Nov 29, 2004

Here is (on p 2 of this post) the full text version is of a sermon I preached twice, as a guest speaker, on Nov 21 in Curtis NE. Here on p1 are excerpts. P3 has some of the earliest comments that were made.

… [from Jesus we learn that] It’s not always out of line to criticize religious people, institutions, or practices. And that’s what I’m going to do here today … I know Christians – literally – who are more offended if you criticize the Republican party than if you criticize St Paul, the Prophets, or even Jesus Himself ….

Friday’s New York Times quoted a mother from Tennessee, which once had a widely admired health security system, but whose system is now on the ropes. The mother said, referring to her 12-year old daughter, “Why, in a country this wealthy, must parents choose to watch their children die?” Why indeed? ….

A man I know in this state has owned two fast food stores for a few years, and will soon retire in his mid-forties with a million dollars in the bank. But the people who work in those stores get few or no benefits, and will soon do without hope of overtime pay. How do you raise kids on $7 or $8 / hour? How do you retire on $8 or $9 an hour? I don’t know just what, but something very inappropriate is going on here.

Does Jesus care? Do non-believers around us SEE that Jesus cares? I know all the economic and philosophical arguments. But I also know that Jesus said, “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment.”…

Today our troops are being misused even more dishonestly, and in ways that are even harder on their families [than in Viet Nam], and are then being recalled to duty after they return home – or if disabled, they come back to find veterans medical resources being cut. AND, as back then, the government is telling us about the wonderful things we’re doing over there, how we’re bringing democracy and crippling the insurgency (an insurgency that did not even exist a year ago), and how the Iraqis are on the verge of taking over all the hard stuff.

But worst of all they – and our powerful technologies – are again being used to kill dozens of thousands of innocent civilians …. Again I support our troops by asking our government to get honest … Surely that is an appropriate Christian approach to the powers that be ….

I don’t like talking about these things. I never have spoken about such issues from the pulpit in all my fifty-nine years – but I think I should have. What do I want from this? I want two things. I want us to realize there are very genuine, very thoughtful Christians, some of the best Christians in this country, who disagree with us about some of these things, whatever our position. To be a Christian does not automatically mean one is a Republican (or a Democrat). And I want us to realize that in many ways the churches truly are presenting a very bad face to the world around us. We do have to talk about that….

(See the whole sermon on p2.)