Like me and many/most Christians, Rachel Held Evans has struggled with the violence of the Old Testament. She puts an old answer to this problem very succinctly:
Finally, the last thing I know is this: If the God of the Bible is true, and if God became flesh and blood in the person of Jesus Christ, and if Jesus Christ is—as theologian Greg Boyd put it—“the revelation that culminates and supersedes all others,” then God would rather die by violence than commit it. The cross makes this plain. 
 Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 76-77.
Jenny’s leaving this morning to serve as camp minister at Camp Horizon. (Liz Collins, Joy Clemence, and Beth Holmes are going as campers.) I’m staying here to hold down the fort. Feel free to call me if you have a question. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll get ahold of Jenny.
Tomorrow at both worship services, Chelsea Shrack, the campus minister at K-State Wesley, will be bringing the message. We will also be taking up a special offering for K-State Wesley during our offering time. We invite you to join us as we hear what is happening at our United Methodist Campus Ministry at K-State!
Truly transformed people organically change the world, while fundamentally unchanged people can only conform to the system and wholeheartedly cheer it on. — Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
It’s important to note that this quote comes in the middle of an essay in which Rohr highlights the need to expand the scope of our vision to address “corporate, collective sin and fully institutionalized evil.”
Richard Rohr, “Questioning Our Loyalties,” Center for Action and Contemplation, June 29, 2018, accessed July 11, 2018, http://bit.ly/2L8i5Ix.
Jenny and I are excited to be hosting Chelsea Shrack of K-State Wesley this coming Sunday. In addition to Chelsea’s telling of the story of K-State Wesley, we’ll have special music, in the form of trumpet duets, from Chuck Brussow and David Carlson.
“The point of scripture is to teach us to love God and to love our neighbors. So if you are using the Bible to harm your neighbor, you are using it wrong.” — Rachel Held Evans
How do we know that the point of scripture is to teach us to love God and our neighbors? Jesus told us so in Matthew 22:37-40.
From Clark Williamson, Director of Music Ministries at First UMC:
Our church was well-represented this week in the discipline of music. Members of our congregation reached out with their musical talents in the Salina Community Band, Abilene City Band, Christian Women’s Club, and the funeral for Mary Hamill. The good Lord truly puts the music in our hearts. And it bubbles out to far-reaching places.
There will be a funeral service for Mary Hamill this Saturday (July 7, 2018) at 1:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The bell choir will be playing. We’re looking for Gospitality (hospitality) volunteers to serve as hosts. Let me know if you would be willing to serve.
A friendly reminder: the church office will be closed tomorrow (July 4, 2018) for the celebration of Independence Day.
This past Sunday I tried to speak faithfully to the intersection of our love of our country and our love of God, putting emphasis on the dire importance of placing our love of God above everything else including our rightful love of country (despite its flaws, there is a lot to love.) Roger Olson comes at the same topic from a different viewpoint in a recent blog post.
Patriotism is love for one’s country without blinders about its flaws and defects. Patriotism seeks to actualize the highest and best ideals of one’s country which can sometimes look like disloyalty to nationalists.
Patriotism is honest about the country’s failures and urges leaders to push on toward better achievements of its founding ideals. Nationalism rejects all criticism of country as almost (if not exactly) treason.
Patriotism regards America as a gift from God and thanks God for it, but it equates “America” with ideals such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression and equal justice for all. It is realistic in knowing that government and society do not always live up to those ideals. When patriots wave the flag they are fully aware that it symbolizes and represents wonderful ideals and not every decision and actions government makes. When nationalists wave the flag they are using it as an idol to sanctify whatever America does.
Patriotism looks to the future and hopes for and works toward the country’s achievement of its ideals. Nationalism looks to the past and defends everything the country has ever done as necessarily good and right just because the country did it. Thus, patriotism loves the country for what it can be; nationalism loves the country for what it has done–regardless of morality. Nationalism exempts country from moral accountability; patriotism holds country morally accountable because it loves it.
Under these definitions, I am a patriot who agrees that nationalism inevitably slides into unfaithful idolatry.
Jenny and I just got back from Topeka. We went for a prayer vigil for separated families hosted by Kansas Interfaith Action. There were considerably fewer prayers and more press than we expected, but we feel better for having gone. It’s frustrating to see children suffering and not be able to do anything about it.
As a side note, that’s why we didn’t invite or encourage any of you to go with us. We didn’t know what to expect. When we invite you to something, we want to do everything we can to ensure that it’s a good experience.
We are called to be people of conviction, not conformity; of moral nobility, not social respectability. We are commanded to live differently and according to a higher loyalty. — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Living according to a higher loyalty was one of the points I was trying to make this morning.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Stength to Love (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 47.