Intersect 8-30-17

Intersect 8-30-17

Quantum Entanglement
I’m fascinated by the intersection of quantum mechanics (the study of subatomic systems) and faith. I’ve written about string theory before, and the implication that everything that exists—every steak on the grill we smell and every soul-penetrating song we hear—is a vibration of God. The physical world is an emanation of the God frequency. God is the sound that started the universe. God is our infinite song of sustenance.

Quantum mechanics helps me integrate faith and science. Science is biblical for me. I believe that by revealing the mysteries of the universe, science also reveals something of the nature of God. Understanding science as more than just the laws of nature helps people of faith maintain a healthy, contemporary, and relevant image of God and God’s activity in the world.

In the quantum world, I have discovered interesting ways to imagine not only the nature of God, but also God’s infrastructure, if you will—how God is active in our world without being manipulative.  For me, if God is going to be an active force in the world, then the way God acts has to make sense with our current understanding of the natural world.

For example, we know God doesn’t “cause” floods or create diseasem because we understand natural weather patterns, the existence of bacteria and viruses, the properties of electromagnetics, gravity and the time-space continuum. For a great majority of us, God can no longer be the super-being of our ancestors (and unfortunately, many of our contemporaries) floating somewhere in outer space, manipulating and micromanaging every little detail of our lives.

But most of us who believe in God also believe God is personal. Certainly, Jesus’ message was of an intimate God, a God of unconditional love nearer than our own breath. If that is so, then how does God work? If I accept and understand scientific ideas about the workings of the universe, then where is God if God isn’t literally pulling our strings and pushing our buttons?

This is where the idea of quantum entanglement provides some good spiritual insight. Entanglement is how I think God works in the universe—not on this large-scale level, pointing “his” finger and creating floods when God is pissed, or crying out rainbows when God is happy. No, God “works” on a sub-molecular, subatomic, extremely tiny but entirely pervasive level. God is personal because God is every one of the trillions and trillions of atoms that together form an individual. We are entangled with the very substance of God, because every molecule in our physical body is connected to God in a way we are only just beginning to discover.

We are connected to God on a quantum level. We are entangled with God—physically, spiritually, mentally.

We all know what being entangled means, correct? Like the braids of a rope, all twisted together, or if you’re me, every time you try to untie a shoelace, it’s so entangled that it might be easier to torch it than untie it.

In the quantum world, there is a bizarre activity known as “quantum entanglement.” Scientists have discovered that pairs—or even groups—of particles form into connected (entangled) systems. That means the state of one of the particles—the way it’s spinning and its polarity, for example, cannot be determined unless the entire group is figured out. And if one particle in the group changes, the others automatically update to maintain their connection.

For example, if there are two entangled particles, one will always spin up and the other will always spin down. It’s balance. So, if we mess with these particles by, say, changing the spin of one, then the other will automatically adjust to maintain the connection.

Now, here’s the really cool thing, the phenomenon that causes me to believe this is God in action: Experiments have proven that this connectivity—this entanglement between molecules, occurs even if the particles are separated by thousands of miles!

Do you get that?  Two particles that are entangled REMAIN entangled even when separated by great distances. Let’s say I have a spin-up particle in Florida and its entangled spin-down particle is in Oregon. If I change the spin of the Florida particle, the particle in Oregon will immediately adjust.

Here’s another mind-blower—there’s no delay in the adjustment. It’s as if the information between the two particles is traveling faster than light. It’s instantaneous information transmission.

Quantum entanglement. To me, it implies a much deeper human connection than we’ve imagined. The molecules that make us who we are also connect us to each other, via the fundamental of God. We are entangled at a subatomic level through God, to all creation.

Need proof? Pray. If you’ve ever prayed for anyone, or received prayer from others, you have experienced quantum entanglement. Think about the way you’ve felt when being prayed for. There is an obvious and palpable energy flow—even if the people praying for you are thousands of miles away. Prayer works because we are entangled beings—entangled at the most basic level of matter, sub-atomically.

Let me tell you how that translates into the real world for me, and why I think quantum entanglement has implications for prayer.

While I was away in sabbatical, I felt your prayers. I didn’t just know you were praying for me, there were moments—many of them, that I was brought to tears because I was so overwhelmed by love. Love I KNEW came from you all and everyone praying for me before my double hip-replacement surgery.

