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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Focus: Of Heretics and Hypocrites

John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.   If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.  And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. "For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."  Mark 9:38-50

This week’s gospel opens on yet another note of how very human and how very like us the apostles really are. Christ’s followers are all worked up over someone poaching on what they believe is their exclusive right to the “Jesus franchise.” They are outraged because an interloper has had the nerve to cast out devils in the name of Jesus, when he is not a registered, dues-paying member of their official Messiah fan club.
But Jesus is having none of it. He is quick to correct them: Don’t stop him…Whoever is not against us is with us. If only succeeding generations of Christians had listened to Jesus, how different our history would be. I suspect that deep down the apostles were motivated not so much by their love of Christ, as they were by their assumed ownership of Christian orthodoxy. They were reveling in that rush of superiority we get when we pass judgment on others. The power to put people down as not measuring up to our inflated expectations is so very satisfying. And like most cheap thrills, it is corrupting.
For centuries the Body of Christ has been corrupted by those who claim to have exclusive access to the will of God. The ultimate obscenity is for Christians to usurp the prerogatives of God and go about condemning others as un-Christian for what are essentially honest differences of opinion. Mix in some over-sized egos, a scoop of politics, a dollop of disputed property rights and just a pinch of group dynamics … and you have the devil’s own recipe for destruction.
And what a lethal brew it is. It martyred Moore and Tyndale. It sent Fisher to the block and Cranmer to the stake. On St. Bartholomew’s Eve, in the name of Jesus, the charming streets of Paris ran with Protestant blood, while the misty skies of Ireland were blackened by the ashes of incinerated Papists. By the grace of God, this sacrilege, in Chesterton’s words, of: “Christian killeth Christian” is now virtually extinct. While the pernicious plague of “Christian judging Christian” flourishes in both its genteel and virulent varieties.
In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us: Judge not lest ye be judged. This is not a call to suspend our beliefs or our values. It is a command against usurping what belongs to God alone … the right and the power to render judgment on each one of his beloved children. If our lust for judgment remains unsatisfied, our own lives are ample, appropriate meat for examination. And when it comes to the only judgment that really counts, look for Jesus to find more favor in someone who may have made a mess of doctrine, but gotten love of God and neighbor just right. As C.S. Lewis reminds us: “Heaven will display far more variety than Hell.” So, as we hope for salvation, expect to spend eternity with many more heretics than hypocrites.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Peach of An Idea for Youth Groups

It's fall (or spring) and the youth group of your church needs an activity that would earn some money for an upcoming trip. Car washes and rummage sales have been done. How about something a bit different?

Why not round up the troops (and their friends from school and the community) and go to a 'pick your own' farm? What a great idea for a local trip of a Saturday: the teens will be outside, active, picking local produce. While there, have a picnic (if the facility permits you to do so ... many do)!

Bring the bounty back to church, repackage into smaller containers and sell before and after services on Sunday.

This idea would work well during grape, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, peach and apple picking seasons. If your parish is sponsoring a rummage sale, set up a table for these fresh-off-the-vine delights.

Alternatively, during apple season especially, set aside two Saturdays: one for the picking and the second for boiling down the apples to make CHAPEL Sauce. Ahead of time request small clear plastic containers from congregants. Print up labels, perhaps with a simple graphic outline of your own church, and assemble the containers.

Applesauce is EASILY made - without sugar or artificial sweetener - by peeling, coring and slicing apples, adding only a bit of water and cooking down the slices on medium heat. Perhaps one batch could be 'snazzed up' by adding cinnamon and/or nutmeg to the mix [making certain, of course, to indicate additional ingredients on the label]. There's nothing quite like fresh, naturally sweet applesauce!

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