Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sex and Alternate Lifestyles in NY City: God's mercy in and through Christ Jesus

I read my Bible to see what men  ought to do, and read the newspapers to see what men are doing - John Newton

This week the news on television ( read CNN) was dominated by Anthony Weiner and his sexting exploits. All because he is, or was, a leading candidate in the New York Mayoral Race. This after having lost his seat in Congress for the same perverse behavior. Interestingly, the  sample of those who were polled and asked the question, ' Would you still vote for him',  was split  down the middle between those who said that it would  not matter and those who would change their minds. Amazing! So the news out tonight that his campaign manager has called it quits after his number dropped by 9% may suggest the end of the road, for now, for this  ' horny middle aged man', as described by one of his  sextees.
Even more interestingly from my point of view, hot debated by Bishop Tutu in a statement released recently, is the fact that the candidate who leads the pack is Christine Quill, a lesbian who is 'married' and who is quoted in an article carried in the  the New York News  today that " Weiner is not qualified to lead the greatest city in the world. And cites " scandal after scandal ' which would lead to distrust and distraction from the real issues. In this context then, Bishop's Tutu's declaration that " he would rather go to hell than worship a homophobic God", as he took part in the first UN global campaign to promote gay rights, as reported in the MailOnline, and which news came to my notice on Twitter, is not to be taken lightly. As this is a deeply respected Christian man who has been ' in the trenches' in the struggle to free his beloved South Africa from the racist ideology of Apartheid.

Finally, can it be coincidental that former Governor  Elliot Spitzer,  who was forced to resign in 2008  for his involvement with high priced prostitutes, and now running for Controller of New York City, is also reported as having labelled Weiner as a " bad husband"?

The question arose in my mind this week, as I pondered all of this,  if what is happening in New York is symptomatic of a larger problem in the USA, is how did America arrive at this  state of complete moral confusion and  moral ambiguity? How did the folks, the pilgrims and others, who arrived there on the Mayflower in 1620 fleeing religious persecution in Europe come to this point? How did the wonderful legacy left by the George Washington, the 'Father of America', who famously declared in his farewell address which I read this week in Eric Metaxas' 7 Men' that :
" Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.......reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. Metaxas then observes that " As national morality is at the heart of self-government, this is an especially important statement.
So is Bishop Tutu  and those who hold that  the Gay and Lesbian life is acceptable by the God that they serve, correct,  and the rest of the Christians who hold a different view, entirely wrong? Or is it the other way around? Who knows for certain !  Again it cannot be coincidental that I have just began to read Saint Augustine's City of God.  A  huge body of work,  written in the 5th Century AD, and which helped  in no small way to influence  and shape much of how the Western world understands God and the role of Christians in any society. I will see what he has to say on this matter.

This week then, in the midst of all this deep reflection on the fact that  some thing has gone terribly" wrong in the state of Denmark", as Shakespeare observed, the following two reflections were shared as I continued my walk with the Lord God of Israel and the God of all the earth. And then just last night  a Word came in the dead of night.

The first reflection is linked with my concerns about the New Mayoral race and the wider implications for the American society, and beyond, by the focus on Christian being the ' Light of the world". And that there is no point in cursing the darkness, as people who live in that realm ( from which God has rescued us.....the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of the Son he loves...according to Colossians 1:13 NIV), the 'darkness',  are in bondage to sin and death and  out of their hearts " come all kinds of evil", again according to Holy Scriptures. And as I reflect on the Word, one can begin to understand the campaign against  what is called ' hate speech'. Which includes, in today's ' homophobic' context, any reference to the consequences of  the sin of homosexuality. As people in the darkness do not wish to hear the Truth as revealed by Holy Scriptures.
The second reflection, written just yesterday, again has links to the New York affair, in that it places a focus on the role that Christians are called to  play in any society while placing  higher a value on their relationship with  Christ.
Finally the Word which came to me last night, as only the Word of God can do, speaks  ' with authority', about the root cause of all the problems discussed this week, and thus the reason why we all need Jesus. Whether we are Anthony Weiner, Christine Quinn, Eliot Spitzer, Bishop Tutu, Politicians in Jamaica or in the USA, journalists in Jamaica or in the USA, or wherever.