I know many of you have had similar prayer experiences. Whether praying for someone or receiving prayer, you’ve felt the energy exchange. Doesn’t that feel like God to you, God connecting us, working through us, at the very core of our being?

So, how does that happen? How can I be comforted while thousands of miles away? How can we not only sense but actually feel with every fibre of our being, this healing, loving, comforting energy being sent from thousands of miles away?

Quantum entanglement.

At our most basic level of being, where atoms are working together to form human beings, we are entangled with God energy, and that God energy connects us with every other thing on the planet—not just with other humans, by the way, but with everything.

If we open our minds and allow our senses to be filled with the unexpected, we will sense God pulsing through all of creation, from the tiniest speck of sand on the beach to the most majestic Elephants of India; through you and me; through friend and foe. It is a feeling that reveals the lunacy of seeing foes and the lightness of being.

We are entangled not only as a congregation, or groups of friends, but at a molecular level with everything that exists in the universe, everything seen and unseen, everything known and yet to be discovered. All those bazillions of particles that make us the individuals we are? Those particles are entangled. They’re communicating with each other on a level we might never fully understand, but can comprehend as God talk.

Maybe we people of faith should call the quantum world “The God Level.” There’s communication going on between us—between all things, truly. We receive it all the time, but only perceive it when we’re paying attention, or are so overwhelmed by the loving energy sent by a group of people keeping us in their prayers that we can’t help but understand it as God in action.

Prayer is powerful because it’s the way we communicate on the God Level. Prayer takes advantage of our entanglement and keeps us all in sync, spinning in the direction of God, which harmonizes the universe.

I know we’re all feeling the stress of the world right now, and I know we’re praying to God to make things better. I offer the idea of God as molecular energy in the hope that your prayer life will become even more focused and deeply connected to the loving energy of the universe, and that thinking of God as the smallest of the small will bring you peace, joy, and comfort, even as you transmit peace, joy, and comfort to the rest of the world.

Your thoughts make a difference, because we are an entangled species.

Amen.

Jesus in Detention

Jesus in Detention


Jesus in Detention
The Jews solemnly lined the streets of Jerusalem as they once again watched invaders march triumphantly through their “Jewel on the Hill”. This time, it was the great Roman general Pompey. He had taken advantage of a family squabble between the formerly ruling Hasmoneans, which left Jerusalem vulnerable. The Romans had been on a tear through the area for years, consolidating power as they incorporated Syria into their ever-expanding empire.

Much to the Jewish peoples’ surprise, Pompey was friendly and respectful. He and Caesar both had trusted Jewish advisors and were familiar with the people and their customs. It was also characteristic of the Romans to allow conquered people to continue their traditions, if respect and money were paid to Rome on a regular basis. When Pompey marched into Jerusalem, he saw himself as emancipator rather than conqueror.

Unfortunately, Pompey was a general, not a bureaucrat. The Romans installed a new governor in Jerusalem, Antipater. He followed Rome’s lead and set about rebuilding Jerusalem’s pock marked and disintegrating walls and buildings. For decades, Jerusalem had been caught in the crossfire of the Hasmonean’s civil war. The city, like the people inhabiting it, were tired and falling apart. Antipater did his best to rebuild both.

A few years later, Antipater named his sons Phasael and Herod governors of Jerusalem and Galilee. A last-ditch effort by the Hasmoneans to gain control of the city resulted in Phasael’s death, leaving rule of the entire area to Herod.

Herod was ambitious, cunning, and ruthless. He went to Rome seeking control of the entire territory. The Senate named him King of the Jews and provided him all the military might he needed to reconquer what was left of the former Hasmonean territories.

For the next decade, Herod completely changed the face of Jerusalem by rebuilding it in the classical Roman form. He adapted old fortresses and dedicated them as temples to Roman Gods. He rebuilt three massive citadels to shore up the city’s defenses. He improved the water supply, renovated and expanded the entire Temple complex, built hippodromes, a theater, and an enormous palace. All in all, Herod was a good king and his Jewish subjects respected his efforts to improve the quality of life for all citizens. Herod’s beautifications also made the city appealing to pilgrims, who now came in the tens of thousands for special holidays such as Passover.

But Herod also had a very dark side. He was a paranoid maniac who would do anything to protect his position of power. Early in his reign, he had 45 of the city’s most influential aristocrats murdered. Since he was not of priestly lineage, he needed to appoint a high priest to the Temple. At his mother-in-law’s urging, he selected his sixteen-year-old son Aristobulus. As Aristobulus gained popularity, however, Herod had him drowned. Over time, Herod had all the remaining members of his family killed, including his mother and his wife. Nobody would threaten his claim to the Jewish throne.

