Tuesday, September 19, 2017

No Hands But Yours...

A friend of mine, Kyle Roberson shared this on Facebook:

Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, wrote, "Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the world; yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; yours are the hands with which God is to bless people now (from commonprayer.net)."

Did you catch that? It isn't that God needs us, but God designed the Kingdom of God to use human hands. God changed my life and most often that has been through the hands and feet of people. I think about the pastor who baptized me right after I was adopted; about Jim Gaither who put up with me in Sunday school; Rev. Travis Franklin who confirmed me; Marsha Ingle who was my youth pastor; my parents; Rev. Judy Shema who was my faith mom in college; Gary Moore who was my mentor in college; and Travis Burdett who was my closest friend in seminary. Each of these people changed my life and were the presence of God for me at one time or another. They say it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a village to raise a pastor!

Here is my point, friends: God is looking for you to step up and be the church. There are so many opportunities for you to help and to serve both inside and outside of the church. At Rockbridge, you can serve and help out with the pumpkin patch and with our fall festival and with our trunk or treat. These are a great way to connect with our community. Want to change a life? Be a literacy partner or a mentor for a student in one of the local school districts.

"Yours are the hands with which God is to bless people." Time to stop making excuses and get involved!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Handling Anger

I am struck by this passage in Matthew 5:21-24

"You have heard it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sisters, 'Raca,' is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First God and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."

In the sermon on the mount (this scripture is part of that teaching) Jesus is always escalating the teachings of the law. It is no longer enough to simply not murder another person but Jesus wants to make us truly human and that means we are not to harbor anger or hate and desire violence against someone. Our hearts must change and yet, anger is a real emotion. Jesus doesn't want us to suppress our emotions and Jesus doesn't want us to act out in anger but rather wants us to deal with it! He tells us that if we are giving a gift on the altar, to stop and are angry, we are to first deal with the problem, and then give our offering! That is pretty striking when you think that they did not have transportation and would have to walk miles to the Temple to give their offering! Doesn't matter, go and deal with your anger, face to face.

Jesus is brilliant because that is exactly how we should deal with conflict, going directly to the source before our anger overcomes us and we do an evil act. We probably wouldn't murder someone (right...?), however, how many of us have acted out in anger because we did not deal with the emotion by going to the sources and sharing our issue and pain. This has to be done in person, looking each other in the face. Stop trying to deal with difficult subjects over text message and snap chat and twitter (especially stop subtweeting people!) and go and find the person who has wronged you or that you have wronged and deal with the issue.

Last year at the Tarleton Wesley I had made some decisions for the praise band rather than working with their leadership. The students confronted me, and yes it was awkward, but it was a beautiful working of the kingdom. My hunch is that we don't deal with people and our issues with them face to face because we are afraid of confrontation. That is normal, but our fears cannot be what drives us! So go and deal with your anger by dealing with your problems as Jesus taught us to.