Tag Archives: Filters

Open to God’s Word

Ordinary Time
January 27, 2018

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:21-28
They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Jesus said what he meant and meant what he said. I do not necessarily think people heard what he meant. In too many cases we hear what we want to hear. I think Jesus would be surprised by some of the words we put in his mouth. Jesus spoke some very hard truths requiring us to rethink our entire system of values, particularly those values passed on to us for generations. We truly must become a new person in Christ.

The musical/movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas* includes a song for our times, all times really, titled The Sidestep. Peppered with all the right words we want to hear, it is pretty much nonsense but designed to hook our well-planted bias: proud/humble, flag, poor to riches, plain-spoken cannot tell a lie.

Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly see.
I assure you, and I mean it-  Now, who says I don’t speak out as plain as day?
And, fellow Texans, I’m for progress and the flag- long may it fly.
I’m a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie. 

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t-
I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,
cut a little swathe and lead the people on. **

Prayer: Renew us O, Lord, help us not only to discern what you mean but live our lives guided by your Word and your example. Amen.

**First verse and chorus from The Sidestep see at http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/t/thesidestep.shtml

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Filter Cleaning

Living in the Spirit
November 2, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was towards you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
–1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

Why do you suppose Paul felt the need to establish credentials with the Thessalonians by reminding them of things they already observed? Did he think they might lose sight of his work after an absence? Perhaps he knows what he is about to say needs to be tethered to whom they know he is? I must confess reading this brief remark makes me anticipate a follow-up sermon on what I am doing wrong, after all, Paul’s previous hard work. While some of Paul’s letters do go in that direction, his letters to the Thessalonians underline what they are doing right during difficulties.

What we say and what we write matters as we strive to be the Body of Christ in the world today. We all have filters built into our brains by our life experiences and cultures that interpret words and actions. Our filters may be like those of the writer or speaker, but at times they may be different. We see this played out every day regarding white privilege. Our white filters say our norms are the norms and we cannot understand why others have a problem with that. Honestly, most people think their norms are the right ones so for one set of norms to overshadow another’s norms requires adding a dose of power to the equation. At one time in the USA part of that power was sheer population numbers. As a left-handed person, I experience the right-handed norms of our society every day and am forced to accommodate them. Some are easier to adjust to than others. I have never been able to work one of those can openers that is clipped onto a can while twisting a gizmo on top.

Our population has grown more diverse, and we are now developing new sets of norms based on that diversity. Finding a new normal always takes time, energy, and a commitment to make it work. We base our commitment on the charge from Jesus Christ that we all be one. (John 17:21)

The Oklahoma City Thunder is showing us the way by melding together some outstanding players who have never played together before. They seem to be enjoying finding the rhythm needed to be a winning team. They have committed to making it work.

Prayer: Lord, help us review our filters and clean out any that no longer apply, add new ones we can adapt from others, and make us one. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.