Have you not heard?

RCL for 2/5/12:

Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the
Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you
not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the
earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths
will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who
wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with
wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not
faint.

In this season of political agendas and foolishness claimed as “Christian” thinking and doing, we would do well to pay more close attention to this week’s lessons. There is a lot we do not know and there is much about following in the way of Christ that we have not truly heard – all of us on both the left and the right and the multitudes in the middle.

It is exhausting to keep seeing and hearing the same malarky and accusations spewing from the mouths of those running for public office. Quite frankly, I do not care who wants to marry whom, or someone’s country of origin, or where the President goes on vacation. I want to know what they plan to do about bringing soldiers home, decreasing unemployment with jobs paying a living wage, decreasing the number of families living at or below the poverty line, providing decent, affordable healthcare for everyone – particularly those who are not able to advocate for themselves.

And while I’m on the subject, I do not care what religious beliefs or practices a particular candidate espouses as long as it is displayed in compassionate, intelligent, meaningful ways. The religious identity of a candidate should not be relevant to political office if the candidate truly lives by whatever he or she is proclaiming. You can claim whatever you want, but if there is no evidence of your belief system in your practice and you behave like an ass, then you are just an ass pretending to be religious (of whatever stripe).

Getting back to the OT lesson… If everyone and everything is created by God, why do we make such arbitrary distinctions between who is “good” and who is not? Of  course, we all do this to one extent or another, but ought we not to be more actively fighting against these false distinctions? And focus more on who God created us to be and build communities around this concept? Yes, Many of us do. But it can be exhausting, sometimes to the point of despairing. Perhaps it is time to breathe deeply, slow down, and “wait for the Lord” to “renew our strength”?

God heals the brokenhearted,
 and binds up their wounds.
God determines the number of the stars;
 God gives to all of them their names.
Great is our God, and abundant in power;
 whose understanding is beyond measure.
God lifts up the downtrodden;
 God casts the wicked to the ground.

I know I should probably not write this next paragraph as part of my first post, but since it seems to be a hot issue at the moment, let’s look at gay marriage. There are many who claim that marriage is sacred only when it is between one man and one woman. They claim that this is the only proper thing for Christians. Really? It was not all that long ago that interracial marriage was taboo. Or interfaith or interdenominational marriage was frowned upon. These things seem okay today in most places. The argument is often that being gay is against scripture. I don’t think it is, but let’s say that it’s on the list of things that God doesn’t want for us. Well, God is none too fond of adultery, abuse, addiction or the myriad of other things that destroy relationships. It seems that many who claim Christianity are willing to overlook these sins. So if being gay is a sin, why is it one that can’t be overlooked? (Let me be clear, though, I believe that God created us all – gay, straight, transgendered, bisexual… however you identify yourself. I am sure that human sexuality is not a sin unless it is used by one person to oppress or abuse another person. I’m just using the “sin argument” to point out the flaws in the thinking.)

If this is not enough to reconsider claiming “Christian” objection to gay marriage, does anyone really believe that Jesus would turn his back on or condemn anyone because of sexual orientation or gender identity? Jesus. You know the one who ate with tax collectors and lepers, healed the sick, welcomed the prostitute, touched the unclean. It doesn’t make sense for a God of love to be on the side of hate.

As you can tell, I really wish we could be done with this issue by legalizing gay marriage everywhere. It would free up so much time and energy to focus on things that could actually make a difference. And some of those who have been deeply wounded by all of this, could begin to truly heal and the church could be strengthened to face this new day in a world of inclusion and welcome.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or
possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And
he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many
demons…

The other thing that struck me in the news this week was that the Susan G. Komen foundation withdrew its grant support for Planned Parenthood. Why is abortion still a political issue? And in this case, it is having a very negative impact on women’s health. Planned Parenthood provides so much more than abortions. How many women will not have access to routine breast exams, birth control, and other significant healthcare because abortion is still a hot-button political issue.

Personally, I’m not a fan of abortion per se. I am, however, a fan of a woman’s right to choose what is right for her. The nightmare of what happened to many women before safe, healthy abortion clinics were available is not something that needs to be repeated. I believe life is sacred and no woman walks away from having an abortion without needing emotional support. And though she might be condemned by those who claim to speak on God’s behalf, she is not condemned by a God who forgives, heals, and offers new life.

One last brief thought, all candidates for public office who claim Christianity should read the Corinthians passage much more closely and perhaps this year’s politics could head in a direction that might actually bring about positive changes.

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12 Responses to Have you not heard?

  1. Erika says:

    Well done with this week’s lectionary.

  2. John says:

    I recommend tax cuts, especially for the rich since they are the job creators. I think Jesus must have said something like that. Let’s see. “Don’t cast your pearls before swine… don’t take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” See, that’s the word of God, straight from the mouth of the Lord.

  3. Susie says:

    Well said.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Rachael, I saved this for the quiet of this morning and am glad I did. Much of what you wrote truly reflects my opinions about our politicians, their claims to being ‘Christian’ which is not demonstrated by their behaviors. I feel very frustrated that our ‘leaders’ and those who want to be are continually using the social agendas (aka gay marriage) to promote what they call their religious beliefs to sway the issues when there is so much more that this country needs to become strong and industrious again. I so often feel anger and want to lash out at someone and found myself able to read what you had said with such intention and reason and able to leave some of those other feeling aside.

    I am still trying to understand my relationship with God. I am skeptical and would like to believe more than I can at this time. My faith has been tested by losses that create significant sadness, grief and anger. I wonder how my God could allow such things to happen and feel either God is not there or feels I need to be tested in ways I find intolerable at times. How does one heal that schism to renew their faith?

    • rachaelkeefe says:

      Carolyn,
      We can talk more about this anytime you want, but I do not think God tests anyone, ever. I do think that much happens that is not what God intends or wants for us. But horrible things happen as a result of human choices (war, violence, etc.) and human frailty (disease of every kind). I don’t pretend to know why, but I do know that these things are not from God. And gratitude for what is good is a good way to open the conversation that is faith.

  5. Rachael Keefe, I view the arguing about same sex marriage being legal or not as absurd. Of course, love should never enter any legal definition.

  6. Rachael Keefe, I really don’t care if 2 people of the same sex want to marry. The threat of radical regimes to the security of the U.S. and other peaceful countries should take precedence over the arguing about same sex marriage. Some people can oppose same sex marriage on religious grounds. Personally, I can respect that. However, turning marriage into a political issue is absurd. Given the fact that the gay community has shown no tendencies toward paedophilia insofar as I know, why does the issue same sex marriage come up as a source of debate? Bigotry in any form has absolutely no place in civilized society. On http://www.youtube.com, some people have come out as being part of the LGBTQ community. Now, I don’t know anybody who is gay personally, however, if I did, I would not make a big deal about it. Gay people cannot help the fact that they are gay. Not that I have any factual basis for this thought, however, I would not make it an issue if some people were attracted by choice to a member of the same sex.

  7. Rachael Keefe, I never said that you were.

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