MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS – EGYPT IN TURM0IL, THE PACK IS BACK, WINTER WEATHER, AND WORDS FROM JESUS

I did not post last Monday. A full Sunday of worship, pastoral care, a discipleship class, and then I, like much of America, watched the Super Bowl. But while I and America were consumed with the Steelers and the Packers, the world kept its eyes apprehensively fixed on the fast-moving developments in Egypt.

Courtesy USA Today
Courtesy of USAToday

Events in Egypt may have overtaken this post. It is clear that Egypt stands at a crossroads. It may also be teetering on the brink of civil war.  With Hosni Mubarak essentially refusing to relinquish control, people genuinely interested in democracy in Egypt are nearly apoplectic. People looking for a door to trade an Islamic dictatorship for a secular one are maneuvering to gain power.  I find myself deeply concerned.  The US policy (of both Republican and Democratic administrations) to support dictatorships as a way of containing radical Islam has often simply reinforced the message that America will set aside its so-called founding principles in the interest of a so-called pragmatic foreign policy.  It has often left us out of touch with the lives of the people in those nations and handcuffed in providing genuine world leadership in the world. It has also made unnecessary enemies in places like Iran and Pakistan. It is the accommodation with dictators of any stripe that has been a dangerous hypocrisy in a nation that claims to be the defender of democracy. Mubarak must go and we must make it clear to him and to the Egyptian people that we will not support his continued leadership of that nation.

Note added: Events did outpace this scheduled post. For more info go to EGYPT

Back in America, we have been fixated on more trivial pursuits–the Super Bowl. I like in Steeler territory, unless you are a die hard Ravens or Eagles fan (both teams are closer to my town than Pittsburgh.) But from the Black and Gold that was even worn to church last Sunday, you would have thought Rothlisberger and crew had a lock on the loyalty of our citizenry.

But in what was one of the best Super Bowl games in many years, the Green Bay Packers emerged as the champs. Although I lovingly sympathized with my Steeler-oriented parishoners and friends, I found myself glad to see the outcome.  The Packers took their identity under the quality coaching of Vince Lombardi, earning my childhood respect for their hard work and integrity as a team.  I had deeper respect for the Packer management, who rejected Brett Farve’s self-serving attempts to “un-retire” and their support of the man who had been patiently waiting to assume the QB mantle in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers. He validated their support by leading the Pack back to football’s highest honor.  He truly deserved the Super Bowl MVP award.

And the preceding week, all of this fell far below a more elemental concern–the “elements.”  Some of the most brutal and widespread winter weather in modern history (especially if you lived in places like Chicago and Oklahoma) paralyzed business, closed schools repeatedly, and killed many.  The effects of the aftermath, from car repair bills to extended school years to municipal budgets stretched to the limit, are a reminder that we do not have the control of our world that we think.  Unfortunately, as average and middle class Americans struggled to keep their driveways cleared and get to work to earn a paycheck, the poor and the homeless across our land were out of sight and out of mind. They became someone else’s concern.  Trust me, this weather wreaked even greater havoc–some of it irreparable–on their lives.  I now have a $600 oil bill, but at least I have a home to heat.  I wonder how that $600 would have benefited them.

In all of this, I think of some words of Jesus. Two sets of words.  I leave you with them …

“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” – Matthew 5:9, New Living Translation. I remind us that there is no peace in our world when people are still deprived of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40, New International Version. God judges our love for our neighbor ultimately by our love for the least of our neighbors.

No words from Jesus about the Super Bowl. Jerry Jones thinks God is a Cowboys fan.

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