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

8/18/2014

Pure Heroines

Let’s shout out the names of some heroes!

  • Shiphrah!
  • Puah!
  • Levi’s wife! What’s her name? We’ll have to look for it . . .. Jochebed! (From Exodus 6:20)
  • Moses’ sister . . .. Miriam!
  • Pharaoh’s daughter . . . Let’s do some more digging for her name . . . Bathia! (Find it in the Talmud)
Why, of 5 of the most important women in the Bible, must I search in hopes of finding some of their names?Why does Moses get not only a name, but also a Hebrew word that associates it with his beginning (not to mention a really important Egyptian term too?)

Shiphrah, Puah, Jochebed, Miriam and Bathia are heroes. They saw opportunities, took risks, and made it possible, ultimately, for the Israelites to be delivered out of slavery in Egypt.

I wish we had more written about these heroes. I wish we would never forget their names, either.

Shiphrah, Puah, Jochebed, Miriam and Bathia.

Heroes.

8/17/2014

Reconciliation

This week's Bible reflection (Looking back)  took on some current events as part of today's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Reconciliation" podcast

8/11/2014

Looking back



Joseph forgave his brothers. He invited the brothers who conspired to kill him, but instead sold him as a slave, to come and live with him. He told them to bring their father that they all would be able to thrive during the time of famine in Egypt. Joseph told them that all of their actions were part of God’s plan to save them.

It’s easy to look back and see how one path led to another and then to another and how everything worked together to bring a person, a family, or an organization to the place they are now.

But who’s to say that it had to happen that way?

Did Joseph need to be sold as a slave for the brothers to be saved years later? What if the brothers had never conspired? What if they all got along and Joseph still dreamed about a famine? What if Jacob had never given Joseph the long robe with sleeves and made the other brothers exceedingly jealous?  What if any of the parts of the story of the life of Joseph had been different? Would the brothers have survived?

I don’t know. No one knows.  We have no idea how different or the same things may have turned out if parts of our story had been changed.

It is wise to study history. It is wise to learn from the mistakes made throughout history so that we don’t repeat them. 

But I’m not one to look at history and say, ‘It had to happen this way, otherwise it . . . couldn’t have happened” or something like that. 

I am one to say that whether you’re moving forward, in reverse, or standing still-- embrace the continuing journey.

And be nice.

8/03/2014

Filled

This week's Bible reflection (Stuffed) morphed into thoughts of enough in today's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Filled" podcast

7/30/2014

Stuffed



In the United States we consume far too much. The CDC reports that more than a third of all adults in the United States have a body mass index that classifies them as obese. 17% of children and adolescents are in the same condition.

When I read about Jesus feeding 5000+ beginning with just five loaves of bread and two fish, I can’t help but think of “all ate and were filled” through the eyes of our overstuffed stomachs and supersized meals.

Something in this week’s reading goes well beyond cultural views, however. It goes beyond the questions as to whether this is about food magically appearing out of a bottomless basket or if the real miracle is that Jesus got a group of 5000+ folks gathered to share what they had.

I think the “today” message of this week’s Bible reading is that worldwide, humankind is failing in our job to distribute what is enough for everyone.

What do you think?

7/28/2014

God's Neighborhood

This week's Bible reflection (Clear?) clearly moved into current events in yesterday's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL.
"God's Neighborhood" podcast