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Posts tagged ‘human-rights’

Something to meditate on – a verse and a thought

Something to meditate on:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
– James 1:27-27

Quote for the day:


I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
– Elie Wiesel

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Some of the “Rights” Denied to Gay People

When people say that marriage should be reserved for “men and women” I wonder if they are really unaware of just how much the Federal Government “intrudes” into the lives of consenting adulsts?

Accidental death benefit for the surviving spouse of a government employee;
Appointment as guardian of a minor;
Award of child custody in divorce proceedings;
Beneficial owner status of corporate securities;
Bill of Rights benefits for victims and witnesses;
Burial of service member’s dependents;
Certificates of occupation;
Consent to post-mortem examination;
Continuation of rights under existing homestead leases;
Control, division, acquisition, and disposition of community property
Criminal injuries compensation;
Death benefit for surviving spouse for government employee
Disclosure of vital statistics records;
Division of property after dissolution of marriage;
Eligibility for housing opportunity allowance program of the Housing, Finance
and Development Corporation;
Exemption from claims of Department of Human Services for social services
payments, financial assistance, or burial payments;
Exemption from conveyance tax;
Exemption from regulation of condominium sales to owner-occupants;
Funeral leave for government employees;
Homes of totally disabled veterans exempt from property taxes;
Income tax deductions, credits, rates exemption, and estimates;
Inheritance of land patents;
Insurance licenses, coverage, eligibility, and benefits organization of mutual
benefits society;
Legal status with partnerâ•˙s children;
Making, revoking, and objecting to anatomical gifts;
Making partner medical decisions;
Nonresident tuition deferential waiver;
Notice of guardian ad litem proceedings;
Notice of probate proceedings;
Payment of wages to a relative of deceased employee;
Payment of worker’s compensation benefits after death;
Permission to make arrangements for burial or cremation;
Proof of business partnership;
Public assistance from the Department of Human Services;
Qualification at a facility for the elderly;
Real property exemption from attachment or execution;
Right of survivorship to custodial trust;
Right to be notified of parole or escape of inmate;
Right to change names;
Right to enter into pre-marital agreement;
Right to file action for nonsupport;
Right to inherit property;
Right to purchase leases and cash freehold agreements concerning the management
and disposition of public land;
Right to sue for tort and death by wrongful act;
Right to support after divorce;
Right to support from spouse;
Rights and proceedings for involuntary hospitalization and treatment;
Rights by way of dour or courtesy;
Rights to notice, protection, benefits, and inheritance under the uniform
probate code;
Sole interest in property;
Spousal privilege and confidential marriage communications;
Spousal immigration benefits;
Status of children;
Support payments in divorce action;
Tax relief for natural disaster losses;
Vacation allowance on termination of public employment by death;
Veterans’ preference to spouse in public employment;
In vitro fertilization coverage;
Waiver of fees for certified copies and searches of vital statistics.

ACCEPTING DIVERSITY

Thw following article I was written by a dear friend of mine, and near as I can tell I added to my “must save collection” sometime in 2002. I had to chuckle as I re-read it as my computer kept indicating where it thought I misspelled words. Te computer had no way of knowing that what might be misspelled in the USA might be correctly spelled in another English speaking county!!

Anothe ecample of Diversity. – Ninure da Hippie

ACCEPTING DIVERSITY

Rowland Croucher

Galatians 3:10, GNB; James 2:17, GNB; Romans 12:4-5, GNB; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 18-20, GNB; 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, GNB; Romans 14:13 and 19, GNB; John 13:34-35, GNB; Romans 15:7, GNB; 1 Peter 4:8-10, NEB.

Snoopy was typing a manuscript, up on his kennel. Charlie Brown: ‘What are you doing Snoopy?’ Snoopy: ‘Writing a book about theology.’ Charlie Brown: ‘Good grief. What’s its title?’ Snoopy (thoughtfully): ‘Have You Ever Considered You Might Be Wrong?’

This points up a central Christian dictum: God’s truth is very much bigger than our little systems.

Our Lord often made the point that God’s fathering extended to all people everywhere. He bluntly targeted the narrow nationalism of his own people, particularly in stories like the Good Samaritan. Here the ‘baddie’ is a hero. It’s a wonderful parable underlining the necessity to love God through loving your neighbour – and one’s neighbour is the person who needs help, whoever he or she may be. But note that love of neighbour is more than seeking their conversion, then adding a few acts of mercy to others in ‘our group’. Jesus’ other summary statements about the meaning of religion and life in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 involve justice too: attempting to right the wrongs my neighbour suffers.

