...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Love is safe...but are Christians?

Let mutual love continue. Hebrews 13:1

"Lord, save me from your followers!" -bumper sticker

The shoe is on the proverbial other foot. Now Christians are being put in the position of having to say that that Christian leaders of "Pastor" Terry Jones ilk are fringe and out of the ballpark of normative Christian faith and practice.

In addition to how this quagmire endangers our military service personnel and civilians working overseas, one of the questions I haven't heard asked is the effect it all might have on the safety of any and all of our churches. Blinded by hate and fear, Terry Jones apparently has no clue that his behavior threatens other Christians too.

So what's a faithful Christian to do? I'm pretty certain that Jesus and the New Testament is not about killing the opposition, but rather, patient endurance, even in a time of crisis. We simply cannot control the actions of others. So, it means we speak up when we see spiritual abuse, and all the more when it's done in the name of Jesus. Overcoming evil with good requires that we pray, and we pray with all our might that the whole idea of Koran burning is called off once and for all.

And even if this all fades away quietly, there's still a wrong to be righted. Maybe we can start the healing by making room in our lives for even one new person- believing that the presence of the risen Lord is synonymous with hospitality to the stranger, the outsider.

The irony is that difficult times are made more bearable and less violent whenever we really are who we say we are- followers of Jesus. Whenever we are, in Jesus' owns words, we are light. (Matthew 5:14) In Longing for Spring, according to Unchristian, "over 80% of people 16-29 have a negative view of Christianity and church because of, in part, the hypocrisy and self-serving swagger of Christians."

Yes, salvation- peace, safety, restoration- all belong to our God in Jesus. And because of that, we discover safety and shalom, and can share it, in God's grace. Just try not to burn anyone's holy books on the way. Thus, we pray:

Teacher, bring angels to us today, and the wisdom and depth of faith to show them hospitality and friendship. As we do to the least of these, we do to you. Let us freshly hear those words. Amen.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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