Monday, April 1, 2013

Living Out Easter

Easter passed almost without notice this year. Our local church had no Easter Sunrise celebration and the day was passed preparing for a change of pastors, allowing Pastor Jim to exit properly and Pastor Jeff to make his grand entry. Otherwise, the event of the day was a fundraiser for the youth and their pending Missions Venture.

Did you ever wonder why Jesus was born to a peasant couple like Joseph and Mary, or John the Baptist to the ordinary Zecharias and Elizabeth.One of the keys to this question is found in Luke 1:6, speaking of Zecharias and Elizabeth: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (KJV).

In recent years one scandal, one moral or financial tsunami, after another has hit somewhere around the globe of God’s Global Christian Church. If it wasn’t Jim Baker or Jimmy Swaggart among the Pentecostals, it was financial scandal within a mainline Southern Baptist financial organization, or the misguided mismanagement of The Board of Church Extension in a Wesleyan Holiness body like the Church of God, Anderson.

For many a hurting soul, it was a predator priest, protected by his connections to the powers that be at the Vatican. More recently, the media has focused heavily upon the “REIGN” of the new Papal Ruler (the people’s papa). I’ve even heard numerous questions about the new Pope Francis breaking “tradition” and parting from the affluence and autocratic powers of this theological ruling monarch of that political state called the Vatican.

Within my own faith family, we are all filled with wonder as to how the Rev. Jim Lyons will translate his powers as a newly-elected official – the unofficial Pope within our small “popeless” Protestant Denomination, as he replaces Dr. Ronald Duncan as our GENERAL DIRECTOR.

Across the board there is that struggle between unconverted but powerful people in places of religious authority. Listen to the oft-quoted LORD ACTON: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."  This statement arose as part of a quotation by the expansively named and impressively hirsute John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902).

This historian and moralist was best known simply as Lord Acton, and he was popularized for expressing the following opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

The BATTLE OF ETERNITY is being lived out day by day in the struggles of ordinary men and women. Some seek success and power and influence. Unfortunately this sneaks into the church and the family of faith under various guises. History is filled with the corrupt behavior of men seeking to be the CAESAR AUGUSTUS of the Church of Rome. I see it today in smalltown Protestant churches where a pastor desires to streamline his congregants into an efficient decision-making machine to help bring them into some new and improved (always bigger, more powerful and influential with people).

What I observe is that most often Said Pastor covets the power of leadership that allows full control and eliminates democratic procedure, dialogue, or dissent. Said Pastor wants final word, which  being translated means absolute power. Herein lies the real struggle of humanity. This person wants full control: wants to sit on the throne of his-her life. In other words, the real struggle with sin is Self versus God, and who is in control. 

As a child I was taught it is a sin to go to a movie. I knew couples who argued over “bobbed hair” and women dressing stylishly, altho men were given much greater latitude for gold watch fobs across expansive bellies.  As an adult, I have learned more sharply defined levels of real  sin, the distinctions we  draw in our social relationships and the abusive political configurations we construct that  allow those who have the most to legally take away from those who have less—if any at all; and confine real and equal justice to only those WHO HAVE and want more power and affluence.

The Jesus of Easter died at the hands of a religious establishment that was strictly self-seeking and had little truck with the common good. He died holding on long enough to do one more good deed (if you will), long enough amidst his own agony, to hear out the penitent thief on the cross and assure him that his eleventh hour confession was heard in God’s Court of Justice.

Jesus threatened not only King Herod when born (cf Christmas story) he is a threat to every person who wants that ultimate control of life, be it El Queda, or Donald Trump or Barak Obama or John Q. Citizen. Living out Easter will be done by the humble people of Main Street: Joseph and Mary, Zecharias and Elizabeth, and I hope Pope Francis will be among them.

It will include all who love God supremely and who love their neighbor equally to themselves. Living out Easter will create harmony and good will and will delete the pompous, bombastic behavior of those who would bend the world to their style or thought or faith.

From Warner’s World, we are

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