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Peace or Partiality?
by Ken Painter

"O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?"
(Psalm 80:4)
"Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved."
(Psalm 80:19)

(Full Text:
Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19, NRSV)
It's that time of year again. The after-Thanksgiving leftovers have either been eaten or disposed of. The gratefulness that had been recalled has all but been forgotten as the hustle of the TV ads has given way to the bustle in the stores in which normally good-natured neighbors would gladly kill each other over a Smooth Moves Sloth or a Walking Buzz Lightyear . But the tribalism nurtured within such a cocoon of selfishness comes from a much more sinister place. Let's face it folks, for far too long now The Golden Rule as spoken by Jesus Christ (Matt.7:12) has become twisted into, "Do unto others before they can do it unto you!"  I've heard it misquoted to me that way since my childhood, and that was a long time ago, indeed.

But if it would only stop with the shopping. If it were only that simple!  Dare I utter the dirtiest words in the English Language these days? The words which are becoming gutter words in our burgeoning lexicon for devisiveness and hatred? Words which are certain to cause division and rancor, slammed-doors and closed-minds, hurt-hearts and even tears? Words like Congress and impeachment Republican and Democrat Red State and Blue State . There are many more like these, words which categorize, sort us, and put us in our places , and I won't go on because I think I've made my point. Whether we like to admit it or not, ALL of this tribalism (and let's face it, THAT'S what it is) begins way up the food chain. It filters downward, seeping and dripping into our social consciousness like that unwanted stomach acid we complain about. Only, there's no antacid we can take to wipe away the irreparable social malaise which we're left with from the daily onslaught of a Twitter compost storm especially when its source is supposed to lead us, inspire us, and lift us up rather than collectively bring us down.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being sorted and pigeon-holed into categories for any statistical purposes by anyone, governmental or otherwise. Sorting is for things not people! I learned to sort in Kindergarten, and my husband will tell you that come laundry day I'm really good at sorting socks. But the carryover to this is when we start doing this with people, lumping people into little piles, we begin devaluing lives. We begin viewing one another through surface stuff and not looking at each other through God's eyes. In other words, we're not loving one another as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:39), and this leads us down the pathway to not fulfilling the treating of others as we want to be treated ourselves which, of course, is that pesky Golden Rule I mentioned earlier. (Matt. 7:12)

So what do we do to rid ourselves of this unwanted social heartburn which threatens to tear us apart from each other's affections and turn us against one another? Well, the best answer I can think of is to recall who we are and what we're supposed to be doing here. As Christians we follow no human, but we do adhere to Christian thoughts and ideas as footstep followers of Christ . So for me a good place to begin is with the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5 - 7). This sermon is the spiritual capsule I can bite into to give me enough fuel to get through anything . And I've been through a LOT of anythings! And I would imagine so have you. Such is the human condition. If we all remember that we are flesh, and yet we have set our mind on the Spirit which means life and peace thanks to Christ's sacrifice. (Rom. 8:1-11)

And therein lies the meaning of the season we so diligently march forth toward, the greens we have hung, the carols we so joyfully sing, the passion play which is so prayerfully given that we may repent once again of our sins that we may be saved and God's face be made to shine. Once again we choose peace, love, joy, and hope, and embrace one another in the community of Christ's beckoning.
Today's Prayer:

O Spirit of the Season, Help each one of us to extend our loving arms to pull one another closer together rather than to keep one another at arm's length. Teach us how awesome hugs are!