God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Social Media and the Sermon on the Mount

As I have been reading the Sermon on the Mount everyday this lent, it has caused me to stop and think about what I experience everyday on Facebook. Does how we interact with each other on the internet impact how we respond to each other in person? Because of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, I know a lot about the people on my friends lists. I have learned about their families, where and what people like to eat, where people go on vacation and out with friends. But … there is a dark side to the internet. I also learn about your politics. Now don’t get me wrong. I love politics, I love to have a political discussion where we debate the issues and challenge each other’s perceptions and truth. In this personal discussion, we have the chance to learn from each other, hear where the other person is coming from and have our opinions enriched. On social media – this rich give and take of dialogue doesn’t happen. We get-

There isn’t any nuance, there isn’t give and take. There is just a confirmation of our worst impulses. What if we approached social media and the internet with the Sermon on the Mount before us?

·        But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:22
·     But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Matthew 5:39-41
·     I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. Matthew 7:1
·     In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

Jesus is inviting us to be different than the culture around us. He is asking us to think about those we encounter whether in person or on social media. By looking at our social media account could someone tell we followed Jesus? Could they see that the path we follow is not of this world? Before we post we should check is this sentiment something I would want applied to me. Does this activity judge? Does this activity show a call to love those I don’t like, have been told to hate, are my enemies, my rivals, those I despise? Is this activity calling on me to turn the other cheek? In our social media encounters, do we remember to set aside anger and name calling in order to reconcile with our brothers and sisters? This is not easy. It means we need to monitor our feed and ask not to see posts that cross the line. We hit that little dot in the corner and in the drop down box choose hide post. This means dropping all those sites that confirm our bias and drive us into acts of unkindness, leading us away from love. May your encounters on social media be polite, mindful, tolerant, decent, honest, and reflect love.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Sermon on the Mount: Every Day for 40 days

Open Democracy Gandhi

      Have you ever let the words change you? Mahatma Gandhi was invited by Christians to read the bible when he was in school in England. He started reading the old testament, but the continued violence of the passages didn’t speak to him. But when he started reading the New Testament he recognized words that were the words he had been taught as a child. His favorite part was the Sermon on the Mount. As he says “The Sermon on the Mount went straight to my heart.”1 And “The Sermon on the Mount left a deep impression on my mind when I read it.”2 “When I read in the Sermon on the Mount such passages as 'Resist not him that is evil but whosoever smiteth thee on the right cheek turn to him the other also,- and 'love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you, that he may be sons of your father which is in heaven.' I was simply overjoyed, and found my own opinion confirmed where I least expected it.”3 The sermon on the Mount became foundational in his practice of nonviolent resistance because he decided that these words of overcoming evil with good could be practiced in our public life as a way to deal with each other. He started the largest non-violent struggle for freedom from British rule based on these principals of non-violence. For Gandhi, The Sermon on the Mount and the Bhagavad Gita were the text that he read continually to sustain and encourage him, to inspire and comfort hm. These text spoke to his soul and changed how he lived in the world. He read the Sermon on the Mount daily for decades. 
      Can you imagine immersing yourselves in these words daily for years? 
              blessed are you poor, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty, merciful, pure in heart, persecuted
              you are salt and light
              reconcile with your brother or sister
              don't look at another with lust, don't divorce, don't swear oaths, don't be a hypocrite
             turn the other cheek
             love your enemies
             don't worry, don't judge
             you can't serve God and wealth
             do to others as you would have them do to you
             ask, search, and knock
             bee hearers and doers of the word        
      This lent I will be immersing myself in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.  I want to challenge each of us to take on a Lenten practice. I want us to read the Sermon on the Mount Daily for 40 days and see how it will change us. Can you imagine the conversations we will have with each other about how we see God, how we see ourselves, and how we walk through the world. Join me in this 40 day Lenten challenge.

1. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, (New Delhi: Publication Division, Ministry of Broadcasting, Government of India, 1956 -1994), 15:305.
2. M.K. Gandhi, What Jesus Means to Me (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 2009), 39.
3. Cited by Madhuri Wadhwa, Gandhi Between Tradition and Modernity (New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 1997), 98-99.
4.  The idea for this challenge was inspired by the challenge on Patheos blog.