‘Ethnocentrism’ is the glorification of my group. What often happens in practice is a kind of spiritual apartheid: I’ll do my thing and you do yours – over there. Territoriality (‘my place – keep out!’) replaces hospitality (‘my place – you’re welcome!’). I like Paul’s commendation in Philippians 2:19-21 of Timothy ‘who really cares’ when everyone else was concerned with their own affairs.

Sometimes our non-acceptance of others’ uniqueness has jealousy or feelings of inferiority at its root. You have probably heard the little doggerel, ‘I hate the guys/ that criticise/ and minimise/ the other guys/ whose enterprise/ has made them rise/ above the guys/ that criticise/ and minimise…’

In our global village we cannot avoid relating to ‘different others’. Indeed, marriage is all about two different people forming a unity in spite of their differences. Those differences can of course be irritating – for example when a ‘lark’ marries an ‘owl’ (but the Creator made both to adorn his creation).

Even within yourself there are diverse personalities. If you are a ‘right brain’ person, why not develop an interest in ‘left brain’ thinking?

The Lord reveals different aspects of divine truth to different branches of the church. What a pity, then, to make our part of the truth the whole truth. Martin Buber had the right idea when he said that the truth is not so much in human beings as between them. An author dedicated his book to ‘Stephen… who agrees with me in nothing, but is my friend in everything.’ Just as an orchestra needs every instrument, or a fruit salad is tastier with a great variety of fruits, so we are enriched through genuine fellowship with each other.

A Christian group matures when it recognises it may have something to learn from other groups. The essence of immaturity is not knowing that one doesn’t know, and therefore being unteachable. No one denomination or church has a monopoly on the truth. How was God able to get along for 1500, 1600 or 1900 years without this or that church? Differences between denominations or congregations – or even within them – reflect the rich diversity and variety of the social, cultural and temperamental backgrounds from which those people come. But they also reflect the character of God whose grace is ‘multi-coloured’.

If you belong to Christ and I belong to Christ, we belong to each other and we need each other. Nothing should divide us.

…..

A Prayer: Lord God our Creator, when you made all creatures great and small in their rich diversity you were so delighted. And when you made human beings (in your image) to be so diverse, they must represent somehow the rich diversity of the Godhead itself. Lord, our Redeemer, when Jesus Christ died to draw all unto him, it was in prospect of heaven being populated by people from every tribe, language, nation and race.

Lord, help me to appreciate all this richness; may my theology not be too eccentric, peripheral to the central concern of the gospel which is to increase love for God and others. So teach me how to stay close to you, close to humankind, and make it the goal of my life to bring God and humankind together. Help me to move from law (with its tendency to reduce everything to a common denominator) to grace (where individual differences are celebrated). May my view of myself be conditioned more by my being bound up in life with others, rather than my separateness from them. Help me to be big enough to be all things to all people, to help in their saving to keep the bridges between me and others in good repair…

A Benediction
May God be merciful to us, and bless us; look on us with kindness, so that the whole world may know your will; so that nations may know your salvation. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67: 1,2).

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Pro-Gay Texts in the Bible – things you may not hear in YOUR church

Pro-Gay Texts in the Bible

 

©by Paul Halsall 

Introduction 

First. Let us remember the most important verse for gay people in the Bible. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Child, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life”.

And in this same Bible, a book produced, in all its phases, in patriarchal cultures in which marriage and property exchange were completely intertwined, God gave us also the most pro-gay book of the Bible – the Song of Songs.

Read it one day: it is about two lovers making love; the lovers are male and female, but they are not described as married, property and progeny and not an issue either. What is important in the Song is the beauty and value of human erotic attraction; this attraction is validated by God, and by Jesus also who continually plays down the importance of traditional ideas of the family.

God takes as one of the great prophets of the Old Testament a man who is not a man – a eunuch, the sexual minority par excellence, of the ancient world, the prophet Daniel, who, along with his companions, is take because of his physical beauty to be a court eunuch in the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar. This was known to all ancient commentators, for instance St. John Chrysostom, but has been ignored recently. GOD has a place for those who deviate sexually from social norms – gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. In Isaiah 56:4-5, the Lord addresses the eunuchs, and those who do not participate in the dominant culture of preserving name and family through children: “For thus says the Lord: to the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast to my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument better than sons and daughters, I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”

Note that eunuchs could not keep the covenant in the same way as heterosexuals – they could not dedicate their first born sons for instance – and so, gay people CAN keep the covenant of the Law of Love – to love the Lord God and ones fellow human beings – but the way they do so might be slightly different from heterosexuals.

