The Least, First

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Sneak becomes hero (sermon of August 18, 2008)

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Birth of Jacob and Esau []Remember Jacob and Esau? How Jacob was born holding-on to Esau’s heel?  How Jacob was given the name “Jacob” because it meant “heel-grabber” or “supplanter” or “schemer”?  How Jacob later extorted the family birthright out of his brother?  How he ran for his life—Esau threatening murder—under cover of going to Mama’s folks to find a bride?

And how, when he got there, he awakened the day after his marriage to discover that the bride of last night’s passion wasn’t the girl he’d intended to marry?  Oops.  Now he’d gotten bamboozled (let alone her, but that’s another story).

Jacob stays there at Haran for 20 years: 7 years for Leah, 7 years for Rachel, 6 more tending flocks, raising his own. He gets astonishingly rich.  And then one day, God said “Jacob, it’s time to go home.”

But Jacob’s afraid of Laban (Pa-in-law).  Laban’s been a shrewd dealer.  Kept him there for 20 years, after all.  Who knows if Laban will really let him go?  So Jacob and Rachel and Leah lay a secret plan. Read the rest of this entry »

Jesus warns the rich (sermon of Sep. 30)

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Proper 21 (26); September 30, 2007
Luke 16:19-31; 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15; Psalm 91:1-6,14-16

We sang: You Are the One; You’re Worthy of My Praise; Be Thou My Vision; In Christ Alone. (And the phrases Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me save that thou art were still on my mind early this morning. See more on worship music, below.)

Sermon: [with Bible on screen, ask for volunteers to act it out, and ask the congregation to direct the vols in response to my questions. Now read:]

Luke 16:19-31 (The Message*)
The Rich Man and Lazarus

19-21“There once was a rich man, expensively dressed in the latest fashions, wasting his days in conspicuous consumption.

OK, directors, what’s he wearing, in modern terms? What do you see him doing? [They put him in leather and silk and driving either a Mercedes-Benz or a Jaguar. He often hung out by the pool, sipping drinks. Perhaps Bertie Wooster fits the bill; here’s Hugh Laurie’s version of the Wodehouse dimwit.] Read the rest of this entry »

Am I “for us or against us”?

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It’s a troubling question for we who’ve long breathed the mix of nationalism and faith that so influences American outlooks. These quotes have challenged me:

Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither, he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” –Joshua and “a man,” apparently an angel, sent to represent God to the Hebrew army; Joshua 5:13 (NIV)

“Christians are geographic, cultural, national and ethnic egalitarians; for them there is no geographic center of the world, but only a constellation of points equidistant from the heart of God. … Christian global vision asks that you care as much about any and every country and its people as you do your own. … This implies that your politics become reoriented, non-aligned, and unpredictable by normal canons.” –Daniel Clendennin, The Journey with Jesus: The divided loyalties of resident aliens (quoted in a sermon posted as Citizens of Another Nation).

“[followers of Christ] dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.” –Letter to Diognetus (2nd century C.E., quoted by Clendennin, and in Citizens of Another Nation).

He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself…” – C.S. Lewis (quoted in the iGoogle gadget C.S. Lewis quotes)

And you?

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Written by Monte

September 26, 2007 at 12:28 pm

Barbara Ehrenreich: Reform is over, Insurance Industry has won

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I hope you’ve read Barbara Ehrenreich’s important book Nickel and Dimed: On not getting by in America. She signs-on at minimum-wage jobs, sets her own assets aside, and chronicles just how possible it really is for poor Americans who “get a job!” to get on. We middle-class Americans do need to learn a few things, and these are lessons of critical importance.

Ehrenreich’s most recent blog post describes the state of healthcare reform. Here are some excerpts (but I do encourage you to read the whole thing). The emphases are mine, along with some comments at the end:

Barbara EhrenreichWe Have Seen the Enemy — And Surrendered

Bow your heads and raise the white flags. After facing down the Third Reich, the Japanese Empire, the U.S.S.R., Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, the United States has met an enemy it dares not confront – the American private health insurance industry.

With the courageous exception of Dennis Kucinich, the Democratic candidates have all rolled out health “reform” plans that represent total, Chamberlain-like, appeasement. Edwards and Obama propose universal health insurance plans that would in no way ease the death grip of Aetna, Unicare, MetLife, and the rest of the evil-doers. Clinton – why are we not surprised? – has gone even further, borrowing the Republican idea of actually feeding the private insurers by making it mandatory to buy their product. Will I be arrested if I resist paying $10,000 a year for a private policy laden with killer co-pays and deductibles? […] Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

September 26, 2007 at 4:00 am

US shame in the making: Vote on oil law nears

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It’s a dark day in American history: The US is on the verge of successfully pressuring Iraq to surrender most of its oil profits for thirty years to Big Oil. Why would the Iraqis allow it? Here’s why:

  • Turns out Iraqis have largely not been told what is in the bill. As word leaks out, Iraqi oil workers have begun to strike.
  • Turns out the Democrats – in utter betrayal of the attitudes on which they campaigned – have included passage of the oil bill as one of the Bush benchmarks that Iraq must meet for US funding to continue.
  • Turns out Western oil corporations – Chevron, Exxon, Conoco, BP, Shell, and Marathon, are hovering over the Iraqi Oil Ministry, negotiating daily.
  • Turns out the DOD is talking about a Korea-style long-term occupation. Get it? Thirty years of oil ownership for US corporations, backed by decades of military iron fist, making certain destitute Iraqis keep giving it up to the world’s richest.

Repent, Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Reid. You bring shame upon America.

Check out these details from DemocracyNow!: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

June 7, 2007 at 12:46 pm