52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. 53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 So they went on to another village.

Luke chapter 9, verses 52-56; from the New Living Translation

Can we be honest? Don’t we just love it when Karma jumps up and bites someone in the butt? Maybe it’s that person at work who used you to get that promotion. Maybe it’s that person who spread malicious gossip about you. Maybe it’s that car that had zoomed by you at break-neck speed that down the road was pulled over by a State Trooper. Whenever we feel like someone has wronged us, or is simply in the wrong, what is our response? Kindness or Karma?

As Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem, today’s passage tells us of an event where His disciples had that very same choice: Kindness Or Karma? James and John (you know–John the Apostle of “Love”) opted in for Karma! “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” This will teach those bigoted Samaritans! But read it again, paying attention to the response of Jesus to the brothers: “But Jesus turned and rebuked them.” Not the Samaritan villagers–but James and John! And after the rebuke, what does Jesus do? “So they went on to another village.”

In the seasons where you feel you have been misunderstood or mistreated; when you feel the “burning” desire for Karma to pounce on someone like a Lion on a crippled Gazelle–Jesus has something to say to you. It’s called A Rebuke! And to my fellow Tribal Members of the United Methodist Church, in light of this passage–do you really think all the words, words about Karma, we are passing from one side to the other (because both sides are doing this) pleases Jesus? One side talks about the love of Jesus and the other side talks about the need for repentence. All the while, words and wishes of Karma are also flowing way too freely. Folks, let’s stop all this talk about Karma–even though you may not use that word, you are definitely wanting it. Let’s do something together that reflects the heart and attitude of Jesus shown in today’s passage. Let’s be Kind and allow each side to go to the next village.


Do You Remember

Hopefully, today will be filled with stories of remembering. Stories of where they were when the first heard the news. Stories of being glued to the television news. Stories of crying. Stories about talking with friends, families, even strangers about the day’s events. I, too, have stories of remembering; remembering my son was stationed at Ft. Campbell, home of the Screaming Eagles; remembering my son-in-law a full-time soldier with the Alabama National Guard.

But there’s one story I could tell that stands tall above all other stories. I remember the Kindness people showed to each other. I remember people who realized the importance of family and friends. I remember that politics did not amount to anything. For a season, we acted with Kindness. I remember thinking, “This is a brief glimpse of what the Kingdom of God looks like!”

Alas, we have forgotten the Kindness that followed 9-11. But maybe, call me the eternal optimist, maybe others like myself will recall the Kindness that was so dominant. And perhaps, we will all act with Kindness again. Lord knows we need it in these days. May it be so, Lord, may it be so!

We Need Graciousness!

I remember back when (dear Lord, I’ve turned into an old coot!) the gas lines in 1974. For you who haven’t a clue of what I’m talking about, and for those who forgot about it, I’m talking about “The Great Gasoline Shortage of 1974. I admit that even as a teenager I was frustrated with the long lines. But there is an even greater shortage today, this very moment–and that is the shortage of Graciousness.

Maybe I need to define Graciousness since there is so little of it going around. You may notice (hopefully!) that you can hear that word Grace! There are a lot of ways of defining Grace, but my personal favorite is this:

Unmerited and unconditional kindness and favor extended to everyone.

As a people and as the People of The United States of America, it seems that the majority have forgotten both the value and importance of Graciousness. Please, for the sake of this Republic and for the sake of the human race, Be Gracious! And in the morning and all day long, Be Gracious! Then on the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after than, and. . .hopefully you get the point. And the point is BE GRACIOUS!

Everyone Can’t Get Along

“Whenever the inappropriate fear of people eclipses the appropriate fear of God, it’s a short step to image management and control tactics. When we fear people, we tend to develop appeasement strategies in order to manage any perceived volatility. The tendency is to manage appearances in order to keep the peace. The truth? It’s really just conflict avoidance in order to get around dealing with dysfunction.

J. D. Walt

The above words were the opening lines of one of my daily morning readings. We hear a lot, I mean a lot, of people saying, “Can’t we just get along?” My answer is a resounding

Does this mean I’ve lost all hope for and in humanity?

It’s thin sometimes, but no, I haven’t lost hope for and in humanity. This being said. . . we can’t get along. Now hear me carefully: WE CAN’T GET ALONG. . .IN THIS CURRENT CLIMATE. . .UNTIL WE CHANGE OUR PERSPECTIVE! You might have thought I would say “attitude” rather than “perspective”. But that’s not how this works. . .that’s not how any of this works!

Perspective is what influences and creates attitude. And in the current climate, the perspective is “peace at all costs.” Some call it “political correctness”. . .so do I. Now, I’m not advocating attitudinal anarchy. . . but there comes a moment when we have to accept that this fallen human nature is incapable of getting along. I said “fallen” human nature.

Fellow Disciples Of Jesus, Followers Of The Way, we cannot get along with the world . . . nor with each other as long as “getting along with each other” involves keeping the peace through compromise. Again, I’m not promoting attitudinal anarchy–but truth is–there’s a lot of it out there, including in the church.

So, what’s the option? Is there an option? There is an option–but we have to accept that not everyone is going to agree with it. The option we can choose . . . MUST choose . . . is to be true to God by becoming like Jesus. Jesus is the perfect model of graciousness AND truthfulness. Jesus chose appropriate moments and words that intentionally dwindled the number of “followers”.

Why? Because Jesus would not offer nor accept a fake peace built on compromise. Jesus DOES offer peace and it happens as we live each moment of each day by God’s Truth. And we offer the world The TRUTH. Not with arrogance . . . there’s too much of that already . . . but with the perspective of Jesus . . . the perspective that formed his attitude in life. What is that perspective? So glad you asked. . .

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT)

There comes a time, a moment in a culture, when the desire to get along must die in order for the attitude of Jesus to be clearly seen so that Truth becomes clear. And it will be clear if we speak with graciousness and truthfulness. Today is such a time. We can’t get along–but we can be kind, like Jesus . . . and be faithful to God.

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!