Friday, January 01, 2016

Taize service at West End UMC -Deuteronomy 11:26-28
"See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God." 

Perhaps it was the intersection of the year's end and reading the Magna Carta by Dan Jones that set me thinking about this text, more ancient than the 1215 'great charter.' Spending New Year's Eve at a Cathedral-like building singing Latin texts could have done nothing but add to these thoughts. That scripture coupled with Genesis 12:2
"I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing." informed my early Christian development.  I can only be blest to be a blessing if I am honoring God in my living. AND it is clear that this is the intention of God; that we bless his creation.
So here it is - Will we make 2016 (800 years after the Magna Carta) a year full of blessing or will by our passivity allow it to be a year of curses? Just how much are we captives of our collective past?  How much are we willing to examine to understand the reality rather than the myth of that past?

Medieval looking doors of West End UMC
One of the insights I gained from reading the Magna Carta is that the document has nothing to do with democracy in its original form.  As Jones points out,"One of the great paradoxes of the Magna Carta is the fact that the less relent most of its words become to modern life, the greater the reverence attached to its name. 'Magna Carta' is today used as a byword for all types of aspiration to freedom, liberty, and (quite erroneously) democracy."  But to deny that is also absurd.  The Magna Carta was the beginning of the wresting of power from the very foundations of Feudal society -- (the King and Church) and in that respect it does have something to do with freedom and democracy.

Since we now have both these things I am allowed to  rewrite the scripture above slightly. 

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing of democracy if you obey the commands of the Lord that you act out of intelligent, thoughtfully researched and true information for the common good.   The curse will be a return to slavery and the destruction of your home. If you disobey my command and act out of your feelings and what you want to be true refusing to look fully into your own darkness you will receive that curse.  

So if we act on this admonition, we try to live our lives in consonance with out beliefs.  It will cost us.  It will cost us more money to buy humanely produced, local, fresh produce and meat.  It will cost us the convenience of throwing everything away. It cost us in taxes if we take care of our world and its inhabitants.  It may cost us in friends who think we have lost our senses. It is not comfortable or easy to take up the cross that knowledge lays at our feet.  Receiving a blessing is not easy. The question is will I choose the blessing or the curse.