Wednesday, September 25, 2013

God's Will Or Ours Be Done?

". . . not my will, but thine, be done."  Luke 22:42

Well, the likeable little Pope Francis is at it again.  Other priests in the hierarchy are running around behind him cleaning up potential misunderstandings of what he says.  No wonder people might misinterpret.  For instance, what did he mean when he said -- badly paraphrased here -- that the church couldn't just speak out against contraception and abortion, but that it had to achieve a balance?  It could be interpreted as contraception and abortion are okay now, or it could mean they have to do something on the other side of the scale to balance the requirements of no contraception and no abortions.  The next day he clarified.  Every aborted baby has the face of Jesus.

When he first asked who was he to judge others for being gay, priests moved in quickly to make it clear that the church would accept such individuals in services.  They said it didn't mean it was okay.

But about women who feel called to the priesthood, there is still an emphatic no.  Women, he said, are more important to the church than Bishops . . ..  I won't quarrel with that.  Servants are more valuable to any establishment than the masters.  It is the servants who do most of the work.  They just aren't to get all uppity and start to assume control.

However, whose will are we to obey, mine or thine?  Jesus had the answer in Luke 22:42.

If God called women to the ministry, what right does man or woman have to deny God's will?  (None is the correct answer.)  Besides, I read somewhere recently that the Hebrew word we interpret as a man's name, Adam, is really translated as human being.  Want to think about that for awhile?

Not our will, but Thine, Father, hard as that is to say and mean.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Keep Your Cheerful Songs To Yourself

"Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart."  Proverbs 25:20

My main memory of one workplace was of two or three super cheerful people always chiding others for not being positive and upbeat.  For a while, a couple of supervisors tried to get a guy in my department to change.  They even hung notes on the door facings which stated "no whining allowed."  I didn't notice a discernible improvement in his attitude.  Frankly, I fall somewhere in between the two extremes.  I find perky individuals positively disgusting.  They are at least as unbearable as the whiners.  Like the scripture says, people who sing to a heavy heart are like someone stealing a coat in the cold. 

One problem with the terminally effervescent is how out of touch with reality they can be.  Always maintaining a positive attitude, even when your house is burning down in Hurricane Sandy is more than a little schizophrenic.  The last thing a grieving homeowner needs is the hale and hearty slapping them on the back and telling them to look for the silver lining.  They need to be allowed time to get to that place by themselves.

The caution not to sing songs has special meaning in my family.  When our daughter was young we wanted to provide her with all the best of life.  We enrolled her in children's art and music classes.  Unfortunately, some of them started pretty early on Saturday morning.  This child is not an early riser. So, her Dad made up a little song.  Do you want to go to music class and play and sing?"  She hated that song as long as she remembered it.  No, she didn't want to go.  It was Saturday and she wanted to sleep.

What is meant as playful fun to one can actually be like salt in a wound if the other person is very tired or very troubled. 

Tread carefully on the feelings of others.  If you have to walk a mile in their shoes, you may need them to be considerate of you.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Will God Think We Are Meddling in Syria?

"Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passerby who meddles in a quarrel not his own."  Proverbs 26:17

In Proverbs 20:3, we are further told that there is honor is ceasing strife.  However, those who meddle are fools.  We are cautioned in several Bible scriptures not to meddle in the quarrels of others.  Yet, we do it all the time both in our personal lives and as a country in the international theater.  I'm wondering right now if we could speak directly with God if He would tell us to quit getting in the middle of all of Israel's strife.  Maybe, maybe not.

I'm sure without asking that He abhors the use of chemical weapons.  But does that mean He would advocate other countries "punishing" the perpetrators?  Or, is He expecting the world to step into the middle and attempt to stop the insanity?

I believe the only way to know His will is to pray that He will direct the vote of our Congress.  If the vote is to strike, He wants us to interfere.  If the vote is no, we need to be honorable and walk away -- not be fools, in other words.

I'm pretty sure He would not be happy if we enter the fray to save our President's face.  If what he said was a mistake, he can learn from his mistakes like everyone else.

It may be time for the world to learn to solve it's own problems as well.  They can learn from their mistakes, too.  Remember, that a growing child learns nothing if he is protected constantly.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Women In The Ministry

Knowing what we do about the people of the Middle East and how they feel about the role of women in the world at large, it is no surprise that the church hierarchy became top-heavy with men.  But the men of the Middle East were apparently not the only culprits in turning women toward submissive roles.

According to Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman, debate over what role women should hold began because they held high roles in the early church, beginning with Jesus and his ministry.  Women, in addition to twelve male disciples, went with Jesus on his tours.  They helped him financially and were patrons of his ministry.  He spoke with them and ministered to them in public. They did not desert him like the men did at the end. 

The Apostle Paul also respected the role of women and did not treat them as inferiors.  He even referred to several as coworkers.  And, it was a woman whom he called foremost of the Apostles.  And yet, he contradicted himself on occasion.  Because of Paul's contradictions, people in his churches, in various locations, favored either one or the other. Arguments arose, and eventually women were subjected to a subservient role.  In fact, some Bible scholars believe that I Timothy, attributed as a letter from Paul to Timothy, may not have been written by Paul, but by the supposed recipient.  There are verses in I Timothy that are said not to even be in the same order when comparing Greek and Latin manuscripts.  There are also deliberate alterations, such as some Bibles using Junias (male) instead of Junia (female) to change the meaning.  Ehrman gives further examples of deliberate and accidental errors when comparisons are made about this and other issues. 

In our world today, major Christian denominations still see the woman's role as lesser and low in the church hierarchy.  But don't forget Jesus had announced that women and men would be equal in his kingdom. 

Paul suggested not to change the roles at that time, because early Christians thought the end was upon them.  It didn't seem necessary for such a short time.

Women are not alone in trying to get equal roles for females.  A lot of men recognize that the intelligence, the work ethic, and the loyalty of women would be as beneficial to the church as it has been in government and business settings.  Yet, the greater denominations and religions still hold out a chauvinistic viewpoint that men, perhaps because they used their size and brute strength to seize power, are the top dogs and women are their servants.  Remember also that Jesus said there would be no slaves in his kingdom.  So, why is our world, especially our supposedly compassionate church community, so resistant to following his lead?