ON HAITI AND AFRICA

As last week wound down, and then over the weekend, we all heard reports of disparaging remarks about the nation of Haiti and certain unnamed African countries.  These reports have sparked many different kinds of responses from people of different faiths and no faith, different political leanings, and different tones. The Free Methodist Church commits to viewing the world and its peoples through eyes and hearts shaped by the person and mission of Jesus, and seeks to interact in the world along paths forged by Jesus in his own ministry.  Therefore, generalized characterizations of people and nations, by their very nature, cannot help but misrepresent and disrespect the people of those nations.  As a matter of fact, it is because …

FOR FREEDOM!

The Free Methodist Church celebrates Freedom!  After all, we are not just Methodists, we are Free Methodists. We are not libertarian (I refer not to the political party but to the dictionary meaning here), not people of license, not given to “whatever,” determined by whomever,” “however” we might.  Rather, we are Free in relation to enslavements common to humans beings–specifically characteristic in the U.S. in the mid-19th century, yet universally characteristic of people everywhere all the time.   I  would synthesize and articulate several core freedoms Free Methodists champion as follows: The Freedom of access to worship, against pew-rental or sale (19th century) and for generous welcoming of all and especially the poor (then, now, and always). The Freedom and …

DEFAULT TO PEACEMAKING

In a previous post, I noted that the way of Jesus, from the beginning, has entailed peace-making.  To summarize: In his famous ”Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus blesses the peace-makers because “they will be called children of God” (Matt. 5:9).  In that same context, he also pronounces blessing upon the gentle or meek (5:5), the merciful (5:7), and the persecuted (5:10).  Each descriptor would seem to imply commitment to peace-making and, in general, a forsaking of violence.   The major voices within the New Testament support this.  The Apostle Paul commands blessing for persecutors and living at peace as much as possible (Rom. 12:14, 18).  The Apostle Peter charges his readers to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, involving patient suffering as the …

The Sky is NOT Falling!

Here is a paragraph from Henny Penny, more commonly known as Chicken Little, a folk tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. ** As Chicken Little was one day strolling about in a garden, she ran under a rose-bush and a leaf fell on her tail. A Fox was standing by, who wanted to make a good hearty meal, accosted her in a most friendly manner. “Oh, Chicken Little,” said he, “you are shamefully abused. That weight which fell upon your tail was a grievous oppression. You ought to stir up your friends, and make a fuss about it.” Chicken Little was awfully alarmed and excited, and away she ran to Hen Pen. “Oh, Hen Pen!” said she, “the …

Following Jesus and Making Peace in a Violent World

No one will question that we live in a violent world.  No one will doubt that most of the world powers assume that violence must be met by violence.  And, oddly to some, many if not most Christians also assume that the great evils of our day will be resolved inevitably only by some use of violence.  But it was not always so among followers of Jesus.  Many today, perhaps especially among younger leaders, have grave concerns about fighting violence with violence as a matter of policy if at all.  Their concerns rise from allegiance to Jesus.  I have invited a younger colleague, Rev. Peter Hough, to reflect with me on this issue.  Let me set it up this way. …