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Monday
Nov142016

The Canticle of Creation by Francis of Assisi

O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God,
to you belong praise, glory,
honour and all blessing.
Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation
and especially for our Brother Sun,
who brings us the day and the light;
he is strong and shines magnificently.
O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon,
and for the stars
which you have set shining and lovely
in the heavens.
Be praised, my Lord,
for our Brothers Wind and Air
and every kind of weather
by which you, Lord,
uphold life in all your creatures.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water,
who is very useful to us,
and humble and precious and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom you give us light in the darkness:
he is bright and lively and strong.
Be praised, my Lord,
for Sister Earth, our Mother,
who nourishes us and sustains us,
bringing forth
fruits and vegetables of many kinds
and flowers of many colours.
Be praised, my Lord,
for those who forgive for love of you;
and for those
who bear sickness and weakness
in peace and patience
—you will grant them a crown.
Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death,
whom we must all face.
I praise and bless you, Lord,
and I give thanks to you,
and I will serve you in all humility.

Wednesday
Oct262016

If I Stand

There’s more that rises in the morning than the sun
And more that shines in the night than just the moon
It’s more than just this fire here that keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger than this room

And there’s a loyalty that’s deeper than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs that I can sing
The stuff of earth competes with allegiance
I owe only to the Giver of all good things

There’s more that dances on the prairies than the wind
And more that pulses in the ocean than the tide
There’s a love that’s fiercer than the love between friends
More gentle than a mother’s when her baby’s at her side

And there’s a loyalty that’s deeper than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs that I can sing
The stuff of earth competes with allegiance
I owe only to the Giver of all good things

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That You will pull me through
And if I can’t let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You

And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be
As a man who is longing for his home

Written by Richard Mullins, Steven Robert Cudworth • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Friday
Oct212016

Henri Nouwen on Peace-Making

“Christians should put survival of the planet ahead of national security... Here is the mystery of our global responsibility: that we are in communion with Christ—and we are in communion with all people... The fact that the people of Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Russia, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia are our brothers and sisters is not obvious. People kill each other by the thousands and do not see themselves as brothers and sisters. If we want to be real peace-makers, national security cannot be our primary concern. Our primary concern should be survival of humanity, the survival of the planet, and the health of all people.” — Henri Nouwen

Friday
Jul222016

The Court Prophets

The Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians typically call the “Old Testament” or the “First Testament”) give us accounts of the writings, speeches and actions of the prophets. Most people misinterpret what prophecy was. Seldom did it involve foretelling the future. The prophets spoke to the present. Their words were highly contextual messages from God to his people, especially to those in power. The prophets railed against corruption and the exploitation of the weak. They demanded that the powerful use their power for the poor and oppressed. And they emphasized that if you didn’t care for the most vulnerable among you, you had no right to consider yourself a follower of God.

The prophets were routinely ignored or scorned or persecuted. Speaking truth to power is seldom rewarded.

Of course, not everyone who called himself a prophet was the real deal. Kings and rulers liked to select “holy men” as part of their court to give them credibility. The “court prophets” would tell the king what he wanted to hear. They would also assure the people that what the king said was blessed by God. So when the king spoke, his religious minions would assure everyone that, regardless of what seemed right and regardless of what the law of the Lord taught them, the King was to be honored and obeyed. The rules didn’t really apply to him. He had an understanding about governing that superseded the wisdom of the masses. Trust us prophets when we tell you that you can trust the king.

The true prophets started with justice and confronted the rulers, no matter the cost. One of the clearest examples was when Nathan stuck his finger in the face of King David—the most popular and powerful king in all of Israel’s history—and said, “You’re the man” who committed grave sin against the weak. (It took great courage because David had already evidenced that he was willing to kill in order to cover up his crime.)

The court prophets didn’t start with justice and confront the king. They started with the king and twisted justice to fit his agenda. I’m sure they fared better than those armed with truth.

Little has changed. Rulers and would-be rulers always want us to believe that God is on their side. And since our politicians are not theologians, they need court prophets to bless their actions before the masses.

The court prophets were on display this week in Cleveland. They didn’t start with God’s justice for the weak and oppressed, demanding that Donald Trump and his party implement that kind of justice. They started with the goal of electing a Republican. Then they did theological somersaults to make it work for themselves and their followers. Supreme Court appointments. Protection of religious rights. Defeating Hillary Clinton. These and other rationale were used to describe the would-be king as a man chosen by God, when common sense and a simple reading of the New Testament shows that Donald Trump has stood for nothing that reflects the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Trump loves the evangelicals. But, of course, the evangelicals of today’s America have lost the meaning of the evangel. The evangel—the good news—becomes pretty bad news when the court prophets distort it for the king.

Sunday
Jul172016

“Here and Now”—thoughts on the present and coming Kingdom of Heaven (message begins around 28:45)