The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

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Ask the powerful five questions

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Like wealth of most kinds, power seems to make people smaller. Washington, D.C., (for example) is not known for its champions of selfless idealism.  Yet many of those same people came into politics with a hope of doing good.  I suspect it is a very hard place from which to keep focused on justice.

Tony Benn, Labour‘s second-longest serving member of parliament in the U.K., proposes five plain-spoken questions:

Those might raise a fuss, eh? (h/t Homeyra!)

Here’s another Benn thought-provoker:

If you talk about a global answer to a global crisis, you can’t just talk about the movement of capital, now we are told all the time we must not have protectionism, but the most powerful protectionism in the world is immigration policy. Capital can move anywhere in the world to boost its profits. But labor can’t move because of the immigration control. Now I am raising huge questions, I recognize that. But if it is legitimate for a big American company to go to Malaysia where the wag[es] are low and triple their profit, why shouldn’t a Malaysian looking for high [wages] just go to America?

Well?  Immigration as protectionism – now there’s a fresh insight!

Power and Powerlessness (Easter sermon)

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Resurrection of the Lord: Easter Day, March 23, 2008

The Angel is Opening Christ’s Tomb, 1640Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 10:34-43; Colossians 3:1-4; Psalm 118:1-2,14-24 (Easter A)

Christ, the Lord Is Risen Today
Alleluia, Alleluia
Our God Reigns
The Wonderful Cross

Matthew 28
Risen from the Dead
After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move.

The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. Read the rest of this entry »

Jesus declines to be relevant, refuses to prove himself, and rejects power over others

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I’ll explain my title in the next day or two.  He is so uncooperative!

First Sunday in Lent February 10, 2008
Matthew 4:1-11; Romans 5:12-19; Genesis 2:15-17,3:1-7; Psalm 32

Matthew 4:1-11
The Test
1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 4, 2008 at 6:27 pm

Gender-crashing, power-bashing: Readings for Sunday, June 17

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Ah, here are Sunday’s delicious enigmas! And here is Jesus again, going to bat for someone of low status and bad reputation who gender-crashes the Upstanding Men’s Club and shows honest affection in the face of self-righteous pomposity.  And here (1 Kings, ca. 900 B.C.), God brings retribution for the losses of the powerless at the hands of the powerful. And at the end, Paul writes that “rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion” is the antithesis of what he’s after (rather a contrast to modern misunderstandings of his role!)

Should be a delightful week’s work! Click on the image, below, for a larger view of Rubens’ 1618 take on the Luke story. Thanks for reading!

Proper 6 (11): June 17, 2007

1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a; Psalm 5:1-8; Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36-8:3

Rubens, 1618

Luke 7:36-8:3
Anointing His Feet
36-39One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

June 13, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Power corrupts – here’s its antidote (sermon of May 20)

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Seventh Sunday of Easter; May 20, 2007
Acts 16:16-34 Psalm 97 Rev. 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 John 17:20-26
Music: Lord, I Lift Your Name On High; Rejoice, the Lord Is King; Crown Him with Many Crowns; Above All

Paul and Silas are still in Philippi, when things get serious:

Acts 16:16-34
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.

Why? Rich guys lost an income source. … Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 21, 2007 at 6:17 pm