Saturday, June 18, 2016

Swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks…

What a strange sounding image to our modern ears when the prophet Isaiah (2:4) casts a vision of God’s preferred future when wars will be no more and a reign of true justice will prevail.  I only recently learned that because of a scarcity of metal in biblical times of war, a farmer’s plow or pruning hook would be transformed into a sword for battle and returned to agricultural use when hostilities ceased.  Nearly 30% of our nation’s budget goes to the military and if you include “benefits” almost 50%. While I believe in an adequate “defense” and taking care of our service men and women, what if our country were inspired by Isaiah’s vision to guide our spending and addressed the root causes of violence: poverty, racism, substandard housing, inadequate care for mental illness.  What if we bent our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks and fed a hungry world, built bridges of understanding between races and religions, trained people for jobs with livable wages, and created affordable housing for the homeless. What if?  Perhaps then we might experience Jesus prayer, “thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven…”          
What if?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Namaste and the Image of God

My dad had an annoying habit that bugged me as a teen.  He was almost always “positive”.  He seemed to see a silver-lining when I only saw clouds.  While I either liked someone or not, he would see something good, a redemptive quality, even in the worst people.  My mother would add, “If you can’t say something positive….” to make sure I got the message.  Slowly I began to understand the wisdom in this attitude.  The Indian greeting “Namaste” which means “the God in me greets the God in you” invites us to not just look for the positive but for the “spark of the divine” in each of us.  Even more compelling is the passage in the Genesis 1 creation story which declares that humans are made “in the image and likeness of God”. 

Too often we enter relationships with a prejudice based on appearance and socioeconomic status rather than with an openness, a sense of wonder and a curiosity to discover how God will be revealed in that person.  Think of the amazing collection of people that Jesus hung out with (prostitutes, the sick, tax-collectors, lepers, outcasts) and we get a beautiful picture of what this way of life, that we are called to, looks like. This fruit of the spirit was abundant in my parents and in the scores of people who loved them and called them friends!