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Showing posts from November, 2015

First Sunday of Advent: Coming Soon

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As we enter the Advent season, it's important to remember its twofold nature. First and most obviously, we remember the coming of Jesus as a child. Born in a manger to a flesh-and-blood mother, Jesus came as a human being. He lived among us and revealed God to us more fully than ever before.
Second, this time of year also reminds us that Jesus will one day come again. Advent is the season of Jesus' coming near. Most tend to concentrate on the incarnation—how Jesus came two thousand years ago. We also ought to remember the eschaton—that Jesus will come once again. This second coming will not be like the first. Whereas he previously came in a quiet manner that hardly drew notice, his second coming will be in a glorious manner which no one can miss. Whereas he previously came and submitted to the worldly powers who executed him, his second coming will cause all worldly powers to submit to him.
Christmas is a time when we make many preparations. It's a busy time. We buy prese…

Ten Words #10: Curb Your Desire

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"You shall not covet." The final word in the Ten Commandments loops us back to the first words. This command points once again to the primary question of the Decalogue. Can we be content with serving God and God alone? Or do we feel that we need to take matters into our own hands, placing ourselves on the throne of glory?
Desire can be good. It can push us to perform well, to expand our skills, and to accomplish things that require extra effort. God made the world good. It's filled with pleasant things that are delightful to see, touch and taste. Texts such as Song of Songs highlight the inherent beauty of relationships and the passion that accompanies them. This is a good world that God made, and we should enjoy it.
But desire slips from healthy and good to deadly and evil when we fail to control it. Desire becomes evil when it infringes on the rights of others, or when it harms our neighbor. In opposition to what some evolutionary scientists seem to think, desire should…

Ten Words #9: Living in the Truth

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"Don't bear false witness." The original context of the 9th Word appears to deal with "courtroom" testimony. Jewish law took great lengths to protect individuals from false witness. A single person's word was never enough to condemn another person. At least two corroborating sources had to agree.
The idea of the Ninth Word goes deeper than not lying in court. While deception is the central prohibition, there is much more. God’s people are to exemplify a commitment to truth-telling.
Living a lie can wreak mass havoc. Enron hid the truth about their schemes and destroyed the fiscal well-being of countless groups & individuals. Some folks misled the world about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the world continues to pay a high price for actions even if taken in good faith but based upon those lies.
Family relationships and even churches often conceal hidden truths, giving power to the lies that control them. In Death of a Salesman, Biff says, "…

Ten Words #8: A Den of Thieves

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"You shall not steal." Finally, a command we can all agree with. Who doesn't agree that stealing is wrong? Every society in every place throughout the world and throughout history has had prohibitions against theft.
But the problem is that not everyone agrees on what it means to steal. Is it stealing to download a song you were supposed to pay for? Is it stealing to regularly trim 30 minutes off your work day? Is it stealing to be dependent on welfare rather than on a job? Is it stealing for one country to use the majority of the world's natural resources? Is it stealing to keep the $10-dollar-bill that the clerk accidentally gave you in place of a $1-dollar-bill?
Theft is often relativized according to the position in which we sit: > Some who would never dream of mugging a person on the street think it is okay to cheat on their taxes or ask their 13-year-old to pretend to be 12 so they can get the kids' price at the movie. > Some students who would never st…