Once again, we are pummeled with the sad and terrible news of yet another attack upon humanity. In Nice, France, so many more innocent people have died for no good reason. Words like "senseless" and "pointless" and "horrendous" are what ring true in our hearts and minds these days.
Have you noticed, too, that the American flag has been at half-staff for quite a long time. Why do you think that is? I think there's a good reason for that.
Someone suggested on Face Book that we need to go to war.
That's not my suggestion only because I believe we already are at war.
Social Media has saturated us with everyone's point of view. The sad thing is most points are so derogatory and rude, stating a personal opinion that quite frankly I think should be kept to themselves; but hey, it's become the "American way" to share your opinion even when it is detrimental to others. With Social Media, I beg to differ. It's out of control.
We ARE at war. And, the war we need to be in is not with ISIS, or other terrorist groups; it's not with the rhetoric of the world - from US politics to internationa
l economics; it's not with the color of our skin or the customs of our ancestors.
It's within ourselves.
Paul's letter to the Colossians, our second lesson for Sunday, is one of encouragement. The Colossians, like most people of the world then and now, have followed Jesus Christ all for good reason. But, as happens throughout human history, the good people of God fall away; they leave the grace and goodness of God and follow their own hearts. That is the most dangerous thing a human being can ever do.
Paul writes how the people of Colossae have learned to turn away from their selfish and evil thinking ways; they have been "reconciled in Christ's body through death (meaning the cross)." The cross is the one symbol for humanity that offers the peace that often we do not recognize. It's not a perfect peace because, after all, we're human and we will fall away from God time and time again. But, it is a peace that can and will help us through the good and bad days of life.
The war within ourselves is a clear turning away from God in today's society. We are bordering on anarchy (if not already there) and the moral decay of the foundations we call life in this world. When we somehow have come to terms with the fact that a contingent of people think it is okay to kill others in order to protect their own conscience, call, movement, or philosophy, we are in dire straits to be sure. We are in serious trouble. There is no doubt about it.
We need a return to some form of "securely established and steadfastness" in our faith in God. If not, we will die as a people, and, as a nation.
The Church needs to wake up and take back the seriousness of teaching our parishes what it means to be a Christian in this modern world and how grace and mercy must be at the top of the list. Grace and mercy, to me, are a lot harder to share than food and medicine, for our prejudices have grown out of proportion compared to trust and compassion.
With the "Year of the Reformation" upon us (2016-17 is the 500th anniversary of the "Ninety Five Theses" of the Reformation Era), I think this would be a great chance to rejoin the faith in a new and vibrant way! We come to church, some of us anyway, on a regular basis. But do we know what we believe?
Do you know what your faith believes? Do we really believe that we are "justified by grace through faith in God"? A fairly recent poll done in America among Lutherans (of all people) was done where a majority of the people said they really didn't believe in this theological statement. There lies the problem. We don't know what we believe anymore. People - that is the basis of the Lutheran perspective of faith in God.
Pick up that Bible for starters. Read it. Read it all the way through. Martin Luther tended to
read through his a few times each year....can you imagine what could happen if we could do just half of that regiment of reading?
Pray. Don't say, "I'm prayin' for you" and then maybe get around to it later, maybe. Do it. Pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:16-18). Pray everywhere. Just look around you. Whether you're at the mall or the grocery store, or church, or school, or on the ball diamond or soccer field - pray. It does and will make a difference.
That's for starters. I'll have more for next week. Until then, remember...
God loves you and so do we!