Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: hate

YouTubevotional: Locked in Love

YouTubevotionals are designed to be used in personal devotion time, with small groups, youth groups, or Sunday school classes. To see other YouTubevotionals, click here

Introduction

In 2013, Walt Disney began releasing new Mickey Mouse shorts. It all started with the Mouse. Mickey came into being in the late 1920’s and started in some brilliant animated shorts for years. The animation of these new Mickey Mouse shorts are nothing like the originals though, and take a little bit of getting used to, at least for me it was. The animation is similar to what you might find on Cartoon Network, for better or for worse.

In the short below, Mickey and Minnie are having a romantic evening out, and plan to place a lock on the bridge, like so many others, as a symbol of their love for one another.

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The Ten: Don’t Hurt People

Do not kill. (Exodus 20:13, Common English Bible)

The Ten - jasoncstanley.comThere is a story in Genesis of two brothers, the world’s first two brothers: Cain and Abel. They both brought sacrifices to God. Able brought the first and best of his sheep, while Cain brought scraps from his harvest. Their tithing was their worship. God looked favorably on Abel’s offering, and not so favorably on Cain’s offering.

In a fit of jealousy and anger, Cain kills his brother Abel.

The world’s first murder.

Perhaps this story from the Hebrew tradition is what came to mind for the Hebrews when Moses announced this commandment. Life is a precious gift given by God. The responsibility for giving and taking life belonged to God. But the commandment to not kill may have a broader stroke.

Terence Fretheim writes about this commandment:

….any act of violence against an individual out of hatred, anger, malice, deceit, or for personal gain, in whatever circumstances and by whatever method, that might result in death.

“Any act of violence” with the intention of death.

Recently our community had bomb threats at a number of area schools, elementary through high school. A fire drill blared, and the students, in orderly lines, went outside. Some of the students were funneled into school buses. The next day there were children who did not want to go to school. They were filled with anxiety and fear. And I can’t blame them. If I was in the first grade and had that experience, I most likely would fight my parents to not go to school.

The person or persons who called in these bomb threats are attempting to act in God’s stead. This act of violence goes against God’s loving creation. The effects of this act will last longer than that moment, which can be wildly dangerous. God beckons us to place value on the lives of others.

Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, goes a bit farther. Jesus, always one to turn the world upside down, tells the crowd that the commandment goes beyond physical violence. Verbal abuse and other expressions of anger, hatred, malice, and so on. Jesus extends the commandment to include anything that we might do to hurt others. Name-calling, gossiping, back-stabbing, (all the stuff you see happening on House of Cards), is damaging to the person you do that to. It kills a part of them. And frankly, it kills a part of us as well.

When we hurt others – in physical, emotional, or verbal ways – we are hurting God’s plans for a safe and loving world. When we call in bomb threats that leave first graders huddled on a cold school bus, we are disrupting God’s plan for a safe and loving world. When we choose vile and selfish ways to keep people out (even in the name of God), we rattle God’s plan for a safe and loving world.

In the beginning, God created and it was good. When we hurt others, we disturb the goodness of God’s creation. And that is not good.

A Kingdom of Peace

Read Isaiah 11:1-10

Advent Ponderings

We can all remember where we were when we heard about the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I was walking across campus at Randolph-Macon College. I had an early class that morning and was walking towards the library when I overheard other groups of students talking about the attack. I couldn’t believe it. And truthfully there was a part of me that didn’t believe it. I by-passed the library and went to my car. I turned the radio on and listened with a heavy heart to the news reports of airplanes flying into the World Trade Center buildings.

How could such a thing happen? How could there be so much hate in the world that hundreds of people would be killed?

College students who are freshmen this year were in the first grade when 9/11 happened. The only world they know is this post-9/11 world. A world where war is common. A world where politics are more important than people, no matter what side of the aisle you are on. A world where bullying and school shootings are the norm.

A world filled with violence.

In her book God’s Gift of Love, Donna Schaper writes, “From a world without love and without hope, nothing is possible, expect a repeat of the same injuries.” Injustice breeds injustice. Violence breeds violence. At some point the cycle of hate must stop. But how?

