The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.

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Recent News from All Saints

Vestry Explores Areas of Focus and Vision for All Saints

Rev. Betsey MonnotSeptember 11 was a day for looking back, but also, after Sunday worshipers had gone home, for looking forward. The vestry and clergy of All Saints met for almost five hours, sustained by sushi (courtesy of Sandra Takagi), caprese sandwiches (courtesy of Doni Blumenstock), a variety of coffee-flavored hard candies (courtesy of Paula Ostrom), and, not least, by the Holy Spirit.

I (Betsey) designed and led the retreat, using tools from our diocesan College for Congregational Development. We spent time considering the purpose and work of every congregation, which can be summarized as:

  • to gather people together,
  • to offer opportunities for them to be transformed by God, and
  • to send them out into the world.

We also looked carefully at the ways that All Saints does these things, and spent the most time thinking about the many opportunities for transformation and spiritual growth that we offer at All Saints.

You may remember a time two years ago, after the vestry retreat of 2014. I like to think that the “trees” I drew then (some said that they looked more like a strange variety of seaweed) were memorable artistic depictions of the work of the vestry retreat. We had discerned the four roots, or core values, of All Saints:

  • We are a truly welcoming community. Our circle expands to fit whoever comes.
  • We care for and love one another.
  • We honor doubt and strive for authenticity in our spiritual life together.
  • Our liturgy and music is traditional and we take it seriously; at the same time we have fun with it and it is never stuffy.

Building on this work of discerning our roots, and looking at the ways that All Saints currently offers opportunities for spiritual growth and transformation, the clergy and vestry at our retreat this year created an area of focus for our work as we move forward. That area is:

 

Becoming more deeply who we are as Episcopalians;
sharing who we are with the world.

Education—> Evangelism

 

As you can see, we really combined two areas within one, but we felt that it was important to do so. First, we at All Saints need to learn to be more fully who we are (see root #3!), especially who we are in our particular Episcopal/Anglican branch of Christianity (see root #4!). The leadership of All Saints believes that the world has a great need of what the Episcopal Church has to offer, and in order for us to offer it, we at All Saints need to know it well and live it in our own congregational life. Then our task will become learning how to share who we are with those who are seeking, and learning how to invite and incorporate people more effectively into our common life (see roots #1 and 2!).

The clergy and vestry envision a time in the future when All Saints becomes known in the community as the place to go for education in the Gospel and for spiritual growth; when we are more intentional with invitation and incorporation of new members; and when opportunities for robust exploration of the Gospel and of our Episcopal/Anglican faith and tradition are abundant in our congregation.

We are excited about the future that we believe that God is leading us into. Please share your ideas and enthusiasm as we move forward together!

Betsey Monnot

The Church in Times of Trouble

The Church in Times of Trouble

All Saint’s will hold a Forum/Bible Study/Discussion beginning
11:30 am on Sunday, September 18 (after the 10 am service). It will be a chance to learn, think about and discuss the role of the church and of the individual Christian, in issues of justice and politics. It will continue for at least four Sundays until October 9. A summary of the topic is below:

There are some things that we know, and some things that we think we know. First, we know that Christianity is supposed to stand for justice. It is supposed to be on the side of the oppressed, the poor, and the outcast. We are supposed to love our neighbors, and even our enemies!

We also know that, in America at least, the Church must stay out of politics. We know that we are to accept people who have many different viewpoints. We know to “not judge lest we be judged.” We also know that there is some very bad history back there, times when the church interfered in politics, or was corrupted by politics, and became a vehicle for greed and lust for power, rather than Christ’s instrument in the world.

How are we to reconcile this? How do we navigate in a world that needs the message of Christ, where oppression, exploitation, violence, and injustice abound, while not becoming the tools of a particular political faction…or worse, adopting the methods of human power struggle ourselves? Read more

What the Bible Really Says about LGBTQ People

After the shootings in the gay nightclub in Orlando, all of us in Sacramento were appalled and embarrassed for our city when the national news began reporting on the hate-filled sermon by the self-styled “pastor” of Verity Baptist Church. This “church,” which is not affiliated with any other church or larger denomination, is in the north part of our own city, and dragged the name of Sacramento with it across the headlines in both traditional and social media. Hundreds of people showed up for a peaceful protest the following week, while we at All Saints were in church.

