I praise you this morning, God. You alone are worthy of worship and praise, and so I pause to again give you glory and honor for your love, your mercy and your unending grace.
Thank you for your unconditional love and acceptance. Thank you for the grace of Jesus the Christ and for the explosive power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for creating such a perfect world.
This morning I lift up all the victims of senseless violence. Be with the families of those recently killed in Paris, but be with those grieving families in other areas of the world, as well. families in Syria, in Yemen, in Uganda, in South Sudan, in Iraq , Afghanistan, and even here in the United States. Let every member of every family touched by violence feel your love and experience your peace that passes all understanding.
And Lord I would pray that you grant all your children that perfect love that casts out fear. Help us live as your children should live, unafraid of whatever life brings. We now live in an age of growing violence and terrorism. Grant us all the strength and blessing of faith and faithfulness that we might be beacons of hope and light in a world darkened by fear and hatred.
Allow each of us to live alive, fully sharing the love you have first given us. Help us to be agents of reconciliation in every relationship you have granted us. Empower us to speak love and peace in the face of fear, bigotry and hatred. Grant us the strength to be peacemakers in a world gone mad. And in the end, grant us the blessing of your eternal presence. Amen
I first became aware of Howard Zinn when I came home from my humanitarian assessment trip to Iraq before the Second Gulf War. His voice was one that could not be ignored in it’s opposition to the cacophony of lies and half-truths trumpeted by the US administration for the need to invade Iraq. His fearless attacks against the rampant stupidity being promoted won him a place as one of my favorites.
I was surprised and delighted to find that Zinn is also a favorite of Willie Nelson. As I was reading Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, I came across this powerful quote.
Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience….Our problem is that the people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves…and the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.
Zinn is right. We are mostly like sheep and far too obedient for our own good. There is no righteousness in allowing evil to flourish and remaining silent in the face of injustice. Never doubt that authority always needs to be questioned, sometimes confronted, and when necessary…even disobeyed.
I just received an email notifying me of the funeral of the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar. Bob was seventy, and lived a life of service. His life and ministry touched thousands. He will be missed.
I first met Bob when he was serving as the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches when he invited me to be on his advisory council. Before serving at the National Council of Churches he had been a congressman, before that a United Methodist pastor. When he died he was serving as the leader of Common Cause.
Knowing Bob was both a privilege and an honor. His faithfulness to the gospel and his fearlessness in speaking the truth to those in power was an inspiration.
After leaving his position as head of the National Council of Churches, Bob wrote The Middle Church, a book that he hoped would “awaken the conscience of the average, ordinary, common folks within the United States to do above-average, extraordinary, and uncommon things to ensure the future for our fragile planet.” He wanted his book to restore the passion for recovering America’s moral values.
That was Bob. He was a leader. He was as tireless as he was passionate in engaging others in doing the right thing for the right reason. I specifically remember that leadership when we were together as part of a humanitarian delegation to Iraq shortly before the Second Gulf War. His leadership during that trip was a powerful demonstration of of Christian faithfulness in action.
Bob will be mourned and missed by all those his life touched and all those his faithfulness impacted. I am one of those. Rest in peace, my friend.