In Principle…..But

 I wanted to spend today’s post giving you some quotes from Greg Boyd. I use Dr. Boyd’s words quite often in this blog but will give some first timers a little info about him. He is a theologian and the founder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul MN. He is also the founder and president of Christus Victor Ministries and an author of 15 books on theology and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He also has doctorates from both Princeton and Yale Divinity Schools.
 Here are his words (the bold letters are my emphasis, not his):

 Now through his death and resurrection, Jesus accomplished the task for which he came. He defeated the kingdom of darkness and set humanity free. In principle, therefore the world has already be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:14-21; Col 1:15-20). In principle, the wall of sin that separates humanity along ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, and tribal lines has been destroyed. In principle, all have already died in Adam and been made alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:22; 2 Cor 5:14). In principle, we are already one new humanity in Christ (Eph 2:14-15). In principle. Yet Scripture as well as our own experience makes it painfully clear that what is true in principle has not yet been manifested as accomplished fact. The interval between what is true in principle and what is manifested as fact… The interval from our perspective has already lasted two thousand years and for all we know may go on for another ten thousand…. Now, we need to understand that this interval is not to be a time in which we passively wait for the end. Rather, it is a time in which the kingdom of God that was planted at Calvary is supposed to grow in us and through us to encompass the entire world.

These so eloquently put words are at the very soul of my beliefs of Jesus’ teachings. Let all us followers of the Way spend our time on this earth making what Jesus accomplished in principle actually occur in fact.
 Here is a list of books by Pastor Boyd that is well worth reading and may just shake you out of some of your commonly held myths of what being a Christian is all about:

Letters from a Skeptic

Myth of the Christian Nation

Seeing is Believing

Is God to Blame

Myth of a Christian Religion

I will be reviewing each of them in the coming weeks.

The Jesus Factor

On Sunday I listened to a sermon from my pastor that truly moved me. It is about a subject that is very near to my heart. For that reason I am posting a copy here without comments. Please take the time to read it. You will be enriched by its message. It is kind of long (most clergymen are long winded aren’t they?) but it is worth the read. 🙂  Thank you Pastor for allowing me to post it on this blog. Here it is:

 You can’t help but be awed at this gracious outpouring of compassion from the Lord. Conservatively, Jesus fed at least 10,000 men, women and children that day. The bread of life eternal supplied bread and fish for all; not just a tidbit for each, but he satiated the hunger pains and they were all filled. A vast crowd, yet not one is left unfed. What a symbol of the sufficiency of Divine provision for those in need. Superabundant provision, more than enough, twelve baskets left over. How royally and munificently the Lord of all provides for his dependant children!

Bbbring! The phone stirred me from a quiet meditation on God’s great mercy and goodness. After I said my hello the voice on the other end said “Uh, hi ,I’m calling all the churches. See, about seven weeks ago, I was injured on the job. I ruptured two discs in my back and am now unable to work. My five kids, wife and I are in dire straits. Our savings are gone, and for some reason, the company is refusing to pay disability. They won’t talk to me, so I have to hire a lawyer to get funds.”

“I called the local homeless shelter and they had seven, seven, individual diapers lying around, to give us. That will last about two hours with my little ones. Our cupboards are bare, and I mean bare, and we don’t know what to do. We’re good Christian people, and are just asking if you can help us at all.”

“Well,” I replied hesitantly, because I knew that he wasn’t going to like my response any more than I was, “we’re a small church and we don’t have any funds available to help, and I don’t know where else you can turn to for help,” I answered, almost apologetically.

“Do you have any members that you can call that they might be willing to give us something?” he asked. Ok, that raised my hackles a bit, that he would ask such a thing. “No, I don’t. I’m sorry. The best I can think of is to call the Crisis Pregnancy Center; they may be able to supply you some diapers.” I hung up and said a little prayer that the Lord would help them out.

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Back to contemplating the great goodness of the Lord. “How royally and munificently the Lord of all provides for his dependant children,” the commentary said about the feeding of the five thousand. Funny, somehow something’s changed, I realized. Before I was about to fall on my knees in humble adoration at the Lord’s bounty. After that phone call, though, I wanted to tear out the page and rip it up. Here was a family in need and where was the Lord’s abundant provision? In fact, every week, I hear such pleas for the Lord’s help. Where’s the Lord when loaves and fish need multiplying now?

