By: Nick Lear
How you respond in the face of hatred, anger and evil matters. Will you add to it or diminish it? Will you give hate your energy or let it starve? Hate can't win when love rises up in our hearts.
By: James Gordon
We live in a world of hate. One of hate's most dangerous features is its capacity to reproduce itself, often in the victims of hate-inspired violence. What kind of love does it take to redeem hate?
By: Terrell Carter
Before Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, it seemed like the majority of the world had turned against him. His message of love was falling on deaf ears. Can we resurrect it?
God’s love is poured out like a fountain flowing to fill your life … When we live God’s love in everything we do or say, God’s love and kindness flows in such quantity it is poured out like a waterfall that never stops. The water flows and flows and flows whether you pay attention or not. In fact, the waterfall flows endlessly day and night, day after day … no matter who you are, no matter whether you’re tall or short, skinny or fat, no matter what color your skin is, or whether you’re good at sports or video games or what. God’s love is like a fountain pouring out day and night God’s goodness and love for you.
Based upon today’s text, what did Paul want the believers at Rome to know about being a disciple? I pondered this question for some time last week and came to this conclusion. You don’t trample on love. You appreciate the ones who love you and show your gratitude by doing your best to be your best.
What we think we know about God can actually put God in a box of our own making and hinder us from believing and trusting in the true God who cannot be contained. The mystery of God cannot be fully captured by our human understanding. [ ]God is a divine mystery. But God is also a saving mystery.
By: Larry Greenfield
The Lenten practice of not eating meat has year-round benefits for the common good. That’s because the amount of water needed to feed the animals we consume far exceeds what's needed to grow veggies.
Our choice may be to determine what our portal, our door – maybe even our river – is that connects us between the world in which we live and the place in which we worship. And, he would tell us that there can be no real difference between the two.[ ]The world is our church, and the church is our world. And the only real choice before us, wherever we are and whatever we do, is to choose life.
By: Larry Greenfield
The nation's largest chain of drugstores, CVS/Caremark, said it will no longer sell cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores. Tobacco sales are inconsistent with their purpose, CVS' CEO said.
Love is willing to do the difficult. Love will not let you take the easy road. Love will not allow you to walk away when others need you. Love will not give you permission to be stingy. Love will not give you a pass when so much is at stake. Love compels you to act boldly and courageously because the deepest level of love always involves sacrifice.
By: Larry Greenfield
Rayfield Wright, the football hall of famer for the Dallas Cowboys from 1967-79, isn't sure he'll watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. After multiple concussions, his attention span is too short.
By: Larry Greenfield
Before Jesus' baptism, John the Baptist spoke about bearing fruit. And what fruit should our baptism produce? The start of our pursuit for righteousness and justice.
. The only way we can connect with others is by making ourselves vulnerable. And as I heard her talk about this I thought about God Almighty—the only one who is actually perfect and in complete control—coming to us in the form of a tiny baby, making himself vulnerable, saying “I love you” first, being willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. That’s putting some skin in the game.
John the Baptizer traveled the wilderness, calling others to repent. As poor families face the threat of more food stamp cuts, Congress seems eager to avoid the wilderness and a call to repentance.
Public prayers in political settings are inappropriate for both religious and political reasons. Yet some religious folk tolerate and even endorse prayer before government proceedings.
As the parable of the rich man and Lazarus reminds us, the rich are so presumptuous they expect the poor to serve them. You don't have to look farther than Congress to know this is still true today.
The healing of body and mind was integral to Jesus' ministry. That's why we must stand up to those politicians who try to keep people from accessing the Affordable Care Act.
Our nation is divided between haves and have-nots, rich and poor, well fed and hungry. Jesus, too, is interested in division, but it's one that will wipe out all the others.
The U.S. House of Representatives, under the guise of cost cutting and fiscal responsibility, passed a farm bill that aids the rich and attacks the poor. It reflects Jesus' parable about a foolish farmer.
While loving your enemy is a difficult and often impossible struggle, viewing Jesus' command as unattainable misses something rooted in the heart of the gospel of grace.
In two rulings, five of the six Supreme Court justices, who are Roman Catholics, went against their church's tradition of advocating for the dignity and rights of workers.
Unless citizens express their opposition, we will soon see the toll on the poor of across-the-board spending cuts and at least 14 states opting out of Medicaid expansion.
