9/29/2014

3 of 10


Mel Brooks had fun with the 15  . . . (Drops one tablet) 10 commandments in his film, History of the World, Part 1. Sometimes it takes a bit of comedy to draw attention to something important. Other times it takes a little controversial re-imagining. 10 years ago, the United Church of Christ published a controversial re-imagining of the 10 commandments – called “God is still speaking through the 10 C’s”

Here are just a few -- updated slightly because -- it's 10 years later.  They will likely illicit a response in you.

OUR CULTURE THINKS you shall not make for yourself an idol except for Beyonce; Starbucks; X Box 360; the American flag; The Bible, and Wall Street.
MAYBE GOD says you shall not worship the idol of individualism that leads to the American dream of “success” only for some of God’s children. Or your granite display of the 10 commandments.
OUR CULTURE BELIEVES you shall not covet your Neighbor’s property unless your neighbor’s crib is bigger than yours or has more “toys” that bling-bling. Note: “neighbor” includes other countries and planets.
PERHAPS GOD SAYS you shall not covet another culture’s land or tax benefits obtained on the backs of the poor or global trade advantages . . . water . . . air . . . women . . . or immigrants . . . as personal property.
OUR CULTURE MAINTAINS you shall not kill unless you are one of the states with the death penalty, look different, talk different, think different or you’re trying to off  the ones you classify as terrorists.  (Note: Collateral damage, maimings, casualties, and the like are unavoidable, regrettable, justifiable, and patriotic).
PROBABLY GOD SAYS you shall not kill, period. Not by lethal injection, not by surgical air strikes, or by endangering the lives of millions of Americans by trying to demonize having health insurance or health-inspected food or denying access to life saving and life changing meds.

Just a few.  Is everything I just said part of the 10 commandments?  No.  Can a look at them open up discussions that go there?  Oh. Yes.

9/28/2014

River

This week's Bible reflection (Salicin) starts off with bitter leaves, but ends with pure, healing water. Listen closely for the gulp sfx in today's sermon at St. Paul's UCC.
"River" podcast

9/22/2014

In Our Weakness

Last week's Bible reflection (Legs) really got to running as I was on a tear in yesterday's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"In Our Weakness" podcast

Salicin

I spent time over several summers at a dude ranch in Colorado. And every time I was there, I heard the soothing yet powerful sounds of the Middle St. Vrain River out my cabin window. The sounds of the river helped me feel safe and content. They helped me notice life. While I was at that dude ranch, I also spent the better part of every day riding horses. I rode on mountain trails, in beautiful valleys, and across many streams and rivers. Sometimes the horses would walk. And sometimes the horses would really RUN. There are few things that are as exhilarating as holding on to the reigns with one hand and to your hat with another as a horse lopes fast through a smooth, breezy mountain valley.

And there are also few things that cause the kind of lingering pain one feels after an all day horseback ride – walking, trotting, and running.

There are aspen trees along many of the mountain trails I’ve traveled. The taste of the aspen leaves is highly bitter. (It’s common to hear one who as tasted the bitter leaves let someone else discover the bitterness by saying, “Taste these leaves – they taste like root beer!” They don’t taste like root beer.) The aspen leaves also have pain relieving properties. The leaves contain salicin, a chemical that is very similar to aspirin. When one chews on the leaves, they get similar pain relief as that brought on by aspirin. It lasts longer, too.

The aspen tree, among many other things, is for the healing of the soreness of horseback riding.

The aspen tree isn’t the only one whose leaves have medicinal properties. In the Bible reading from Revelation 22:1-5, trees that are lined along the river of the water life have leaves that are for the healing of the nations.

I bet those leaves don’t even taste bitter. Can we have those trees now?

9/15/2014

Legs



Patience. Perseverance. Waiting. Hope.

The Bible reading from Romans 8:18-27 encourages all of those.  It speaks to all who suffer.  It speaks to all who lack. It speaks to all who are outcast.

Blah blah blah. It also sounds like what folks who have enough say to those who don’t.  “Just wait a little while longer – things will get better.”

How long before things get better?  Does God really continue to offer care, compassion, love, and endurance?  Shall we wait in hope while others, under the pretense of doing God’s work, seek to further marginalize, ostracize, and even demonize the ones they don’t like or who aren’t like them?

No more patience.  No more waiting. 

Give your hope legs.

For what have you stopped waiting and started working?

9/09/2014

Remember, Restore, Renew

Last week's Bible reflection (Bytes) provided the beginning for this past Sunday sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Remember, Restore, Renew" podcast

9/02/2014

Bytes



As the politicians and their campaign teams search deep into the backgrounds, comments, associates and unrehearsed gaffes of their opponents, I can’t help but wonder, could God stand up to the scrutiny of a political campaign?" What if instead of seeking the big picture, we decided to define God by the worst sound bytes we could find?

Would we use I AM WHO I AM - or maybe the equivalent I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE and I WILL BE WHAT THE FUTURE REQUIRES? Or would we use something from this week's "Make me sick to my stomach" reading from Exodus 12:1-14?

I know that Passover, a commemoration of huge importance in Judaism and Christianity, is about the deliverance of the Hebrew people out of bondage in Egypt. But right there near the end, the description of God saying, “I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt.” Sounds like a sound byte any person who wants to paint God as something horrible would jump at the chance to use. Can you imagine a Youtube clip of God spouting threats of murder of every firstborn in Egypt? What candidate would want to be associated with that? Can you imagine the reports that would say a particular candidate wasn’t ‘thoroughly vetted’ and now the nastiness was going to come out?

Sure, it’s possible to explain this week's reading this way:
The people who experienced the events and the ones who put together the Bible thought of the evil of slavery in Egypt in very personal terms. And the only way they could understand combating that evil was to experience God bringing judgment on the evil society.

But I have great trouble separating a cultural understanding of the violence from the writers’ standpoint with my belief that  killing, murder, war. . . slaughter in the name of religion can never be excused. . . Never. Never. Never.

Never.

8/31/2014

Overcome Evil with Good

This week's "Suessified" Bible reflection (Kindly words that are just not absurd) underwent a huge change - into something more heartland rock style - and with a new title "No Matter What" - as part of today's sermon at St. Paul's UCC inn Downers Grove.
"Overcome Evil With Good" podcast

8/26/2014

Kindly words that are just not absurd


Kindly Words That Are Just Not Absurd
By Kirk Moore
(my apologies to Dr. Seuss - and to myself - for re-imagining my own work from a few years back)

Keep your love real, not fake, or pretend
Hold on to what’s good – and make a new friend

Have a contest about being nice to each other
Serve well and work hard for a sister and brother

Be happy in hope, and when bad's in the way
Listen and pray and listen and pray

When folks are so nasty, bless them – however
Stay away from a plan to hurt anyone ever

When smiles are around you smile too – really try
And when tears are flowing it’s OK to cry

We're not better or worse - there's no sense keeping score
Make friends with folks others tend to ignore

Do you best to be kind and gentle and pleasant
Don’t try to get back at someone who isn’t

If you’re nice to an enemy – giving food or a drink
It will first turn them mad – but then happy, I think

Take this advice – don’t get into a rut
Find a way to do good – no matter what

© 2011, 2014 Kirk Moore

8/25/2014

Courageous Women

Last week's Bible reflection (Pure Heroines) introduced the whole sermon yesterday at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Courageous Women" podcast