And worse yet, I thought about my stuffed cupboards, my full pantry, my freezer stocked with meat. And felt guilty. Oh, is that the leftover baskets of food? Is that where that family’s needs are to be found?

And I also thought about the five dollars I had in my wallet, and the savings and checking account balances. I thought about how well I have it, never having to beg and wonder where the next meal is going to come from. I thought about the aisle after long aisle at the grocery stores in the area, all that food, and it was all out of reach.

Why me, and not them, Lord? Or better, why not me instead of them? I could have told that man, that man who had to swallow every ounce of pride left in him not only as a man and husband and loving father, but as a human being, I could have told him to come over and I’d give him what I had on hand. Wouldn’t have done much good, though.

And I also thought about the trash I had taken out last week. A trash bag that had leftover food in it, food from a plate full that I couldn’t eat all of, so I threw it away. Every time, literally, every time I turn on the faucet and wait for the water to turn hot, I think about people that are dying of thirst and watch all that water going down the drain. How they might salivate over such waste! How they would beg and plead and maybe even kiss my feet if I would let them have a drink of the water.

I know you’ve experienced similar. You walk out of the restaurant and there, on the corner, is a guy with a cardboard sign that says, “Need help. Anything will do. God bless.” Or you’re heading to the grocery store to add to the already overabundant stock pile of food you have and you see him standing there, torn clothes, scruffy beard, and a sign that says, “Vet in need of food.” And I know what you think, because it’s the same thoughts we all have. Am I supposed to help everyone? And how much are we to help? And if we don’t give to everyone, is that a sin? We quickly remember the parable of the sheep and goats and how Jesus says that whenever you feed or clothe or visit someone, you are doing it to Jesus and that just brings on tons more guilt.

There they are, all those people on that mountainside that day, more than live in the our two local adjoining towns combined. And there they are, the twelve, and there it is, the proverbial golden opportunity to help those in need, practically a set up if you ever saw one. Hmmm. Are those guys on the street corner and those phone calls the church receives the same kind of set-up? There seems to be some concern on the part of the disciples about the crowd’s well being, as they ask Jesus to send them away so they can eat. Just like us. You have to be a zombie not to feel some amount of compassion and concern. And as we pass them by, we whisper a prayer that the Lord will give send them away to find something to eat.

Jesus’ response must have floored them. They must have stood there with that dumbfounded, blank stare face. It’s the same thing we hear yelled at us from our guilty consciences when we see the homeless or destitute or hear about those who have lost jobs, homes, everything in recent times. The same words from the same Lord, “You give them something to eat.”

And how ironic that the disciples’ reply, which in some ways, sounded a lot like a snide remark, is so close to what we reply, may be not vocally, but we’re thinking it just the same when crowds of needy people invade our sight. “We can’t.” Why does Jesus expect them to feed the crowd? It makes no sense, because he has deliberately brought them to this place, to be by themselves and rest. Now, he expects them to do more?

But the question that really strikes at our sensibilities and bothers us to no end is: If God provides for all the needs of his children “royally and munificently,” then why are there so many in need? Is someone being selfish, hoarding more than they need? Or lots of someones? And the only conclusion we can come to when we see people in need is that we are the selfish. We feel extreme guilt because we have and they do not.

The disciples gave up what they had, the five loaves and two fish. And if we read from John’s Gospel, it wasn’t even theirs. A little boy had it. That meager supply may have been enough to feed the disciples for a meal, and to give that up was truly a sacrifice. Did they give it up grudgingly? Did Jesus have to practically yank it out of their hands, so tight was their grip of survival instinct?

Really, just what exactly is sacrificial giving? And so often, when we do give, the thought that crosses our minds is that it is not enough. Sure, I could have given that guy $20 for diapers, which would have lasted him a few days at most. But it would have done little to solve his long-term financial woes. Sadly, even if I could have given him more, he needed more than I could possibly give.

