I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).
1. @WhiteHouse: “Pass a bill.” —President Obama to Republicans in Congress on immigration reform: http://t.co/5Vubai1j1Q #ImmigrationAction
Perhaps because I was in the USA, attending a wedding, and a birthday party, for two different but special people in my life, President Obama’s speech on #ImmigrationAction struck a chord in my heart. It was classic ‘no drama’ Obama style. Short, to the point, and very compelling. How could, he argued most persuasively, a nation of immigrants, ever forget, that they too were once aliens -coming from elsewhere. And quoting Scripture, no doubt sending a message to the so called ‘religious right’, he reminded them that the God of the children of Israel, had warned His people not to ill treat aliens in their midst, and they too, had been aliens in Egypt – and in bondage. It was in that context then, that he set out his deal to , ‘attack felons not families’; and thus to shore up America’s defenses against would be criminals, whilst giving protection, but not granting citizenship, to those illegal immigrants and their children who were in the USA for five years or more. And whose presence in America contributes greatly to the economy on the one hand ; whilst at the same time these same people, live in fear of being deported, suffer great indignities and are forced to accept low paying wages.
The Republican response, for the most part, has been furious, immediate, and entirely predictable. What will happen over the next 180 days, before the Executive Order can become law, will no doubt be attended by drama and controversy, as the American political system goes through yet another spasm. All because, at the root of it all, human beings have forgotten to have compassion on others, and to rid themselves of irrational fears.
Yes, other news across the world came to my attention: the ongoing crisis with the spread of the EVD in West Africa; spams of violence in my home country Jamaica; non-Muslims reportedly murdered in a bus in Nigeria, five family members killed in a motor vehicle crash en route to Disney in Florida; the ongoing debate in my country about the appropriate use of tax dollars used to fund The National Housing Trust, and whether or not it had the mandate to purchase a debt ridden Tourist Attraction which sits on acres of land which could arguably be used to build homes, or for the NHT to make it a viable concern. But President Obama’s speech, as a human interest story affecting reportedly 5 million undocumented ‘aliens’, affected me the most.
THE WORD OF GOD
So what Word or word of inspiration did the Lord send this week in the midst of this challenging week for many across the world.
TTHE FIRST MESSAGE
First up was a message sent to some leaders in my country. A Word from the ages, and from one of the reputedly wisest men who ever lived on the earth. A word for President Obama. A Word for my own Prime Minister and all who have the responsibility to rule across the world, in every sphere of life where leadership is critical to a nation, to an organization or to any group of people.
THE CAPTION – EARLY MORNING REVELATIONS…FOR WHO IS ABLE TO GOVERN THIS GREAT PEOPLE OF YOURS.
One ( revelation) very early. At 4:00 am. In the midst of controversy and claims and counter claims!
THE WORD OF GOD
‘That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, Ask for whatever you want me to give to you. Solomon answered God………..Give me wisdom and knowledge that I may lead this people for who is able to govern this great people of your?’
2 Chronicles 1:8-10 NIV
One very early. At 4:00 am. In the midst of controversy and claims and counter claims!
THE WORD OF GOD
‘ That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘ Ask for whatever you want me to give to you.’ Solomon answered God……….Give me wisdom and knowledge that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
2. Chronicles 1:8-10 NIV
The other, this morning during my devotions, featuring The Gospel reading appointed for this Sunday in The Anglican Church worldwide.
THE WORD OF GOD
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all his angels with him, he will sit on this throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘ Come you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger…………….I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me……..
THEN ON THE VERY NEXT PAGE IN MY CLASSIC DEVOTIONAL BIBLE THIS;
“WHATEVER YOU DID NOT DO”
William Temple – 1888-1944….( former Archbishop of Canterbury)
Verse: Matthew 25:44-45
It is Christ who pines when the poor are hungry; it is Christ who is repulsed when strangers are not welcome; it is Christ who suffers when rags fail to keep out the cold; it is Christ who is in anguish in the long-drawn illness; it is Christ who waits behind the prison doors. You come upon one of these who have been broken by by the tempests of life, and if you look with eyes of Christian faith and love, he will lift a brow ” luminous and imperial from the rags’, and you will know that you are standing before the King of kings, Lord of lords……….
Civilization, as we know it , produces much human refuse. Slum dwellings, long hours of work, underpayment, child labour, lack of education, prostitution – all these evils are responsible for the stunting and warping the development of human souls. Things are improving, we hope. But unless we are exerting all the strength that Christ gives us in ending these bad conditions, then the responsibility for wasted lives lies at our door, and from the streets of the cities or the lane of the countrysides, the cry goes up through the lips of their Savior and our Judge: ” Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me”.