Do you have clout? How do you use it? Some folks use it to deny sick and dying people access to affordable health care. Others use it to help people overcome poverty and illness.
Not all Protestants and evangelicals gravitate to the Religious Right. Many focus on social justice issues. Yet in the media, the Right draws far more attention than the Left. Why?
Are we willing to listen to Wisdom? In Scripture, she warns us of the danger of pride and arrogance. Perhaps we should travel with her along the way of righteousness and justice.
The Dow breaks 15,000, and everyone starts cheering. Or are they? We must not forget the homeless, poor, elderly and children who suffer because of sequestration.
Some would call Hilda Noble's mother a saint. Ruby Noble lived a hard life, but she gave her six children, including Hilda, something beyond difficulty in which to hope. She gave them love.
How do you become a church member in today's politically charged culture? It's more about landing on the left or right side of politics than it is about being a child of God.
The first-century church may have quarreled about who could be legitimate Christians, but let's be glad they didn't require all the steps proposed for undocumented immigrants.
Margaret Thatcher was described as a champion of "freedom and liberty," but what about of equality? All are essential and inseparable components in democratic life and community.
When Pope Francis kissed a boy with cerebral palsy on Easter Sunday, his gesture reflected God's amazing love. No one is outside of God's love.
We don't know what Lazarus did with his life after being resurrected. Did he cower in obscurity to live a life with no risk or did he confront the religious and political powers?
When Mary washed Jesus' feet with an expensive perfume, did she know something tragic was coming? And was Judas right to ask why her gift was not used for the poor?
We can sometimes change outward behavior because of a strong will or external forces. But real and lasting change is always internal, and that brings serenity to one's soul.
Given the choice between being "correct" while embodying the wrong spirit or being a bit "incorrect" while embodying the right spirit, which would you choose?
Too many churches respond to the big ethical questions of today out of fear. Once fear is removed, we won't be OK with the pat answers that are way too easy.
How do U.S. Christians respond to the death toll of innocent civilians, whether a few dozen in Somalia or hundreds of thousands in Iraq, in our wars? For many, they don't.
In our culture of divisive politics, Christians have missed the mark when it comes to immigration. Our Christian duty is to love and be in solidarity with immigrants. (Photo: EthicsDaily.com)
As Jesus in the wilderness faced a choice between serving his own self-interest or the common good, so too must His followers decide what they will serve.
Most of us have tried to love others on our own strength and learned the hard way it doesn’t work. What does work is meditating on God’s love for us and deepening our relationship with God to the point that God’s love simply flows through us as we interact with other people.
We have to look at our ministry in new and different ways, and it may require that we consider doing it in ways that we’ve not thought of before. But there will always be one constant. If we do not measure everything we do – everything – with the plumb line of love, nothing else will square.
Sure, it may be Groundhog Day on Feb. 2, but there's another reason to celebrate that day. Will you observe it by doing your part to ensure equality for everyone?
By God’s grace we are all quite safe.
If Newtown taught us anything, it's the sobering reality that life is too fragile and sacred to waste on hate, apathy, indifference and worry. Let's resolve to love more and worry less.
Jesus repeatedly opts to overcome the deficits that people face not by austerity but by extravagance. It is also what he teaches his disciples: in the face of deficits, choose abundant generosity.
Chris was an outgoing but neglected 8-year-old. Many of the kids were reluctant to sit near him. But he knew that God provides us with many grace-filled second chances.
Are the rules we observe during Advent just for the four Sundays before Christmas? Or do these principles apply to the Christian life throughout the year?
The late George McGovern came at public issues with a shared understanding of the way religious faith can provide a foundation for work on behalf of justice and compassion.
Are you striving to be good in every way? Are you faithful to those who need you to be responsible? Is your love strong enough to see people through their worst times?
In the presidential election, the determining factor for the victor was attracting the votes of a diverse electorate. It's a change that may be redemptive for all of us.
Jesus made it clear that love for God and love for others is the biblical value from which all others must follow. So how could Billy Graham have been so far off the mark?
In the U.S. political process, citizens vote for their own self-interest. Shouldn't Christians reject their own interests and vote to support those without the power of the majority?
Love is the first sign. What’s Your Sign? When people see us, do they see love?
Thank goodness God does not require perfection to love us. He only requires that we love Jesus Christ.
The smallest ones around us remind us of the love we should have for each other and our community. May God help us see the world as a place to help, not to fear.