About the same time Herod finished consolidating his power by murdering his entire family, an aristocratic carpenter and his fiancée lived in Bethlehem, about 10 kilometers away. The young couple was expecting a child, and the birth was shrouded in scandal because they were having a baby out of wedlock. Further compromising Joseph’s position in town was the fact the child was not his. There were rumors about Roman abuse and even divine intervention, but whatever the reason for the baby, Joseph understood it his duty to stay at Mary’s side. He loved her and would raise the child as his own, no matter what.

Joseph entered their house with a cheery, “I’m home, my love, and I’ve brought you a special treat!” Mary sat up in her bed and smiled at Joseph. For a moment, he thought she was glowing, a golden halo embracing her head. He shook off the hallucination and showed her the package of goat meat. “Ooh!” she squealed with delight. “How wonderful! How did you know I was craving goat tonight?”

“You just relax and I’ll fix us dinner,” Joseph said.

Mary laid down and closed her eyes. As the smell of roasting goat and boiling vegetables filled the room, Mary began to dream. She saw an Angel who told her not to worry, that everything would be alright. “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you!” The Angel continued, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is pleased with you, and you will have a son you are to call Jesus. He will be a great king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

Just then, Mary was startled awake by Joseph gently rocking her shoulder. “Honey, honey!” he called. “Dinner is ready, you need to eat. Are you okay? It seemed like you were having a bad dream.”

“It wasn’t bad,” Mary replied, “it was just strange. An Angel of God came to me and told me to name our baby Jesus, and that our son would be the king of our people! It all seemed so real it startled me!”

“I suppose every parent wants their child to become a great leader,” Joseph said. “But you know Herod as well as me. That lunatic will never give up the throne. He’ll find a way to rule even after he dies, which can’t be soon enough in my book.”

“Don’t you talk like that!” Mary scolded Joseph. “If one of these Romans overheard you they would… they would… I can’t even think about how they’d torture…” Mary’s voice trailed away and she began sobbing uncontrollably. Joseph took her in his arms and did his best to calm her. “I’m sorry, darling. I didn’t mean to upset you. Please, have some dinner and try to get some rest. I won’t cause trouble. Herod can’t hurt us here. He doesn’t care about people like us, anyway. Please… Rest.”

A short time later, Mary gave birth to their child. Remembering the dream, she and Joseph named the baby Jesus. He was healthy and active, and the entire village embraced him. For the next three years, life was splendid. There was plenty of work in the new town Herod was building just outside Bethlehem, and Jesus was healthy and happy. Mary delighted in watching their child grow and play with the other kids in the village. Jesus giggled with delight chasing a chicken around in circles, and Mary imagined that life couldn’t get any better.

That evening, as the family put out the oil lamps and prepared for bed, Mary took Joseph’s hand, tenderly kissed him, and said “Thank you.”

“For what?” Joseph asked. “For being wonderful and bringing joy to our family. I love you.” Joseph took Mary in his arms, held her tightly and said, “I am but a reflection of the joy you and Jesus bring to me, my love.” They laid down to sleep, imagining there were no two happier people in the world.

As Joseph closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep, he had a dream about an Angel. “Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for the child and wants to kill him,” the Angel said. Joseph awoke with a start, covered and sweat and short of breath. “What is it, my love?” Mary asked with concern and fear. “What’s wrong? You’re drenched! Did you have a bad dream?”

Joseph caught his breath, looked at Mary and said, “We have to leave. Right now.”

In Jerusalem, three ambassadors from different lands visited King Herod. “We bring you greetings of peace and offerings of respect form our Lords,” they said. “We have seen a sign in the sky and traveled for three years to see the infant, the new King of the Jews! Where is he?”

This was shocking news to Herod. A new king of the Jews? Over his dead body! Better yet, Herod thought, over this kid’s dead body. I won’t let even an infant usurp my power. I’ve murdered my entire family to stay on the throne, I won’t hesitate to kill someone else’s.

But Herod hadn’t maintained power all these years by giving his true intentions away. He shrewdly said, “A new king of the Jews, you say? How wonderful! I am getting old, and I have no heirs. It would be wonderful to have someone I could call my son to take the throne when I die. Unfortunately, this is the first I’ve heard about this! Do you know where the child is?”

