Divided or United
(Taken from my message 8/20/17)
We often think these problems we are dealing with today, in our times, are new, never happened before. Yet a review of history shows what problems our world has today, have been problems throughout history. The problems may manifest themselves in different ways, but the core issues really don’t change much. That is why one of my favorite sayings is, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Yet here we are in 2017, and with what happened in Charlotesville, Virginia.
To even dream that there would be a group of people with Swastika’s demonstrating in broad day light, thinking this is their time to grow and gain influence in our country, The United States of America. Less than 75 years have gone by since America joined War War 2, to defeat Fascism. Over 400,000 American lost their lives in the second World War in a war to defeat Fascism. There are actually people walking around our world, today who insist that the Holocaust did not really happen. Or they want to down play it. Here is what history tells us about the number of people killed by Nazi Germany from 1939-1945
Between five and six million Jewish people.
More than three million Soviet prisoners of war
More than two million Soviet civilians
More than one million Polish civilians
More than one million Yugoslav civilians
About 70,000 men, women and children with mental and physical handicaps
More than 200,000 gypsies
Unknown numbers of political prisoners, resistance fighters, homosexuals and deportees
and a more recent study has suggested that the actual numbers may be even higher.
How soon we forget, “those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Now the debate has been shifted to Confederate Monuments. I being someone who likes history likes having these monuments in public places. This enables us to teach our children and grandchildren, give a short lesson to them. Here is what that flag means, and don’t sugar coat it. Tell it like it is. The Confederate Flag represents a time when many people thought they were superior to other people based on the color of their skin. I could go on & on, but this is not meant to be a history lesson…. Let me just say, the end of the Civil War was just the beginning for the fight for equality in our United States of America. I asked last week are we going to let culture and the world tell people who Jesus is, and what the Bible says, or when given the chance are we going to do it. Let me add to that, we are called to be a people who stand against all injustice that we come across. When we see injustice in the world we need to say, that is not right, and explain why it is wrong. We are called to be a people of the light. Called to shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of the world.
We live in a broken world, there will be injustices and divisions we come across. That is part of living in our broken world. However we should not accept those things as ok. That is just the way it is. We should not accept things that attempt to divide people into different categories. Social and economic policies that make it harder for people to get help when they need it. See if we are really going to be followers of Jesus, we have to remember he really meant that love your neighbor stuff. I want to take a minute and just look at what happened the last night Jesus and his disciples are together. Jesus knows what is going to happen in just a few days, the crucifixion. His teaching time is coming to an end soon. Jesus is with his closest disciples. They have been following him for a few years. Yet Jesus is not done teaching them, he wants to share some important things, first Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, showing us what servant leadership really looks like. Those who are leaders need to serve those they are leading. They share the last supper together. Where Jesus gives us the Sacrament of the New Covenant,4 Holy Communion, “Do this for remembrance of me, and then he tells his disciples, A new command I give you, Love one another… It meant that much that it is one of the last things Jesus tells his disciples before his journey to the cross. Love one another, as I have Loved you, so too are you to Love one another…… This took on so much more importance and meaning after Jesus went to the cross. That is why I said, if we are really going to be followers of Jesus, we have to remember he really meant this love your neighbor stuff.
Mercy should be an important word in our faith life, and I am not sure it is. Yet it is by showing mercy to all, that God gives us the opportunity to have a relationship with him. Due to us being imperfect creatures, living in an imperfect world we can not escape being disobedient to God. By showing us Grace, By Loving us so much that Jesus went to the cross so that we could be declared right before God, God shows us that He is Merciful and Forgiving……..no matter how many times you or I are disobedient to God, He shows us Mercy and forgives us. Always!! So what is the right response as people who have been shown mercy by God? We are called to Love People Like Jesus Loves us…. and here is the thing, we should know going in, we are going to fail. No one can love people like Jesus…Yet we have been given our orders…. Love one another….and to me, one of the easiest ways to love like Jesus….. is to show mercy to people…. I think we all have that ability to show compassion toward people. To forgive people who may have wronged us. As a person who has been a recipient of God’s Mercy, It is required that I show mercy to others……
There are always going to be disagreements and problems with different solutions. Yet shouldn’t we all agree to not let anything divide us. Especially if we are going to say we are followers of Jesus. When divided we are not as strong. When we are united the few become many, and the many become more. Together we will help to make the world a better place. Just by Loving our Neighbor as ourselves……