The Bible, you see, is full of many wonderful things. You can pull out a few verses here and there that seem, especially in modern translations, to be anti-gay, but this is always a misunderstanding. There are verses, indeed whole books of the Bible which challenge the viewpoint of the fundamentalists who seek to prove their view of the world by selective quotation [ask a fundamentalist where the Bible has any doctrine of the Trinity someday!].

As to St. Paul’s apparent attacks. It seems that Paul was disgusted with certain aspects of sex in Greco-Roman society. He was at times a bigot and a prude – he even admits as much when discussing whether women’s hair should be covered. He at no time discusses equal relationships between people of the same sex. It is possible that if he had known about them he would still have disliked them; after all Paul seems to condemn prostitutes, but given that we know most ancient prostitutes, whatever their social opprobrium, were forced, usually sold in fact, into prostitution, it does not speak well of Paul, IMO, that he condemned these poor abused people: Jesus never did! We hold Paul as authoritative for his expansionary view of an inclusionary church, for his profound understanding of sin and redemption, for his exaltation of Jesus as Saviour. We do not hold his every word and decision, nor those of any other apostle, as correct in every way.

And neither does anyone else! In Acts 9, I think, the Council of Jerusalem laid down certain laws for non-Jewish Christians [so we are not talking OT laws here]. Among the laws was an instruction not to eat the blood or the meat of strangled animals. No Christians observe these laws [what exactly do you think is in sausage? ;-)], and while Catholic’s may have an excuse – we believe the Church existed before the Bible and has much say in interpreting it [and WE are the Church !], fundamentalists have no such rationale. They simply ignore it.

In sum: the Bible is *OUR* book. It speaks to us, and it speaks to all people who are “deviant” in their society. It is misused and picked over by fundamentalists, and you should resist going along with their agenda, in my opinion. But above all it teaches the God loves you and wants you to love and be loved. I hope you have found, and will find, Regina, a lover, woman or man, who will bring that experience of God into your life.

 

Text by Text Summary

The most pro-homosexual text in scripture is:

John 3:16
“For God so loved the World that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”

In other words, all the pro-human texts in scripture are pro- homosexual too.

But that is not what anti-gay folk mean when they say there are no “progay” texts in Scripture. It all depends on how you read it, though.

Try these then:

 

Matthew 5:22 Jesus on Gays and Homophobia?

Matt 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matt 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

( Mat 5:22 . . lego . . . pas ho . orgizo . . adelphos eike . eike . . . enochos . . krisis . hos an . epo . . adelphos rhaka . . . enochos . . sunedrion . hos an . epo . moros . . . enochos . geenna pur Mat 5:23 oun . . prosphero . doron . . thusiasterion . ekei mnaomai . . adelphos echo tis kata .)

Someone on the internet discussion group Gaynet recently pointed out that this passage may be the only reference made by Jesus to homosexuality. I think think argument can be made, but not conclusively.

I consulted the Greek Text [main word roots give in transliterated form, D. Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality, LSJ9 [Greek Dictionary], and various English translations.

The context is of course the compilation known as the Sermon on the Mount, a series of sayings of Jesus which are taken to call for a transcending of the Torah, to get to the “spirit” if you like [although I am sure a defence could be made of the Law, that is not my concern here].

The important words are Raca/Rhaka, and Fool/moros.

Rhaka is not a Greek word. This seems to be its only occurence in a Greek text, and LSJ merely states that it is Hebrew. Most translations either ignore the word, or note it as a general term of abuse. Greenberg relying on the work of Warren Johannssen [an acquaintance of mine – and very anti-religious in fact], points out that its roots in a variety of semetic languages mean “soft” [Hebrew “rakha”] and carries a connotation of effeminacy or weakness. The Akkadian word “raq” is used to denote a woman’s name or occupation, and its graphic representation in Akkadian derives from a Summerian symbol for woman. In other words it can be argued that “Raca” [applied here to a “brother”] is an accusation of “sissy”, or perhaps “catamite”.

This argument works better if the word “Moros” is considered. The word can mean “fool”, but it also has the amply used connotation of sexual aggressor, or even “homosexual aggressor”. LSJ9 confirms this, although Johannsen makes much more of it.

