Open heart's ears
Posted in: Esther and the 2nd Amendment
I don't get all this 2nd Amendment stuff. Maybe because I lived outside the US for too long. Honestly, when scripture says that swords will be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks I figure that will be the end of every Smith and Wesson and every AR-15. I'm not too interested in getting attached to the stuff built and made for killing.
As for the Esther story. That certainly seems to be a 2nd Amendment situation. The government was seeking to overcome a certain segment of the population. The 2nd Amendment insured citizens the right to keep and bear arms in the event of a hostile and overbearing government. States did not want the Federal government to usurp its authority.
What I don't understand is the connection between the 2nd Amendment and general self-defense. I do not have the "right" to kill my neighbor - that's the way scripture refers to anyone who is not me. (For example, love your neighbor.) Rather, says Jesus, I have the obligation to turn the other cheek, to pray for them, and so forth. The "sword" is in the hands of the governing authorities to keep all in line with the law (Rom 13:4).
Further, the Luke 22 passage you site seems removed from its context. Jesus is warning of the days that are to come and, it seems to me, speaks in hyperbole. "You better get yourself a gun." The disciples say, "Well we've got a few AR-15's in our stock pile, is that enough." Jesus says that's enough. Really. If the days are coming that Jesus is warning against and he really wants us to "defend" ourselves then 2 swords and any number of AR-15s will never be enough. In fact, when the authorities come to arrest Jesus (just a few verses later) and Peter whips out his sword to defend Jesus, Jesus says, "No more!" Huh? I thought Jesus just told his disciples to get a sword to resist just such tyranny? And now he says desist! Which is it going to be? What is the way of Jesus?
I know how I understand the way of Jesus. As Terry Woodnorth said, it's the way of love and praying, even for enemies who want to break into my house or attack the people I love. Even when my enemies nail me to a cross I pray, "Father, forgive them." Nobody said living the way of Jesus would be easy. Neither have I understood that living the way of Jesus gave me a "right" to have a gun to kill someone else. That's why the way of Jesus for me and my house has nothing to do with any form of gun. Because, after all, they will all end up in the same place. Shaped into John Deere tractors and garden hoes.
Posted in: What's Happened to the Doxology?
What I like about "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow" and other such simple, one stanza, often trinitarian doxologies is that they seem to be a fitting response - both to a just pronounced blessing on the people (benediction) and to the whole of the worship we just participated in. Our services generally end, after the sermon, with a song of response (maybe some words of sending or response), God's blessing/benediction, and a doxology. Sometimes churches want to put a "marching orders" song as the very last song, telling God and each other what we will do. I prefer God's blessing and our praise (doxology) as an ending to help us remember it's all in God's hands, ultimately. Song of response after the sermon is a great place for us to declare our commitments, to sing our "marching orders," and so forth. Of course, with so many different doxologies to choose from, we don't have to be limited to "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."