Saturday, May 24, 2008

Our Next Thing at The Gathering

I've not been able to be very active with my blogging lately. Besides working in the mornings at a group home for kids, tearing apart about 16 tons of safety deposit boxes in the old vault at our gathering place, here is something else I've been preparing for:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Monks to Iraq

Bloggers UniteToday I was watching C-Span. A group of soldiers who had spent some years in Iraq were telling of atrocities perpetrated during the current war.

Two days ago I sat with a new friend - Geoffrey Ames. Geoff is a Bishop for a small evangelical Orthodox Church group here in America. Geoff is a Franciscan monk, and spent a few years developing a Franciscan mission community in a town nearby. Geoff is also a weekend warrior. He is in the Army Reserves, and has been called to Iraq. This will be Geoff's second tour of duty.

Yes, Geoff is a Franciscan soldier - hmmmmmm. That must blow your mind. I know that it certainly does that for many other people. Geoffrey will be a chaplain's assistant. He will carry a gun. He spoke of his first tour of duty, and is excited to go back. Recently he has been teaching school, but wanted to have more freedom to share his faith. Being called to Iraq offers that opportunity.

Geoff told me stories about helping children in Iraq, and how the soldiers he knew really cared to help the Iraqi people. He told of times the Iraqi people expressed their appreciation for the American presence.

Geoff left his car with us, and we will have it in our care for the year (perhaps more) while he is away.

I am deeply impressed with the devotion of my new friend Bishop Ames the Franciscan monk. I will be praying for him, and shoring his stories with our church. I am not sure how his story informs my thoughts about the war, and my concerns for justice and human rights. I am convinced that Franciscans devoted to peace placing themselves in the heart of the war zone is a Gospel thing. I am also convinced that war is a serious transgression against the rights of those who are touched by that war.

I drove brother Geoff's car today, and considered these issues. War is wrong, but brother Geoff is one of my heroes. I am glad God is sending Franciscan monks to Iraq.

Other SynchroBloggers on this subject:

  • Phil Wyman on href="" target="_blank">Monks to Iraq.

  • Adam Gonnerman on href="
    unite.html" target="_blank">Guantanamo Bay in the eyes of God

  • Julie Clawson on Human rights and Christian

  • Steve Hayes on Human rights and Christian faith.

  • Steve Hayes (again!) on href="
    international/" target="_blank">Human Rights and Amnesty

  • Alan Knox on My charade is the event of the

  • Sally Coleman on href="
    un.html" target="_blank">If.

  • Sonja Andrews on target="_blank">Human wrongs.

  • Cobus van Wyngaard on href="
    humanization-and-our-task-in-zimbabwe/" target="_blank">Christianization
    and Humanization and our task in Zimbabwe

  • Janice Fowler on href="
    up-speak-up.html" target="_blank">"Voice overs needed" (oe "Wake up --
    speak up")

  • Bryan Riley on href="
    human-rights/" target="_blank">Bloggers unite for human

Friday, May 02, 2008

Social Action and Pentecost: non-verbal expressions of our faith

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

The Franciscan call says, "Preach the Gospel. When necessary use words." The heart of Christian social action is found in this dictum. God's care for the world should be expressed by His people in acts of mercy and giving. The poor should be cared for, and the oppressed relieved. These actions often speak louder than words, and carry the seed of the Gospel in them.

In comparison evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity sometimes look (and sound) shallow, and pompous next to taking serious social action. Of course Christians should be involved with caring for the impoverished and oppressed of the world, but I wonder if the above words of the Apostle Paul are the connecting dots between social action and Pentecostal faith.

His Gospel, perhaps like that of Francis of Asissi, was not simply spoken, but illustrated. Paul healed the sick and cast out demons. He demonstrated God's power through his prayers and blessings to the impoverished and the oppressed, and he did so in such a way as to emphasize his own weakness. By this he more perfectly illustrated the Gospel - He clearly modeled salvation as an act of God's power moving upon humans despite their incapacity to save themselves.

Healing and deliverance through the miraculous acts of the Spirit of God are still the greatest social action moments of the Biblical narrative. They do not by any means give Christians the right to ignore caring for the poor and oppressed in practical ways, but our knowledge of God's power should cause us to desire the spiritual gifts and move into a wholly new realm of social action.