The Episcopal Church Whas affirmed the equality of LGBTQ people, their right to marry the person of their choice, and has taken stands to ensure that LGBTQ rights are protected by law. Still, it can be hard to know what to say when faced with someone who says “but I thought you believed in the Bible? Doesn’t it say in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin?”

Many people assume that the Bible does condemn homosexuality clearly and explicitly. And yet that is not true. When you really look at what the Bible says, and understand it in its own context and time in history, it becomes clear that the verses believed to condemn homosexuality are not talking about LGBTQ people as we understand them today. Because of this, and in response both to the attacks in Orlando and the hatred from Verity Baptist Church, I offered a Rector’s Forum on June 19th with the topic: “What the Bible really says about LGBTQ people.” What follows is the text of the handout that I gave to the people that attended. If you have further questions about this specifically or about Biblical interpretation in general, your clergy would love to talk with you!

Bible passages commonly used to condemn homosexuality

Genesis 19:1-26 (the destruction of Sodom)

Explanation: This story is the basis for the word “sodomite,” with the idea that the men of the city of Sodom wanted to have sex with the visiting angels (who were disguised, and no one knew that they were angels). This depends on an interpretation of “know,” as the men demand that Lot bring the visitors out so that they may “know” them. Some suggest that the men of the city simply wanted to make the acquaintance of the visiting strangers, but it is clear from Lot’s response (offering his two virgin daughters to the men of the city) that Lot understood that the men used “know” in the sexual sense. It is also clear in the story that this was not to be a gentle, loving sexual encounter but rather a gang rape of the two strangers who had come into the city and were being sheltered by Lot, who was also not a native of Sodom. The men of the city were likely seeking to assert their dominance over both the newly-arrived Lot and the visitors he sheltered. This proposed act of violence was an extreme violation of the duty of hospitality that anyone in that culture shared: to welcome strangers and keep them safe was of paramount importance.

Leviticus 18:22: King James Version “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” New Revised Standard Version “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Explanation: This verse comes in a long list of verses describing various sexual liaisons that are forbidden, most of which we would agree are wrong (various forms of incest, sex with animals) and some that we would not believe are wrong (sex with a menstruating woman). The question to be resolved is the meaning of “abomination,” which in Hebrew is to’ebah. This word is best understood in this context as referring to ritual defilement. The laws in this list are all about the Jewish people maintaining the ritual purity necessary to separate them from the other cultures around them so that they can maintain their identity as a people. This is made very clear in verses 24 and following.

Leviticus 20:13: KJV “If man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” NRSV “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

Explanation: This verse is directly related to Lev. 18:22 and refers to punishment for those who have ritually defiled themselves and are therefore threatening the identity of the people of Israel. Again, it is made very clear later in the same chapter (verses 22 and following) where the dietary laws are also referenced.

Romans 1:26-27: KJV “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” New International Version “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” NRSV “For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

Explanation: Two things are important to note here. The first is the context: Paul is talking about what happened to people who did not honor God but instead worshiped idol statues. They knew better, but chose to be foolish, and so, according to Paul, God gave them up to “degrading passions” that violated the Jewish purity laws, which Paul knew were important to some of his readers in Rome. Paul’s intent is to condemn idolatry by pointing out the result of it. The second important thing to note is the word “natural.” It is easy for us in a heteronormative society to assume that in this context “natural” means “heterosexual.” This is a poor assumption. “Natural” here may mean “customary,” so as to refer to heterosexually oriented people engaging in same-sex sexual activity. Elsewhere, Paul uses this same word (“unnatural”) to refer to circumcision, men with long hair, and even an action that God takes. Since even God can be unnatural, clearly it is not morally wrong.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10: KJV “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” NIV “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” NRSV “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers–none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Explanation: The words translated “effeminate,” “male prostitutes,” and “abusers of themselves with mankind,” “homosexual offenders,” “sodomites,” are malakos and arsenokoites respectively. Malakos is best translated as “soft,” or “effeminate” particularly with reference to a boy kept as sexual partner to a man. “Male prostitute” is another appropriate translation. Arsenokoites is little attested and difficult to translate. The best translation is “male prostitutes,” according to L. William Countryman, Professor of New Testament Emeritus at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Other scholars disagree on the translation, but it is clear that with so much disagreement, it is impossible to state with certainty what is meant.

1 Timothy 1:10: KJV “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;” NIV “for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” NRSV “fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching”

Explanation: The word translated “them that defile themselves with mankind,” “perverts,” and “sodomites” is arsenokoites, explained above.

Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”: This argument hinges on the two creation narratives in Genesis 1-2, in which the first two human beings are a man and a woman. They have children, and this is seen as the archetype that should govern intimate relationships. This can be refuted in two points:

Absence does not imply condemnation: Just because the Bible does not clearly present readers with a same-sex couple does not imply that the Bible is opposed to them. The Bible mentions dogs frequently, but not cats. Should we therefore conclude that the Bible condemns cats?

Procreation is not the only legitimate purpose for marriage: Even in the Bible, where procreation was important for survival in a way that it is not now, there are records of couples who do not have children. Certainly today both religious organizations and civil law recognize marriage whether or not the couple plans to have children or is even capable of having them.

Broader issues

How do we look at the Bible?

Interpretation methods

historical/critical: seeking to understand what Biblical writings would have meant to those in the time and place in which they were codified

literal: seeking to read the words and apply them directly to our circumstances and society today without reference to the original historical context

Translation issues: translators, like everyone else, are limited to working within the materials available to them (original manuscripts and ancient language scholarship) and the cultural context in which they live. In addition, some translators approach ancient texts with explicit agendas and beliefs.

What do we mean when we say “homosexuality”? In 2016, we talk about sexual orientation, with the clearly emerging understanding that gender identity and sexual orientation exist on a continuum that is far more fluid than was understood or acknowledged in previous generations. While we assume that LGBTQ people existed in Biblical times, the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity did not exist as such. Marriage was focused on property, power, and procreation, not on the fulfillment of romantic love. The concept of homosexuality as we understand it today simply did not exist during Biblical times.

What is the overarching message of the Bible? The Bible contains stories, lists, genealogies, songs, and letters written and codified over many centuries. It provides a record of the people of Israel’s understanding of the way that God has acted in history, and of God’s faithfulness in upholding the covenant that God made with them. The Bible also provides a record of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and of the growth in belief of those who knew him and those who learned about him after his death, resurrection, and ascension that he was the son of God, the second person of the Trinity.

What was the heart of Jesus’ message? Jesus’ summary of the Law (the Torah) was that we should love God and love our neighbor. Jesus commanded his followers to love one another as he loved them. The first letter of John summarizes: God is love. (1 John 4:8b).

Positive examples of same-sex relationships in the Bible

David and Jonathan (1 Samuel), Ruth and Naomi (Ruth)

Explanation: These two pairs provide touching examples of emotionally intimate same-sex relationships. While there is no Biblical evidence that either pair had a sexual relationship, and in each pair at least one was married to at least one person of the opposite sex, both pairs declared love for one another and worked to ensure the welfare of each other.

For further reading:

Dirt, Greed, & Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and their Implications for Today by L. William Countryman, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1988

Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing by Mark Sandlin, published on October 11, 2011, on the web at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thegodarticle/2011/10/clobbering-biblical-gay-bashing/

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A Christian Response to Orlando

This week The Rev. Betsey Monnot both preached and taught on the Orlando shooting and our Christian response to it.  Below are videos of her sermon and a forum she hosted on what the bible really says about LGBTQ people.

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A copy of the material given out at the forum is available below:

What the Bible really says about LGBTQ people

 

 

Upcoming Events

Adult Bible Study

February 26 @ 9:15 am

Family Worship Service

February 26 @ 10:00 am

Daughters of the King

March 12 @ 11:30 am

Family Worship Service

June 4 @ 10:00 am

Christmas Eve Family Service with Pageant

December 24 @ 4:00 pm

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

December 24 @ 10:00 pm

Our Address and Phone Number

All Saints Episcopal Church
2076 Sutterville Road
Sacramento, California 95822
Voice: 916-455-0643
Fax: 916-455-0142

Worship Service Times

8:00 am Sunday Holy Eucharist, Rite II
9:15 am Sunday Adult Bible Study
10:00 am Sunday Holy Eucharist, Rite II
Nursery and Sunday School at the 10 am service.

City College Parking Permits

All Saints Church is located across the street from Sacramento City College. Each semester we offer students the opportunity to purchase a pass to park in our parking lot Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 4:00. For more information see our parking pass information page.