One of the ambassadors from the Far East said, “I am sorry, sire, we do not. That is why we are here. Perhaps you could ask your priests if they know?” At that, Herod summoned the high priest, who explained the ancient prophecy: that a child would be born in Bethlehem, in the lineage of the great King David, and that the child was destined to be the King of the Jews. “From David’s line!” Herod exclaimed. “This is wonderful news, indeed!”

He told the ambassadors what he had learned, and sent them to Bethlehem to find the child, bring him gifts, and return him to Herod to be raised a prince. The ambassadors were thrilled and excited, and hurried on their way.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus were hiding in the back of a tin trader’s wagon. Their only chance for safety was in Egypt, but Egypt was under Roman rule, and Caesar Augustus had recently restricted immigration from Israel.

When Herod realized the ambassadors had no intention of bringing the prophesied child king to him, he ordered the wholesale slaughter of every child under three in and around Bethlehem. This caused a mass exodus of Jews looking to protect their children in what was essentially a different Roman province. Rome, however, had its hands full with other issues in Egypt, and was unconcerned about what they considered one of Herod’s paranoid quirks. If Herod wanted to slaughter thousands of Jewish children, it was of little concern to Rome.

However, Augustus succeeded in creating the great Roman Empire in part by showing mercy and respect to conquered provinces. Rome almost always improved the lands they conquered, bringing advanced irrigation and sewage engineering techniques, roads and education with them. Since the Empire was at the beginning of these massive public works projects in Egypt, they were unprepared for this sudden influx of refugees. Not wanting to get involved in what he saw as a Jewish squabble, but also recognizing that thousands of discontented Jews could mount a serious rebellion, Augustus ordered the Egyptians to hastily prepare a series of detention camps.
Fleeing Israelites were herded into the camps like cattle. While their children were safe from Herod, the camps themselves were as dangerous as the streets of Jerusalem late at night. Pickpockets, thieves, mercenaries, and other unsavory characters looking to make a quick drachma made the camps extremely volatile.

The Egyptian border was now heavily patrolled. All transports were subject to search and seizure. Foot traffic was delayed at the border for hours, sometimes days at a time. Joseph hoped that by hiding under a pile of tin in the trader’s wagon, they might pass through to Egypt, avoiding the detention camps. Once past the border, Jews who had lived in Egypt for many years could safely guide them to synagogues, where they could remain hidden and safe for several years, if necessary.

It was a good plan, but once at the border, Joseph heard the guards rummaging through the tin cups, pots, shields and weapons of their merchant savior. The baby Jesus started to whimper, afraid of what the sound heralded. Mary tried to comfort him, but his fear overcame him and he began to bellow, loud shouts of anguish shaking the tin in sympathy.

“What do you have there, merchant?” The border guard shouted angrily. “Tell me or I’ll slit your throat and kill everyone I find in your cart!” The merchant stammered, “I.. I… I was only trying to help these poor people.”

“We have a system for Israeli refugees. Open up,” the guard said.

The merchant reluctantly revealed the trap door under a mountain of fake tin pots. The guard threw it open and found Joseph, Mary, and their baby Jesus staring up at him, abject misery and heartbreak emanating from their souls.

“Get up,” the guard said, and the family did as they were told. There was no point resisting now, they would go to a detention camp, and that would be that. At least Jesus would be safe until they could return home to Bethlehem, Joseph thought.

He quickly changed his mind when they arrived at the detention center. They were brutally shoved from one processing station to another. “Names,” a processing agent said emotionlessly. “Joseph, Mary, and Jesus of Bethlehem, sir,” Joseph meekly proclaimed.

“Purpose for visiting Egypt?” Visiting, Joseph thought. Does this guy know what’s happening, why all these people are here? The processing agent repeated the question again, louder and slowly: “PURPOSE. FOR. VISITNG. EGYPT.” Joseph didn’t want to say the words. He knew their fate if he told the truth. They were refugees, fleeing a maniac king who had no legitimate right to the Jerusalem throne. But Herod was a vassal of Rome, Joseph couldn’t insult him. So, he sighed dejectedly and simply said, “We want to settle in Egypt, land of our forefathers.” The processing agent seemed satisfied with this answer. He sealed a piece of paper with his ring and a small amount of wax, handed it to Joseph and gestured to the next line.

