Sunday, January 31, 2016

Yesterday in Portland and Beyond...

Yesterday a pastor in Portland died. He was well loved in the community, was very popular and was known as a good speaker. He lived comfortably with his wife and children. He will be missed.

At the back of his church was Lazarus, a homeless man, often without a coat and eating from dumpsters. It used to be that the pastor would walk by Lazarus every night, pray with him, and ask him when he was going to quit drinking. But he never gave him food or allowed him to sleep inside the church, because that would be "enabling."

It so happened that Lazarus also died yesterday. He was taken to Jesus, who fed him well and cared for him. The pastor, however, was taken to be punished. The pastor was allowed to see Lazarus and he prayed to Jesus, "Lord, this punishment is severe! Couldn't Lazarus come over and give me a little help?"

Jesus replied, "Unfortunately, it isn't allowed for Lazarus to give you any more help than you offered him in his life. Justice requires him to be comforted now and for you to be punished for your damnable apathy."

The pastor prayed again, "Lord, would you please send Lazarus to my congregation! They need to know the truth!"

Jesus replied, "The one good thing you did, pastor, is to give your congregation Bibles. They just need to read my words without the blinders you set on them and they will see this truth clearly. That's the only visitation from a Risen One they need."

Luke 16:19-31

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Beatitude Living

Jesus was poor.
He gave up his profession, his home, his family to accept a life of wandering, of not knowing where his next meal was coming from, of depending on the Father for all his needs.

Jesus was poor in spirit.
He sought out those of greatest need in his society and met those needs.  He reveled in relationships with the outcast, and gave up his comfortable lifestyle to find them.

Jesus mourned.
He wept at suffering, his own as well as others.  He wept at the limitations that kept people from thriving.  He wept at the systems that kept people oppressed. 

Jesus was meek.
He spoke boldly, which led to his incarceration.  He acted out truth, which led to his condemnation.  He was silent about his own innocence, which led to his death.

Jesus hungered and thirsted for justice.
Jesus taught his disciples to cry out for justice in the Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus acted for justice in small towns, in the wilderness, in the midst of a busy temple, before the governor.  Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus hungered.
He fed the thousands before eating.  He spoke to the outcast woman and was satisfied.

Jesus was merciful.
He saw, really saw, the poor.  And then he acted, meeting their needs although he had nothing to give.

Jesus was pure of heart.
Jesus wasn’t a teacher who spoke of love but hated.  He never took advantage of another, but always gave. He didn’t just speak the truth, he acted it. 

Jesus was a peacemaker.
He met needs.  He comforted.  He showed that the “enemies” of the people were often friends of God. He created a community of love.

Jesus was persecuted.
Jesus was rejected.  Jesus was threatened.  Jesus was hated.  Jesus was beaten.  Jesus was tortured.  Jesus was killed.

For all this, Jesus obtained new life.

A second chance of life is only obtained through the path of Jesus.