Sep 112011
 

I seem to be called on often to give the prayer at the end of our Sunday School class. We just started a study of the Beatitudes, and of course the 9/11 commemoration services were all over the TV and radio this morning. Just before going into Church I heard President Obama at the Memorial in New York read Psalm 46. I try to make the prayer topical with current events and the lesson, so this is most of what I recall saying:

Father God, at this time of remembrance you are our refuge and strength, but we confess our sin of fear…rational fear and irrational fear which has caused us the mistrust and suspicion of our neighbors and brothers and sisters around the world…a fear that has driven us to war. You are the God who bends the bough, breaks the spear, and burns the chariot in the fire. You are also the God who has called “blessed” the peacemakers. Send us out in peace as peacemakers. Amen

Everyone is writing something about 9/11. Plenty will write words more fitting of the occasion, so I’ll leave my discussion to this prayer.

Christmas 2010-A Good One

 Culture, Family, Featured, General, Holidays, Kings Mountain, Places, Weather  Comments Off on Christmas 2010-A Good One
Jan 032011
 

Well, Christmas 2010 has come and gone. Nothing left to do but pack up the decorations. I’d have to rate it as a pretty good Christmas. I think I managed to stick to a fairly tight budget, and despite a few arguments with Lay, we wound up with everyone getting something they really enjoyed.

I got my shopping and gift wrapping done well ahead of time this year. The decorations were up right after Thanksgiving, and the Christmas Cards went out just after that, so I never felt rushed or hectic personally. Work was a killer right up to the end though.

I drove to North Carolina the Thursday before. Friday, Robin and Don came over for dinner and we all attended the Christmas Eve service at Mom’s church. We hadn’t been in a few years, and that suited me as I didn’t like their pastor at all. They now have a new one, and he seems like a pretty good person.

Christmas Day was quiet most of the day. Jay and LeeAnn didn’t come until late that day, and then went to Jay’s family for the evening. That meant it was mostly just Mom and me, and that was fine. We didn’t notice, but it started snowing about 6pm. We went outside to go to Mom’s friend’s house, and a nice light snow was falling, and already covering the ground. It came heavy a few times. By the next morning, we had a beautiful snow, so we spent time outside on the sleds, and I drove uptown and got a few pictures. I made a video which you can watch below.

I drove home Sunday afternoon, and had no weather related problems. In fact, I made it home in 10 hours and 15 minutes, which pretty much constitutes a record.

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Christianists Plan to Destroy Christmas

 Culture, Featured, Holidays, Religion, Right Wingnuts  Comments Off on Christianists Plan to Destroy Christmas
Dec 252010
 

Each day brings even more astonishment at how low some people can go to make a buck or get their 15 minutes of fame. Certain Christianists seem hell-bent on creating a contrived “war on Christmas” where none exists all for the sake of either raising money, or making a name for themselves. And in the end, I fear it may destroy a wonderful and important time of the year.

First, I’m just frankly sick and tired of hearing the Christianists act as though they are the ever-aggrieved. Stop with the whining already. You’re in a country whose population identifies as 76% Christian. You are NOT an oppressed minority, but boy do you love to act like it. And even if you were, and you hate it so much, why do you feel it’s  OK to actually oppress real minorities?

And stop with the, “this is a Christian nation,” already. Quote after quote from the founding fathers make it clear they were working aggressively to keep religion and government separate for the good of both. Good heavens, you can’t, in reality, keep making the claim this country was founded by Christians. Certainly, within the group of founders and those who fought that first war for freedom there were Christians, but there were Deists, Atheists, Buddhists and Muslims.

And for crying out loud, stop commercializing Christmas, insisting on throwing it in the face of everyone else, and acting like everyone in this country is out to destroy your holiday. Christmas is a holiday, but be realistic about it. No credible scholar has any reason to believe that December 25 is the real day on which Jesus was born. From times long before the advent of Christianity there have been mid-winter festivals and holidays to give people hope for a better time. Early Christians realized they needed to be part of that, and created their own celebration about hope, and I’m glad they did. And now, instead of being about light coming into the world, the Christianists commercialize Christmas even more by insisting that retail outlets be sure to observe the holiday.

Christianists now launch an annual campaign insisting on businesses and everyone else in America participation in their holiday. In the end, the true meaning of the holiday is lost on everyone, and it no longer holds that special place on the calendar. It becomes just another excuse to create fear and hate, to keep the checks coming in. How cynical these people have become, and I fear, if they continue to be supported in these hateful exercises, Christmas will be lost to us all.
So please stop insisting that commercial businesses insert themselves into my holiday celebration. I’d prefer that businesses NOT insist on being a big part of my Christmas, and I believe these Christianists, who force their beliefs on others, do the holiday a disservice by insisting on its further commercialization. Christmas is NOT about the signs hung in Walmart, it’s about the hope a new birth.

