A MOST DIFFICULT MILE

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Perhaps one of our greatest challenges in life is walking that mile.  We have endured painful obstacles in promoting a healthy family atmosphere.  We have worked in jobs that were nothing more than a weekly paycheck.  We have served our country to the best of our abilities only to be spat upon and denigrated.  We have given beyond expectations and then been told “that’s not enough.”  We have sacrificed personal comfort and security in vain attempts to be the people we thought we ought to be.

Yes, we are good people; no, we are GREAT people.  None on earth can dispute America’s generosity and charity as shown through numerous relief agencies and private funding of world need.  Good will is synonymous with the United States of America.

Yet, individually, many of us are unwilling or spiritually unable to walk a most difficult mile.  We are quick to point out another’s deficiencies, to make judgements, to take inventories and absolve ourselves from personal responsibility for that person’s well-being.  We no longer value our role as the keepers of brothers.  Ego and self promotion are the founding principles in our lives.  Perhaps we have always been this way and only now in our condensed, sardine can society it is more obvious.

How much more effort and sacrifice would be required of us to take that most difficult mile, the one walked in another man’s shoes?  We have all heard this bit of wisdom; some say it’s American Native folklore.  But what would happen when, instead of condemning a man for his behavior, we could change places with him, envision our behavior in his situation, consider what we would do given his circumstances?

Even then, when we have walked that mile with him and our attitude remains harsh, our HP takes us to another principle of his Kingdom.  Forgiveness, for most of us, is just as difficult but, equally necessary.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others” is a fundamental tenet of our fellowship and for anyone who seeks a ‘clean and serene’ life.  As recovering brothers and sisters we believe our HP has forgiven our lifetime mess and continues to forgive our human nature while we continue in His service.  To deny forgiveness to others is akin to denying that God has forgiven us, that our sins were too great to be forgiven even by the most awesome and omnipotent power in the universe, and that his example of forgiveness is not applicable in our lives.  When we don’t forgive, we are rejecting the power of HP to transform our lives.

We do not aspire to perfection.  Growth is our objective.  Let’s be willing to walk that difficult mile with our brothers and sisters and then extend the forgiveness which our HP has accorded to us.  For most of us this is the most difficult mile we will ever walk.  But, it can also be the most beautiful, enlightening experience of a lifetime.

“Father, we honor in holiness your name;  we seek your kingdom as we yearn for your will in our lives.  Let it be here within us that you dwell.  Give us spiritual food for this day.  Forgive our trespasses and guide us to forgive our brothers and sisters just as you have forgiven us.  May our fellowship with others in sober living and our love for You keep the temptations of alcohol at bay; protect us from our demons.  We recognize and revere your omnipotence and power which is everlasting.  Amen.”

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LET GO, LET GOD

The world which we see on broadcast media and in newsprint is a world based on fear.  From this fear the news stories evolve depicting terrorism, murder, abuse, desolation, and human depravity.  We read, we process, and usually we respond shaking a fist at and cursing the perpetrators.  Anger is our most readily available response and we allow it to overwhelm us, to defeat us, to negate our innate spiritual bearing.

Our anger only encourages the darkness.  Our anger allows that darkness to trespass upon our natural, God-ordained state of serenity and peace.  It colors every thought we harbor until we get on bended knee and return to the inner peace which is our true and natural state of being.

We believe that love is compassion in action.  We believe that the opposite of love is fear and indifference.  We believe that, although the arising emotion appears to be anger, when we question ourselves about what is driving that emotion the response could be:

“I am sad, very sad, and frightened.  Sad over what this world is and frightened about where this world is going, what it holds for the children and grandchildren.”

When we take ourselves from the fist-shaking, cussing realm of anger into the deeply honest and soul-searching realm of concern for others and the world they are inheriting, we transcend the ego of self to the eternity of love and compassion.  When we turn it over to God and ask blessing on those who make us angry, we are putting the world into the hands of the only Power who can transform and enlighten.  As people in recovery state so perfectly:

“Let go and let God.”

No, we should never give up or not be concerned about the world’s hatred and bigotry.  We should always uphold the worthiness of all people and endorse their right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  But, when we do it prayerfully in obedience to a Higher Power we are connecting to the powerful stream of light which no darkness can conquer.

 

 

ORLANDO ANGELS

 

 

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King David in Psalm 35 exhorted his Lord to send angels to drive away the enemies who persecuted him and intended harm for him.  In this passage we can visualize those angels protecting David just as our angels in Orlando protected mourners from the hateful signs and chants of a hate group from Topeka, Kansas. Their behavior does not warrant being associated with the word Christian. As with the Orlando shooter, I refuse to give them any further publicity by giving them a name. They are nameless. YouTube and Wikipedia are teeming with that information.

