A peaceful life

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  (1 Timothy 2:1-4) We live in an age of disruption. Not much seems to be peaceful or quiet these days. Even less, we do not see much godliness and holiness around us. Disruption is now a feature in the business world as economic models of the past are challenged. Politically, it has been a long time since we have seen such polarization and division among people and politicians. Even in the Christian world, there are new schisms emerging as theological, moral, and ethical values are challenged.   Perhaps this is just the way the world is. History shows us that almost every generation has these challenges. Paul’s wisdom and advice to Timothy still hold. As followers of Jesus, seeking a world of peace, we should be praying regularly for all people. This includes our rulers and those in positions of authority. It is easy in the current context to mock, ridicule and be dismissive of leaders. The Christian call is a counter-cultural one. Paul isn’t saying we have to like those in authority, only that we should be praying for them so that all of us might be able to live quiet lives with holiness. I wonder if we are seeing such upheaval because God’s people have stopped praying in this way. What happens when we make this part of our daily prayers? Perhaps it is time to try. Nothing else seems to be working.

On Racism

On the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the people in the Upper Room, they spilled into the street speaking in other tongues. People from different parts of the world, “Parthians, Medes and Elamites, Egypt and the parts of Libya,” heard their own language being spoken and wondered, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12) What it meant was that the Kingdom of God was for everyone. There is no longer any division between different groups of people, “Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female.”(Galatians 3:28) The coming of the Spirit meant that God was forming a new people and skin color, religious background, gender, and economical status would not matter. It’s been hard to watch the news out of the U.S. this past week as protests have been spurred on by racial injustice. To be fair, racism isn’t just an American problem, it is found everywhere. It certainly isn’t any less hidden here in Europe. I’m grateful for police but when the systems that are to serve the people fail, it is important that citizens speak up. Unfortunately, the Church (universal) has not always lived up to the promise and power of the Day of Pentecost. Far too often, the Church has been a place of segregation and suspicion rather than unity and healing. Too often we have failed to practice the command of Jesus to ‘love one another.’      How can things change? For Christians, it starts with repentance, an examination of our heart. This can be painful. We often aren’t prepared for what we find. But it’s important that we look at our attitudes and assumptions about people who are different from us. It’s important we don’t simply think this is someone else’s sin. It’s important we ask God and others for forgiveness. Then comes a commitment to change, repentance means a “turning away” from the things of the past. It means living in a new way. It calls us to stand and protect the dignity of all people who are made in the image of God. It calls on us to speak out when injustice robs people of their rights and freedoms.   Before we blame the media, the police, certain people groups or government leaders, let us look at our own heart. Pray that God removes anything that is not pleasing to him and that he would give us the courage to follow him even when it goes against the way of the world.  And let us pray together: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,Where there is hatred, let me sow love;Where there is injury, pardon;Where there is doubt, faith;Where there is despair, hope;Where there is darkness, light;Where there is sadness, joy.”   Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Amen.

Uncertain Times

As we walk through this current time in Basel, we don’t face anything like the Black Plague. Yet, there are still voices that would seek to unsettle the masses and stir up people. We should be more enlightened.

Happy Christmas!

This is the encouraging message of Christmas: that God himself has come to earth, eternity has stepped into time – and nothing has been the same since.