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."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Go Where I Send Thee

What gets your toes tapping and your body swaying.  This week as I listened to HIS sing Southern Gospel music and the Grace Gospel Choir, I couldn’t help my feet from tapping and my body from moving.  There was such joy and hope in the air.  At this time of year, as Christmas quickly approaches, for many of us the joy and excitement gets stronger and stronger as the day approaches.   You can see it in the faces and bodies of children, by two days before Christmas the children are quivering with the anticipation, they can’t wait, they are ready to burst with the hope of what Christmas Day will bring. 

One of the songs that puts me in the same feeling of toe tapping excitement is Children Go Where I Send Thee.  I am especially partial to the Peter, Paul, and Mary version.   I can’t help dancing in my chair as I sing along. 

Children go Where I Send thee, how shall I send thee?
Well, I'm gonna send thee one by one
One for the little bitty baby
Who was born, born, born in Bethlehem
Said he was born, born, born in Bethlehem
Children go where I send thee:
how shall I send thee?  I’m gonna send thee…
Two for Paul and Silas
three for the Hebrew children
four for the four that stood at the door
five for the five that stayed alive
six for the six that never got fixed
seven for the seven who never got to heav'n
eight for the eight that stood at the gate
nine for the nine that dressed so fine
ten for the ten commandments
He was born, born, born in Bethlehem.

Hearing this music makes me want to get up and dance, to share the good news, to go out and see this Baby in Bethlehem.  I feel full of the joy of the Spirit sending me and teaching me the faith through the words and music of this song.  The joy of Christmas comes in knowing that God is continually birthing something new.  We use these moments at Christmas to share this news of great joy of a God.  The song invites us go out by ones, two, threes, tens, and twelves to share the story and the news of God coming among us, of God birthing joy into the world this year and every year.  We are to be like the characters in the song committing ourselves to sharing the good news far and wide.  Who is sent in this song changes with the person who sings it, which means that we can become part of the song and tell the good news.  We can share our faith with joy like the five gospel preachers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul who kept the story alive.  Are we willing to go out in large and small numbers to live out the message, born in a Baby, born in a manger, born in Bethlehem?  Children, Go Where I Send Thee.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sit Down Your Rocking the Boat

My son is in Guys and Dolls this weekend and I have had this song running through my head all week.  Because it's a really catchy tune.  You can't help wanting to sing along.  In this scene my son is the clueless one.  When everyone sits, he stands, he supposed to be out of step with the drama of the scene. 

In this scene from the show, the gamblers are at a prayer meeting and they are invited to share their testimony.  They are strongly invited to stand up and tell why they are there and what they want to change.  Some of the answers are silly.  When it gets to Nicely, he makes up a dream about why he won't be let into Heaven (he drinks and gambles even on the way to Heaven).  In the dream, he is messing with the journey and people are asking him to sit down, to stop making waves. 

I can sympathize with Nicely, I tend to rock the boat.  I want to shake things up and push people into seeing this vision I have of a world where God is there with you asking you to stand up and speak out against injustice, to work to change poverty and hunger, to invite people into a relatonship with God that will transform who they are.  We are to rock the boat, when we get a little to comfortable with the world as it is, verses the world God dreams where the lost, the last, the least are invited to the party.  A party where the wine flows freely, the laughter is loud and the joy abounds.  So I hope you spend a little time rocking the boat.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Our Faith Our Vote

It’s November and that means Packer’s football, thanksgiving dinners and election time.   How many of you are tired of the election and the campaign commercials and can’t wait for November 7th to arrive.  You have heard each candidate tell you what is wrong with the other candidate.  You have heard grand sweeping claims of how they will transform the economy and save the US.  Details are a little sketchy.  You wonder why can’t we all get along and be civil with each other, respecting each other as people even as we disagree over issues. 
As I have been watching the debates, speeches, and commentary on the candidates and their positions, I wonder how many of us put our faith and our politics in two separate boxes.  Our faith talks about forgiveness and grace; speaks about care for the widows and orphans; tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the stranger, and visit the prisoners.  Our faith talks about loving the unlovable; welcoming the unwelcome; and inviting the left out, the lost, and the last to come on in and experience God’s love and grace.  Our faith talks about turning the other cheek and walking the extra mile.  This can seem removed from our politics which speaks about energy independence, economic growth, free markets, job creation, and wars in countries we may not be able to find on a map. 
So how do we bring our faith and our vote together?  How do we vote our religious values and which of those religious values are the most important when voting?  I think the first thing we have to do as religious people is to figure out what our bottom line belief is.  When you think about being a Christian what is the verse or verses in the bible that you turn to for guidance.  For me personally, I answer this question with the greatest commandment:  Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’(Mark 12:29-31).”  If this is the foundation of my faith, what does it mean for me as a citizen of a particular country, in a specific part of Wisconsin.  So on every question from the economy to military intervention I have to ask of the candidates: how are you treating your neighbor, for there is no commandment greater than these?  Does my love of God with heart, soul, mind, and strength infuse my decision making?  For me this leads to questions about how the candidates will seek justice for the oppressed, the poor, and the forgotten. 
Your answer to what is foundational for your faith may be different from mine.  When you know what it is then looking at the political world through that filter will help you to ask questions of the candidates that may be different than the questions you looked at before.  May your faith inform your vote.