Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Barack Obama and The Universal Chruch of God

I received this email just a short time response...I thought...though a repetition of what I've been saying for a good long time, is worth sharing...

Mary Anne & Pat,

I wrote the following for our FB page but then realized that posting it there might have the same effect that I was concerned about in my congregation. The three of you were the only ones that I knew shared my enthusiasm about our new president. So I ask you:

Is anyone going to make reference to the Inauguration in their sermon Sunday? The vision that our new president presented is certainly Christian and oh so hopeful. I'm planning to use it. I'm just wondering what land mines might be there than I could wisely avoid and still lift up that message.

Or maybe the rest of you don't have to be so cautious. After all I live in Bushland. Both my siblings refused to watch the Inauguration because they're still furious about the election. I know my brother will never acknowledge him as president and is among those still convinced he is not an American citizen and is secretly Muslim. And my mother still looks at me confused when I ask her "Why do you call him 'black' when he's half 'white'?" It's disheartening to see so many (church going) people refusing to give ear to someone calling us to old-fashioned virtues as a nation.


Hi Sharon, Mary Anne and Pat,
Here are a few of my thoughts about yesterday's experience...
I don't have to be cautious here at all...we are an intentionally inclusive congregation.
But the inauguration of Barack Obama really does beg the question...are we truly a "universal" nation/church or aren't God universal or not?
Ultimately we have to deal with the question...are we a house of prayer for all people or not?
Is God the creator of all people or only everyone except (supply here.your category of choice, please)
A wise Anglican Priest years ago posed this question (in a lecture...not church...churches cannot take such questions sometimes)
"I wonder if God is able to send people like Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, and all the others so that the world could be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea? I wonder too if God could send great scientists into the world that forced blind belief to face the truth about the world we live in? I wonder; if there is a God...if God could do that?"
We in the Anglican experience are one tiny corner of Christianity that is experimenting with the notion that the love of God embraces everyone without regard to race, ethnicity, economic class, gender or orientation.
We as a church are proposing that all human categories which we have conjured to organize the world we live in, fall before the gaze of the Glory of God. I believe we saw a glimpse of it yesterday...just a the inauguration of Barack Obama.
That's what excites me...and it has excited me ever since I was a child. I figured out early on that heaven was a place in the human heart where God's heart beats for all humanity...they said my daddy could not go to heaven because he didn't go to church. That's what the religious folks said...I have learned many times over not to listen to religious folks all the time. Sometimes I listen instead to my heart. Because it was in my heart that I heard these words..."Don't you know that there's a special place in my heart for your dad?"
I believe that question applied to my godless and unchurched family...a mother divorced three times and who had an abortion, an uncle who was gay, and now two kids who also happen to be gay...I hear what the religious people are saying...but I'm still suspicious...because I still hear the words of God in my heart..."Don't you know there's a special place in my heart for your dad, your mom, your uncle, your kids, and everyone else in the whole wide world....?" Good question God!
Frankly, I believe that God is right...or at least those words that I heard in my heart of hearts when I was a child and echo up into the present are right.
And so that's the approach I have taken in my preaching...and will continue to take so long as I live.
Peace...and love,

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