22 December 2006

Four Star Soup Kitchen

I saw this really fun article in the New York Times:


It made me think about a few things. I don't know if any of you have read some of Mother Theresa's thoughts on caring for the poor, but this really made me think about it. She stresses that giving people your left overs isn't what we (as Christians) are called to do.

We are called to give them what we would have. If we have two coats, we are to give one away. We are not called to give them the one we don't want any more. Just like the way so many soup kitchens serve peanut butter and jelly. Don't get me wrong, I love PB&J, but most of the people running the soup kitchen aren't going to eat that for dinner. This creates a little problem - how far do we go with this? Mother Theresa never gave up her bed - she had a _very_ modest room with a bed and a desk - but for the most part, she lived the same as those she served.

What does it tell some one when we give them our left overs and rejects? This soup kitchen may use left overs - but there is nothing wrong with being frugal. It seems like there is something wrong when we are expecting others to live in a way that we would never.

I know I am saying something very radical, but I am only saying it because Jesus did... so don't get mad at me.

One last thought, that I got when I was listening to a program on poverty on my favorite radio program: Speaking of Faith. A man on the program who lives with and serves AIDs patients in D.C. talked about the difference between charity and justice. Charity is giving people thing on our terms - you can sleep here if you show up by 8pm and don't do drugs. Justice is the quest to change the social structures that keep some people up and others down - it would require us giving up our priveledge. There is nothing wrong with charity, but as it says in Isaiah 42: "I have called you for justice."

14 December 2006

My Niece - Maggie

So I know I don't brag about my niece so often - but I got this picture of her in her Holloween Costume (I know it is a little late) and it is painfully cute - so I thought it might put a smile on a few more faces. She can't really stand on her own, that is why her Mom is holding her up:

04 December 2006

More Lutheran Ethics Discussions

This one was definitely not as painful as the last one - it was good. We talked about what a youth minister should do if he caught Harold (senior pastor) with a woman in the church library who was not his wife. The exact phrasing was: "locked in a clearly sexual embrace with a divorced and unmarried parishioner" I struggled a lot with what restoration could/should look like for a church leader who screws up like this...

I was writing my final thoughts and thought they sounded pretty darn good - so I should show them off publicly.

[Classmate], you say something interesting: "Are people turning away from Christianity because they see blatant hypocrisy in their ministers? If we got rid of the immoral ministers and kept the upright (although still sinners) who walked their talk, would our churches grow and would faith deepen?"
I believe strongly that a church having convictions and holding to them - popular or not - shows an integrity that is attractive. I am not sure how I feel about celibate clergy, but the Roman Catholic unapologetic stance on what they feel is a matter of faith/obedience is inspiring. But what I see as a problem is the conflict in your statement - "upright (although still sinners)" is that all will fall short to varying degrees. Now we have to create a scale: so if we find out the pastor lusted after the cute girl in the third row during his sermon - should we relieve him of his position because Jesus said that looking/thinking is as bad as doing. It is a slippery slope for sure. Where does a sin require a public confession and public restoration/penance? Where is a sin something we only need to confess to our brother and move on? Where does pornography fit in on this scale of sexual sin?

I would say that the hypocrisy that people see in Christian ministry comes more from a Christian's inability to admit and address their own sins and failings than from the fact that they have them. Ted Haggard preaching against homosexuality is disgusting in light of the truth - Ted Haggard sharing his struggle with lust for sex outside of marriage is a testament to boasting about weakness and allowing God to work through our struggles and sufferings. In Christ all things are possible, if we only worry about our public face and our higher moral ground, then we will be put low over and over again.