Monday, November 23, 2009

Pray for Obama - Psalm 109:8

By now, some of you have probably seen the promotion, “Pray for Obama” with a reference to Psalm 109:8, which reads: “May his days be few; may another seize his position.”

Rather cute, if you’re unhappy with Obama.

But no verse in the Psalms can ever be read out of its context: verse 9 reads, “May his children be orphans and his wife a widow.”

Verse 10 goes even further: “May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit.”

And if you really want to read some exciting stuff, it goes on:

“May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil.
May there be no one to do him a kindness, nor anyone to pity his orphaned children.”

In other words, this is a prayer for Obama to die and for his children to suffer misery.

There’s nothing funny here.

To use this as a “prayer” is to slander everything Jesus gives us when he instructs us in prayer – e.g. “when you pray, pray like THIS” and then gives us “The LORD's Prayer” or the “Our Father” as it is called in the Roman tradition.

To take the Scriptures and to use them for such a mean-spirited political campaign calls anyone who cares about Scripture and prayer to raise the alarm.

It’s one thing to express political disdain for the President – this is a proud American tradition; but it’s another thing to pray for his death, that his children be orphaned and left penniless on the streets.

Yes, this in the Bible.

Everything is.

But Jesus reminds us that just because it’s there, doesn’t mean it’s of God. God, with infinite wisdom and trust, sees to it that everything is there in the story, and it’s up to us to read it carefully. With Jesus in our hearts, to choose a course of life that is filled with love and kindness, and even when we’re politically frustrated, to yet pray for one another, including our “enemies” – because God sees to it that needed rain falls on everyone (Matthew 5:43-48).

If you should see this “pray for Obama” campaign in an email, please don’t pass it on, and please don’t laugh, and please pray for the one who sent it to you.

We do well to heed Peter’s counsel (1 Peter 2:16): “Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor,” and the guidance of 1 Timothy 2: “I urge that supplications and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Would Really Happen?

What would really happen if we cleared the way and began to ordain, without question, GLBT persons, who, like all the rest of those ordained, would answer the basic questions of faith in Christ and vow a willingness to work with their colleagues to promote the gospel and to stand for justice?
What would really happen?
Would it be the end of the world as we know it?

Would the Bible fall and cease to be an endless source of wonder and challenge, bewiderment and blessing? Would folks no longer turn to its pages to see a mirror in which the horrors and hopes of the human journey are reflected? Would the 23rd Psalm no longer sing in the heart? Would the ageless promises of God's faithfulness and love no longer thrill the beleagured soul and tired traveler?
Would the gospel cease to be of value? Would the cradle and the cross become meaningless? Would the Apostles' Creed no longer tease and torment the proud human soul with a vision of life and God beyond our silly presumptions and arrogance?
Would the truth of Christ crucified, buried and risen no longer hold the heart and spur the imagination of humankind? Would no one ever again stand in the temple and proudly assert their superiority, and would there never again be sinner beating the breast in sorrow?
Would people stop praying and singing and loving and serving?

Would women and men no longer be called to ministry? Would there be no more deacons and elders and pastors and priests and rabbis and imams?
Would folks stop writing theology? Would there be no more sermons? No more worship? No more love?
What would really happen?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GLBT and Me

It's been some years since I worked my way through the questions and relevant Scripture and all things pertaining thereto ... well, not all, but a lot.

I made my decision prayerfully and, I hope, thoughtfully.

Yet, I find, upon reflection, that the values and experiences of my life played a role. For a number of reasons, I've always felt myself on the "outside" of things - as a child, we moved a good many times, I had a lot of allergy-related issues, I was overweight and a lousy athlete.

Oh well ...

Out of that was forged a sensitivity to the "outsider." Whatever else has shaped my life, this awareness has played a huge role in how I think and feel about justice and kindness and humility (sound familiar?).

Yes, yes, I know - some will suggest that I am giving much too much credence to my story, while they give the greater weight to Scripture and tradition. Yet, I disagree. For everyone I've ever met and known, the personal story is huge. To suggest that we surmount and transcend the personal is to engage in some slight-of-hand, and a contradiction of the manner in which God works in our very real lives.

My earliest memories are of God, and then, like C. S. Lewis, Christ became a part of that that mix in high school and was deepened considerably in college and seminary.

My life has revolved around God for ever, and Christ stands in the very center of my thinking and living ... though I very much appreciate Abelard, Anselm, as per Tillich, has the guts to address some of the deepest issues of the heart - alienation.

That we might no longer be alienated from God, and from one another.

So, without belaboring the point, I made my decision, and though not particularly adamant about it at first, the growing voices of ordination-opposition prompted me to speak out, because I wanted the world to know that Christians have a variety of views on this, and that some Christians favor GLBT ordination even as some oppose it.

I love the Lord and give thanks for my salvation.

And with that selfsame love, I try to welcome all who come my way.

I hope and pray that "my" church can resolve the issue - don't know how it'll be done, but I think the word "welcome" says it all for me.