Saturday, January 11, 2020

"This Was Bad Behavior. We Are Sorry. Please Forgive Us."

At age 66 I've lived through more public church scandals than I care to list. All embarrassing, some catastrophic, and some requiring serious legal action. But none of them are akin to what I'm witnessing now. Today's scandal is far and away more baffling than any I've ever witnessed before.

This is NOT a political statement. This IS the voice of a pastor/elder/bishop with 45 years of experience struggling to speak truth for whoever has an ear to hear. This IS also one of the greatest heartaches I have experienced in my role of "preacher."

The doubled down, overtly "prophesied", spiritualized endorsement of President Trump by some high profile church leaders and their followers is a sadness that will haunt the Body of Christ for decades to come. Those of us who did not join this chorus will spend an inordinate amount of our future making sure that our listeners knew exactly how we felt about this but ALL of us will be picking up the pieces for a very long time.

When prophets declare our 45th President to be the Isaiah 45 Cyrus, we have sadly diminished our potential witness. When ecclesiastical leaders hold church rallies for the faithful to cheer and chant with near worship like praise for President Trump, we have placed a bushel over our lamp. When prophetic words are wrapped around the realities of this national political duress in an attempt to make it look like something other than it really is...AND, when TV preachers look at the camera and declare, "If you don't support our President, I doubt your salvation", the Good News becomes the evening news excusing thousands MORE of a generation who are already walking away, to break into a full sprint.

I am a lifelong pentecostal/charismatic believer. I LOVE the Holy Spirit and all the gifts and fruit available to me by the Spirit's power. Early in my training I was taught a simple principle of the prophetic; "No mates or dates." By definition and extension that meant, "NEVER use the Spirit for control, whether subtle or otherwise, for any kind of gain over a flock or person." NEVER. But what is happening now is well beyond "mates or dates"...some are in a full scale attempt at political endorsement via the Holy Spirit's gifts.

I repeat ~ this is NOT a political statement. Endorse anyone for any office you'd like, in your own name but NEVER in the Name of Jesus Christ. NEVER.

We have one way out of this embarrassment, one statement to attempt at making this right, and one opportunity to heal this terrible behavior. Even those of us who have not participated in this can participate in a solution. I'm not a Catholic priest but I am a member of the Universal/Catholic Church and as such, I have often offered apologies (for whatever it is worth) for the broken and evil behavior of clergy abuse. In that spirit, I invite all my sisters and brothers in Christ to the following effort...

As soon as possible and with as many of us as who are brave enough to do so, I believe we must say with authentic humility, "This was bad behavior. We are sorry. Please forgive us."

Sunday, January 05, 2020

21st Century Magi

To all who feel like a homeless spiritual troupe wandering/wondering with a simplicity of love for God BUT uncomfortable with and wary of brittle fundamentalism waving swords of Bible proof texts, BE OF GOOD CHEER. The Magi/Kings/Wisemen of the Christmas story are our forerunners. 

They had no Bible or established religious support for their journey...just a curious star in the night sky. They are the ultimate party crashers. No formal invitation except their deep contrarian spiritual instincts. They stepped onto a stage of profound harsh "Religion Inc." so bound up with Bible proof texts that the ultimate promise of the Bible, sleeping in a manger, was completely missed by professional blindness... in spite of the astrological radiance in the inky black skies. 

The Magi of the 21st century are still searching for the real Jesus. Modern Wise People are suspicious of political power brokers trying to trick them and those who posture for positional influence. They're looking for something unassuming, without the sound and fury of political noise. They are more at home finding a teenaged mama holding her baby who is being sought out by grave-yard shift workers who smell of livestock. 

21st Century Magi have traveled from strange places, long emotional distances, and refuse to be denied. They don't look or dress like "us" so they surely don't appear to fit in. But to ignore them is to ignore a future as bright as EVERY STAR in the sky!