Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Egypt (page 1 of 2)

Sermon: Complaint or Concern?

This was a sermon I preached at St. Mark’s United Methodist in Richmond. I preached on Exodus 17:1-7 as part of their Complaining is Draining sermon series. This audio is from the 11:00am service. You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.

Guest Post: God Protects

by Minoka Gunesekera

washing_3262c-2Read Exodus 12:1-14

Many times when I go home from seminary I eat with my closest friends and family. It has become almost a ritual. The food and the actions may not be very unique, but when my community gathers for a meal it shows me an example of God’s love and devotion. And those moments of love I hold in my heart when I am away and I feel like I am about to walk into an “impending plague” or a time of trial. Just like the memory of these meals, God’s protection follows us when we feel like we need to be rescued, not because we did anything to deserve it but because that is God’s expression of mercy.

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An American Tail (1986)

an_american_tailAn American Tail is the second animated film from director Don Bluth after he left the Disney studio. The first was The Secret of NIMH. Both of these “mouse” films try to recapture the magic of the classic Disney films like Snow White and Pinocchio. Yet, it struggles to compare. The music and lip-singing is distracting. The animation is detailed and full. It makes use of computer animation in a way that was unique at the time. But, it is clear, that the vision comes from the early Disney films.

The hero of the film is the second child, Fievel. His and his family undergo hardships being ruined by an oppressive government of cats in 19th century Russia. Homes are destroyed and burned. The cats chase the mice away, and the mice decide to migrate to America, where there are no cats.

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Water From the Rock

Read Exodus 17:1-7.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comThe last few days Megan and I have been doing a 7 fast. Megan is using Jen Hatmaker’s book 7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess in a Bible study this semester at her church. Each week there is a different fast from the excess in our lives. The idea is that we would limit ourselves with seven different foods. Some choose to fast from 7 foods. Whatever you do, the point is to be consistent. My friend Sarah is doing it too, and she blogged about her first day here.

Megan and I decided to eat a Costa Rican diet of chicken, rice, beans, fruits and veggies for a week. In this way, we would connect with the people of Costa Rica, especially those in the shantytown of Los Diques I met over 8 years ago on my first mission trip there.

I will say that I was looking forward to it. I love Costa Rican food. It is so delicious! The first day was Thursday. I had traditional rice and beans for breakfast. The time between breakfast and lunch seemed to last an eternity. I was starving by the time I ate lunch, which were simple tacos, nothing fancy. For dinner, we made traditional arroz con pollo – chicken and rice. For those of you who remember Pura Vida Cafe in Mechanicsville, I used their recipe. I snacked only once, post dinner after two church meetings. And that was a banana.

I didn’t think it would be so hard! But sometime Friday, as my stomach longed for something other than  rice and beans, I thought of the children living in Los Diques. Some of them would be lucky to have the rice and beans I was already tired of eating.  I have watched church leaders in that shantytown fix plates of food and take it to a “house” (a term I use loosely) where the children living in the home had a mother addicted to so many pills, that she was not aware that her children had not eaten that day. The reality was that those church leaders looking out for those children, did not enough food themselves.

In our text today from Exodus, the people of God are on this journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. There are still pretty new to the journey. They have not yet received the Ten Commandments. A dispute breaks out between the people and Moses, their leader, over the lack of water. Water in the ancient world was very much a matter of life and death.  The lack of water was enough to cause some to wonder if they had made the wrong decision. Were they better off in Egypt, where they had water? In Egypt, they had water. In Egypt they had shelter from the hot, burning sun. In Egypt, it sucked being slaves, but they had certain comforts they are lacking now.

It is easy, and frankly has often been done, to make the text about the Israelites misbehaving again and complaining and not trusting God. The Israelites had just left Egypt, and were traveling through the desert and wilderness. Water was not just a comfort, but a necessity. Nyasha Junior writes, “When people are still concerned with basic needs, they require not a rebuke for lack of faithfulness, but compassion.” Perhaps there are such people in our communities who are faithful, yet lack the basic needs. During my first mission trip to Costa Rica, that was what I found. Faithful people who lacked the basic needs of water, food, and electricity.

As we contemplate this Lent the brokenness of our relationships with God and others, let us not forget those who are thirsty or hungry.

Guest Post: When There is Love

Rev. Lisa McGehee is an ordained deacon in the Virginia Annual Conference serving as Minister of Adult Discipleship and Communications at Good Shepherd United Methodist in Henrico, Virginia. 

Slide3Read Psalm 72. 

The theme for the second Sunday of Advent is love. While the word love is not found in Psalm 72, it’s there in the prayers for justice and righteousness. Psalm 72 originated as a prayer for the king – it is thought to be King David’s last psalm written for his son Solomon. It’s a prayer focused on justice and righteousness – God’s justice and God’s righteousness. It’s a prayer that gives a charge to the king (vv. 2-7) to protect and defend the poor and the needy and to take down those that oppress. Or as described in The Message, “Please stand up for the poor, help the children of the needy, come down hard on the cruel tyrants.” The psalmist prays that justice and righteousness prevails when the king stays focused on God’s plan.

Where there is justice and righteousness there is peace. Where there is peace there is love. Ah, peace and love. Perhaps there is no other time when we pray for peace and love more than Advent. Oh, but wait, this year we have constantly prayed for peace and justice. We’ve prayed for Egypt, Syria and North Korea. We’ve prayed for innocent children and teachers, for Navy yard workers, for marathon runners who lost their lives because someone was calling out for help or sought revenge. We have prayed for senior adults who cut back on meals because of local food pantries with empty shelves. We’ve prayed for cities that have declared bankruptcy. These issues seem insurmountable. This is due in part because governments and political systems appear to be the controllers, perhaps even the oppressors, of this world. Yes, we have prayed for peace and love this year.

Psalm 72 doesn’t give a strategic plan on how to bring about justice and righteousness. However, the key is found throughout all of scripture – the key is love. Even in the darkest of days and times, where there is love, oppression is lifted. When we remember the love that God has for this world, we work harder for justice and righteousness. This week, think about ways that you can be the king – or queen – of love who stands up for the poor, who helps the children and who lets the oppressor know that their way is not a way of love.

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