Top3 for August 14-20th

As a pastor, each week means reading. I spend time reading Scripture, books, newspapers, blog sites and everything in between. I’ve been thinking about how I can review and catalogue the ideas, concepts, and stories I come across. I’ve also been thinking that many of my “findings” may be of use and interest to others. To this end, I am launching something called Top 3. This is my list of the top 3 things I’ve read this past week and a bit of commentary around one or more of them. You will find links, when possible, to read for yourself.

#1 – United Methodist Church Address Racism and the Events from Charlotsville, VA This link takes you to a resource page from the United Methodist Church which shares what we believe and what we are doing to stand against the evil of racism.

The events of this past week rocked me personally and I know it did many of you. I’ve heard your cries for justice.  I’ve also heard you express that the events from Charlottesville don’t represent the people of the United States.  Let me clearly express that racism has no place in society.  It is directly in contrast with the good news of Jesus Christ. And any group promoting such an agenda stands directly against God’s will.

You’ve been asking “what do we do?” and “how do we get involved?”  I, too, have been struggling with the appropriate action(s) to go along with my prayers.  As a United Methodist we have a five-fold template that defines our involvement: MEMBERSHIP VOWS.  Upon joining a United Methodist congregation, we are asked if we will support it with our 1) PRAYERS, 2) PRESENCE, 3) GIFTS, 4) SERVICE, AND 5) WITNESS.  I think this really helps to define what we are to do during times like this.  Pray, often and continually.  Show up for worship and other places to stand in solidarity with those being impacted. Give of our time, talent, and resources.  Serve with our hands.  And speak into the situations which are contrary to the Gospel by lifting up that which aligns.

#2 – “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. (Genesis 45.4b-5 NLT)

The lectionary keeps marching through Genesis this week and the emotional story of Joseph revealing his true identity to his brothers who sold him into slavery.  Joseph, now 2nd in command in Egypt, adopts a powerful stance toward his brothers…forgiveness.  In fact, read again what Joseph says about it wasn’t you but rather God who put me here.  Let it sink in.  Joseph had gotten to the point in his life that he could acknowledge God’s hand in the betrayal, injustice, and hardship in his life.  Wow.  How often I find myself praying for a comfortable life free from any hardship.  I wonder how many times I’ve missed out on God’s bigger purpose(s) by doing so.  Now, please don’t hear me saying that we should pray for injustice, betrayal and hardships in our lives or in the lives of others.  Rather, we somehow need to see those times as opportunities for God to do something great.

I believe this is but one of the reasons we are called into community.  For it is in community that we can hold each other up, put each other back together, and then look for the greater good/purpose God may be doing.

#3 – The 90 Second Naturalist A daily glimpse into the natural world from Thane Maynard, President of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

I enjoy the Cincinnati Zoo.  Have been going there since 1987.  The Zoo and its President, Thane Maynard brings you the good news from the natural world daily.  I listen to WGUC and hear it around 7:30am but also keep up with it during times I’m away from my study via the podcast.  It’s worth your time…and if not, I’ve only cost you 90 seconds of your life you won’t get back!