Whoa, Jesus.

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February 5, 2014

Whoa, Jesus ~~ Matt Laney

"Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep." Luke 6:20-21

Whoa Jesus. Whoa. What do you have against happy, healthy wealthy people?  This is America for god's sake. What about all that stuff on faith, forgiveness and unconditional love?  Stay on message, would you?

Besides, I'm not rich, Jesus.  Bill Gates is rich.  Oprah Winfrey is rich.  Joel Osteen is rich.  Barack Obama is rich.  But not me.  Sure, the fact that I have a car, a house, a refrigerator full of food and I never worry about where my next meal is coming from puts me in the top quarter of the world, but that doesn't qualify me as rich.

Are you some kind of socialist, Jesus?  All this hoopla about abandoning material possessions, common ownership, universal solidarity, railing against the religious establishment, doling out free health care . . . . Are you aiming for a global redistribution of wealth?  I hardly think that will solve anything.  Millions of decent people will lose their jobs and then where will we be?

Be careful, Jesus.  This kind of talk is mighty inflammatory.  You seem like such a nice young man, I'd hate to see any harm come to you.  Why don't you just focus on spiritual matters and leave economics to the experts.  Keep your politics out of the pulpit. You're only going to anger people and if you alienate the rich, who's going to fund your ministry?

Get a grip, Jesus.  Maybe you need to take some time off and recalibrate your message to something more in tune with reality.  All of this "holy reversal" business will only come true by the grace of God and a total overhaul of the human heart.

Sincerely (reluctant to be) yours,

All of us

PRAYER:  Empty us, Jesus, not only of our riches but also of our best ideas.  Getting behind you yet again…Amen.

 

From the United Church of Christ daily devotional, W.

Aggression, Revenge, and the Prince of Peace

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February 3

Aggression, Revenge, and the Prince of Peace ~~ Matt Fitzgerald

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." - Matthew 5:9


My mother told me this story years ago: During the run-up to the war in Iraq, a group in my hometown printed yard signs that read, "Say NO to War." Incensed, another group produced signs that said, "Say GO to War." One of her neighbors posted a "Go to War" sign in his yard. Then, a few months later while putting up his Christmas lights he placed an illuminated plastic crèche next to it.  
This is the balancing act the world asks Christians to practice: aggression, revenge and the Prince of Peace all living in brightly lit artificial unity. Of course it is impossible. So the world's solution is to reduce Jesus to decoration, while bowing down to violence. You can guess which piece of lawn art was still standing on February 2.  

We can box Jesus up and put him in the basement next to the Christmas lights, but we cannot keep him quiet. He insists, "Blessed are the peacemakers." He says it with his mouth. And then he says it with his life. Even as the world alerts us to God's absence, Jesus gives us God's presence: a new way to live, a life of uncomfortable blessings. For he promises that if we receive his beatitudes we'll be reviled, persecuted, slandered. That's life with God. Good thing the alternative is so absurd.

Prayer: Dear God, give us the courage to receive Christ's uncomfortable blessing. Amen.

 

From the United Church of Christ Still Speaking Daily Devotional.