We is always me

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“Somewhere along the line we pick up all of that baggage.  We learn to hate people whose skin color is different, whose beliefs in God are different from ours, who are not from our country, who….  You get the picture.  Where we learned this is not important, how we deal with it is.”
To such belongs the kingdom of God, The Modern Theologian

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How WE deal with it.

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Mike writes about something we all have to deal with at some point: “how do I deal with this.”

I read headlines of how someone else is dealing with “it”.  Someone far away from here.  Someone too young to be a “real” role model.  Someone only in their 30’s.  Someone who hasn’t been around that long.

“Jesus taught about love”

But the person I think of is not Jesus – or maybe is.  Who knows.

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Jacinda Ardern: ‘A leader with love on full display’

The main suspect is Australian, and the victims were from a number of different countries including India, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Somalia. So when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared behind a podium to deliver a statement a few hours after the attack, it wasn’t just New Zealand who listened to what she had to say. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.”

By so swiftly and decisively describing the shooting as a “terrorist attack”, Ms Ardern seemed to show an awareness and consideration of the fact that many people feel officials are reluctant to use this word when an attacker is white, even if that attack is politically motivated.

Her acknowledgement of the fear and sorrow of the Muslim community didn’t end there, either. She hugged the victims in Christchurch, wearing a black headscarf as a simple show of respect; she gave people the unifying cry “They are us”; and addressing parliament for the first time a few days later, she made a small but bold statement by opening her remarks with the Islamic greeting “As-Salaam Alaikum”.

But she’s combined this show of empathy with promises of concrete legislative and cultural change. A few hours after the attack, she announced a clampdown on the country’s lax gun laws “within 10 days”, and speaking to the BBC’s Clive Myrie she promised to “weed out” racism both in New Zealand and globally. “We cannot think about this in terms of boundaries,” she insisted.

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How WE deal with it.

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We is not you.  We is me.  We is me.  We is me.  Always.

“Jesus taught about love”

But teaching is only “teaching”.  What I do with that teaching is down to me.

Not the teacher – not the class – not the school – not anything to do with anybody else other than me.

Because “we” is always “me”.

First, second and always.

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Thank you –

paulfg

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Amplified

Acoustics contain the property of sound. Sound that bounces off walls and sends signals to our ears. Sound that reverberates, creates motion and sometimes creates a soothing peace. It is the action of sound that sends out waves that send signals back to us. But what is the sound that we are putting out?

When I preach, I listen- I comprehend. I hear. But this hearing is not natural, it is in the supernatural. The ears hear but the soul understands and converts the message. If the instrument of music sends out the sound, I am receiving the reverberation.

We hear by accepting the Word of God and putting it into action. It is a verb, a doing. It is not a stillness. But it is only in stillness that we hear. So the stillness comes before sound, comes before it all.

The Word of God is demanding and active, it is not passive. It requires us to be uncomfortable enough to change and to focus on ourselves, so that we become more like Him. As we turn our attention inward, this radiates outward. This is when we can turn the other cheek because then it doesn’t hurt.

It all started for me with a gospel passage I read one Sunday. It was God’s call within a call for me. That the sacrament of marriage is not just for me and my family but for all of you. That each of us are building blocks that form the foundation of the church. And as the stones are forming the very bottom, the sides, and  up to the top, the cracks in the foundation are forming. Our marriages are crumbling. And Christ is on his knees while we are asleep in the garden.

The verse that started my call within a call was this admonition, this cry from Christ, found in Luke 6:27:

But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you

At first glance I had heard it all before. Yes Lord I know.

No, no you don’t. He said. Read it again.

But to you who hear…

I couldn’t go any further. You who hear. You…who…HEAR. The admonition Christ gave was not to everyone. It was to anyone who had ears to hear.

The day before, I had been to a lecture by Dr. Scott Hahn who spoke about the sacrament of marriage. I could hardly stay in my seat as I felt God nudge me several times during his presentation. This is the foundation of the church. This is the blood. This is the cross. This is everything.

Dr. Hahn’s words disappeared for me, but the Lord’s did not.

Feed my sheep, I heard… twice

Feed …my… sheep

And the call was deep and wide. And it was present. It was NOW.

