Posts Tagged challenge

God Works; We Work – Rev. Dr. Molly Marshall – Baptist News Global

As our nation celebrated Labor Day, giving attention to the role and dignity of workers, we should also consider the role of human agency in accomplishing divine labor. Theologians always interrogate such things! Surely the work of Christians is more than simply fueling the engine of capitalism; meaningful work also participates in God’s intention for the world. Yet, determining how God is at work in this world is one of the hardest theological challenges.

Think about the urgent crises confronting us. People of faith pray for deliverance, trusting God to hold back the waters of the sea or help them elude their enemies pushing them over the border in Myanmar or rid them of the malignancy growing in their bodies or quell the rising tide of white supremacy. Fervent prayer may not create the conditions for which they pray; however, many continue to trust that God’s providence will prevail. We must ask: through what instrumentality?

Reading narratives of deliverance in Scripture evokes hope for God’s mighty acts to be victorious once again. Many preachers and Sunday school teachers have followed the lectionary texts from Exodus in this extended season after Pentecost. We have noted the trickery of Shiphrah and Puah, the resistance of Pharaoh’s daughter and Miriam, and God’s call of Moses. We have pondered the extended saga of Israel in Egypt, questioning why deliverance was long delayed.

In these early chapters, the writer declares that God has “heard their groaning,” and “remembered God’s covenant,” “seen the misery of the people,” and has “come down to rescue them from the power of Egypt.” The suffering of the people touches the heart of God, although God leans the plans for deliverance upon humans who are themselves part of the oppressed. The means by which God has come down to rescue does not seem very sturdy, and how God will be involved is at question.

God’s commission to Moses is for him to go to Pharaoh and “bring my people out of Egypt.” God’s promise is very simple: “I will be with you,” and the proof that it is truly God who sends him is this: “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall all worship God here on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12). What? It is only after the liberation is accomplished that Moses will know who propelled him into this high stakes mission? Oh my!

I often hear persons wonder out loud why God does not work in our day as God worked in biblical times. It appears that God does indeed work in the same way, inviting people to shared responsibility for God’s handiwork, which we inhabit and stain and heal. I believe that God is always calling humanity to do the needed holy work and that God is the power behind the actions of those courageous enough to trust God.

In a world where things can go terribly wrong — such as the human evocation of climate change that wreaks havoc — God is using every means to mend creation. The incarnation of Jesus teaches that God’s primary means of conducting redemptive work is through a partnership with humans who were tasked at the beginning to tend God’s handiwork. A long, grinding and luminous history of evolution antedates the human arrival, albeit a particular stewardship is required of those whom God has granted dominion.

Kathryn Tanner reminds us that God works in history at a different level than humans. For Tanner, divine and human agency are not in competition with one another. Because God is not in the same order of being as creatures, God’s power is universally extended and is at work in all things. Thus, there is no zero-sum game that suggests the more God is at work, the less humans can do — and vice versa.

Tanner, rather, points us to a renewed vision of how the incarnation determines how divine and human agency can be at work in the same person, who is a paradigm for how God chooses to accomplish the divine purpose. She calls us to think about God as “gift giver,” who not only imbues the Christ with holy presence to transform the horizon of human hopes, but makes possible human participation in Christ toward the same goal of redemption. Her theological vision that Christ is the key to what God is doing everywhere in the world guides our thinking about how human work and godly work always interface. Through God’s humility, we are always ingredient to saving work.

In times of challenge, trusting that God is at work empowering humans to work for the good of all is reassuring. It also prompts courageous action. While it is common to think that we are waiting on God, actually both God and others are waiting on us.

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The Chance to Begin Again – Thomas Crowl*

PHIL:3:13…No dear brothers and sisters, I am not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

THE CHANCE TO BEGIN AGAIN

As I sat on the grass at my high school many years ago I listened to my track coach say…”Just when you are about to throw in the towel you will find a new depth within you…a second wind…to help you finish the race and find glory”. The coach looked around and saw many who shook their heads thinking he must be talking about someone else! I was thinking something else…maybe he’s right…maybe I do have that inner strength if I just pushed a little harder. This experiment would lead me to victory not only on the track but also in life. It seems like every time we reach a barrier a gentle voice is urging us on to be a little better. New Years is just such a time.