Sometimes, we don’t give because we don’t have anything to give, because we too are in need. Sometimes, we don’t give because we think it’s a scam. Is that guy on the street corner really out of a job or has he found a way to make a living feeding on others’ pity? At other times, we don’t give because we have been careless and wasted the blessings of God on foolish things and are in debt up to our eyeballs. Or we just use the same tired old excuses: I gave at the office. Or, here’s my church offering, that’s all I’ve got left. How much does God expect us to give anyway?

In order to find some satisfactory answers and fully understand this miraculous feeding, we need to look ahead a couple of chapters in Mark’s Gospel. Sometime after the second miraculous feeding Jesus does, for four thousand this time, the disciples are off in a boat and realize they don’t have much bread. You can just about imagine what they were thinking too. Maybe Jesus will make bread and fish appear for us again.

But Jesus uses the situation to warn them about the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod. As if that was even on their mind. Typical of their response, they think he’s upset because they don’t have enough bread. Bad stewards. Careless decisions. Oh that’s us alright.

But then, after they have discussed his comments among themselves, and surmise that yes indeed, Jesus is hungry and we don’t have a thing to give him, Jesus asked them, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”

It’s not about bread, Jesus says. It’s not about feeding the hungry. It’s not about how much you give or don’t give. His final question, after reminding them of the finale of the miraculous feedings, the leftovers, was this: “Do you still not understand?” These two unique feedings are indicative of something far more serious, far more life-changing, of more eternal worth than just food.

Like a tired refrain, his unspoken answer is: It’s about Jesus. With the multiplication of bread and fish, everyone should have gotten the clear message Jesus was sending. He was in fact God in the flesh. For only God was able to give supernatural food and make a little go a long ways. Only Jesus is the true bread of life.

All we have is from the Lord’s generous hand. We know that. While we may want to claim some part in obtaining things we need, daily bread is not always a miracle, but always from God’s gracious economy. The ability to labor in the fields to gather the food is from the Lord. The seed is from God. The earth that receives the seed is from God’s creative hand. All that we are and all that we have is from the Lord. With thanksgiving and praise, we acknowledge with all humility that our whole lives depend on God’s goodness and mercy.

Your heavenly Father knows what you need even before you ask for it. But in the asking, we exercise faith that recognizes that our lives depend on God’s great goodness. Every gift calls us to look to the great Giver. With every gift, we acknowledge the creator of all good things, and for every gift we give our heartfelt thanks to God.

Will God refuse to give us who ask of him in faith? “He that did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will he not also freely give us all things?” That’s where Jesus was leading the crowd and his disciples. That’s where He is leading us today. And it’s all about more than just food.

The real miracle of supply is found in the suffering and death of Jesus. One man’s blood was shed for all of humanity’s sin. One man’s death is the complete payment for your sin, and for my sin. It’s math God’s way. With that one sacrifice, God gave his best and the whole world was fed and completely satisfied. Our hungry souls are satiated with his righteousness. Our thirsty lives are filled to overflowing with living waters. The bread of life, the fountain of forgiveness, is the one source of all that we truly need.

And there’s really something else here. It’s what we might call “The Jesus factor.” Because of Jesus’ love shown to us, because the Spirit lives in us, we desire to help those in need. Sure, we sometimes fight our selfish sinful nature that wants to hoard all that we have. But to God’s credit, we overcome that inclination and give to those who are hungry, thirsty, naked or in prison, and in need.

And here’s where the Jesus factor comes in. Maybe you can only give a dollar or two. Maybe you can’t give money at all, but your energies in volunteering. Maybe you are strapped for time and all you can do is pray. That may not seem like much. You may think that one measly dollar is not going to help anyone, let alone save a life. You may say to yourself that your one hour at the food bank will not do anything to really help those starving and homeless.

But when all those dollars are gathered together, God does something truly miraculous. He adds in Jesus. And your one dollar or your one hour or your one prayer is magnified. Your baby bottle of change, maybe only half full, given in prayer and with thanksgiving for what God has blessed you with, is multiplied. Your one dollar becomes $1500 that goes to a place where lives are saved every day. Sure, a life is worth far more than a dollar. Oh, but look what God can do with even a dollar, when he adds in the Jesus factor.

