Do No Harm
February 23, 2020
Several years ago I taught a class from a little book about Wesley's three general rules by Reuben Job titled, “Three Simple Rules, A Wesleyan Way of Living." The first rule is "Do No Harm" and Reuben Job explains it this way:
"Each of us knows of groups that are locked in conflict, sometimes over profound issues and sometimes over issues that are just plain silly. But the conflict is real, the divisions deep, and the consequences can often be devastating. If, however, all who are involved can agree to do no harm, the climate in which the conflict is going on is immediately changed. How is it changed?
Well, if I am to do no harm, I can no longer gossip about the conflict. I can no longer speak disparagingly about those involved in the conflict. I can no longer manipulate the facts of the conflict. I can no longer diminish those who do not agree with me and must honor each as a child of God. I will guard my lips, my mind and my heart so that my language will not disparage, injure or wound another child of God. I must do no harm, even while I seek a common good."
This is the final week in our series, “The Rabbi on the Mound." We will exploring the issues of revenge and loving our enemy from the view of Jesus in the final verses of Chapter 5 of Matthew in a sermon titles “Do Not Harm."
Grace & Peace,
The Inner Burrito
February 16, 2020
Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, was conducting his "Second Annual Highly Unscientific Dilbert Survey," in which he asked this question: "If you had a chance to hit your boss in the back of the head with one of the following objects, with no risk of being caught, which would you use?"
Here is how his respondents answered:
A large bean burrito -- 19 percent
"Nerf" ball -- 17 percent
Ripe melon -- 14 percent
Framed certificate of appreciation -- 13 percent
Outdated computer you are forced to use -- 13 percent
Your last performance review, including the 600-pound filing cabinet you keep it in -- 13 percent
All your coworkers, bound by duct tape and flung from a huge catapult -- 8 percent
A Ford Pinto with a full tank of gas -- 7 percent
Adams explains why the bean burrito is the big winner: "I think the bean burrito won because it would make a really cool sound and it would be messy with or without guacamole." He observes, further, that the bean burrito may have picked up a few votes for another reason: "Over 64 percent of respondents selected a non-lethal response, knowing if their boss were injured, it would mean more work for them."
That is how things work in the twisted universe of Dilbert. But even in the real world, you have to admit there is something intrinsically attractive about anger.
This third week in our series “The Rabbi on the Mound” we will explore Jesus teaching on anger in a sermon titles “Look within Yourself”. I hope you join me as we look within ourselves at the issue of anger what Jesus has to teach us about anger.
Grace & Peace,
The Right Words
February 9, 2020
“To be a witness for God is to be a living sign of God's presence in the world. What we live is more important than what we say, because the right way of living always leads to the right way of speaking. When we forgive our neighbors from our hearts, our hearts will speak forgiving words. When we are grateful, we will speak grateful words, and when we are hopeful and joyful, we will speak hopeful and joyful words.”
“When our words come too soon and we are not yet living what we are saying, we easily give double messages. Giving double messages -- one with our words and another with our actions -- makes us hypocrites. May our lives give us the right words and may our words lead us to the right life.”
The theologian Henri J. M. Nouwen penned those words which certainly run parallel to the words in our series “The Rabbi on the Mound” spoken in this week’s scripture lesson from Matthew 5. This Sunday we will be exploring those teachings related to being salt and light with a sermon titled “Salty Souls."
Grace & Peace,
A Plethora of People
February 2, 2020
“We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity. There is not just one planet or one star; there are galaxies of all different sorts, a plethora of animal species, different kinds of plants and different races and ethnic groups. We are constantly being made aware of the glorious diversity that is written into the structure of the universe we inhabit, and we are helped to see that if it were otherwise, things would go awry. How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?”
"For Christians, who believe they are created in the image of God, it is the Godhead, diversity in unity and the three-in-oneness of God, which we and all creation reflect. It is this imago Dei too that invests each single one of us -- whatever our race, gender, education and social or economic status -- with infinite worth, making us precious in God's sight. That worth is intrinsic to who we are, not dependent on anything external, extrinsic. Thus there can be no superior or inferior race. We are all of equal worth, born equal in dignity and born free, and for this reason deserving of respect whatever our external circumstances. We are created freely for freedom .... We belong in a world whose very structure, whose essence, is diversity, almost bewildering in extent. It is to live in a fool's paradise to ignore this basic fact.”
Desmond Tutu spoke those words to the United Nations as described the world we live in. Desmond is a wise man and wise teacher. However, in this series we embark on this week we encounter the wisest teacher who has ever walked this earth, Jesus. He was a Rabbi and one of his finest teaching moments was the Sermon on the Mount. These next four weeks we will delve into that teaching from Jesus. We begin this week as we explore the first twelve verses in a sermon titled, “God’s Worldly People”. I hope you will join me as we discover more about this teaching by the “Rabbi on the Mound”.
Grace & Peace,