Neglect … Odd what we unite around … another Advent Reflection

"Wouldn’t you want people in your church to know about this?" She replied quizzically.

Zionguy Neglect. Peddlers come to church. Expectations of agreement spur the peddler to pursue an entre’ for her material. Once a brief description is offered I politely decline suggesting my personal disagreement with the views touted by the sponsors. A group put together by Pastor John Hagee intends to hold an event titled, "A Night to Honor Israel." They have secured the Civic Center here in Oklahoma City for a date in January. I warred inwardly while on my way home to meet the appliance repair man. What if some would find common ground with the sponsors? Is it neglect to host their propaganda? Is it neglect to toss it in "file 13?"

One of, if not "the", goal appears to center on the mobilization of Christians who will call their congressperson on any and all occasions where the issue relates to Israel. Each caller should be prepared to impress their congressperson to do whatever it takes to support Israel. The call is for solidarity. In fact the brochure notes,

"to emphasize that the beliefs we hold in common are greater than the differences we have allowed to separate us."

Growing up with this kind of thing is really a false attempt at self-preservation. The thought goes something like this, "Go against the nation of Israel and you will be at odds with God." Solidarity with a people whom you believe needs "conversion." More irony comes when the rhetoric of fundamentalists spills into the media with the likes, "God does not hear the prayer of a Jew."

Homeless_dinner
Is it neglect for Christians to meet at the Civic Center in what for some will most surely be "Sunday go-to-meeting" attire while just blocks away men, women, youth and children fend for food, ask for clothes and hope to find a bed in a shelter before introductions will be made from the stage of the grand hall. Who stands in solidarity with them? On what will most surely be a cold Monday evening in January after a fine meal just prior to the festivities, First Baptist Church of Bethany will have offered sack lunches and soup to those without homes. People will stand for Israel but who will be standing for the very people the prophets charged as God’s spokespersons with the sin of neglect?

Throwing_stones_1
Neglect. Standing for the government means standing with the power. What about young people like this who stand across a divide and throw stones? Who stands with them telling them the very Torah requires different behavior toward others. Who stands with the people who suffer under the political decisions of leaders both Arab and Jew? Who stands with the Arab Christians involved in the fray? Standing on the side of power is easy. Speaking truth to power takes courage. We mourn the loss of soldiers in the mire of Iraq. Who mourns with the mothers who lose their sons in constant battle? Who stands with young people whose lives will always be marked by war? It is easy for us to stand in a climate controlled building and sing and inspire but who stands with the least caught in the throws of the social chaos?

I decided not to put the information out. I could not find my way to seeing the holding of this kind of information as neglect. Instead, I found it easy to view exposing people to this contradiction as neglect. Last Sunday’s reading from Malachi indicates the consequences of neglect. The result of missing the weightier things pertaining to following YHWH opened the people up to confusing good with evil and a warped understanding of justice. Reading the "seal" like graphic on the brochure that suggests, "I will not keep silent," belies the silence surely to be expressed when it comes to others. We are never charged to stand with power. We are called to stand with the weak and marginalized.

In the Magnificat we hear,

51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has
scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has
brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53
he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty
away.

Let’s not neglect that for which Jesus came.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.