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Paul's Universalism -- Philippians 3 (Bruce Epperly)

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This is the third of Bruce Epperly's six essays on Paul's letter to Philippians.  In it Bruce invites us to consider Paul's universalist message, a message that is found here in Philippians 2.  What is God's vision for humanity and creation?  Is it possible that God will restore/reconcile all to God's loving embrace?  What does that mean for us?  Bruce invites us to consider this message in this essay.  I invite you to read it and engage in a conversation about this message.
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Philippians III – Paul’s Universalism Bruce G. Epperly
What is it about “every” that you don’t understand?
At the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
            in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11            and every tongue should confess
            that Jesus Christ is Lord,
            to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)
What is it about “all” that you don’t understand?
God will be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:28)
Therefore just as one man’s…

Praying with the Earth -- Review

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PRAYING WITH THE EARTH:  A Prayerbook for Peace.  By John Philip Newell.  Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.  Xiii + 58 pages.
            We live in a time of war and conflict.  This is especially apparent in the overlapping worlds of Jew, Christian, and Muslim.  These children of Abraham, by his two wives, Sarah and Hagar, find it difficult to experience peace, and yet the call to peace is inherent in the Abrahamic tradition.  The dilemma we face is that despite calls to peace, the followers of these faiths frequently have not embraced this part of the broader tradition of Shalom/Salaam.  
For Christians, the call to peace is rooted in Jesus’ words that peacemakers are blessed and born of God.  My sense is that this blessing extends to all who would make peace, whether explicit followers of Jesus or not.  The question is how do we work for peace?  As people of faith, whatever our tradition, it seems apparent that prayer would be a key ingredient in this work.  But how …

Ordinariate -- Sightings

What's an Ordinariate you ask?  Well, Martin Marty aims to define this word for us.  It has something to do with Anglicans converting to Catholicism in England.  The Pope set up this process making it easier for Anglicans to move across the religious aisle.  Many thought this would lead to a mass stampede of disaffected Anglicans.  But alas, nothing near as momentous has taken place.  Marty offers thoughts on all of this for a last Monday in August.  So, take a read, and let's have a conversation about relationships across our denominational lines.   ************************
Sightings8/29/2011
Ordinariate -- Martin E. Marty
Hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, famines, tsunamis, floods, volcanic eruptions, and many other natural disasters—supernatural disasters and signals to Glenn Beck and Pat Robertson—are prime global and local topics. They inspire prayer and practical responses, but they also provide metaphoric language for religion. Try this, from National Catholic Reporter: “NO…

Mindful of Divine Things -- A Sermon

Matthew 16:21-28

Yesterday, at our retreat, which Alex led with great wisdom and wit, we “played” a few games, and after each game our  facilitators had us debrief our experience.  We talked about how felt and what we learned, with a special focus on what these experiences said to us about the way the church works.  We actually did this several times, and each time we would talk about our feelings and our insights about the way we communicate with each other and as a church.   One of the important lessons learned had to do with listening, and to listen we have to stop talking!   For some of us, that’s not easy to do!   But as the Psalmist wrote: “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).  
Jesus would debrief his disciples on occasion, especially after a big event, like feeding a few thousand people with a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish.  He would  also gather them up after a teaching session.  
So, as Jesus was closing out his Galilean ministry, he gathered his disciples t…

Living Faithfully in a Pluralistic World

When we look at the public square, it is important that we keep in mind the diversity of persons and values and interests present there.I doubt Jefferson or Madison ever imagined the extent of religious diversity that marks modern America, though I believe that given their personalities, they would have welcomed these changes.Religious diversity, however, for them largely meant differences within a predominantly Protestant nation, with a few free thinkers, Quakers, Jews, and Catholics might be thrown into the mix.Today our cultural and religious differences are so striking that it seems as if our nation could fracture, though despite the vocal minority that stirs the pot, most Americans have not only made peace with this diversity, but welcome it.In this pluralistic climate it might seem best to keep our religious opinions to ourselves, lest we offend our neighbor, but is this the best way forward?
In spite of the obstacles, pluralism is good for our nation and for American religious l…

Religious Origins of America's Interventions -- Sightings

It may come as a surprise to some, but America's interventionism in global affairs may be rooted in a civic gospel that is driven by sensibilities informed by the Social Gospel.  At least that's the thesis of James Wellman and S.R. Thompson.  There is a sense that America's interests are rooted in its values -- values informed by religious (Christian) sensibilities.  From McKinley to Wilson and onward, there has been a belief that America has a singular set of values that are needed globally, and that at times must be introduced via force.  There may be a strong pacifist lean among those on the left today, but not too far below the surface is an interventionist perspective.  It's an interesting read, and one that should garner some conversation.  What do you think? ****************************
Sightings8/25/2011
Religious Origins of America’s Interventions -- James K. Wellman, Jr. and S. R. Thompson
America’s foreign interventions over the last century arise from deeply hel…

Heeding the Voice -- A Lectionary Meditation

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Exodus 3:1-15 Romans 12:9-12 Matthew 16:21-28
Heeding the Voice
When people claim to hear voices or have visions, especially voices and visions that are said to come from God, we tend not to take these persons very seriously.  There have been too many false messiahs and saviors, from David Koresh to Jim Jones, for us to pay much heed to their voices.  Like Muammar Gaddafi, they seem to have convinced themselves that they’re more important than they really are. 
When these alleged prophets, when speaking for God, call on us to take up dangerous tasks, we treat them as if they were sending us an email from a Nigerian prince needing to get millions of dollars out of the country – just send a little of yours as a way of making this happen.  Of course, divine voices don’t usually ask us to drink poisoned kool-aid, but they do, on occasion the do ask us to let go of everything we have and follow God’s lead – consider St. Francis of Assisi.   The question is, are we ready to heed the voice of Go…