Saturday, November 5, 2016

The News as Text for Sunday 6 November 2016

Haggai 1:15b-2:9
In the second year of King Darius, in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts
Reflection        Where is God today on the final stretch of the presidential campaign? Today our gospel text is the news; TV, newspaper, online, radio, blog sites and twitter feeds where a two minute story is considered long. All day and night we are bombarded with blurts of breaking news. The pundits have refined the art of igniting fires, provoking torrential waves of emotion and carrying the collective consciousness of us, the United States citizens, out of our hearts and our souls and our minds.

Individually and collectively we have become like bubbles in the froth of hurricane whipped waves, smashing and crashing into our selves and one another. We can barely keep up with the tennis match volley of “who dun-it to whom.” We have forgotten that  the preferred political fish is red herring and allowed ourselves to be distracted from issues that matter by perpetual prurient panderings. 

We, the people, are swept away in tides of emotion. We have lost our hearts and our souls and our minds in the media tumult that bombards us. We have forgotten who and whose we are and the sacred ground on which we stand.

Here is the thing. Although we are privileged to pledge our allegiance to one of the richest nations in the world, our first and foremost allegiance belongs to God. We are the people of God. We are the visible body of the Christ in the world today.

What this means is we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Beginning with the book of Genesis the entire narrative  is punctuated with prophets, not the least of whom was Jesus, prophets who never stop warning God’s people to “love the Lord our God will all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds, and love our neighbors as ourselves.” 

But we turn away from God and one another. We may no longer bow down before wooden statues and golden calves as did our ancient ancestors but we are beguiled by countless junk gods that consume our lives and our time; from electronic devices to enormous TVs, expensive cars and towering buildings, lust and greed for pleasure and money, and of course our idolatry of “the way things used to be.” Because we worship them we suffer loss upon loss upon loss because we are worshipping things that cannot last. 

You may well ask, “How are we  “to love the Lord our God will all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds, and love our neighbors as ourselves.?” It is actually very simple. Turn off our TVs, the radio. Unplug the phone, the computer, and every media delivering device. Go into our rooms, close the door and pray to our God in secret. Pray with our whole hearts and souls and minds saying, “Not my will, Your will be done.” 

Our God is a God of love and hope for all people. As difficult as it may be for us to see or even believe, on this very day, at this very moment our God is working in the world for the good of all people. It is time for us to honestly look at all that we say, all that we do and the way that we vote asking, how do my thoughts, my words and my actions reveal to the world that God is with us? How is my vote a revelation of God’s love and hope for all people today? 

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