Though five loaves and two fish would barely be sufficient to feed thirteen hungry men, Jesus still says, “Bring it to me.” At once it is given up, even though it appeared to be ridiculously insufficient to meet the great need of the crowd. Yet even that small gift, those puny loaves and few fish, a great sacrifice from others, was with the Lord’s blessing, made enough for all. More than enough. With leftovers.

While we might suppose that our one little gift, which may indeed be our sacrificial giving, is barely enough to make a dent, God can blast a huge hole. We might even be afraid that God might scoff at our small offering, as He knows what we really have. But God mocks no gift given in love and faith, no matter how small, how inconsequential.

Whether we give of our time, talents or treasures, whatever meager gift we bring, though it be inadequate for the world’s necessities and for those who cry out to us for help, Christ still invites us to “Bring it to him.” For God always uses what we give to him in praise and thanksgiving for the greatest good. And all because the Father adds in the Jesus factor.

You know it’s worked in your life. Every one of us as God’s dear children can attest to miraculous events in our own lives. Remember the gentle way the Father has led you through wildernesses of suffering, pain and setback. Remember the gracious revelations that God has given you through His Word that have increased your faith. Remember all the sins that our Father in heaven has forgiven you for Christ’s sake. Look and see how the Jesus factor has made an impact in your life.

The next time you give, remember the Jesus factor. Whatever we offer, let us it offer in faith and trust that God will use it and make it beneficial to as many as possible. Do not think that your offering is unimportant or not of use to the Lord. Do not think that God cannot use whatever you give for his glory and to help those in need. Always expect to behold how God can make one small gift turn into a great and glorious gift.

And above all else, consider each day how much the Lord has given to you. Consider what manner the Love the Father has lavished upon you. He has called you by his grace, he has bestowed upon you the inheritance of heaven, and he has brought you into his glorious light. And maybe that was all because of someone’s quarter dropped in the offering plate. What marvelous things God can do with such inconsequential offerings! Amen.

Loving God…

Matt 22:37-40 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Of course, the above words are at the foundation of what it means to be a Christian. As He mentioned all of the law is based on these two commandments.  When he mentions the phrophets I guess he is referring to the messages that they brought to the people.  It is important that we Christians think about these verses every day and do our best to obey them.   What a wonderful place the world would be if somehow we all took them to heart.

Must, shall, command…

Obey Word Art 340x102

 

Before I proceed to cover more places where the Lord shows us how to live I want to bring up some of my past experiences which may tint my beliefs in the Bible.  I spent 30 years as an engineer designing consumer products. During that time I wrote many product requirments documents,user manuals, repair manuals, and that sort of thing.  In that effort there were certain words that were strictly defined. Among those were shall, must, command. Those words were strictly enforced to mean something that was absolutely required to be done.  When requirements say the red indicator shall flash it meant that is was a absolute; if the red didn’t flash the product could not be shipped.  Then there were other words like can, may, or “it is desireable”.  These words were meant to imply optional characteristics.

I guess I have taken those meanings to my interpretation of the Bible. When Jesus says I command you to do (this or that) he is not leaving it up to us to determine if we want to do it. He is tell us that we are required to do this.  There are so many places in the red letters including the great commission (to obey everything I have commanded) that is is hard to see how many say these are optional behaviors.  I have not studied Greek or Aremaic so I have to leave it up the the many Bible scholars to show me the shall, musts, and commands. It is very hard for me to accept that Jesus was only making recommendations with his many words in this category. Is it difficult/inconvenient/impossible to meet all of Jesus’ commands; sure it is but that does not allow us to ignore them we he speaks to us.

Love in the Red Letters

Let’s spend some time studying the meaning of Love in the Gospel text.  Here is the first one:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.   Matt 5:43-45

You might call this tough love in that it is very very hard to even think about it.  Can you even imagine being able to love your enemy while you are about to take his life!  Pray for those who torment you! Another almost impossibility in today’s world.  But, I am sure that Jesus did indeed intend us to live by His words.  It is very easy to say we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior but very hard to indeed put those words in practice. But if we don’t at least try should we really expect his grace? In the coming days I will be examining other places where the Lord tells us how to love.

