Sunday, August 30, 2009

Something for Sunday

One of my oldest friends, an ordained minister who had his own mediation service for many years, preached at our church today. He's the guy who I accompanied to Washington to protest the last Iraq War. He's the lefty that I, a once-righty, have argued with for almost 30 years. He's a fine artist and a tough competitor in a sporting event. And, he's really tough when it comes to talking about how religious people should act: for Christians, Christ-like, or, if you're Jewish, Isaiah-like.

Below is Isaiah 58:1-11, which was the scripture for Jack's sermon. ATTENTION ALL RIGHT-WING CHRISTIANS! This is the Bible speaking ("The Message" paraphrase).

"Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what's wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They're busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they're a nation of right-living people—law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask me, 'What's the right thing to do?' and love having me on their side.

But they also complain, 'Why do we fast and you don't look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don't even notice?' "Well, here's why: "The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won't get your prayers off the ground. Do you think this is the kind of fast day I'm after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?

"This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.' (This ends the Isaiah quotation)

I'M TIRED OF HEARING PEOPLE SAY "WE ARE A CHRISTIAN NATION". We are nothing of the kind. Those who sputter about the right to bear arms resemble Nazi's more than Christians. As you recall, Hitler attempted to convert the German Christian church into an arm of the militarized Aryan Nation; the radical right seems to be following this example to the letter. Only if these "Christians" start quoting and following Isaiah 58 will we have a lot more Christians in our nation, and that's not something I'm likely to witness.

Here is Jack's unison prayer of confession for this morning. It's simple and direct. It tells it like it is.

"I read in a book
That a man called Christ
Went around doing good.

It is very disconcerting to me
That I am so easily satisfied
With just...going about.

Forgive me.
Help me to change."

When all American Christians can say this prayer together, and then act on it, we will be a nation where many true Christians reside.


Ron Davison said...

Wow. I love that prayer.
And to your earlier point, it is so baffling to see people claim to align with Christ's teachings and be against provision for the poor, the sick .. Just one of the many things that I don't get.

thimscool said...