It could reasonably be argued then that Jesus words here condemn those who abuse other about their homosexuality.

Less convincing, but still plausible, is that since the abuse of “queers” is condemned, but homosexuality itself is not mentioned [unlike the women taken in adultery story] that Jesus is defending those who engage in homosexual practice. Considering Jesus break with other mores of contemporary Judaism, equally seen in his commendation of those who are “eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven”, this is a plausible, but far from certain reading of this text.

Compared to justifying Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from Matt 16:18 though, it is a cinch.

 

Matthew 8:5-13/Luke 7:1-10The Centurion and his “pais”

In Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 the same story is told about the centurion who approaches Jesus so that this “servant” might be cured.
Texts:

 

Mat 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, Mat 8:6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. Mat 8:7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. Mat 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Mat 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Mat 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. Mat 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mat 8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
Luke 7:1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. Luke 7:2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. Luke 7:3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. Luke 7:4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: Luke 7:5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Luke 7:6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Luke 7:7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. Luke 7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. Luke 7:9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Luke 7:10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.

 

There are several aspects to this story which might lend it to a gay reading. In the first place it seems somewhat odd that a centurion would be so caring about a slave, caring enough to risk ridicule by approaching a Jewish miracle worker for help. The underlying Greek text intensifies this suspicion of a possible homosexual relationship. Tom Horner, author of David and Jonathan: Homosexuality in Biblical Times, points out that in Matthew, the earlier account and directed to a Greek-speaking Jewish audience, the word for servent is “pais” – which means “boy”, but can also mean “servant”, and, given the rather greater than average concern for a servant demonstrated by the centurion, can also mean “lover”. The word “pederasty” for instance derives from “pais”. Luke, who was writing in a much more Greek milieu changes the word “pais” to the much more neutral “doulos” (“servent” or “slave”), presumably aware of its homosexual implications to any reader witha a Greek cultural background. Jesus, clearly, does not condemn the centurion in this story of faith.

 

Ruth 

The Book of Ruth sensitively portrays bonding and devotion between two women. Also don’t miss Book of Judith for a surprising overturning of male/female roles: Judith sneaks into the enemy camps, cuts off the head of Holofernes, the leader of the enemy army, returns and receives a hero’s welcome, and then lives out the remainder of her days with her maidservants, rejecting all male suitors!

I

Samuel 18, 19 & 20, II Samuel I:26  

These texts describe the relationship between David and Jonathon. You may not interpret them as homosexual, but I do, and I think I have valid reasons to do so.

The “friendship” between David and Jonathan. The relevant passages: 1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:3-4, and especially, 20:41 and 2 Samuel 1:25-26, quoted here: “And as soon as the lad had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times; and *they* (David and Jonathan) KISSED ONE ANOTHER, and wept with another, until David recovered himself” (1 Sam. 20:41 New International Version). Note: It’s really amusing to see the Fundamentalists try to dismiss the obvious passion in this episode!

 

“(David speaks:) ‘Jonathan lies slain… I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; YOUR LOVE TO ME WAS WONDERFUL, PASSING THE LOVE OF WOMEN'” (Emphasis added by editor.) (2 Sam 1:25-26, New International Version)

 

 

The Song of Songs [All of it] : 

This is a series of herterosexual love poems. But it is unique in the scriptures [the product largely of a pastoral society in which property transfers were accomplished by marriage and inheritance, hence the laws and concern with marriage], in that it presents sexual love between two people who are not clearly married [marriage is not discussed] as a joyful thing in itself. This is pro- homosexual, if you like, because it challenges the procreation centered view of sex held by some.

 

Isaiah 56: 38 

This prophecy concerns the outcasts of Israel, and specifically the sexual minorities of the time, ie eunuchs. These were people who were not part of the dominant family/property complex, but people still who God loves and includes [since there was no category of homosexul – until very late in the 19th century it seems – these Biblical texts are ones I read as relevant and pro-gay: I am not asserting that they are discussing homosexuality, which would falsify my earlier statement that there was no such concept at the time].

 

Daniel 1 

The prophet Daniel was understood by Byzantine commentators to have been taken to serve as a eunuch, the major defined sexual minority of the ancient world, at the King of Babylon’s court. Note the emphasis on the physical beauty of the four young men. He is, nevertheless, along with David one of the heros of the Jewish Scriptures. Fr. Helminiak reports suggestions that “eunuch” was just a general way of refering to “homosexuals” in the period, although remains merely a suggestion. More interesting has been discussion of the “favour and tender love” Daniel enjoyed with the chief eunuch. Nothing definite can be asserted, but Daniel is one of the most intersting biblical figures for gay people.