Some Personal Views on Outreach – Contemporary Services

One of the many conflicts in churches today is whether to offer a “contemporary” service. There as very strong advocates on both sides of this issue. But even if a church decides to take the contemporary themed service off the table there are still many other outreach tools that can be used.  Let’s not limit ourselves to just the old arguments against doing something.  Let’s investigate how other churches have been successful with other methods. Let’s not take everything off the table just because some of it is tainted.

Personally I don’t think the Lord would mind if we used some songs that were newer than 100 years old in our service. Many churches offer both types of services and they are both very Christ centered, just different. In fact the same sermons and reading are often done at both types of services.  I know many have an ingrown bias against contemporary services and that is ok. Not all churches are as open to it as others. But, don’t put down others who do not share your viewpoint on that. 

I have been to a few nontraditional services. One was very much not scripturally based. Very me oriented. It was very uncomfortable even sitting there. The other did have much of the traditional service included. I was not up on all the predefined parts then so I really don’t remember if they did A,B,C,D or just A,C,D.  All I remember is that even though I was in my 50s it was very uplifting for me. I truly felt they God was pleased with their efforts.  I was in the Catholic church when they went through this with their guitar masses. It got very vitriol at times. Embarrassingly so.

  I guess my interpretation of Scripture is different from those who think God mandated a certain order of worship. I don’t see that God is so inflexible that only A,B,C,D,E is pleasing worship to Him. And if some churches or services do A,D,E or W,X,Y,Z that somehow is not God pleasing. I have studied, but not attended Amish, Quaker, Anabaptist services and they are quite different from the one I presently attend. I have attended Baptist, Methodists, and Presbyterian services and although they are different I didn’t come away with the feeling that they were sacrilegious or less honorable than what we do.  

Back fence evangelism is important to every church’s evangelism strategy. It is great when it is successful but many treat that as the only way to do outreach. Do we need to limit ourselves to that strategy only?   It is important that we are making every attempt to bring souls to the Lord. If we limit our outreach to one strategy how many souls would have been saved if we had a second or third strategy? Will God look kindly on us if we just stick to one strategy?

 I know that the Holy Spirit softens the hardened hearts to bring people to the Lord. But I am totally convinced that God never intended that to be a solo mission for the HS.  Otherwise the great commission is a phony!  In my mind there are just too many couch potato Christians who say “that is the Holy Spirit’s job to make people Christians; I don’t have any part of that”. Yes, once the person stubbornly comes to the realization that Jesus is Lord and Savior the Word and Sacrament are all that is needed. But, I can personally tell you that just hearing the word or even taking communion does not a good Christian make.  I did both for a number of years and it meant absolutely nothing to me.  It took many weeks debating with a pastor and yes, that born-again moment to make the Word and sacrament actually mean anything to me. Yes, I could actually feel the Holy Spirit enter my life at that instant. Without that I would not be where I am today.  We cannot shun our responsibility in the conversion process of the unchristian that I am totally convinced God intended us to have.  We shouldn’t sit around and wait for the parade of people to appear at our door but many times that is what churches seem to do. After all, that is the Holy Spirits job (their words not mine). Are they country clubs or churches?

The Present Future

 
 I want to close out this outreach series with a review of a book by Reggie McNeal called “The Present Future – Six Tough Questions for the Church”. Actually, the book should be entitled “Six Realities that need to be overcome”. Mr. McNeal is the director of leadership development for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. I want to up front admit that this is not a comfortable book to read if you are a North American practicing Christian. So I guess it is appropriate that my review of it comes out an uncomfortable day (Tax Day). I think Mr. McNeal’s purpose in writing the book is to try and shake to the core our being comfortable with how things are with the church. But if you are willing to sometimes see yourself in a not very Jesus like light you should read the book. While I do not agree with all the logic he uses to make his points, the book is worth reading because there are valid issues raised by his list. Here are the six realities that he presents:

  1. The Collapse of the Church Culture
  2. The Shift from Church Growth to Kingdom Growth
  3. The New Reformation: Releasing God’s People
  4. The Return to Spiritual Formation
  5. The Shift from Planning to Preparation
  6. The Rise of Apostolic Leadership

I will spend the next couple of post going through some of this list. Let’s do the first one now.

