Note: On the road and I didn’t get this posted Monday. Sorry for the delay.
Friday evening I left from a one day Prayer Retreat with nine persons from my church. They headed back to Landisville. My wife Dianne and headed westward along the Pennsylvania Turnpike to spend Thanksgiving Week with my children in the Midwest. As we approached Somerset PA I saw the signs announcing gasoline prices. Three dollars a gallon! (Actually it’s $3.00.9 as you read the fine print). At first I thought it was for diesel. No, regular unleaded. My spirit of thanksgiving is being tested. One of the life’s great mysteries and one of its great challenges to household budget-making is the formula for pricing gasoline and the exact timing for when gas will rise and lower. Even with our high gasoline taxes, we haven’t seen three dollar gas in Pennsylvania in a long time. Is the economy REALLY improving? Price hikes make me wonder.
Thursday of this week is Thanksgiving. Although a national holiday, not a religious one, it seems to me that the only thankfulness comes in that often abrupt prayer around a dinner table (sometimes the only prayer at that table until next Thanksgiving.) In America this holiday seems more focused on turkey, football games, and plotting your shopping strategy for Black Friday which will begin in some stores is 12:01 am the next day. I wonder what would happen if we in this nation would spend at least as much time counting our blessings as we go wolfing down turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie – not to mention Miller Light, Doritos and leftovers during the Dallas Game. We have so much, even those of us who are poor, in America compared to the rest of the world. And at times we think of those blessings in terms of entitlement instead of gratitude.
I started reading a new book this week by a Christian author known for his more radical (i.e., nontraditional) thoughts about Christianity. His name is Shane Clairborne, who has spent many years as an advocate for the poor, for the fringes of society, and for simple justice. The book is actually a prayer book called Common Prayer–A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.In it he and his writing partners observed about the Advent season which begins next Sunday. “(Advent) is the biggest frenzy of retail spending. More than half of it, hundreds of billions of dollars a year,is spent as we celebrate the homeless Son of God in that stinky manger … hundreds of Christian congregations are now rethinking Advent as a time for compassion instead of consumption.”
Karen Spears Zacharias prompted the thought in me about dangerous reading. (Warning Mental Health Hazard Reading) People often treat the Bible as a piece of benign literature. Christians can even be guilty cof this. My experience is that Bible is filled with command and challenges that as a Christian I would be better off not reading them because then I have to take this ideas seriously if I chose to call my self a real Christian. Here are just a few:
The first is from James 4:17: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” New International Version
Then Galatians 5:6.” The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” New Living Translation
I John 4:20 “If anyone clains he loves God yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
Exodus 22:21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.”