Nelson Mandela is an example of someone who ended the cycle of hate. After being a, at sometimes violent, leader against his government, and being imprisoned, something happened. He changed. When he emerged from his jail cell, he was a different man. A man filled with peace. He led his people to become united and to reconciliation.

Mandela made a difference in many ways, across many countries. And we argue that some of the changes were big and some of the changes were small. But they were changes. And they started within himself. He found peace in himself before he was able to lead others to find peace. Change towards peace does not always have to be by the pound. Change towards peace can be by the ounce. Ounce by ounce through prayer and contemplation, worship and Bible study, scheduled acts of mercy and random acts of kindness, we change ourselves, and make the world around us a better place.

Because love breeds love. Hope breeds hope. Justice breeds justice. And peace breeds peace.

Rise Above

The following is a talk I gave at Sunday Night Alive on February 22, 2009.  SNA is a youth worship service once a month provided by New Season United Methodist and the Steve Kropp Band.

Anger, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, is “a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility.”  There are lots of things in our lives that can cause us displeasure or hostility.  For example: getting grounded by your parents, your lunch money is stolen, a teacher accuses you of cheating when you didn’t, you see your bf or gf at the movies with someone else.

Anger is considered by the Roman Catholic tradition as one of the seven deadly sins.Which is tricky, considering that anger is a very human emotion.But even the most “holy” of the Bible have expressed this emotion.

In Exodus 32, Moses has been spending some time hanging out with God at the top of the mountain.For the Hebrew people at the bottom of mountain, Moses has been hanging out with God too long.They start to get antsy.They plead with Aaron, Moses’ brother, to make them a god.So, they take all the gold in the camp and create a golden calf.When Moses comes down from the mountain he turned into the Hulk.For Moses to be angry is perfectly human.Moses’ anger burned hot and he broke the original 10 Commandment tablets.

Genesis 1:27 says that in the image of God, God created humankind.In Judaism, and likewise in Christianity, there is this understanding that my relationship to you is also my relationship to another image of God.

In the Hebrew Bible when anger leads to cruelty, violence, oppression, or persecution – things that distort my relationship to another image of God – then anger is a sin.It is sin when it disrupts our relationship with another image(s) of God.  Look at what Paul says in Galatians 5:14.

The whole law is summed by that one commandment.Leviticus 19:18 is where that commandment is originally stated.At the core of Leviticus 19 is a summons to holiness – a call to live a holy life.Leviticus 19 starts off with God saying live a holy life, for I am your God and I am holy.We are created in the image of God, the image of God dwells within us, God is holy, we too can be holy.

In Luke 10, Jesus tells a story,a story we refer to as the Parable of the Good Samaritan.This was a surprising story to hear at the time.Jews and Samaritans hated each other!They did not associate with each other.

In telling this story, Jesus, as Jesus tends to do, shatters all the categories of who are and who are not the people of God.It was the Samaritan, the  unclean, the social outcast, and the religious heretic, that followed the commandment to love your neighbor.It was the Samaritan who understood that his relationship to the Jew was his relationship to another image of God.

Rise above what anger can lead to.Remember the holiness code in Leviticus 19 – do not hold a grudge, do not seek vengeance, instead love your neighbor.When Jesus was being persecuted by the Romans and nailed to the cross, instead of rising up against the Romans, instead of calling on the power of the Creator, Jesus uttered these words: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Anger can be like an over boiling tea kettle, you have no idea when it’s going to run over or who it’s going to burn.

Dr. Bailey realizes that if she responds out of anger, she will be no better than her patient.She could have responded out of anger to her patient, and her anger could have revealed itself through cruelty, violence, oppression, or persecution – distorting the image of God in others.Instead she says, “We will rise above.”

Rise Above.

When Jesus concluded his parable, he asked the lawyer which of these men showed loved for his neighbor.The lawyer answered the one who showed mercy.Jesus, the Great Teacher, knew that as long as we are on this earth, we are never done learning and growing.Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Go and love your neighbor.

Go, and as James says, “be slow to anger and quick to listen.”

Go and be holy.

Go and rise above.

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