The Collapse of the Church Culture
This Chapter starts off with the following statement:

 “The current church culture in North America is on life support. It is living off the work, money, and energy of previous generations from a pervious world order. The plug will be pulled either when the money runs out (80 percent of money given to congregations come from people aged fifty-five and older) or when the remaining three-fourths of a generation who are institutional loyalists die off or both.”
  These are indeed pretty blunt statements. But I think, if we really face it there is an agonizing ring to these words. He goes on to say that he is talking about the church culture, not the death of the church that Jesus founded. The church established by Jesus will indeed be there when he returns. What he is really talking about what he calls the unique culture in North America that has come to be called the “church”. He goes into quite a bit of statistics to show the above point. I will not cover those as some are the same as I have given in previous posts.

In solution to this diminishing attendance in church he goes on to say that the wrong question is: How do we do Church better? He basically makes the argument that when a church get larger the pastor, or pastors, have to spend so much time on non-spiritual matters that the true meaning of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is lost in the process. Many American congregations are more fixated on growing their “church”.

Here is another striking quote from the book. “Church leaders seem unable to grasp this simple implication of the new world — people outside of the church think church is for church people, not for them. We may have saturated the market of people who want to be part of the church culture, who want church the was we do it in North America.”

The basic point I think he is trying to make is that many churches in this country have lost the reason why they are supposed to exist. The missional fix as he calls it is as follows:

The appropriate response to the emerging world is rebooting of the mission, a radical obedience to an ancient command, a loss of self rather than self preoccupation, concern about service and sacrifice rather than about style.
 While I don’t agree with everything here I do believe that the “church” is too fixated on their traditions and current practices instead of the service and sacrifice that Jesus clearly show us. Jesus truly had the service mentality. We need to get back to some of the practices of the early church. That is taking stands that are not very comfortable to our current members and totally uncomfortable to the current cultural trends of  today’s world.

Jubilee

With tomorrow being the beginning of yet another year I thought it would be appropriate to talk a little about the concept of Jubilee. Here is some info about Jubilee from Wikipedia.

a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.

Jubilee was an ancient Jewish tradition. It mainly mentioned in the Old Testament in Leviticus but Jesus referred to it as the year of the Lord’s favor in Luke 4

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jubilee is generally a very foreign concept in a capitalistic country such as ours but it was practiced often by the early Christians. Giving back is just not a part of capitalistic mentality. There are Christian organizations today that say we should celebrate Jubilee by cancelling the debt of poor nations. I tend to agree with them. It’s not always about money. Remember the old saying “it is better to give than to receive”; we all need to take that concept to heart.

Service Mentality

 

jesus3

Matt 20:26-27

Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave

Jesus certainly had the service mentality. The ultimate service was for him to take human form and come to earth for us. He showed service mentality numerous times throughout the gospels. The apostles did not understand this. But, I think maybe when he insisted on washing their feet they finally “got it” or at least a little of it. Of course a central aspect of service is humility. We Christians should never think more highly of ourselves than others around us. We are all sinners and worthy of God’s wrath. It’s just a matter of degree. God is perfect and demands perfection of us. Of course none of us will ever get to that state but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try to do good while we are here.

I personally believe that a service mentality is at the very core of Christian belief. Another name for service is works. Here is what Martin Luther said about that in his preface to the book of Romans.

This it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from the fire.

The Pope’s Christmas Message

On this blog and in my life I try to learn the Lord’s message wherever I can find it. I am just not one to cling to one particular denominational line of thought. I found some inspiring words from Pop Benedicts Christmas message yesterday.

He said “wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations.”

“In each of these places may the light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity,” “If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart.”

About the only thing we have been hearing lately, besides President-elect Obama, is how bad the US and world economies are becoming. There just doesn’t seem to be much hope for the immediate future. Because of that people are withdrawing into themselves. At a result things are getting dire in much of the less affluent nations and even among charitable organization in the United States. In his message the Pope tells us we cannot just look at our own selfish interests but we have to, especially in these times, constantly be aware of “the least of these”. Christ spent so much of his time with the less fortunate in the land. We need to remember to follow his example not only during the Christmas season but throughout the year.