As Dr. Hahn said, as we pray the rosary, as we pray the Hail Mary’s, the Blessed Virgin, our mother is present in the now and at the hour of our death. It wasn’t the hour of death that scared me, it was the present. It was coming to the realization that Mary was praying for me Now. That the time was Now. That time was happening now. And that is what was certainly running out…

I came back from Dr. Hahn’s talk with a deeply abiding conviction. My marriage has been saved by Christ. It was the reason that I was a Christian after all. But was this something that I only shared and talked about in the confines of my own home? In small circles? Was I really being honest in the ways in which God saved my marriage, the issues we faced and the rebuilding that we did and are still doing? I was fearful, ashamed and sitting with all of it. Until I heard the words from the gospel passage again :

But to you who hear…

The greek word for hear is akouo pronounced (ak-oo-o). I hear, I listen, I comprehend by hearing the word of God. But it is more than that. How God can I hear you? How can I be one of the ones who is sure to hear the next words out of your mouth?

The word akouo is the root of the english term acoustics. Acoustics are the property of sound. It is God audible. But how great is our hearing?

Acoustics is sound reproduced mechanically rather than electronically. It is not manufactured. It is of, relating to, or being a musical instrument whose sound is not electronically modified. It is sound that is pure and whole and not manufactured.

This was the hearing God was talking about. No enhancement. No enhancing of our own sound but instead allowing His sound to reverberate not off walls but instead the depths of our souls. That the word of God was not changed or altered or manufactured but instead pure and holy and true. And that sound, that sound in its purest form resonating in my ears, in your ears and down into the deepest darkest places. How can we read the rest of the gospel sentence if we cannot hear. We cannot.

And so with my newfound discovery I readied and steadied myself to HEAR the word of God. But not just to hear, but to HEAR. To listen to scripture as a an acoustic guitar with no amplifier, with its breaks and rhythms and strings and hard pauses. With the purity of finger to string and breath and pain in my fingers from producing rich sound. It is not manufactured but produced by the soul. And God’s Holy word became the acoustics, my soul the wall of sound and suddenly there was no need for an amplifier.

The next part of the gospel came like a rushing wind…

Love your enemies

And that’s when I heard it. That’s when I heard the call within a call.

And who is your enemy?

Your husband. 

What, what Lord are you talking about! These were not the next words I expected to hear and certainly not the call I was expecting.

This is the state of marriages, the Lord said. This is what they hear.

I was spinning. It was a great sadness. I was overcome with the crashing of the verse, the real truth, the lack of amplifier. It was rawer than I had ever expected and full of sorrow. What was breaking up the church? We were.

Let the one who among you is without sin be the first to throw a stone

The stone had been in my hand. I had felt its hard and abrasive outsides. It was impenetrable. And the world swallowed my marriage alive.

But I was no longer in the world, I was in God’s church. But the same monster, the same Satan who had deeply embedded his fingers into me was the same Satan who had managed to get through the church of Jesus Christ.

Who is my enemy?

And God showed me the thoughts of so many. Marriages in separation. Marriages on the verge of divorce. Divorce itself. Excuses. Abortion. Broken families. Children with multiple fathers and mothers. Fighting and chaos and the killing of each other. There are knives in our hands.

We talk about the atheist and secularist as the murderers of our faith, but we have named the wrong suspect.

Who is my enemy?

I look around and see that it is us. We are the enemies of our own church. We are the betrayers of Christ.

If we do not start rebuilding our marriages, being honest with each other, shouting out, “Crucify Him!” we will never get better. Because it is your marriage that effects my marriage that effects my children that effects my church. Our marriages are sacramental, they do not belong to us, they belong to God. And as Christ hangs on the tree at the center of every mass we celebrate, we spit on him, roll dice for his garments and crucify him all over again; all before accepting his body, blood, soul and divinity and pretending that we are ok to do so.

So this is a call to action. Are we ready to stand with Christ and fight the evil one, the dragon, the accuser and destroyer of our faith, or will we simply meld into the world, pointing to self and saying that our behavior is ok? Change only begins when we recognize our enemy. And this enemy is not our spouse.

Jesus’ demands and commands go far beyond what we think and feel. He requires greater. And the last part of the verse…

Here. Here is my other cheek!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Love is always the answer?

