the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Year A - Christ the King

Liturgy of the Word:
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46
The following message is certainly alarmist in nature. I think it is no more alarmist, however, than the message of the Old Testament Prophets. Without claiming to be a prophet, I must state clearly and forcefully what I see as the future condition of life on this planet. You have every right to disagree. If you do, or if you agree, I hope that you will comment on what you read here. May the Grace of God and his Mercy be always with you.

This week the passage from Ezekiel and the one from Matthew are about contrasts. In Matthew sheep and goats are contrast based on their treatment of the "least of these, my bretheren." In Ezekiel the contrast is between the fat sheep and the lean sheep, the have's and the have-not's. Here there is no third group.

Ezekiel is preaching to the lost sheep of Israel from his residence in Babylon. Matthew is writing to an isolated community of Christians under constant persecution by both Jews and Romans. There is similarity here along several fronts that speak to us in our current sociological environment.
  • Both passages contrast the good from the bad.
  • They are about the struggle between good and evil.
  • They speak of how those two deamons lie in the background of our behavior toward others.
  • Both passages speak about the final judgment and the disposition of those who do not pass muster.
My greatest concern is with the future of the world's society. In his online Journal, Al Gore talks about the collapse of the global society. He sees the cause related to global warming and climate change.

Equally viable as a cause, I think, is the continuous downhill slide of the global economy and the effect this will have on us. Not only will our quality of life be reduced to a 1920's era life style, but the strong will be turned by greed, and need, to exploiting and persecuting the weak. Life will truly be a Darwinian experience of survival of the fittest.

Nations and psudo nations, such as Al Queda, the Somalian Pirates and Rebel groups around the world, will be competing for supremacy in their own part of the world. Large nations, such as The United Sates, Europe, Russia, Iran, China and India, will be competing for and perhaps fighting for control of the entire planet.

In this sociological environment, how will we as Christians respond to the world around us? Certainly we, both collectively and individually, have not responded in the context of either Luke 4:18-20, or Matthew 28:19-20. What will we do when faced with the scarcity of food and shelter? How will we protect ourselves and our loved ones from looters and others who have less than we do? How will we endure the persecution that surely will come? We are dependent on an abundant supply of food, above average shelter and the protection of sound government. We do not know how to survive in a hostile environment filled with chaos. We have done what Christ told us not to do: We have stored our treasures on earth and those treasures are increasingly subject to corruption.

When an impoverished life style comes, as I believe it will, we must put our faith in God to supply all our needs and to provide us with his protection. I have no doubt in God's goodness and grace to provide for us. I do have doubts in our ability to see the goodness and grace of God in the reduced life style in which we will find ourselves. There will be many who will curse God and die. There will be many who turn to a life of violence and crime because they are not content to live with what God provides. In Sunday School we have been studying the Old Testament story. In Exodus and Numbers we studied how the Israelites were not content with God's provisions of manna in the wilderness. The last generation who lived in slavery with every need supplied by their Egyptian captors had to die out before a new generation of people who had experienced living on God's provisions became the dominant generation. Will we complain about what God gives us? Or will we give thanks for his goodness and mercy? Will we be willing to reach out to others less fortunate in the spirit of bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, bringing sight to the blind, helping the opressed go free and proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor?

A Universal Prayer


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