Fear and Rules vs. Grace and Love

moses-and-the-ten-commandments-movie-pictures-clipart-colouring-vxeD4l-clipart

Sermon by the Rev. Betsey Monnot, 6th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2/12/17

Collect of the Day:

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings: Sirach 15:15-20, Psalm 119:1-81 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37

Jesus is coming on pretty strong here. It’s not just “you shall not murder,” now it’s if you are angry with someone or insult someone you are liable to judgment. It’s not just “you shall not commit adultery,” now it’s no looking at someone with lust in your heart.

And he is serious, and as so often happens with Jesus, we have to remember more about him than just the particular words he is saying right here. Jesus was living in a culture in which the Pharisees prided themselves on obeying every single one of the 613 laws in the Torah, not just the ten commandments. The thinking was that, if you obey every single one of these laws, and do it your whole life, then God will be pleased with you.

Now, the problem with rules-based thinking is just that: it is rules-based. The rules become the focus, and the purpose of the rules is forgotten. This is like starting out on a car trip to visit your friend, and then as you drive along, getting so obsessed with obeying all the traffic laws and ordinances that you forget where you are going or why you are in the car in the first place.

Rules imply consequences for breaking them. In a game, breaking the rules is called “cheating.” On the highway, breaking the rules can get you an expensive ticket. But what if you break God’s rules? There must be some pretty serious consequences.

And that’s how the Israelites, and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, understood things. And that’s also how many people today understand things: God has rules, and if you break them, you’re going to be in trouble with God.

If that’s the way you look at things, then you read this passage from Jesus and you think: okay, now I have to not even be angry, or even look at someone lustfully, because Jesus is making the rules harsher. But really, what Jesus is doing is making a point.

It turns out that it is part of the human condition to make mistakes, to mess up, or, in theological terms, to sin. We may not like it, but that’s just the way it goes. Over history, theologians came up with the idea of “original sin,” begun by Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God’s rule not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and passed down to every human being as our inheritance.

The thing is: whatever your own ideas or beliefs about original sin, the bible and the theologians were pointing to a truth: humankind simply cannot avoid sin completely. Sirach thought we could: you heard that in the first reading this morning. “If you choose,” he says, “you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.” And it seems like it might be that way. After all, can’t we all avoid killing? stealing? committing adultery? lying? coveting things that belong to our neighbor? Isn’t it possible always to honor our father and mother, always to keep the sabbath day holy, never to put any idol between us and God? to never misuse the name of God, and not to have any other gods before God?

It seems like you could, but it’s once you get into the nitty-gritty of real life that things start to get complicated. Do “little white lies” count? What, exactly, does it mean by idol—do money, fame, self-esteem, or addictive substances count? What else counts? And what makes something “coveting” rather than just, say, admiring something and wanting it?

What would happen if the commandments came into conflict with each other: what if my father needs expensive medicine in order to live, and I can’t afford to buy it for him? Do I dishonor my father, or do I steal the medicine? And so on, and so on.

Jesus saw that the rules were like lines that people were not permitted to cross. They could go right up to the line, and walk along just next to it, but as long as they didn’t cross it, the system of rules would have nothing to say. A person could get angry at someone, yell at them, threaten them, do what was in their power to make their life miserable, but if they didn’t actually kill them, everything is fine. Jesus looked at the system and essentially told people to grow up. It’s not enough simply to follow all the rules, you have to understand what is behind them and act in accordance with that. You have to adhere to the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law.

This is an example of the evolution of the relationship between God and God’s people over the time covered by the Bible. When we read about Adam and Eve in the garden, we see that they are like children, all their needs taken care of, told what the rules are and asked to obey them. But, like children, Adam and Eve exercised their free will and chose to disobey, and there were consequences.

When God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, God gave them rules in the form of the ten commandments. They were growing up a little, and they had more complicated rules. Over the course of the Hebrew Bible, more interpretations, expansions, exceptions, and explanations were added to the rules. But they were still rules, obedience was still essentially fear-based (remember all the times in the Hebrew Bible when the reader is told that the people fell away and worshiped other gods, and then some foreign power comes and invades? yeah, that.)

So by Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were busy trying to please God by following every rule as scrupulously as possible. But Jesus saw that they were doing it out of fear, and he recognized that they would walk right up to the line created by the rule but not step over it. Think of the story of the Good Samaritan. In other words, Jesus saw that the Pharisees were missing the point.

Jesus is saying that these commandments are so important that it’s not just about following the rules or not, it’s about our approach to the rules as a whole. We need to take them seriously: If your right hand causes you to sin, then cut it off!