We can beat the looming challenges that face us when we get the word out about what is working, Bill Clinton proclaims. It's what makes him a paradigmatic evangelist.
As Chicago's teachers went on strike, many city churches opened their doors to students. They aced Jesus' test by welcoming the vulnerable. How do you measure up?
Many in the U.S. think the nation is moving in the wrong direction. Perhaps we could learn from Jesus' encounter with a foreign woman who changed his mind.
A Christian magazine asked several authors to sum up the gospel in seven words or less. However, if the gospel is about words, it's about one strong word.
Washing hands before meals may not be a priority for Jesus, but he is concerned about what's in our hearts. And each election, our nation decides what is in our hearts.
Starbucks prides itself on personal service and connecting with its customers, even though your baristas may not remember you. Do churches do any better?
Chicago murders were down in July, and the overall crime rate is down 10 percent. However, a new source of injury, mayhem and death hit Illinois when drastic Medicaid cuts went into effect.
Although they begin their work from different ends of the physical-spiritual spectrum, politicians in election campaigns and preachers in revival services are a lot alike.
Heart and mind, mind and heart. When you are able to safely maneuver the treacherous distance between the two, you have indeed come a long way in your faith.
In this election year, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks" is required reading for people of faith who want a balanced look at the dysfunction in our U.S. democratic system.
As Herod kept his oath and delivered John the Baptist's head on a platter, so too are gang members in Chicago keeping their oaths as the murder rate rises. Will Jesus' gang keep their oath?
To participate in an investment campaign in and for Palestine without standing against Israel's subjection of the Palestinians sides with the oppressors and opposes the oppressed.
As Jesus' mustard seed parable points out, it's not the time to practice austerity when the ground is bare. It's time to invest in seeds. Will economic and political leaders grasp this?
To listen to the words offered at Christian funerals, eternal life sounds like perpetual and passive retirement. But isn't it truer to say it's the start of our work for God's reign eternally?
There's a word for U.S. reps, who confess to follow Jesus Christ yet voted to restore cuts to the defense budget by slashing domestic programs that help the vulnerable. It's heretics.
Who taught you to take the high road and love those who are different or unlovely? Who needs you to model it now?
What do you want to do with your life? This is a lot deeper than, What do you want to be when you grow up?
God is love. Living for God and with God is loving and living as Jesus lives and loves.
The test for determining whether someone truly loves God is whether that person loves other people.
Christians can be crazy people, can't we? Our hearts are full of compassion for others in the same way we know God has been compassionate toward us.
Some things are so right and good we have to do them – no matter what. They don't have to serve another purpose. They are experiences that are higher and holier than mere purpose.
How do you know a person, group or nation abides in God's love? They help those in need when they possess the resources. With the House GOP seeking deep domestic cuts, do they pass?
With the GOP presidential nominee all but confirmed, U.S. voters will need to decide if the CEO model of leadership is what the nation requires at this moment in its history.
Christians who want to revoke the Affordable Care Act and offer no alternative will allow millions to suffer and die. And, as Jesus said, when you do it to the least of these, you're doing it to Him.
Two strikingly similar feasts – one where the guest of honor is taking the mantle of Messiah, the other seeks the title of president – have one major difference.
Love and truth belong together but are often separated. Because many of us prefer being right and in control to truth and love, our nation winds up in an endless impasse.
Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, but will any Christians today challenge the wealthy and powerful who are corrupting the temple of democracy?
We commonly think of Lent as a time of denial and discipline. While they are part of the Christian faith, Lent is also a call to leave the wilderness and enter God's new realm.
What's the definition of an authentic follower of Jesus? A conservative or a liberal? A revolutionary for change or a reactionary against it? Mark's Gospel suggests an intriguing answer.
A lot of us seek the approval of others while living with the anxiety that we don't measure up. But there are steps we can take to end the exhausting life of being the center of our own universe.
We don't get to choose the times we live in. We can't control what happens to us. But, as a wise wizard from "The Lord of the Rings" reminds us, we decide what to do with the time given to us.
When Jesus healed a possessed man, the crowd seemed to miss that unclean spirits were all around them. Today, do we miss the unclean forces that attack the vulnerable?
Unlearning fear and prejudice - rooting bias and hatred out of one's heart - requires a lifetime of work. It takes discipline to make room for people against whom we have been taught to slam the door.
