In the Western world we have a dominant worldview. An integral part of our dominant world view is capitalism, which is based on quid pro quo, reward and punishment, and justice as retribution. If I want X number of widgets, I will need to provide Y amount of payment. We are unaware of how this fundamental worldview affects our relationships, our basic self-image, and actions. Phrases like “I deserve”; “You owe me”; “I will be generous if it helps me, too” seem to dominate our conversations. It also gets built into faulty foundation for our relationship with God.
Prayer has fallen on hard times, I think. In the wake of school shootings and the sufferings of the world, those who say, “I’m praying for you” are mocked for not doing anything “real” to address the problem. I even hear my pastoral colleagues rail at the “uselessness” of prayer. I suppose there can be some truth in that criticism. Prayer is often an act of desperation in the face of hopelessness. It is even the insipid response to a situation we wish would just go away. We “pray” when we lack the courage, ability, or desire to act.
This is a phrase we usually hear when we are being a little immature. We might be pouting because we didn’t get our way, and someone will inevitably tell us to grow up. There are countless ways we act childish.
Lots of people have lots of questions about matters of faith. I know this. I also know that many folks are reluctant to ask those questions. Sometimes it is because the question might reveal too much about their struggles. Sometimes it’s because they asked a question once and it led to judgment or dismissal. Sometimes folks fear that the question is silly.
One of the most beloved hymns of English-speaking Christianity is Amazing Grace. Written by a repentant slave trader turned Christian minister, it proclaims the unmerited love and mercy of a God who saves us, gives us life, sustains us despite our best attempts to reject that love.
This week we celebrated Independence Day. Our grilled delicacies and fireworks, parades, and musical tributes celebrate freedom. That is as it should be. Nearly 250 years ago something occurred that formed a nation and advanced the notion of human freedom to new heights. For this, I give thanks.
Things around Holy Trinity have been a bit busy. But it’s not the usual kind of busy.
It all started later in the afternoon on Sunday. A bunch of people showed up and then started having all sorts of fun. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that I needed to step in and do something because having fun in church is just something we’re not supposed to do. But I didn’t know what to do, so I just watched as these people were having fun here in the building.
I find myself in a weird disposition of late. Maybe you have felt that same way. Maybe you are like me wondering what is happening to the world. When I check out my news feed on my phone, there are always articles about something awful that happened in the past 12 hours. It seems like the world is on fire.
Perhaps you are keenly aware of the public discussions of something called “Christian Nationalism.” On the other hand, you may be relatively unfamiliar with this movement. It would take a lengthy reflection with lots of words to define, dissect, and dialogue with this growing phenomenon. You don’t have time to read it. I don’t have time to write it (at least today). Yet, it does seem important to shed a little light on the matter.