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Fear Mongering…

February 20, 2016

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“I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1 (NRSV) Ever since moving from the Gulf Coast where I often found the Lord’s presence and help as I looked to the waters and sunsets, I have fallen in love with our beloved mountains. This Psalm has always had a special place in my heart… even before we moved quite literally into the mountains. Not a day goes by that I don’t look out the window of my office at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies or out of the living room window of our condo and feel my heart soar. When I visit parishioners in the various hospitals (from Estes Park to the Front Range communities of Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, & Boulder) their hearts are always happiest when they have a mountain view from their hospital room.

Denise and I both love our mountain home and are daily inspired by the beauty of God’s handiwork in creation.  This picture above was taken on one of our hikes in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We decided to hike along the Old Fall River Road to Chasm Falls. Once again, we were wowed by the beauty before us.

When you are surrounded by such beauty, it is easy to forget that there is a world of which we are a part, that is far from beautiful. A world where political candidates prey on the fears, biases, prejudices, and abject hatred of the increasingly ignorant masses. A world where the media is more interested in sensationalism than truth. A world where people who say they are christians (sadly, the lower case, as always, is intentional) surely must make Jesus weep.

Yet, as Ecclesiastes said in Chapter One, Verse Nine: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” All of this fear and bigotry and hatred was very present in the reading from Luke’s gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent. Herod was stirring up trouble against Jesus. Specifically, Jesus was a threat to the comfortable position Herod had. A vassal king who was in the hip pocket of the Roman Empire. The cash came in as long as he didn’t stir up any trouble for the Empire. In fact, the wily old fox as Jesus called him, was always looking for a way to secure his position of power by creating fear and distrust among the people. Sadly, Herod may well be a better Presidential candidate today than many who are making both a mockery and a sham of the whole process here in this country today!

What was Jesus’ response to this madness? Did he run away and hide? Nope! He said that if Herod’s minions wanted to find him, they would have to catch up to him… because he was going about doing God’s work… You know… Healing the sick, curing the lame, healing the lepers, casting out demons… God’s work! Jesus wasn’t going to let the fearmongers keep him from doing God’s work.

In fact, after this exchange Jesus not only continued his ministry, he also took time to weep for Jerusalem. He cried out to Jerusalem that they might listen to the servants of God instead of stoning the real servants and idolizing the false prophets! Unlike the politicians of his day, he actually wanted to gather the people under his wing as a hen gathers her brood under her wing. But they wouldn’t listen to him! At this point, I often wonder why Jesus didn’t simply disappear into the hills (or the mountains) with a group who would actually listen to him. But if Jesus did that, he would be ignoring the call of God to go to God’s children with a different message than the one the so-called religious were forcing down their throats as truth.

Jesus, how many times did you reflect on Psalm 27 (among other Psalms and readings from your Scripture and ours) as you fought daily against the hatred, bigotry, and selfish politicians/religious leaders? “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

In a land and a time of fear mongering, prejudice, hatred, and greed… Jesus how did you manage to keep from diving into despair or desperation? How did you continue to reach out to the outcasts? How did you continue to touch the lepers and love the unlovable? How did you maintain the hope of Psalm 27:13? ” I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

This Psalm has been haunting my thoughts all week. When I look to Jesus, these are the questions that haunt my heart and my mind. When I see the hatred, ignorance, bigotry, and abject lying and fearmongering in the news and on social media, I wonder… When I see people who say they are christian buying into this fear and selfishness lock, stock, and barrel, I wonder… Who do you serve? Who is your Lord?

I don’t have the answers, Lord… Yet in the midst of despair, I do find hope. I find hope in your life… in your witness… in your message… When all I want to do is run away and hide… Lord, help me to stand with you in the gap. Help me to stand with you against the fear, hatred, bigotry, and vileness being thrown about by ignorant and fearful masses… Help me to stand with you… with the powerless and the ones who really are persecuted.

Dear reader, are you as fearful as I am? Do you lose sleep at night wondering what is becoming of this nation and this world? Does the fake Jesus they sell on the corners make you ill? If you are, will you join me in the journey to seek and to serve the real Jesus?

I am going to close with the prayer of Psalm 27:13… “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I am also going to share with you the lyrics and the video of the song by Todd Agnew which struck to the core of my heart…

My Jesus by Todd Agnew

Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud
I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!

Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus but I'm not sure what that means to be like You Jesus
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I want to be like my Jesus

My Jesus by Todd Agnew


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