Much of what passes for Christianity these days either has been thoroughly politicized or deeply privatized. God's interested in more than our spiritual journey; there's a world of needy people out there.
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney seems to routinely bear false witness, yet he could certainly make a strong case for his candidacy without the lies. So why does he do it?
Despite the classic Bette Midler hit, God isn't watching us from a distance. God loves us too much to leave us alone and is involved in the everyday details of our lives.
GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called Palestinians an invented people, but is that so bad? In some respects, Christmas, the United States and even Christianity are inventions.
We only have one life to make the best use of the time and gifts extended to us. But during that life, we have many chances to make decisions that inch us toward a more fulfilling life – or less so.
If we believe God is generous, our actions toward those in need will reflect that generosity. But in a nation where the gap grows between the rich and the poor, have we missed that point?
The Christian life is about more than going to church. It's about caring and loving your neighbor and those who are the least among us. That's why the Christian life, like love, is never easy.
God's gift of faith must always be invested. Although it may seem safer to keep it to ourselves, we must share it with others even if we must stand up to those who are intent on gaining the whole world.
We've been called to a life of personal involvement and investment in obedience to the commandment to love God and love others.
Among your family and friends, who needs to know there is no place they can go which is beyond God’s grace, there is nothing they can do to make God quit loving them and there is nothing that can happen to them to keep God away from them?
Religious leaders may have earned certain titles, but Jesus had a strong warning for those who use titles for the purpose of lifting themselves above others.
Those who occupy Wall Street don't have the wealth of the 1 percent. However, as they demand their slice of the economic pie, they're also not in the same league as the truly impoverished.
Many people are convinced that God is ready to punish them for who they are, what they've done and what they've failed to do. The truth is that God loves them – so, so much.
What we increasingly hold as civically sacred is not just liberty at the expense of justice and equality, but also a particular kind of liberty – economic liberty – at the expense of everything else.
The heavenly host and the son of the heavenly host are moving the banquet table out of where these wedding celebrations normally take place and are setting up tables out there where the new invitees are.
Like Jesus' parable of the tenants who refused to pay a landlord the profits from his vineyard, do we have more in common with the current tenants or the new ones?
At first glance, Jesus' parable about laborers' wages seems harsh, but each worker was paid what he needed. If only today's laborers, beset by a bleak economy, received such equal treatment.
As far as Paul is concerned, love is a debt owed by every person alive, and it’s a debt that can never be repaid in ten lifetimes, much less one.
The fate of emptiness is simply to have to come back in and fight that battle with evil over and over and over again. But the fate of fullness—fullness of the spirit, fullness of Christ, Christ dwelling in us and working through us—fills us with life that is much more at peace, much more at rest in the goodness of God, a life that satisfies.
While attitudes change toward corporal punishment in the U.S., politicians who push for cuts in programs that benefit poor children practice another form of corporal punishment.
Love. Blessing. Peace. These are the signs that Paul calls us to show, if not with our hands, then through our lives.
Jesus was clear that humans were defiled by the evil thoughts and deeds that spring from their hearts. Should individual corporate bodies, such as Standard & Poor's, be held to the same standard?
When Jesus invited thousands to a banquet, the disciples were peeved that they didn't have an intimate bread-and-fish dinner. Much like today, many are peeved that our democracy is for everyone rather than a few.
In the debt-ceiling debate, President Obama caved in to those who demanded drastic cuts to programs to help the needy, children and elderly. He needs to believe in social justice enough to fight for it.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Listen to Paul’s answer with fresh ears: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither good health nor chronic illness, neither popularity nor loneliness, neither poverty nor riches, neither the acclaim of fans nor the disdain of critics, neither the heights of ecstasy nor the depths of depression, neither job layoffs, government shutdowns, deranged killers, stifling heat waves nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Activists for smaller government must be delighted to know we soon will have fewer teachers, caseworkers and drug counselors. Instead of asking if government's too big, we should ask if it's providing essential services.
Many Christians believe they can love people as Jesus commanded, but that doesn't mean they have to like them. To recover from this faulty mindset, we have to make a crucial first step.
The original meaning of Jesus' parable of the sower is an enigma. We may never know the central point, but it may cause us to reflect on how useful or useless we are for the kingdom.
Marriage and love are like bread … it’s always best when it’s fresh. It takes tender care to see that it is growing and fresh.
Love people who hate your guts. Welcome those who would rather ignore you. God sends good times and bad times on good people and bad people.
