Bread – Labels

November 4, 2008


Readings for Monday and Tuesday, November 3-4

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            **, Rev. 14:1-15:8, Luke 12:49-13:9

            Psalms 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 68

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We like to talk about neutrality, a form of dual-mindedness where we can agree and disagree at the same time.  Let us compromise.  Let us meet in the middle.  Let us be tolerant.  Let us live without controversy, without having to take a stand.  All things in moderation.

 

This may be one of the great lies of our time, that we can live in the middle, avoiding engagement with the truth and each other, and while doing so avoiding intellectual, emotional, and spiritual engagement with ourselves.

 

Here’s some news.  God is not neutral and His people are not neutral either.  There is nothing in the Bible to indicate otherwise.

 

Our reading in Revelation today reveals that in the end times, there are two camps of people and only two.  There is the camp of those people who bear the name of Jesus and God the Father on their foreheads (Rev. 14:1), and there are those people who bear the mark of Babylon, the world, the beast (Rev. 14:9).  The camp of Jesus Christ and God the Father is preserved; the Babylon camp will drink the cup of God’s wrath, to their eternal tormenting.  Two camps, two labels, two results.  No neutrality.

 

In today’s lesson in Luke, Jesus Himself delivers the same message.  “I have come to bring fire on the earth…Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but division.”  Luke 12:49-51.  Division divides.  Two camps, two labels, two results.  No neutrality.

 

We are used to wearing labels.  After all, I see them all the time on shirts, pants, hats, and other pieces of our wardrobe.  People even have labels tattooed onto themselves.

 

But can people who look at our face tell whose camp we belong to?  Can they clearly see the label of Jesus Christ and God the Father on our forehead, on our face, on our body, and in our lives?  Or do we wear a different label, or maybe even pretend to wear no label at all?

 

Do you have a label?  If so, do you wear it?  If you don’t have a label, why not?  If you don’t wear it, why not?

 

At the end, and there will be an end for each of us, whether we want to or not we will be found to be wearing one or the other label.  Two labels, two groups, two outcomes.  No neutrality.

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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**  The Book of Common Prayer prescribes readings for today from Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, which is from the Apocrypha.  The Apocrypha is a group of books which are not included in the Bible proper (in other words, they are not “canonical”), but are sometimes printed as an “addendum” to the Bible and used by some denominations.  The historical Protestant approach to the Apocrypha is that the books were not to be printed as part of any Bible and not to be used for doctrine at all.  However, the Anglican church has historically included the Apocrypha within its cycle of Bible readings, although not for doctrine, concluding that the banning of the publication and use of the Apocrypha is similar to the banning of the publication and use of devotionals and sermons.  Because the readings from Eccesiasticus are not useful for doctrine and can be misleading, however, I have chosen not to include them in Bread.

 

 

 

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One Response to “Bread – Labels”

  1. Kathy Kremer Says:

    There is a delicate balance between speaking the truth in love and not speaking at all because you are afraid to offend. Paul tried to speak the gospel to everyone in terms that they would understand. “I have become all things to all men”. Yet he never compromised on the truth of his message or the need for people to hear it. He was willing to be considered a fool for preaching the “gospel of Jesus and him crucified”. If you go in guns blazing and tell the person “you are going to hell” that person will probably not listen because he is offended by your approach. Worse, it may decrease his ability to listen to someone else who has the same message but a different approach (kind of like a vaccination that protects against a disease by giving you a light case of the disease). I think the best way to share the good news is the plan taught in Cursillo: “make a friend, be a friend, bring your frined to Jesus.” But at the end, we will all indeed have to choose sides. May we all have grace to choose life and God’s way.


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