children are welcome

Matthew 19:13-15:  “Children were brought to Jesus that He might lay His hands on them and pray.  The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them ; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”

In many ancient societies as well as in many contemporary ones, children do not have many rights.  The old saying, children are to be seen, not heard kind of summarizes it all.  Jesus recognized children as full human beings and welcomed them.

Children continue to be abused in our world:  human trafficking; boy soldiers, female genital mutilation, child brides in arranged marriages, boys and girls abused by sexual predators, children sold into prostitution by their families, physical and psychological abuse, child labor, infanticide, emotional deprivation, bullying, overly possessive parents, ….. and the list goes on.

Jesus accepted little children, respected them and treated them with dignity.  In this day when so much attention is given to abuse of children around the world, may we examine ourselves and commit ourselves to welcoming children as Jesus did…for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

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always in need of reform

There is an old Latin saying:  Ecclesia semper reformanda … the Church is always in need of reform.

Jesus is the foundation of the Christian churches.  Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life.  Jesus, the Son of God, God and man, is not in need of reform.  He is perfection.  In Him is all truth.  We; however, are frail human beings.  The Power of Evil ravages our world and our own personal lives.  We are prone to sin.  Evil infects us individually and collectively.  We must be on our guard each day.  Our hope and our salvation is in Jesus.   As individuals, we need to confess our sins and make amends; as Christian churches we need to confess our sins and make amends.  The churches may be rooted in Jesus but the membership – and the leadership – is all too often very fragile.  Scandals plague the churches.   We live forever in need of reform. We have to vigorously  address the issues realizing that we cannot do so on our own.  He and He alone can cleanse and heal us.  We have to surrender our pride and false ego and beg Him to cast out the demons that dwell among us and in us.

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the example of the early martyrs

In today’s Gospel, Matthew 17:22-27, Jesus says to His disciples, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.”  Jesus is speaking about Himself.  His disciples were overwhelmed with grief.  They had their own ideas about what the Messiah should  be like and it certainly did not include suffering and death.  Jesus; however, made it very clear (Luke 9:23-26) that if anyone wished to follow Him, they had to take up their cross daily and follow Him. Jesus addresses those words not only to the men and women of his day but to all  of us – you and me today.

Today, we remember the ancient 2nd century martyr, Pontian.  He was elected to lead the church of Rome in 230 AD.  Severus Alexander, the Roman Emperor at the time, was tolerant of Christianity, and Pontian took up his duties in a relatively peaceful environment.  This peace was soon shattered with the ascension of a new Emperor, Maximinus, who unleashed a violent persecution against Christians.  Pontian was arrested, along with many others, and sent to forced labor in the mines of Sardinia; in effect, a death sentence.  He had chosen to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, and now he was asked to take up his cross and to follow Him to Calvary and a brutal death.  Pontian accepted his sentence.

You and I may not be called to be a martyr like Pontian and so many of those early Christians, but all of us are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  The cross is an integral part of Christianity.  It is the sign of our salvation.  There are millions of Christians throughout our world who are nailed to the cross of discrimination and open persecution for their faith.  The possibility of physical death for the sake of Jesus is not theory for them; it is a daily fact of life.  We are blessed in this country; but let’s not fool ourselves, there are forces at work to privatize our faith and silence the truth of the Gospels.

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enough is enough is enough!

One of God’s greatest prophets, Elijah, has had it (1 Kings 19:4-8).

Enough is enough is enough, he says:  “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” Then he proceeds to lay down and fall asleep.  He is awakened by an angel.  There is food and water near him.  He may feel that he is at the end of his rope but God is with him. He is told to eat and drink and move on with his life. God is with him on the journey.

I suspect that most of us experience periods of enough is enough is enough! No matter what, God is always with us.  God always provides us with what we need to stay the course, to continue on our life’s journey.

 

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the rash man has no integrity

This morning, I was reading Habakkuk 1:12-2:4.  I found myself reflecting on the words, “the rash man has no integrity.”  How appropriate for me!  Minutes earlier I witnessed an incident in our kitchen.  It was minor, but my inner reaction was way out of proportion.  I almost said something which I know I would regret.  Fortunately, I didn’t.  I just acknowledged everyone and left.  I kept replaying the incident for several minutes and when I read Habakkuk, I knew that I had been on the verge of being a rash man.  What I witnessed was not appropriate, but my inner reaction was way out of proportion to what I witnessed.  I knew that it was coming out of my own baggage.  I know that if I had said something, I would have come across as an angry man. Nothing good would have come out of my being a rash man. Sometimes it is better to say nothing or to wait, cool down, reflect and bring it up later in a relaxed setting.

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