It's too hot (104) and smokey to be outside unless you have to be (and the less people out there milling around getting in the way of the fire fighters the better) so we're pretty much holed up inside with the dogs and cat -- keeping one eye on the fire news and the other on the tributes to Ted Kennedy and "other news."
Which brings me to some of that "other news:"
Did you hear the one about the Arizona pastor -- Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church -- who preached a sermon on August 16 entitled "Why I hate Barack Obama"?
It evidently lasted an hour but here's an excerpt:
Let me tell you something: I don't love Barack Obama. I don't respect Barack Obama. I don't obey Barack Obama. And I'd like Barack Obama to melt like a snail tonight. Because he needs to recompense, he needs to reap what he's sown. I'm not gonna pray for his good. I'm going to pray that he dies and goes to hell
But wait -- there's more. On August 17, one of Anderson's parishioners showed up the Phoenix Convention Center openly carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, while the President was visiting.
How's that for "putting your faith into action?"
I checked out the church's website. It notes on the "meet our pastor" page: Pastor Anderson holds no college degree but has well over 100 chapters of the Bible committed to memory, including almost half of the New Testament.
I'm thinkin' maybe he missed a few. At least.
Of course this is a radical fringe wing-nut whacko, who nobody in their right mind would take seriously. Except maybe the NOT so much in his right mind guy with the semi-automatic rifle.
What I'm wondering this afternoon is when is enough enough? When do we stand up and use whatever power at our disposal to reject hate-speech so antithetical to the Gospel of the God of Love? When do we reject this crap and expose it for what it is: rabid fundamentalist idiocy that has as much to do with "true religion" as gay Lutherans had to do with tornado weather in Minneapolis last week.
Well, if you're preaching this week, it's "silver platter time" ... as one of my favotire Sundays in the lectionary has rolled around again -- "True Religion Sunday."
And just for fun, I did a search through my files and found this blog I wrote a number of years ago ... funny how timely it seems in light of today's "news!"
"True Religion" (circa 2005)
So I'm back from vacation -- back to the routine of checking email, updating websites, keeping pastoral appointments and writing sermons: blessed by the privilege of doing what I do and feeling a little like I won some kind of preaching rotation lottery because, once again, I'll be in the pulpit on that late-summer-Sunday I've come to think of as "True Religion Sunday."
“True religion” – words from the Collect of the Day for “Proper 17” – this year, the 15th Sunday After Pentecost: “Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. AMEN.”
And what a great week to be focusing on “true religion.” The cover story in Newsweek is “Spirituality in America” and an online poll entitled “Where Do You Stand On Faith?” with numbers that indicate Americans are of many different minds about what exactly constitutes “true religion.” Also in the news has been Pat Robertson, who last week I thought had outdone himself by attributing the legalization of no-fault divorce and on-demand abortion to gays and lesbians. Let me make sure I’m clear about this now:
Couples who can’t get married in 49 out of 50 states are responsible for DIVORCE? And those who are arguably statistically the LEAST likely to ever “demand” an abortion are responsible for that, too???
I figured next Robertson would find a way to blame us for Global Warming, but no – this morning he had moved onto bigger fish to fry: calling for that timeworn, traditionally orthodox Christian solution to tensions between nations – the assassination of the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.
Say what? Let’s do another Newsweek poll and see if ANYBODY thinks assassinating people is one of the multiple choice answers to the “What Would Jesus Do?” question. (Let me give you a hint – and answer is NOT!) And let’s be really, REALLY clear that this kind of rhetoric has to, must be, challenged, condemned and repudiated as antithetical to everything Jesus came to teach us, enable us, empower us to become as the Body of Christ in the world.
I am not sure yet what Sunday’s sermon will look like – it’s only Tuesday – but I’m thinking there’s never been a better time to focus on just exactly what this “true religion” we’re praying for looks like – and I’m thinking the best place to start is by staying as far away as possible from Robertson and turning instead to Romans (yes, Romans 12:9-21 to be specific):
“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
So there you go – that’s some “true religion” for you: we’re called to “BLESS those who persecute” us – not ASSASSINATE them! (And NOT -- she added in 2009 -- to pray hate and death to the president from the pulpit!)
And NOW ... "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!"