If you know that God's love embraces all persons equally, no matter their gender, race, or sexual identity...
If you understand that faith is a matter of mind as well as heart, and that taking the Bible seriously means it cannot always be taken literally...
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... then please know that Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ is the place for you.
No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!
Presented Sunday, June 26, 2016.
“Everything we have, and everything we are, is a gift from the Creator.”
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The Bible has a lot to say about economics. Some would say its primary application is expressed in economic terms. Whatever priority you see placed upon economics, it is clearly not something one can avoid if one takes the Bible seriously. Although one may not be able to derive a single economic system from the Bible, its concern for the poor is unavoidable. It is also clear that some of the Bible stories and instructions about economics seem pretty radical to the vast majority of Americans.
Consider the following:
In Mark 10:21, Jesus says to the rich man who claims to have kept all God’s commands: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Acts 2:44-45 gives this description of the early church: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
I don’t want to get into the details of the every 50 years Jubilee observance in which slaves and prisoners would be freed and debts forgiven. The amassing of wealth in terms of land was also supposed to be avoided in that land could not be held in perpetuity beyond 50 years.
The appointment of the first Deacons is relevant, although not central to my present discussion. They were given the task of distributing food to the widows. (Acts 6:1-3)
I don’t argue that these ideals were honored over long periods of time. I only note that the ideals placed before us are high and that a just and equitable economics had been of concern to God’s people through the ages.
It’s there in this week’s reading from The Narrative Lectionary.
I have been having a wonderful time getting to know Kairos-Milwaukie UCC – everything from the building and gardens (though I still have one key that is a mystery to me – I have no idea what it opens) to the governance structure, to the most important thing of all – this lovely congregation. I was caught off guard earlier today when an older parishioner introduced me to a caregiver as “my pastor” – I had to turn away for a second because my eyes were full of tears at the honor of it.
I’ve been enjoying visiting with you so much! It is such a treat in our busy world to just visit with someone, to listen, and to share stories. And it occurred to me that the we have quite a mix of folks here -- some who’ve been members a long time and some who’ve only been coming for a year or two, and perhaps it would be a treat for you all to visit together too. As Rev. Molly Baskette puts it, what a blessing “for people of different ages, life stages, and tenures at the church to get to ‘meet each other again for the first time.’”
So that’s one of the things we’ll be doing this summer. Starting at the annual meeting on June 26, you will be invited to sign up for a two-hour gathering with 5 -6 other Kairos-Milwaukie folks. Some groups will meet at a cafe, some in the park, some in homes (please email me if you would like to be a host!) – all will be open to people of every age. I hope you will sign up not with your closest friends, but with people you are just beginning to know, or people you have always wanted to know better but haven’t had the chance.
Some questions to think about ahead of time:
Two more getting to know you events this summer:
June 19th: Picnic lunch for all middle and high school students and their parents! We’ll talk about some of the questions listed above but ALSO – what specific hopes and dreams do you have for youth activities at Kairos-Milwaukie UCC? I have lots of ideas I’d love to share!
July 10th: Kairos Kids Picnic with the Pastor. Sandwiches, games and popsicles. Please bring your favorite stuffed animal, book or toy.
We are still following the Narrative Lectionary, but we’re a little out of sync for a couple of Sundays. We have a guest preacher next Sunday, so Pastor Jeanne is skipping one of the texts in the present series on II Corinthians. That means she already preached (last Sunday) on the text that is the focus of this blog entry. I hasten to say that we each do our own work and bring our own insights. I find Pastor Jeanne’s preaching full of life and thoughtful, helpful, reflection. I offer my thoughts as an independent supplement. We trust that the Spirit is at work in what we both offer, and in your life as you listen and read and go about your daily living.
There I have a perfect opening for my initial observation. Those who are sometimes labelled “progressives” (“liberals” was the label a generation or two ago) often rail against literalism in the interpretation of scripture. In fact, some are prone to saying, “We take scripture seriously but not literally.” I agree with that sentiment, but I find that “progressives” are almost Fundamentalists in their seeking of an exact, literal, translation of biblical texts, as if that were any more possible in all cases than an exact literal interpretation. I’ve often sat more loosely to rigid demarcations. At some point in my history I was introduced to what was described as a “Hasidic principle”: “You haven’t exhausted the meaning of a text until you’ve found 40 different meanings.” I’ve searched high and low for the source of that comment (including extensive research on the internet) and can’t find it. Nevertheless, wherever it came from, I like it and believe it conveys a truth. So, let’s live with it, at least for today.
So, I am led into the wanderings that lead to my approach to this week’s text. Many people who read this section of II Corinthians focus on verse 7, as did Pastor Jeanne on Sunday, and as I will do here. “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” I remembered that, somewhere in my history, I had heard the phrase “cracked pots” rather than “clay jars.” My wife, Margie, concurred; she had heard it too. After another nearly fruitless search, I came upon only on version of the Bible which uses that translation. (This just doesn’t seem to be my week for productive research.)