Sunday, March 08, 2015


Sunday Reflection: A Nation With Christians

What a week! I started out last Sunday in Richmond, giving the sermon at the wonderful Holy Comforter Episcopal Church.  Then, later in the week, I gave three presentations in Tucson-- and got to do it without missing a class through a combination of good flights and video conferencing.  I am blessed with incredible opportunities!

Today in the Waco Trib, I have a piece that is part of a continuing dialogue there on whether or not the United States is a "Christian Nation."  Here is how it starts:

I write this on a snowy day in Williamsburg, Virginia, birthplace of much of our democracy’s structure. As a freshman many years ago at William and Mary, I remember wandering about this old village when something struck me: Where were the churches? There was only one — Bruton Parish, the tiny Episcopal stalwart — and I thought that perhaps the others had been removed for some reason.

Suspecting an anti-Christian bias in the reconstruction of the town, I went to my history professor. He told me that the reconstruction was true to the past; in colonial America, this was a city of taverns, not churches. James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and the others had gathered in a bar, not the church. In fact, those two Founding Fathers had worked together to disestablish the Anglican Church as the official religion of Virginia.

You can read the rest of it here.

Yesterday on her blog, Creo en Dios, Susan Stabile mentioned, “I just finished reading Benoit Standaert’s book Sharing Sacred Space: Interreligious Dialogue as Spiritual Encounter.

Her blog post continues, “ ’Early in the book, Standaert shares the “central intuition” that guided his efforts in writing L’Espace Jesus, only the third and last part of which appears translated here in Sharing Sacred Space. He writes.’ ”

“ ’Any encounter with the great religions of the world is doomed to fail if its staring point is dogma as formulated and transmitted in a given culture, or if it is based on some historical expressions, which are also culturally conditioned. If we want to provide a level playing field for all the participants, we have to come up with some other approach. In order to make it possible for us to meet one another as equals, I have made use of the category of ‘spiritual space.’ ”

“There (also), in a few short phrases, lies a (the) deep power at the center of Christian faith(s) — the belief in mercy and rebirth.” – and in recognition (encounter), acceptance and inclusion. . .

A week ago Thursday, this site recalled and posted, “. . .IPLawGuy once gave me an explanation that made a lot of sense. . . ., he told me that the Evangelicals were the foot soldiers of a campaign in that (Republican) party-- the people who knock on doors and lick envelopes, and man the phones. They are dedicated, organized, and willing to work. I think that makes sense. To those who would complain about this outsized influence, IPLG would say: "If you want to make change, get involved - (in party politics)."

Can not the same be said about interreligious dialogue? Get involved. . .

Reflecting upon the martyrdom of St. Perpetua yesterday in 203 (she, often referenced as the first woman of noble birth to be martyred for her Christian faith), one can also reflect upon today’s call for ‘New Evangelism.’

Perpetua sought not the constant shelter and security of her family’s estate or her ‘home church’ after her conversion; transformation came not in altering her interaction with ‘free men’ or slave who served her family, or in decreased interaction with the societal elite of Carthage – transformative was her discernment of patronage and homage afforded wealth, position and deity. Often resplendent in tyrian purple silk, she became a bright light, a “magnate for Christ,” a young woman who sacrificed all for her love of Jesus and in action and word written introduced many to God’s love, mercy - and to “rebirth”. . .

We are all so ‘called,’ and Standaert challenges our stewardship of the spiritual aura surrounding each of us within “sacred (Jesus or God) space” as we interact with our brothers and sisters during our life’s journey.

Most sins of humanity are often reported to occur, and temptation reside, within our personal space. And as quoted yesterday in Creo en Dios, “Rabbi Norman Stein has made the same point that ‘for many Christians, Jewish history ends with the death of Jesus on Golgotha’ and ‘they know absolutely nothing about the growth and spiritual development of the Jewish people after that.’ ”

From a Christian perspective, one wonders if it is our transgressions, as well as, the actions of His ‘shepherds’ that often separate all from God’s love and mercy; illuminating personal witness that often struggles to overcome hypocrisy of monopolized ‘verse’ and message – possibly further delaying His ‘Kingdom on Earth’. . .

How disheartening that more are invited to ‘God’s Table’ than ‘invitation’ often proclaims. . .
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