Whether it's sin or righteousness, we're all enslaved to something, the Apostle Paul wrote. As a nation, many of us are enslaved to pride, wrath, greed and envy. When will we become slaves to a nobler cause?
For Christians, every Sunday is a Memorial Day, the day that is set aside to honor by remembering the One who died fighting to set us free from our sin, and to celebrate the same One who was resurrected to set us free from death.
After giving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 24 standing ovations during his 50-minute speech before Congress, maybe it's time for our national politicians to revise their pledge of allegiance.
When fully implemented, health care reform will expand insurance to better than 30 million Americans. Without it, an estimated 28,000 Americans will die needlessly each year. It's a life-or-death choice.
Jesus made it clear that he's the gate that protects the sheep. Those who lead his sheep fall in one of two categories – shepherds or thieves. Which leaders are today's sheep following?
A panel appointed by Congress to investigate the financial crisis only sent a handful of cases to the Justice Department. In another case of selective forgiveness, the powerful and wealthy benefit.
The crowds following Jesus saw him as more than doing God's saving work only through individuals. They believed salvation and redemption worked in religious communities, economic orders and political systems.
Hundreds of thousands of people protested government cuts in Great Britain. Whether their voices make a difference or not, churches must be ready to respond to new opportunities for ministry and service.
Jesus' healing of a blind man, which frustrated others in society, reminds us healing is still needed today. Many need health care; our earth and our economy are sick. Yet some are blind to these needs.
As Congress weighs cutting public broadcasting's funding, one organization that would be affected is StoryCorps, which records and archives the unique stories of ordinary Americans.
The stop-gap spending bills to keep the government running have caused chaos with federal agencies. The poor, vulnerable and young are hit the hardest by these frequent trips to the well.
How do politicians, especially those who claim to be Christians, religiously justify cutting programs that help the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and the young? Maybe they think they're God's "Lenten Helpers."
The current conservative resurgence of anti-government spending is focused on monies that are intended for the poorest and most vulnerable of our society. Is this what Jesus would cut?
A group in Arkansas wants to bar immigrants from receiving public assistance benefits from state agencies, but a religious or social ethic that seeks to justify denying help to immigrants isn't true to the heart of God.
The House GOP has proposed $61 billion in budget cuts, knowing Senate Democrats will reject their proposal. Both parties seem more interested in getting re-elected than working together for the good of all.
As the Sermon on the Mount reveals, Jesus understood how to undermine oppressive power. So how do we apply Jesus' teachings in the U.S. when we more closely resemble the oppressor than the oppressed?
Jesus probably would have tolerated Valentine's Day, that day we focus on the special someone's in our lives. But he may have reminded us of God's higher ideal – that we are to love everyone. No exceptions.
As Presidents Day nears, it's a good time to recall Abraham Lincoln's words during his second inaugural, calling the country to care for the widow and orphan. If only the House GOP would embody his words.
House Republicans are placing low-income Americans at risk with their proposed spending cuts. When the poor turn to churches for help, churches won't have the resources to make up such cuts.
Sargent Shriver, perhaps best known as the founder of the Peace Corps, died last month at the age of 95. He attended to the social teachings of the Catholic Church and dedicated his life to the service of others.
Our divided nation will not come together anytime soon, but we can agree to certain ground rules to avoid violence and resolve conflicts, a columnist observes. Paul faced a similar division with the Corinthian church.
When the Constitution is read at the beginning of the new session of the House of Representatives, may it be more than a ritualistic gesture and serve as a reminder of the responsibilities of our public officials.
When we are confident that we are forever God's beloved children, then we are empowered to love God's creation and one another with God's unconditional love.
With its message about the wealth disparity in the early church, James is just as relevant today, with politicians ready to extend income tax reductions for the rich.
Sacred texts and prophetic voices from myriad faith traditions across the world all contain a call to love one another in the form of exhortations to treat others as we would have them treat us. So what stops us?
Many GOP politicians repudiate health care as a universal right and are determined to dismantle or defund health-care reform. If they do, millions will have no hope for coverage and many will die.
There seems to be a roar of approval for reducing taxes with little concern for those who would be hurt by the curtailing of government services. When will Christians rise up for a just tax policy in our nation?
Highly paid financial employees complain new reforms will limit their bonuses. Wealthy folks are incensed their tax cuts will expire. It seems the wrong people are crying out for justice.
