Thursday, April 9, 2009

The New, Ancient Mandate

New mandate? What do you mean it is a "new" mandate? There is nothing new about it. We are reading from a book that is 1900 years old. How on earth is that considered new? And isn't that part of the problem? We want something new all the time. I just got a new car (a red Saturn Vue to be exact), and my wife just bought new furniture for the upstairs family room. (0% financing and good deals makes for a buyers market . . . recession ha ha ha.) And the faith we are given is ancient, almost timeless.

It is Holy Week and Passover, so even secular talk radio has religious experts on as guests. Emergent experts were a day or two ago. And yes, we need something new. The way we have done church for the last 150 years is not working. But how much has to change? It is hard to say what is most important. If we are given an ancient faith that will stretch into the end of time, how do we keep it fresh? If we really are given a new, 2000 year-old, mandate tonight, how do we embody that today?

I want to make a modest proposal that we start with our Christian brothers and sisters. We have to stop looking at each other as the enemy. I think one of the major broken pieces in the modern church is that for the last 150 years, we have said, "I disagree, so I am parting ways." We have churches all over the landscape, but we have little love for one another. The ecumenical movement of let us all hold hands and act cordial is ridiculous, because one group will look at another and overtly or passively say, "You are not REALLY Christian."

So, I beg my fellow Christians, clergy and lay, to take serious the new mandate. "Love each other as I have loved you." Let's take something new out of this ancient word.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools

So today was April Fool's Day. I first realized this as I listened to one of my favorite five minutes of radio every week. At 7:55 Frank Deford gives a commentary on NPR's Morning Edition. To hear his commentary from this morning go to Sweetness and Light. Yep, I fell for it too.

Then, an hour and a half later, I sat with a gaggle of preschoolers trying to convey why fooling people and then laughing at them is not what Jesus wants us to do. I mean how many of us really want to be the butt of a joke? I assume most of you just said, "Not me." So, if the Goldren Rule says, "Treat others as you want to be treated," then why would we make anyone the butt of one of our jokes.

Twelve hours later, I found myself feeling the fool. I, along with the two music directors, made plans for Easter Sunday a few weeks ago. We felt a common face for our two Easter Sunday services would be a good effort and a way of bringing some unity in the community. Instead, what I realized after listening to some complaining, is we did not follow the Golden Rule. We did not treat the band or the choir like they want to be treated. We planned and idead without really considering what they wanted for Easter. MY plan sounded more like a cruel April Fool's joke to some of them.

So here I sit, playing the fool and it has nothing to do with Frank Deford.