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a different economy



we're still wrapped up in winter here now, blanketed in cotton-white snow and shrouded in daily darkness. but, even here, there are hints of the life to come: a bird (an animal that sings - o the wonder of creation!), a bit of warmth on the skin from the waiting sun, and a gasp of green from the granite ground. "there is life yet to come!" utters nature, in rising crescendo, if we would but listen.

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"there is life yet to come," said Jesus, in his own way. "though you are dead," he said to lazarus (and to the lazaruses of my own heart), "there is still life to come."

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"i came that you might have life," he also said. "and not just any life, but abundant life - life overflowing."

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into an economy as broken as the bones of another era, i hear words of hope: there is life yet to come. maybe that life is coming to us not as a return to the american dream of fierce independence and indiscriminate consumption, but in learning that living whole and healthy lives means taking care of our neighbors, too. "he's a socialist," they sneer, spewing so-called righteous anger at president obama. to be honest, i'm not smart enough to know if its socialism or capitalism or any other -ism. but i know enough to know that i'd rather not have us return to the status quo. so if obama is failing - if he's failing at getting things back to the way they were - then i stand up and applaud him. good for him! in this moment on this day i reject the frenzy of news show voices that clamor for attention by sounding the scariest or most provocative. i reject the voices of those that would call us "back." i don't want to go back. my prayer is not, "lord, restore us to where we were." to me, that smells too much like just another way of praying, "lord, i want a good economy so i can feel secure and buy the things i need (want) without having to think about the consequences." instead, my prayer remains, "lord, thy kingdom come."
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you see, i serve a different king whose kingdom is not of this world. and rather than spend his time criticizing ceasar or writing vitriolic op-eds against his obviously flawed policies, jesus chose to be about other things: to work in the midst of the culture; to bring light in darkness; to offer good news in the midst of bad news.
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i feel like too many of us who claim to be followers of this Jesus aren't really acting much like him. many of us have become bad news barkers. many spread anxiety or fear. many spew anger. many create heat instead of shining light.
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as we journey towards easter, i am reminded that love always finds a way to break through; that life always finds a way to burst through the rock-hard ground. as spring builds its crescendo towards a cacophony of life, i am reminded that the thaw is coming. it always comes. life always emerges. light always vanquishes darkness. love always wins. even death cannot stop love. why have we suddenly started acting like bad credit will? or a descending dow? or a bailout plan that we don't agree with? the truth is, it can't. this recession/depression might stop us dead in our all-consuming tracks, and that might be just what we need. but it can't stop the kingdom from coming. in fact, it might help us!
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i'm not saying that all of this isn't scary. it is. i'm also not saying that our economy can't fail. it can. but what i am saying, to those christians who i see shaking in their financial boots, and to those christians i see pointing accusing fingers at obama with an 'i-told-you-so' smirk on their faces, is that we are not citizens of this kingdom only, and we certainly aren't citizens of the kingdoms of comfort or consumption. we are citizens of a different kingdom, and as such we need to be people marked by hope. the hope our faith gives us is built for such a time as this. our faith calls us in these days to hold fast to hope, and to live our lives differently than those who do not share this hope. we live as those who love God with all that we are and who love others as ourselves. we do not despair; we delight in sharing all that we are and all that we have with one another.
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the economy of God's kingdom, you see, is quite different than the one we are used to. the economy that crumbles around us is one that encourages us to save and spend, to varying degrees, for ourselves. but jesus talked about a different kind of economy: "whoever wants to save their life will lose it..."(mark 8:35). he says, "don't store up treasures for yourself on earth, but store up treasures in heaven" (matthew 6:19-20).
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and so the question is: how are we doing with our treasure storing? where exactly is my heart? if its in my savings account or my portfolio; if its in the commerce of material goods; if its in accumilation and consumption, then i guess i am in for a real depression, if not worse. but if my heart is in sharing good news; if its in caring rather than consuming; if its in wanting a fair chance for everyone; if its in thinking about my neighbor before myself, then maybe, just maybe, my hope will be a light in a very dark situation. this is no time to promote fear. this is no time to shout accusations. for citizens of God's kingdom, this is the time to share hope and joy.
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o God of every good gift, i repent of my need to consume everything. deliver me from my propensity to use the word "need" when i mean "want." save me from my satisfaction with the status quo. may the prayer of my heart during these days be, "thy kingdom come." in the name of the One who demonstrated once and for all that nothing - nothing - can hold down love, amen.

Comments

Greg C. said…
Wow. What an awesome message, greg. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
Terrific post, and I love, love, love the collage.

Mrs. Cunningham from Milford UMC

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