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Posts Tagged ‘Holy’

For the past six years almost, I have been advocating the Gospel of Love. Not because I’m really that much of a loving person, but because I believe that God is a loving God. I believe that the sacrifice on Mount Calvary was a sacrifice of love, and that it was not meant to be contained amongst the select few. I believe in a Gospel that stretches across time and space, oceans and mountaintops, valleys and plains and fields, and from the furthest reaches of the universe. There are not enough words to explain how great I believe the Love of God is. Language is limited, as is the capability of the human mind to comprehend that which is incomprehensible. But through the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the love of God is accessible to all peoples, of all nations, in every tongue, and in every era.

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God Bless the Refugees

To this land they have traversed,
From dangers only God can tell.
Chancing life and limb and sanity;
Daring climate extremes, and living hell.
For a chance at freedom, it was worth it all.
Some lost friends along the way,
They were herded like cattle,
Once reaching Freedom’s shore.
Their entire lives they dreamed,
Of a land that accepted the poor.
The hungry, and the weak they are;
The huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.
And what has America,
The haven of hope, decreed?
No asylum! No mercy!
Send back the refugees!
Yet I cannot help but wonder,
If it is they who should be deported.
Or perhaps those who believe freedom is a birthright
To only we few fortunate.
America could learn a thing,
Or two, from folks such as these,
For the very rocks and I cry out:
“God bless the refugees!”

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What constitutes being a patriotic citizen of the United States of America? This is a recent inquiry that simply will not leave my brain. Mainly because this is a season of fervor in regard to America and her independence the celebration of such being held on the fourth of July each year.

I shudder every year when this time rolls around, deep into my spine. Moreso than even usual, American churches are singing national hymns such as “God Bless America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Many throw in the “Star-Spangled Banner” for good measure, as well as the recitation of the American Pledge of Allegiance. All of this is being done in churches on Sunday, amid sermons on how America is the Promised Land, and was founded upon Christian principles.

All of this confuses me so much that it often makes me literally sick to my stomach. Obviously American Christians place a high value on being an American, and a Christian. They perceive themselves as the most patriotic folks that there can be. Therefore my main question is: must you be a Christian to be a patriotic American?

Is patriotism a matter of faith in God? If so, then whose god? Does that mean that atheists cannot be good patriotic citizens? I would argue that atheists are often the best candidates for patriotic fervor, simply because disbelief in a higher power means that their ultimate loyalty is to their nation of origin, and not to a deity or religion. If it is a matter of faith in a deity, is it the Christian god? Does that rule out Jews and Muslims who also claim to worship the God of Abraham?

And if it is a matter of faith in God (the Christian one), then why do so many American Christians equate a lack of pride in America as a sin? Why do they give such honor to the Constitution of the United States, and proclaim that it is inspired by God? (This is exactly what folks are saying when they say that America was founded on Christian principles. They may not realize it, but they are indeed convinced that divine providence had a major part to play in American freedoms). Why do American Christians know the Pledge of Allegiance, but not the Apostle’s Creed? How do they know the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, and yet cannot name the Twelve Disciples? How can they read John Locke and Adam Smith, and not have read Irenaeus and Clement?

The Church in America needs your prayers, because it has forgotten that it is not a citizen of the United States – it is the Bride of Christ. Her citizenship is in heaven, not here on earth. The songs she sings should be magnifications of the Godhead, and the pledges she should recite are the Psalms. She should honor no graven image, and glory in no death except for the Cross and our Savior who was crucified upon it. Her freedom is bought with a price, but it wasn’t an American whose blood was shed for her – it was a homeless Jewish man who spoke no English, lived in a territory occupied by a ruthless empire, and at one point was a refugee in danger for his life. He lived and died in the region we call the Middle East, and spoke a language very similar to one spoken by those we now deem infidels.

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I cry out to you O Lord, in the depths of my despair. My cries for help have fallen on deaf ears, and those who could help cannot be found. My God the fear that wells up within my soul! Shall Hades continue to reap his wealth from my Tartarean sorrow? Only you can save me, my God! Are you not my shepherd? Hear me O God of Job; He who has crafted the universe! Release me of this I beg of you! You are the Father who gives only good gifts; the God who hands not over death to His child who asks for bread. Grant your Holy Spirit to comfort me! By the power and the passion of the Cross, free me from these chains!

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A Collect for Memorial Day

O God of Heaven, hear our prayers and our lament.
Hear us O Lord.

For those who have fallen in uniform;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have lost their life in service to their cause;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have come home, crippled and maimed;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have suffered psychological trauma due to violence;
Lord hear our prayer.

When shall morning come?
We wait for the Lord.

Lord hear our prayers;
Hear our lament.

For the casualties of war, both sinner and sinless;
Christ have mercy.

For the widows and orphans;
Christ have mercy.

For the destruction of communities;
Christ have mercy.

You Lord, are our refuge.
We cry out to you, O Lord.

Lord hear our prayers;
Hear our lament.

Almighty God, we are guilty of heinous sins against your Holy Name. We have murdered our brethren, sought retribution, and more.
Have mercy, O Lord.

We have defiled your Sacraments, and have forgotten all love for our enemies. In our grief we have forsaken the way of the Cross.
Have mercy, O Lord.

Lord do not be angry with us, for we are heartily sorry for our actions against You.
Have mercy, O Lord.

+Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.

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I have felt the heat of hate burn within my heart. its flames have risen to the heavens of my soul in hellish delight. But in those moments, true delight could not be found in my heart. There was only perversion and evil, for the enjoyment of hate is an abomination unto the Lord. And when there is hate in the heart, Christ does not abide there.

For if God is the very epitome of love, as the Scriptures state, then hate is the antithesis of God. Therefore as such, an abomination to the very nature of God Almighty, hate cannot be found in his Holy Presence. To find such would render the Scriptures and the Gospel void. A voided Gospel, having no place in our lives, would then render Christianity meaningless and simply another cult of hate in the tumultuous world in which we live.

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The life of a Christian is a cycle. Every day we must strive to live in accordance with the ways and teachings of Jesus, the Christ. This is something that I am sure we each find extremely trying and difficult. Yet we proceed ever onwards, trusting that the Lord would see us through each day.

In the Scriptures, Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God, that we may withstand the advances of the enemy. That when those dark spiritual forces come against us, we may fend them off. But there is more to being a Christian than fending off your heart and mind against evil thoughts and spirits. The Christian is called to be an active force in the world in which he or she lives. Though we be but travelers in it.

In the Greek Scriptures, we are taught that we are to advance the Kingdom of God. This is singularly the most frequent theme to be found in the New Testament. The idea of this spiritual utopia. It is not a place to be visited nor a goal to be reached. It is a frame of mind. The Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come, for they did not understand. The Kingdom of God is neither here nor there. The Kingdom of God, Christ taught, is within us. It is among us.

The Kingdom of God is how Christians ought to live their lives. When we live active lives that speak to our faith, we are advancing the Kingdom of God. For it is only advanced by involving others in it. We live the Kingdom of God by how we treat other people. It is advanced in how we care for the poor and the sick, the widowed and the orphaned, the imprisoned and the downcast. It is impossible to advance the Kingdom when living a solitary pious life, for you are cut off from community. As prominent Christian sociologist and author Tony Campolo puts it, ‘The Kingdom of God is a party’.

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