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Comments under yesterday’s post (justmebeing curious)

“I don’t know how regionalized it is, but where I’m at a cage is what you described, a crate is solid on all sides, except for the door.

I had a professor who told us that (in his opinion) what Jesus meant when he said that the only way to the Father is through him that he was not saying that only Christians could go to the Father, but that only by following his teachings would get us to that goal. Thus, many of those who are not Christian, but follow Jesus’s teaching “as if by the heart”, will be with the Father, while those who call themselves Christians, but fail to follow his teachings, will stand outside watching.”
The Modern Theologian

“A “dog crate” seems to use the word “crate” to avoid using the word “cage”. Guessing that “cage” is a little too “penal” for man’s best friend (or the self-perception of “man” about his behaviour towards “best friend”).

As for the rest – I wonder more and more if we have the same “self-perception language” to “crate” (could we ever admit to “caging”) a God way bigger than any one “religion”.”
It’s for her own good

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And then Mike wrote this post: “Love Conquers All”
Extract …
“The Christian needs the Jew, the Muslim, and, yes, even the Hindu and Native American. It is only by seeing God in his Infinite Diversity that we can see God in everyone we encounter.”

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Why is it that – more and more – “Love is Always the Answer” is as complete as…

I Am

Paul

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Love thy neighbor

I started copying/pasting a small flavour of this beautiful post …

But I found that I was copying and pasting almost the whole post.

The words are that beautiful. Really meaningful truly beautiful.

We are talking about love. My favourite subject. Like a whole bible full of love. If you know where to look.

Mike does.

Why not see if you agree …

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Thank you –

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Paul

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(as always comments closed here, please leave a verbal hug at Mike’s place)

The Modern Theologian

love thy neighbor 3Do you have a Christian love for your neighbor? We all know the story of the Good Samaritan, and how to identify who your neighbor is: the one who treats you with love and compassion. But is that what it really means? Are we just to love those who love us back?

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When Theology doesn’t mean Jack

Less than 500 words.

The few words written by Tom “T. F. Thompson” drilled somewhere very deep inside me.

To explain why would need much more than just “500 words”.

It would need my whole life journey.

I hope something shifts inside you as well as you read these few words.

Thank you Tom –

Paul

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(comments closed, here, please add any words under Tom’s words)

Hard Times Ministries

There he stood in shock; he was stunned and trembling and beyond denial that my friend, George’s newborn child was dead. And yet, yes, his child was indeed dead: dead to the touch, dead to the world and now lay cold and blue and lifeless and pitiful inside the maternity ward of the hospital. Compounding the demanding situation was now, another lady from another room who beckoned George to tend to her plight as her child too was motionless and was presently held by the hysterical mother who begged for God to answer the cry of disbelief.

Pray for my child.” she sobbed. “At least baptize my infant child so that he might enter heaven with our master.”

Of course, George knew this was ridiculous. There was no need to baptize a dead infant, and no, there was no theology to back it up: In fact,the opposite was true.

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A Christmas Letter from Jesus

Karina –

I have no idea how you manage to cut through all the tradition … the divide between the saved and unsaved … the sinners and saved sinners … those who love and those who want to be loved … those who are alone and those who are together … and do it with a fresh eye, a loving eye, an eye for all those who “believe” or not – to invite all to the party – but you have – and I am so glad you did.

Thank you.

🙂

(comments closed here as usual, please leave any thoughts under Karina’s post – thank you) 

The Great (c)Omission

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Following-on from yesterday’s post …

These are personal thoughts.

“Plop …”

🙂

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Paul

Just me being curious

Arising from a comment I made yesterday elsewhere and expand-on here.  The topic was bums on seats (as the “church attendance debate” might be called).  Or “falling church attendance” as the debate always seems to be.

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I think for me it is an obvious preference for conditional love that is the difference.  Conditional love controls (otherwise it would be unconditional).  Unconditional love cannot control (otherwise it would be conditional).

And preaching unconditional love and loving conditionally makes no sense – just as preaching conditional love and loving unconditionally would make no sense either.

It seems to me that religion avoids that (obvious) silliness by focusing on sin.  Because sin makes loving conditionally easy.  And sin makes preaching unconditional love easy.

It’s not my fault you see.  I am a sinner saved – and because of (original) sin I cannot love unconditionally (but I can preach it).

But what…

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