Joseph shuffled to another processing line. Jesus, tired, hungry and confused, began to cry and whimper. Mary held him close and whispered, “Don’t worry, little one, it will all be alright. God told me so.”

World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day

There are millions of people around the world who have been displaced and seek refuge in a friendly land. Nearly 4 million South Sudanese face a nation with no future unless food and medical care can be restored. In total, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. 65 million! My friends, that is an appalling number for a global society that claims to be the most civilized ever on planet Earth.

Let’s take some time to pray and educate ourselves today. Please visit the UN Refugee Agency website at http://www.unhcr.org/ to learn more about opportunities to help and events in the U.S. today (and ongoing). The number of refugees around the world is jaw-dropping and disheartening. Our only civilized response (not to mention Christian response) is to assist, whether that means educating ourselves and our friends; donating time, supplies and money; and/or praying for love to eradicate fear.

One of the most important programs for our denomination, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is our Refugee and Immigration Ministry. We encourage our churches to participate in refugee services, we’re lobbying against stricter regulations, and we offer aid to asylum seekers and migrants. For more information, please visit Disciples Home Missions at https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/refugee-immigration-ministries/

In our own Naples congregation, we are blessed with the presence of Renee Gifford, an activist and philanthropist focused on refugee and immigrant services. Renee is working with refugees throughout Southwest Florida. We hope to soon communicate with (and perhaps visit) a refugee neighborhood in Miami. Renee recently reminded me that migrant and refugee families need more than cash (although cash certainly helps). They also need English tutoring, job mentoring, transportation assistance, food, clothing, furniture, housewares, and of course, prayer. In future church services and events, we’ll discuss how God is calling us to serve people displaced in much the same way as Jesus and his family when they were being hunted by King Herod.

Let us never forget that we live in this country because our ancestors were immigrants (unless we are Native Americans). Many of us were brought here forcibly. We call ourselves Americans, but we still have a tremendous amount of work to do before everyone in this country feels like part of the same family.

More information can be found at these links:
UN World Refugee Day: http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/

Stand With Refugees Movement: http://www.standwithrefugees.us

A great sermon from an Australian minister, as pertinent today as it was in 2001:
https://onemansweb.org/jan/politics/jesus.htm

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456577699/evangelical-groups-tell-political-leaders-jesus-was-a-refugee

Meditation: God of justice and compassion, make me the instrument of your peace.

Monday Meditation


click to play video

Holy God,
answer to all mysteries,
restore our curiosity and wonder.
We have lost our imaginations
both individually and collectively.
Once we wrote with poetic flourish;
created abstract art
open to interpretation;
and built structures that represented
our inventive ability.
Now we approach the world
with cold, conformist,
formulaic practicality.
Need a new building?
Here’s a glass rectangle.
Producing a new movie?
Here’s another sequel.
Writing a new novel?
I hope the main character is Harry Potter.

With this forfeit of imagination
we have conceded our ability
to consider that
the universe is more than
what we can perceive.
Our senses are limited,
but our minds are not.
Why do we continue
to let our physical nature
define who we are
and of what we are capable?

We need more Einstein and Tesla,
more Marx and Heidegger,
more Musk and Jobs,
more Tubman and Sojourner Truth;
people willing to think differently
despite being told
“This will never work.”
We should insist on
more original thought
and fewer people screaming at us
to stop thinking differently,
or worse,
to stop thinking at all.

I push ever forward, my Loving, creative energy,
by imagining you as the innovative spark of the universe.
Is there proof?
No, and who cares?
I cannot define what you are
or how you work,
but I can imagine
something underlying all things.
Smaller than a boson,
yet larger than all the multiverse combined,
I imagine God.

I do not envision a petty God
who judges and rewards,
but a God whose sole interest is creation,
constant and in ways
we can only imagine,
if we would simply
once again
allow ourselves to imagine.

I am tired of a cold war worldview
where someone wins, and the rest of us lose.
Humanity obviously needs inspiration
to achieve greatness, justice, love, and peace.
From where does inspiration come,
if not from you,
our Eternal Creator and Sustainer?

Inspire us once again
to think more broadly
and demand greater of ourselves.

Encourage us to work together
to create astounding public works
that withstand time;
to reach for the stars together,
seeking out other lifeforms
who have hopefully already solved
their own economic and social issues,
so that they might also teach us
how to be one with each other,
by first realizing we are one with you,
the completeness of this
and all realities.