You may note the development seen in Isaiah and Daniel when you compare them with Deut. 23:1 which excluded eunuchs from the community. I take the phrase of Jesus about “Eunuchs from birth” to be the closest thing in the Bible to the concept of homosexual as we now understand it [BTW it is a modern misperception to think that eunuchs could not and did not have sex]. .

So I would also include as a pro-homosexual text :

 

Acts 8:26-39 

[an apparent description of bi-location by the way]. In this passage an Ethiopian Eunuch [remember a group specifically excluded for sexual reasons from membership in the people of Israel by Deut 23:1] is baptised by Philip. This entire passage [which has Philip also preaching to Samaritans] is about the inclusion in the Church of the excluded. First a racially/ethnically excluded group, then a sexually excluded individual.

You may not agree with my reading of these passages, but it is untrue to say that in either the Jewish Bible or the New Testament there are no passages that can be read as supportive of homosexuals.

 

Socialist Words of Jesus

(Let your favorite Hippie confess, the post below actually appeared to the blog I had on MySpace in 2007. Aint it frightening how NOTHING has changed in SIX years?)

Okay now, the Conservatives in the good pl’ USA are still claiming to be Christians, while staunchly opposing anything and everything that might help peopl. Whether it be helping people get thru a period of employment, feeding childtren, allowing everyone to have access to affordable healthcare, or even the Presient yelling kids to work hard and stay in school, Conservatives yell, “No, No, No!!”

I m begining to think that there must be whole pages and sections of the Bible that these people never heard, never read, or have cut out. Or maybe their Bibles never did contain them in the first place?

Maybe you could so them a favor, and send the foolwing – with no comment – to them and ask them if they still want to claim that the “love Jesus”?

Matthew 5:1-48

 1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

 3“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

 4“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

 5“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

 6“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

 7“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

 8“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

 9“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

 10“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

 11-12“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.  13“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

 14-16“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.  17-18“Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures— either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

 19-20“Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.  21-22“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

 23-24“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

 25-26“Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.  27-28“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.

 29-30“Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump. (Matthew 5:1-48, The Message)

Matthew 25:31-46

 31-33“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

 34-36“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.’

 37-40“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

 41-43“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

   I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
   I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
   I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
   Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

 44“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

 45“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

 46“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.” (Matthew 25:31-46, The Message)

 
Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.–Gilbert K. Chesterton
 
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matthew 22:38-40)

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Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
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Obama, MLK, Not “Nice” Enough to Moderates? | Politics | Religion Dispatches

Obama, MLK, Not “Nice” Enough to Moderates? | Politics | Religion Dispatches.

Challenge, Controversy and Change – a Stikkspeakng Devotional

Challenge, Controversy and Change – Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Acts 21:17-26
When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.

Reflection by Ron Buford

Among religious people, breaking the 10th commandment is a great stumbling block: “Thou shalt not covet.” Here are two Christian sects: one Jewish; the other Gentile. The Jewish sect has good reason to ask, “Why keep Moses’ law when newcomers don’t have to keep it?”

The church today stumbles similarly. Why do we accept unmarried couples living together? We had to get married. Why do we let gay people get married? They used to have enough shame to keep their behavior a secret. Why do we accept people who are divorced? We stayed married and hated each other. Bottom line: We suffered, you suffer too; God requires it.

Correction: No, not God but our imperfect understanding of God required these things for a while. The love of God, changing our understanding, and our own repentance compel us to risk making change, no matter how much it costs us, no matter how many jobs, members, churches, or friends we lose. God’s ever-expanding inclusion and grace is the greater good—even greater than everyone getting along.

In the book of Acts, Paul connives (yes, connives), strategically dividing his enemies based on their theological differences, opportunistically seizing upon his Roman citizenship to bring about change. He escapes Jerusalem’s perception of control over God’s plan, moving it to the Roman Empire–whose control will also eventually fade . . . just as we and so much of what we believe and do eventually fade into the arc of God’s future.

Prayer
Gracious God, we believe in You, and to Your deeds we testify. Let the stillspeaking God be true, and every human trapped in time and space be a liar. As we receive new light from You, grant us courage in the struggle for justice and peace, Your Presence in trial and rejoicing. Amen.

  Join us on i.ucc.org for prayer and conversation.

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

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