Jesus had harsh words for his followers who led newcomers in the faith to sin. His warning should be heeded by those who urge others who are new in the faith to take political positions opposed to Jesus' teachings.
While the religious leaders of Jesus' day practiced exclusion and separation, Jesus reminded them – and us – that all are at the center of God's love in equal measure. No one is excluded.
Glenn Beck declared that President Obama practiced a religion that was "a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" by focusing on victims and the oppressed. Yet these are the very people that Jesus invited.
Hosea lived 2700 years ago, but his insights are as fresh and relevant as today’s newspaper. Hosea has been called the “love prophet,” and the 11th chapter of Hosea the “love chapter.”
The civic and religious leaders opposed to an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero are not interested in restoring relationships. Isn't it time for people of all faiths and no faith to work and play together?
How did the essence of Christianity get lost amid a quagmire of detailed doctrines and beliefs? It's easier to have a battle for the Bible than it is to love and serve one another in the way of Jesus.
As Christians look to Scripture to determine a biblical response to the current immigration debate, a passage in Hebrews delivers a stark reminder. The parent of our faith family was an undocumented immigrant.
We cannot begin to comprehend God's awesome capacity to forgive our deep and profound sins if we do not also have some sense of our sinfulness as well as our human capacity to do good as a minimal level.
Jesus may not have talked about the unemployed, but he could have. What would he have said about more than 14.6 million out of work today and about the politicians who don't care to extend unemployment benefits?
Christians, in their freedom from self-preoccupation and from the law, are to work for the common good of the whole human family. Now that our nation is no longer flush with cash, will we choose to sacrifice those most in need?
What does it say about our understanding of deity when every surprising and unwelcome event is framed within the assumption that God is mad at us? Why are we quick to conclude that God is unhappy with us?
To recognize the full extent of one's sins allows for those sins to be forgiven. To recognize only partially the extent of one's sins allows for only partial forgiveness and, in turn, the capacity to love little.
Today's politicians have much to learn from the centurion who knew the limits of his authority before Jesus. They are more concerned with their own survival and refuse to submit to the authority of serving the common good.
The Rev. Janine Denomme, who devoted her life to the Catholic Church and had been ordained as a priest, died on May 17. That ordination was grounds to deny her a Roman Catholic burial at her local parish.
The New Testament makes two central points to underscore the utter necessity of love. It establishes the celebration of love in unity and recommends the execution of love in diversity.
Is it time to vote some politicians out? Maybe the Tea Party crowd is right – just for the wrong reason. Too many politicians don't have the courage to raise taxes to allow government to function as it should.
Love, for Paul, is not a feeling. Love, for Paul, is a name for specific actions of patient and sacrificial service (with pure motives) to others in the church.
Paying taxes is a sign of membership in our democracy, which the anti-tax crowd fails to grasp. Even Boston Tea Party folks didn't oppose paying taxes; they opposed paying them to a government that wasn't their own.
How is the nation redeeming itself after years of reckless economic growth? Rather than drawing on the abundance among us, we're forcing the poorest among us to endure the suffering for the rest of us.
Why should Christians be involved in the health-care debate and budget reconciliation? After all, Paul said we no longer consider things from a human point of view, right? You better take a closer look.
Christians can learn something from the tea partiers. We ought to be in serious discussions about a whole range of issues that must include the roles of government.
It’s interesting – ironic even – that the two most popular passages of scripture recited at weddings have nothing to do with marriage or the love between a woman and a man. But I dare say you can’t attend a wedding without at least one of these passages being read.
Jesus gave authority to his disciples to cast out demons and cure diseases, according to Luke's Gospel, but they couldn't help a demon-possessed child. If God gives us authority, why do we not use it to help?
Form relationships around the deepest level of love, the kind that puts others’ needs ahead of their own and makes sacrifices on behalf of family, friends, strangers and even enemies.
I’ve been introduced to you this morning as Larry Greenfield, the Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, but that was just a cover so I didn’t draw too much attention to myself. Actually I’m your old – maybe “ancient” would be a better word – your ancient brother in Christ, Paul…Paul from Tarsus
Jesus' custom was to attend church but he broke the customary way to worship. Are we comfortable with worship that has become part of our routine or that compels us to change our communities?
Jesus' first recorded miracle is more than turning water into wine. It's a reminder that we often distort what it means to be righteous, keeping something set apart when it's meant to be shared and celebrated with all.
