protest of the Viet Nam war (causing more concern for my parents). And I was prepared to go to jail or Canada if I were to have been drafted in 1971 (I got lucky and received a deferment).

In everything that I have said and done, I have tried to stand for equality and freedom. I have taken the precepts and principles of the Gospel as what they are, the Truth that will set people free.

It strikes me that we should never had to have passed this torch on to the next generation. We should be moving forward. But it would seem some in my generation haven’t learned the lessons of history. There are those of my generation who refuse to see others as equals because of race, gender, sexuality, or income. And they seek to pass this ignorance and hatred onto the next generation.

It works this way. We are all children of God, made in God’s image (Genesis 1: 27). We all have the same rights and freedoms, no matter what our race might be, no matter what our gender or sexuality, and certainly no matter what our economic status might be.

Those who work to keep others from having the same rights, freedoms, and, if you will, privileges as they have will have to answer to this when they meet God first hand. Those who loudly proclaim that they know what God is thinking better than God does.

And they will have to wonder why when they knock on Heaven’s Door, no one answers.

But I Don’t Know How


A Meditation for 10 July 2016, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). The meditation is based on Amos 7: 7 – 17, Colossians 1: 1 – 14, and Luke 10: 25 – 37.

We woke up this past Friday morning to another shooting, another act of senseless violence. Was this shooting just the act of a senseless madman or a response, rightly or wrongly, to an environment that sees violence as the only response to violence? Or was it both?

Are we a society that sees itself as one group with many parts or are we so diverse, divisive, and separated that we can never see ourselves as one group?

As I have stated in the past, I grew up in the South, perhaps at the worst possible time to be growing up in the South. Parts of the South were still segregated and the parts that were being integrated were doing so slowly and somewhat reluctantly. And I know that many of those who grew up during that time, some of them my classmates, probably haven’t accepted those changes.

And today, with the reluctance of many, we haven’t accepted the idea that the statement “all men are created equal” applies to all, men and women, people of all colors, people of all economic status, and independent of gender or gender identity.

For some, the idea that some person, whom your grandparents may have considered inferior (or worse), is your equal is still a hard pill to swallow. We still somehow want to think that we are better than anyone else and we rejoice when some politicians tell us that. We rebel when others want to claim the equality that we have taken for granted.

And the Christian church, once the hope of the oppressed and forgotten, once the source of moral strength and whose members stood up against injustice and with those cast aside by society, was among the first to build a wall and keep people out. The sanctuary in too many churches across this country have become a place that keeps society out and allows its members to hide; it is no longer a place that welcomes the outcast and the forgotten; it is slowly becoming a place that says we don’t care who you are, we don’t want you here.

But the good news is that there are those who see the inequality and the injustice and work to end the oppression. There are those who are like Amos, who would rather just do the normal jobs. But God is calling them to take on the task, of speaking out against injustice and oppression, of saying that hatred and violence will never work.

Amos also pointed out that those whose only interest was in their own well-being and maintenance of the status quo would lose in the end.

Jesus was asked by someone who probably wanted an excuse to ignore the problems of society who was his neighbor. But Jesus wouldn’t give him that opportunity but pointed out that everyone was everyone’s neighbor and that you could not ignore anyone just because they didn’t fit some notion of correctness.

Paul reminds us, as he reminded the Galatians, that the Gospel still remains true and that grows stronger every day. But it still remains for each one of us to continue the work that began two thousand years ago in the back roads of the Galilee.

We may not know how to rid this world of oppression and hatred; we may be afraid to even try.

But we do know how to bring peace and justice to this world because we know the love of Christ and we know what Christ did for each one of us.

Because God loved us enough to send His son to die on the Cross for our sins and to bring us into freedom, we know what to do. And when we take that love into the world, things will begin to change.

The View Of The Future


I heard a comment the other day that suggested, to me anyway, that the money that was spent on the Juno mission to Jupiter would have been better spent feeding the poor.

In one sense, this was correct. When we have one dollar and we have to choose between feeding the hungry and exploring the outer reaches of space, we need to feed the hungry. Because we will be unable to explore the outer reaches of space.

But I also feel that there is something wrong with this idea. It presupposes that we only have one dollar to spend, when in reality, we have perhaps ten dollars to spend. And the vast majority of that ten dollars is spent on military and security items, items which in the end destroy things.

There is clearly something wrong when the majority of our money is spent on destruction, in whatever form it takes. Because sooner or later, we will not be able to rebuild what we destroy.

If, on the other hand, we spend the vast majority of our money on building things, then we wouldn’t have to worry about feeding the people or healing the sick or the other things that suffer when we destroy rather than build.

And if we spend our money building the creative skills of the people, then we will find cures for illness, ways to grow food without modifications, create energy that does not pollute and discover answers to the questions we haven’t begun to ask at this time.

For too long this country, this society, and this planet have focused on the practice of war. It may be that there are times we need to have such a focus but, over the long run, it can only mean the destruction of people, society, and in the end, this planet.

On the other hand, a focus on building up and focusing on people allows us to have a clearer view of the future.