We are never too old…never lacking in knowledge…never without hope such that we cannot grasp the golden ring handed us by Paul’s words above for, just like my track coach, victory lies just beyond the next challenge. This time of year calls out for many “resolutions” that may never be kept. Weight Watchers…treadmill salesmen and an endless list of folks stand waiting to sell us on some new plan or device. In reality the greatest tool for our success was given us by our Savior. The chance to begin again needs no special tools, is not a mindless listing of promises that won’t be kept. It is the spark that gave us life and the promise of God for the blessing of eternity.

It is in the realization that we are perfect and possess all the capability to meet any challenge… the genuine hope for a better life…a better year…and the blessing of eternity that must live in our Christian spirit. When we begin to accept the perfection that gave up life on Calvary, that we might know grace, we find the absolute reassurance to finish the race. Draw in that sacred promise and fulfill the blessed hope God gave us at our birth and this year and all those to follow will be better for it.

HEAVENLY FATHER…Let us draw in the great strength that finds its being in your finest gift. Never let us forget you are always there for us urging us on to fulfill the special destiny that lives in this New Year.

PAUL’S ADVICE TO THE CORINTHIANS AND THE SPECIAL COURAGE TO BEGIN AGAIN IS GOD’S GREATEST GIFT TO MAN.

*Thomas Crowl is a retired judge living in Florida.

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Mayor Summey Issues 2016 Proclamation for Say Something Nice Day

Mitch and Councilman Brown 2016Mayor Keith Summey signed a proclamation declaring June 1, 2016 as Say Something Nice Day in the City of North Charleston. He urged all citizens and visitors to make this is a day of healing relationships and creating an environments that benefits everyone. The clerk read the proclamation which was presented to Mitch Carnell, founder of the movement, by Councilman Michael Brown.

Mayor John Tecklenburg, City of Charleston, and Mayor Elise Partin of the City of Cayce, issued similar proclamations earlier in the week. The City of North Charleston issued the first Say Something Nice Day Proclamation in 2006. This is the 11th year. Dr. Carnell complimented Mayor Summey on the outstanding example of public civility that he has demonstrated during a very difficult year.

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Presidential Candidates Duck Say Something Nice Sunday Challenge

Not only did the three remaining presidential candidates ignore the civility pledge for the 10th Anniversary observance of Say Something Nice Sunday on June 5 2016, but they intensified their verbal venom. The steering committee sent a letter to each of the candidates asking her or him to take a pledge of civility for either Say Something Nice Day on June 1 or Say Something Nice Sunday on June 5th. Each was asked to respond by May 20.

The committee hoped that a lull in the war of words would have a positive effect leading to a more civil discussion of the issues. ”We are in need of good examples of civility in the public square,” said Mitch Carnell, committee chair. “The present level of rhetoric is totally lacking in respect for differing viewpoints.”

The purpose is very simple. On this one day do not say anything negative about any person, Christian organization or group and if possible say something nice.

Rev. Garry Hollingsworth, Executive Director/Treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention said, “It is timely for you folks to encourage this kind of cooperation among God’s people since we face so many spiritual challenges in this state and our nation.”

The Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston (all of South Carolina,) enthusiastically endorsed the annual celebration. He said, “The decline of civility is at an epidemic level in our society and unfortunately has invaded our religious life. The disrespect shown to Christians by other Christians is far from what Jesus wants for His people.”

Rev. Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church and a member of the committee, emphasizes, “In conversation, an attitude of grace dissolves the temptation to pre-judge the words or the reactions of another. Grace keeps us from being easily offended, and in a conversation on a difficult subject, you neither want to give or take offense. Our world has been divided long enough – let’s build relationships that can change it, starting right here.”

Free materials are at www.fbcharleston.org. Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the page. Scroll down on the right to Say Something Nice Sunday. There are Bible references, devotionals, art work and the purpose.

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