We pray these things
with hope for a better today,
in every name we,
the people of Earth, call you,
and in all the names
we have yet to dream for you.
Amen.

The United States is Not a Christian Nation. Thank God.

Among the many utterly unacceptable and uneducated statements I’ve heard since the disaster that is the Trump Presidency began, the most heinous is the claim that Herr Donald is somehow making America a “Christian” nation again (although I suspect that the people I hear that from are using “Christian” as a secret code word meaning “White”).

America is not, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation—well, at least not with respect to state religion. Perhaps we were a nation with genuine Christian values once upon a time, when we still warmly welcomed refugees and immigrants, believing what is etched on the Statue of Liberty; when we provided affordable, quality health care; took care of our elderly; worked hard to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty; put people to work on infrastructure projects and… well, you get the idea. Those are Christian values. Caring for the other—especially the stranger—is core to Christ’s teachings. A nation with Christian values does not build walls. It tears them down, just like Jesus did.

As a nation, we gleefully discarded our Christian values long ago, when we shackled other humans and forced them to leave their homes to be beaten into subjugation. We stopped following Jesus again recently when we started treating corporations better than the people working in them. Either way, it’s not Jesus’ teachings of self-sacrifice for the common good that Trump’s soon-to-be-brown-shirted goons are celebrating (because they are Christian in name only, after all). Rather, the ultra-right imagines Christianity as the state religion, as they believe it was in the beginning and should be for all time. ‘Murka! Sieg Heil!

The mistake the ultra-right makes, of course, is that America has never had a state religion (thank God). The founders intentionally created a secular nation. They did this for a multitude of reasons. They knew first-hand the prejudice and terror caused by state religions—that’s why they were in the colonies, after all. The founders were primarily Protestants (only two of them were Catholic), but Protestants have wildly different ideas about what it means to be Christian. To ensure no one of them could foist their brand of Christianity on the entire nation, the founders wisely separated church and state. But, there’s an even more interesting reason the founders avoided creating a single state religion: out of respect for the thousands of Muslims living here in 1776.[1]

That’s right. Even as the Constitution was being drafted, the colonies were filled with hard-working non-Christians that included Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and a very large population of Muslims. Muslims who had been forcibly brought here as slaves. Think keeping slaves is Christian? Neither did Thomas Jefferson. Nor Jesus.

I don’t want America to be a Christian nation. In my opinion, secular government is the ideal. What I would like is for the Christians in America to start acting more like Jesus and a lot less like President Trump. For that to happen, we need to remember some extremely basic ground rules:

1) Christians welcome ALL PEOPLE into their country, regardless of race, creed, or religion and without tests. REMINDER: Jesus wasn’t a Christian. He was a Jew. In Trump’s America, Jesus would be turned away at the border. Because Jesus was also a refugee—from the Middle East. [2]

2) Christians love God with all our hearts, souls, strength and mind; we love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10.27).

3) Christians sacrifice the needs of the few (or the One) for the needs of the many. What do we think the crucifixion story is all about, anyway?

4) Christians gladly redistribute our wealth. We never hoard for ourselves like the 1% of Americans who control 90% of all the money. Jesus’ first followers brought everything they had to the community—talent, time, gold, food—whatever they could offer, and they gave it freely to sustain the community.

5) Christians love diversity! The first followers of Christ were Jews, after all. Eventually, Gentiles joined the fold. The mix of Gentiles and Jewish followers of Jesus caused confusion in the First Century, CE synagogues. That’s when “Christians” splintered off and planted the roots of a new religion.

Early worshipping groups were exceptionally diverse. Disciples (a fancy word for students) were rich, poor, male, female, slave and free. They all worshiped, studied, and ate together. Women were in positions of leadership and financed churches. The first Christians were what we would today call socialists. They were doing exactly what Jesus had taught them. Yes, you read that correctly: Jesus was a socialist, not a capitalist and certainly not a political hard-liner.

This country has some soul-searching to do, and we who claim to be Christian must begin to reclaim the faith and remind people what it means to live like Jesus, not just pay him lip service. Most importantly, though, we need do the one, simple thing Jesus most demands of us: Be decent human beings.

Meditation: I am a disciple of Jesus. I am selfless, not self-righteous. 


[2] Deuteronomy 23.15-16 (NIV):  If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them.