Many of us have already made our personal and professional resolutions for 2010. Spend more time with family, do better at our jobs and so on. But how can we discern what God really wants from us?
All times call for love. This year calls for love, and whatever happens in the next year will call for love. Whatever these children who will grow up to take our places face, those times will call for love, too. May we always, always, be faithful to the God who loved us enough to send his son in the form of that Babe of Bethlehem, not to love as long as it feels good, but to love until Christ comes again because that’s what God’s people do.
When their sons needed help, two mothers did what they could to provide it. As one observed, you don't have a choice when you love someone. It sounds very much like the reason God sent Jesus to the world.
Amid all the cries of joy and jubilation at the Christmas season, will we finally hear the cries of those in the Middle East who await the coming of the God of justice and peace?
Months after the joyous cries of Elizabeth and Mary for the births of their sons, another cry was heard from mothers in and around Bethlehem. But these were not cries of joy.
Does 90 percent of America have hearing loss? They do if you count people who willfully ignore what is happening in the world. Many tune out the lack of health care, rampant Wall Street greed and other injustices.
Many churches will mark the beginning of Advent on Sunday, a month-long reflection on the meaning of Jesus' birth. It's far more significant than simply encouraging retail outlets to say "Merry Christmas."
At first glance, Eli was quick to dismiss Hannah as a drunken woman but soon learned she had real needs. Will our senators be an Eli to the millions of Hannahs without health care? Or will they walk away?
One of the most troubling and ignored commands of Jesus is the order to love our enemies. How can we do it? We can look to three primary actions and reactions that Jesus took toward those who were his enemies.
So let’s ask the question again, shall we? “Jesus, which commandment is first of all?” As we wait in anticipation of what he might say in response to that question, he looks at us and says nothing. Slowly he points upward to the cross and it is then we know that is all the answer we need.
Pay-to-play politics has brought about the death of democracy in Illinois. A group of citizens tried to resurrect it, like Lazarus, but their efforts were thwarted. Will someone have the courage to raise a stink?
A different kind of health-care legislation is facing Congress. Climate-change legislation will ensure our planet's health, but will Christians step up to make sure the poor aren't burdened?
People need to know that God's love is real, so let's be the Church. Let us live like people who believe that God loves, forgives, and welcomes every soul thru Jesus Christ. Let's call people to trust God's new reality of redemptive love and resurrection hope by our living. Let's challenge the sin system of self-centeredness, self-righteousness, alienation, oppression, and death. Let's be the Church of Jesus Christ by doing what the Church is called to do. Then people will know that God's love/life is real!
When asked about how to achieve eternal life, Jesus said, among other things, to not defraud, which is taking that which someone else deserves. What are the implications for us today?
We don't often see them, but many of us wear racial lenses that distort our reality. Somehow we must find corrective lenses to help us conquer our racist distortion of reality.
When politicians favor the wealthy – those who make large campaign contributions, for example – over those who can't even afford health care, they violate the fundamental principle of equality for all.
The health care debate seems to be largely taking place among those who have chosen to treat health as a commodity, rather than an essential right. Do Christians need to go on the offensive?
While Baptists don't hold to the idea that the bread in the Eucharist transforms into Christ, we might be a little envious of the revival of the practice of perpetual adoration.
Picking up after the neighborhood's litterbugs is an irritating and often thankless chore. When someone overturns the trash cans, anger can be justified. Or can it?
There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, coercive about what I’m going to invite you to do now. It’s just this: in silence to recognize and to focus on your Ultimate Parent who makes you a part of an all-inclusive family, whose DNA is love, to recognize that God is strengthening you through the power of God’s Spirit to be a lover and someone who has the capacity to care not just for yourself but for others, to receive Christ into your heart again today, to let his DNA work within you so that you can recover and reclaim your own essential DNA, and to recognize, through the eyes of faith, that you are being rooted and grounded in love.
All four Gospels, especially John, contain lots of theology about Jesus' feeding of the multitudes, but let's make sure we don't miss the point. Everyone is fed.
Politicians often take a simple answer and make it complex. Look at Illinois, where lawmakers axed a panel's simple reforms for a complex system favoring incumbents and party leaders.
Jesus’ encounter with a hemorrhaging woman is a lesson for the church. If we haven’t felt a power loss, do we deserve to be called the Body of Christ?