“Let those who plan to destroy me
    be turned back in terror.
Let them be like straw blowing in the wind,
    while the angel of the Lord drives them away.
Let their path be dark and slippery,
    while the angel of the Lord chases them.”

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“…….is an unaffiliated Baptist church known for its hate speech, especially against LGBT people, Catholics, Muslims, Jews and politicians. The church is categorized as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty  Law  Center  ….some protests have included WBC members stomping on the American flag and/or flying the flag upside down on a flagpole.”

Let’s face it folks.  These protestors follow Old Testament law rigidly.  They base a belief system on Leviticus 20.  Because the recipients of their brand of hate are so diverse and widespread it is obvious they have learned to read between the Biblical lines which they profess to believe.  I guess when one has a direct hot line to God, when his/her Bible is inerrant and literal, that person can substantiate any theology he/she desires.  Very few other congregations which label themselves as Baptist or Christian or Muslim or Judaic have attained this level of enlightenment.

Have you read Leviticus 20?  It is lengthy.  It is filled with death, blood, and stoning.  It depicts a time when God came to dwell with the Israelites and established his law.  Having just escaped slavery in Egypt, the tribe’s leaders (and God) eschewed anything Egyptian; customs, morals, habits, sexual mores.  If the story is indeed true, life for Jacob’s people must have been anything but “a land flowing with milk and honey” which Moses had promised.

To Jesus followers and to most Christians, adherence to Old Testament law is in itself sinful considering that the new covenant instructs us to “love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself”.  Twelve easy to understand words supersede the entire book of Leviticus.  We may look to the Jewish scriptures for guidance and instruction but we are no longer bound by its law.

“If, therefore, the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” john 8:36

It’s that simple and I’m afraid the association of haters we have referred to in regard to the Orlando angels…well, I’m afraid they are mightily ticking off God almighty.

CLOSURE

 

“For on June 12, after the worst of humanity reared its evil head, I saw the best of humanity come fighting right back.  I never want to forget that night.”

Dr. Joshua Corsa M.D. EMT-P
Orlando Regional Medical Center

With those words from Dr. Corsa we must begin the healing process. Not only the immediate family, friends, and loved ones of the victims but, also America and the world must draw from this horrific act the realization that although the shooter accomplished his plan to carry from the pits of hell his hatred and ideology and inflict immeasurable suffering and pain on Orlando, he is dead. The balance of the world’s citizens who live their lives promoting compassion, tolerance, and peace have survived and we are more determined than ever that this world shall find the necessary means to eliminate hatred and terror. The words of terrorism, the thoughts of terrorism, and the acts of terrorism cannot stand in the strength of a world united in love and peace. We shall prevail.

Now, it is time to move on. Undoubtedly we shall mourn again, another city, another part of the world but, we shall be victorious because we know the forces of evil cannot survive when ‘the best of humanity come fighting right back’. We should never forget that night in Orlando because we know that darkness cannot exist in the light of an enlightened humanity.

VIGIL IN SMALLTOWN

 

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Tonight was one of those moments in life when existence takes on new meaning.  We labor under daily drudgery, shattered dreams, and worldly turmoil.  The moments which rekindle the fires that make life exciting and meaningful are to be cherished, embraced and remembered for future reference.

Tonight I participated in a prayer vigil for the Orlando victims, the 49 beautiful people who were gunned down while celebrating life and youth in a place which they considered to be a safe haven for the LGBT community.  They gathered at Pulse to dance, sing, and party with peers who came from all walks of life, all professions, all creeds.  They were murdered by a disturbed man who allegedly  shared their passion but could not reconcile his religious tradition to their lifestyle.

America’s response has been predictable.  There has been a great outpouring of sympathy and love for the friends, families and loved ones of the victims.  God bless America.  There has also been a response from radical Christian and Muslim sects cheering the deaths as the direct intervention of a vengeful God pouring his full wrath upon a sinful nation. And then there was Trump polarizing America, inciting even deeper Islamophobia among the voters.

But, tonight was a very personal directive in my life.  Those 49 victims will not have died in vain as long as I have breath in my body.  You see, almost 100 like-minded people were at that vigil.  100 people pledged to live life offering love, peace, honor, and respect to all races, all creeds, all ethnicities, all religions, and all sexual orientations.  It’s not too late; we can save mankind from self-destruction and I will be an instrument of that saving peace.  That is my personal promise to those who died too young in Orlando.  They have not died in vain.  They have inspired ordinary people at my vigil here in Smalltown, USA and vigils worldwide to stand up to the hate-mongers and the hatred they intend to spread. Our loving God of peace will prevail.  Amen.