I enjoy the stories of Christmas. They’re about hoping for no rational reason and then witnessing hope fulfilled. The mean miser of the town hates Christmas, has a few nightmares, and then wakes up to take care of those he once scorned. An embittered heart grows three sizes and that old Grinch finds the strength to put back all the presents, decorations and holiday dinners he had taken. Workaholics remember to come home. Friends show up for the lonely. The destitute get help. I enjoy that people try to have a merrier attitude, and act more friendly.

I love the music of Christmas. How can you not enjoy many of the songs I’ve posted here over the past few days. Those familiar songs and Carols bring that warm feeling of family and shared experience.

I love the attitudes most people have during the holidays. We are so often neglectful of others during the rest of the year, but somehow, this time of year brings out our better angels. We can be mean and spiteful in our rhetoric, and work to create division instead of working to come together, but once a year we celebrate hope. We celebrate peace. We celebrate doing right by each other, and then rather amazingly go out and attempt to do it.

So that’s the kind of Christmas I want. A holiday about hope, love, peace and light coming into the world, and I don’t care if you wish me Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or a gay Festivus. My feelings of hope and excitement are not diminished, and I don’t see you as a lesser person so long as your wishes are good tidings.

And that is my wish for you…GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY TO ALL PEOPLE, AND PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN.

I'll be Home For Christmas

 Culture, Family, Friends, Holidays, Kings Mountain, Places  Comments Off on I'll be Home For Christmas
Dec 252006
 

I drove up to Kings Mountain Saturday. Lay was up and packed, but then decided to stay home. I think now he’s wishing he’d come along, but I know he would have been bored for a lot of it. The drive up took 12 hours, as I got stuck in a backup south of Atlanta. The weather was overcast, but it never rained. It has rained all today.

Yesterday being Sunday, I went to my old home church. I got to see a lot of folks I haven’t seen in a long time. It seems like a number of people I hung out with back in high school have started attending my old church. The choir did their cantata Sunday morning, and it sounded pretty good.

One of the traditions that has developed is attending a Christmas Eve service of Lessons and Carols, followed by Communion and a candlelight service. Both services at the church were very full, with people in the balcony during the first service. It’s a time and place to feel comfortable. While there are many people there I don’t know, there are certainly lots of people I grew up with, and even older folks that helped me grow up.

This is the time when, if all else has failed, I get in the Christmas spirit. I know that the holiday means lots of different things to different people, but for me it is about family, and this opportunity for a visit back to my roots. With the Christmas season comes a time to reflect on the message brought by the child…the Christ. It is a message of Peace and love. My frustration with these past years is the corruption of that message to one of hatred, and is used to polarize rather than bring people together.

My wish for you and me for this holiday season and this coming year…To give beyond reason. To care beyond hope. To love without limit. To reach, stretch, and dream in spite of your fears. These are the hallmarks of divinity – traits of the immortal – your badges of honor, and your ticket onward.

Peace Takes Courage

 Politics, Religion, Society, War  Comments Off on Peace Takes Courage
Apr 302006
 

For the past several weeks, I’ve been leading a Sunday School class at my church discussing the Social Principles of the Methodist Church. Today we discussed the last two sections of the Social Principles, “The Political Community” and “The World Community.”

In section I of the Political Community section, Military Service, the Methodist Social Principles state, “We deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations. From the beginning, the Christian conscience has struggled with the harsh realities of violence and war, for these evils clearly frustrate God’s loving purposes for humankind.”

In the section on “The World Community” paragraph B says in part, “We affirm the right and duty of people of all nations to determine their own destiny. We urge the major political powers to use their nonviolent power to maximize the political, social , and economic self-determination of other nations rather than to further their own special interests.”

We go on, in paragraph C of the section to say, “We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy, to be employed only as a last resort in the prevention of such evils as genocide, brutal suppression of human rights, and unprovoked international aggression. We insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them, that human values must outweigh military claims as governments determine their priorities; that the militarization of society must be challenged and stopped….”

But it really all comes down to the 22nd Chapter of the Book of Matthew. Jesus was challenged by the Pharisee?s to define the Greatest Commandment. In verse 34 he responded, ?Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.? 38?This is the first and greatest commandment.? Jesus didn?t stop there. Without missing a beat he went on to say in verse 39, ?And the second is like it: ?Love your neighbor as yourself.??

In verse 40, just to be sure the dense Pharisees of that time (and maybe for some people of today) got the message, Jesus goes on to say, ?All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.?

A 15 year old girl is receiving death threats for an anti-war video she made. It is available at Peace Takes Courage. I caution you in advance…the images are disturbing, but you should watch it.

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