Elected officials have an obligation of aiming to please those they represent through the adoption and implementation of policies that justly serve the needs of all, rather than serving themselves or their political benefactors.
The psalmist extols God's role as giver and taker of life, but some have taken God's place, satisfying their individual needs at the expense of other creatures, their own species and even the planet.
Our nation's divorce rate shows it's not easy for married people to stay in love. But what about those outside our immediate circle of love and care? It's easy to divorce ourselves from society's less fortunate when times were good.
Want to have a great family? It’s nothing radical love and respect won’t deliver.
Like the hired hands of Jesus' day who ran for safety instead of protecting the sheep from wolves, many politicians lack the courage to protect the growing number of people who are suffering.
For society's extraordinary individuals who ruined our global economy, violated human rights with torture and used politics for personal gain, it seemed that Lent failed. It's up to the ordinary among us to manifest God's love.
When Paul says every knee ought to bow, it's not as a ritual of religious homage. It's a physical act that serves as an ethical symbol of the way one is choosing to live one's own life as we serve others before ourselves.
Who needs your help right now? Who needs you to be courageous and compassionate? Whose heart is as troubled as Jesus’ was in this text and needs you to walk with them along their journey? What could you do that might change the way they live the rest of their life?
In truth, the church has more to say about how the ship of faith travels than any pastor on his or her own can muster. The church has more power than it could ever imagine in telling its story to the world. Most churches don’t realize the laity has more power than the pastor – certainly possessing more power than it uses; most churches call pastors on whom they project all the work they should be doing themselves – charting direction, creating purpose in spite of the church’s own internal and unidentified resistance to that direction.
The 2009 BMW 535i xDrive Sport Wagon costs $72,000-plus. It makes sense that something created for good works will come with high costs. The writer of Ephesians appreciated that truth.
While prayer and financial support are important keys to resolving the conflict in the Middle East, they are not the only keys. Our own silence and complacency must end if justice and peace are to prevail.
Americans have been led to think that all they have to care for is their own selves. And that turns out to be a lot of people in this country—people who have bought into, whether upon deep examination or casual and almost unconscious commitment, a comprehensive philosophy of self-interest.
We ought to give contemporary environmentalists a little slack for misreading Psalm 50.
Agape love is what we claim about God, giving us a very simple equation and the most basic of all logical problems: If God is eternal and God is love, then agape love is also eternal.
If it is the case that the true follower of Jesus continues to be commissioned to engage in the ministry of exorcism -- of exposing and casting out demons in people, in communities and in the structures of societies -- then Patrick Fitzgerald and his staff ought not to be the only ones exposing and casting out demons in the city, state and nation.
Maybe more than doing an updated, imaginative and expanded version of Jesus’ call to his disciples, we need to listen again to what, cryptically stated, he said was at stake.
More than anything else, it appears the American populace may simply be too disinterested or too distracted to engage in believable change on this issue, despite its obvious far-reaching importance not just in the region but across the globe.
Could it be that Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Dick Durbin didn’t get immunized to the abuse of power?
The alternatives here are not between leaving Jesus in or out of the gospel picture. Jesus figures centrally in both options, but in much different roles. In one he is the decisive object of faith. In the other he is the decisive figure who points to the object of faith by his words and deeds and who invites others to be a part of the new thing that God is doing.
What about putting at least a minimum number of acts of charity on one's daily "to-do" list and committing oneself to checking them off when they are completed?
Our county has such immense power, influence, and control over the lives of other nations and peoples that it would be unjust and irresponsible for individual Americans to vote only on their own self-identity and self interest within a national context.
It's pretty tempting, after the commemoration of the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001, to make the case--based on Jesus' teaching about forgiving an offender 70-multiplied-by-seven times--that serious Christians ought to figure out how to extend that forgiveness to brother bin Laden and his Al Qaeda accomplices.
Analyzing election results is a tricky business, even for the experts, and I'm no expert. But it's hard, at least for me, not to try to get a feeling for what is happening and finding patterns that reveal where the electorate is heading, even if the sampling is a single state like Pennsylvania.
The writer of the Gospel of John has John the Witness (a.k.a. John the Baptist in the other Gospels) saying, upon seeing Jesus approaching him:
Fear is a great motivator. Nothing gets folks moving like a good jolt to the adrenal system. Marketing gurus understand this very well. That's why so much of what we are offered for consumption, from mouthwash to politics, is wrapped in fear.