So he told the people gathered: it’s not just about not killing, it’s about everything that might lead you to killing. Not just about committing adultery, but everything that might lead you to adultery. Just writing a certificate of divorce is not okay—that doesn’t just make everything fine again, because being married and then divorcing has serious consequences. You have to grow up and take responsibility for yourself, not just rely on the rules to guide your life.

If you’re bringing your gift to the altar and remember that someone has something against you, leave your gift and go and reconcile with them first. Come to terms with your accuser on the way to court, take responsibility for your own relationships and your own behavior within those relationships. That’s what Jesus is saying.

Paul used the image of growing up in his letter to the Corinthians. He said, that he fed the Corinthians on baby food, as it were, because they were infants in Christ when he came to them. In fact, he says, they are still not ready for solid food, because there is jealousy and quarreling among them, and they behave according to human inclinations.

I have spoken from this pulpit more than once about God’s desire for us to partner with God in the work of bringing about God’s kingdom. Here, in today’s passage, we are called to the need to partner with God in the work of modifying and taking responsibility for our own behavior. On our own, we can do the best we can to behave in a loving way, to do what is right and in accordance with loving God and loving our neighbors. But, although we are called to this effort, because of the nature of sin, we are destined to fail—we humans simply are not capable of avoiding sin perfectly, at all times, in all circumstances. But God’s call is to try, and it is simply a different part of that same call from God, to partner in bringing about God’s kingdom.

Since we are called to an effort that we know we will not succeed at, we are reminded that there is grace. It is not our strict adherence to rules that is pleasing to God, rather it is our desire to please God out of our love for God that is pleasing to God. We hear this over and over, throughout the entire Bible, and it is particularly emphasized in the New Testament. Paul tells the Corinthians: it is God who gives the growth. That is grace. We are called to do our best to be open to God’s grace, but at any time and in any place it is God who provides that grace, God who gives the growth.

And so we prayed in our collect today: “because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed.” At first, this may sound unnecessarily negative to our modern ears. Can we really do nothing good without God? But then we remember: not only can we do nothing good without God, we can do nothing at all without God. Every breath is God’s gift to us. To understand that helps us to reorient ourselves in right relationship with the God who created us, who sustains us, and who calls us. That right relationship is one in which we recognize God’s love for us and our need to love God and to trust in God’s grace.

When, as happens from time to time, we need a reminder of God’s love for us, when we need something to help us to trust in God’s grace, there is something we can do.

We can come to this table, the altar of God. We can share in God’s feast; eat, and drink of God’s own body and blood. Here is proof of God’s love. Here we will find grace. Here we can learn to trust.

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Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly with your God

Sermon for 4th Sunday after Epiphany, 1/29/17. By the Rev. Betsey Monnot

Video of this sermon

Readings: Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:11-12)

What. Is. That. About?

It comes after a long line of “blesseds:” blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

Some of those are pretty much fine: we get that the merciful are blessed, and the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. But I am wondering how many who are poor in spirit actually feel blessed. A question: when someone you love has died, and you are mourning, are you feeling blessed? Yeah, me neither.

It reminds me of a line from the movie “The Princess Bride.” One character says: “you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

And yet, this passage from the Gospel of Matthew is so well known that it even has its own name: The Beatitudes.

Part of our task as Christians is to learn to live as though these words make sense, as though we truly understand what it is to be blessed because we mourn, blessed because we hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed because we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

We know that the way we choose to function in the world shapes our understanding, the way we pray shapes our belief. Our choices shape who we become. If we choose to live as though the Beatitudes are true, then we will begin to understand the way that they are true. We will catch a glimpse of the way that God sees things, and the way that Jesus called us to live in this life together.

But what does that mean? In part, I think it means a redefinition of what we understand by the word “blessed.” I’m sure we’ve all encountered people who use the word “blessed” as a substitute for “fine,” or “good,” as in: “how are you doing?” “Oh, I’m blessed.” In church circles it can be even more so: “How is your new Youth Group going?” “Oh, it’s awesome! God is really blessing us!” It’s as though “blessing us” means “giving us lots of resources and enthusiastic people.” That is pretty different from “when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

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Prophecy and Politics

I’ve heard people say that the church shouldn’t get involved in politics. I have always agreed with this when it comes to issues like organized prayer in public schools and the posting of the 10 commandments in public buildings. I don’t want the church to tell me how to vote or for whom. I also

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