Post sabbatical ruminations

April, 24, 2012

Dear Friends,

I have been asked by a number of you if I will continue my sabbatical notes in some form or other. First, I am deeply flattered that anyone would ask that! And second… what the heck, why not. If you are not interested in reading these little essays then just ignore them when they appear on your computer. You will not hurt my feelings. That being said, if you want your soul to be fed; if you want to discover brilliant insights; if you want your Christian life to blossom like dandelions in the spring… well you may need to find some source for that. But if you want to read my humble observations occasionally then do so at your own risk.

I should also add that since I am back from sabbatical I can now read any emails you wish to send in response to these tidbits so “bring em on.”

I heard on the news today that President Obama was going to have some sort of gathering/news conference/speech/political opportunity at the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. You may remember that I visited there while on Sabbatical. If you have not been in the museum let me describe the very large “memorial” room for you where I suspect the Pres will deliver his speech. I don’t frankly remember its name but it is a circular open room with built-in marble bench seating around the outside. At one “end” is an open flame. Surrounding the outside of the open space is an elevated (3 feet or so) walkway. The feel of the place is meditative and serene. I sat in there for 30 minutes or so almost totally alone. A few people poked their heads in along with the security guards on occasion but there isn’t anything to “see” so most of the visitors continued on their way.

I confess that a tear or two trickled down my cheek as I contemplated the cruelty of which we are capable. It is easy to think that “we” would not be capable of such inhumanity: that we would be the one to rise up and speak against the craziness. We would be the one who would realize the importance of treating other human beings like our neighbor. We would be the one who would “be Jesus” in the midst of total and complete wickedness and evil. We would be the one to sacrifice our lives…. “Oh wait… what?!?! Sacrifice my life?!?! I don’t think so! I mean, I can condemn these things from afar… but up close and personal?” Yeah, I’m thinking maybe not.

In Matthew 23:23 Jesus says this:

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Do you get that? The religious leaders of the day did the easy things like giving 1/10 of all they received even down to simple spices but they neglect the difficult important matters of the faith… Wait, giving 1/10 of my resources is the easy part?! Truth be told most of us Christians are so bad at giving i.e. doing the easy part, that any thoughts of taking a stand on difficult issues based on our faith is absurd and possibly hypocritical.

There is no foolproof litmus test for the faith. But if you want to get some sense of where you are in your walk – and this is not an appeal for money – ask yourself how well you do at the easy things.

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