I pray God that we may discern very carefully, the link between the two ‘early morning revelations’; and as leaders in this great nation that belongs ultimately to God, and to whom we shall one day be required to give an account, act accordingly.
Further this morning, prior to retuning home this evening, at the church where my son worships in Florida, The Holy Sacrament Anglican Church, the pastor, Rev. Anthony Holder, in delivering a sermon on the occasion of their Harvest celebrations, make the following points based on the Old Testament reading from Deuteronomy.
– That prosperity can be a very dangerous thing, if not handled properly; as it has the potential to poison your relationship with God. In this context he made reference to the living standard of Americans being one of the highest on the planet, despite the inequality and the complaints about the efficiency or lack thereof of Government Agencies.
– That the three warning that the Prophet Moses gave to the children of Israel in the Deuteronomy passage
( chap 8:7-18) who having been rescued from slavery by God in Egypt, and having been protected in their forty year sojourn in the desert by the same God, were now about to enter the promised land and to receive the many blessing promised by Yahweh, The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And so, in as muchas Moses reminded them of God’s promises to give his children a land of great bounty and peace, the prophet also reminded them;
1. To be careful, lest when they had built their houses and reaped the crops, they might be tempted to forget from whence they came. And that all they were about to receive , and all of their deliverance, had come from God
2. To practice the habit of thanksgiving in all situations and for everything, for God is the provider of all things for His created order and for His people. Furthermore, people who develop the habit of thanksgiving, in all situation, live a much happier life than those who don’t – and therefore often spend their time complaining, even in times of plenty.
3. To be obedient to the command of the Lord. And not just the Moral law, but also to make sure, as the Torah, the book of Jewish Law, commands, that we remember to promote Justice, especially for the poor and vulnerable among us.
When you consider how certain elements of the Great Old Party, GOP, are reacting to Obama’s call for compassion and Justice, and stack that kind of behavior against the warnings from Moses via Rev. Holder, it makes one stop and think how much America has, in the midst of its prosperity, forgotten from whence its early settlers came on the MayFlower, fleeing religious persecution in Europe. Prosperity is indeed a potential poison; and can most definitely lead you far from God, even though you may be busy saying ” Lord, Lord”. But the Republican hardliners are major players in American politics, and cannot be dismissed easily. Here is where is President Obama needs the wisdom of Solomon, to rule ‘ this great nation of God’. And so too our very popular among the masses, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. But such popularity is in serious danger of dissipating, if the PM does not begin rule with an iron hand, and with the wisdom of Solomon, steer clear of any further issues which have surfaced with the NHT debate; lest people think that she is not in charge of her government. especially when the hue and cry is on the behalf of justice, the same thing Moses warned about, for the poor and needy. And which call for justice is the essence of what President Obama is fighting for. And the same call for justice and compassion implied in the teaching of Jesus about the least of these my brethren; a call which former ArchBishop William Temple made also.
THE SECOND MESSAGE – sent out on WhatsApp is really a call, in this context, for those who would seek for justice and mercy for their people, and those of us who work for God’s kingdom in various way, and are determined to ‘lift up the name of Jesus’, in all we say and do, to persevere. Even in the most difficult of circumstances. Someone needs to tell that to Obama.
THE WORD OF GOD
Therefore, brothers, since we confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with purr water.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one other on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day of the Lord approaching. So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just s little while,
” He who is coming will come and not delay.
But my righteous ones will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him”.
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved
A CALL TO PERSEVERE HEBREWS 10:19-39 NIV
THE THIRD AND FINAL AND SHORT MESSAGE – sent out on WhatsApp, is a message of hope, of certain hope, and of better things, that God has promised for those who seek the joys of ” Zions city”…….” With salvation’s wall surrounded, you can smile at all your foes…….Fading is the world’s best pleasure. The words of a hymn which fit very neatly into Father Tony Holder’s sermon today. Words which ought to cause us to pause, and ponder ‘whither goest I’ on this journey of life. In pursuit of the American prosperity dream, which may be so easily poisoned by forgetting the God from whom all good things come. Or pursuing Justice and mercy on the behalf of the poor and needy, and so be assured on sitting on the right hand of Jesus the King, when he shall come again, to judge the living and the dead. Those who belong to the Democrats and those who belong to the Republicans!
Two verses of a hymn that spoke to my soul in a special way this week……a week in which I was privileged to take part and witness the marriage of a very special child of God and one of the many ‘ daughters’ that God has given me.
Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode.
Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s wall surrounded,
thou mayest smile at all thy foes……….
Saviour, since of Zion’s city
I, through grace, a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name.
Fading is the world’s best pleasure,
all it’s boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion’s children know.