" For God has bound  over all men to disobedience so that he ma have mercy on them all.
Oh, how the depth of the riches of  the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unreachable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him
are all things
To him be glory forever! Amen

Therefore, I urge you, brothers in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So that you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 11: 32-36, & 12: 1-2 NIV.

So at the end it is not a matter of whether Bishop Tutu is correct about gay rights, or whether or  not Weiner's campaign will prevail in the end, or whether politicians in Jamaica will  rise to the occasion and form a coalition government or not. Or whether George Washington was correct about the importance of religion in national life!  In the end it's all about  God's will. God's holy and perfect will is going to prevail regardless of what mankind does or says or  how we act. Our role is to get in tune with that will and be  obedient. And it all begins when we realize how sinful and disobedient we are and have been, and thus why Christ died, so that through him,  God could ' have mercy ' on us all.
So we pray for mercy for sexting middle aged men, for men who liase with prostitutes, for gay and lesbian folks, for leaders in church and in state and all of us who ' have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".


This is how it began:
Last night a reading of Oswald Chambers'  ( My Utmost for His Highest) meditation on
" Blessed are the poor in spirit". July 21
This morning, led to read the Matthew 5 passage in my Classic Devotional Bible.
Greeted by a quote from William Barclay on that page:

"The man who is poor in spirit is the man who has realized that things mean nothing and that God means everything."

Then a meditation by  Dietrich Bonhoeffer " The Property of Light",  appears on the next page, in which he asserts, inter alia,  that,  ' followers of Christ are the light of the world otherwise it is a sign that they have not been called....otherwise it would not be discipleship'.

  Interesting!  But there is more. John 8:12 is referenced, so I go there and find the most amazing conversation between ( John 8:12-59) Jesus and some Pharisees, during which He labels them as " children of the devil", and not children of Abraham, because of their unbelief that He, Jesus, had been sent by His Father in heaven. And which conversation climaxes with the famous, " Before  Abraham was born, I am". Which to the Jewish mind, and even to the contemporary mind, that appreciates these things, a staggeringly profound statement about Him being God Himself - the same 'I Am' who spoke to Moses, and offered this name in response to the question, " who shall I say sent me".

All of the above, really led to my reading of the first few verses of chap 9, and this:

" As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world". John 9:4-5 NIV

I wondered about this statement: " Night is coming when no one can work", and was led to read again, the soaring claims of John 1......In the beginning was the Word.......In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man sent by God.....He himself was not the light, he came only as a witness to the light...

The following thoughts struck me.

1. John the Baptist, who Jesus described in the most wonderful terms in the kingdom of God, was not the light, but we who follow Christ, according to Bonhoeffer, and Holy Scriptures are the light the world and not just witnesses to the light. That  is simply staggering, in terms of the responsibility that we as disciples of Christ have. Even in comparison to John the Baptist

2. Night is coming....when no one can work, in this context, then portrays a world left in darkness by the death, Crucifixion, and Ascension of Christ, except, except for,  " the light of the world', that He has left behind. That is, we the disciples , in whom His Holy Spirit lives, are the only ' light' left in the world.

3. It therefore means that, despite the glamour and glitz of life, including the excitement over the new heir to the British Throne, everything outside of the presence of us, the disciples of Christ, is darkness. Wow!  Again what an awesome responsibility!

4. Finally, there is no point really then in, 'cursing the darkness', the killing of those three women by the sick mind in Cleveland, the violent deaths that we in Jamaica have suffered at the hands of evil men for years, as that's precisely what those who live in the darkness do.

I was led to quote Teddy Prendergrass' song " wake up everybody", in a recent blog. We the people of God really need to wake up to the fact, that for the salvation of the world's troubles, the racial issues, the prevention of war and poverty, the fight against gross immorality as portrayed  and fueled by Hollywood, it all comes down to how we  allow God to work in and through us to reconcile the world to Himself.  The stuff I have been writing and reading in Kelly's book then takes on a greater urgency, in respect of us being called to draw closer to God each day. And to be aware of The Eternal Presence with us, at each moment. For He alone is the initiator of all good things according to His good and perfect will for mankind.
So Blessed are the poor in spirit indeed.

Sent from my iPad


Dear Bishop,
On Thursday of this week,  I was involved in a discussion on Beyond the Headlines on RJR FM94, hosted by Dionne Jackson-Miller. The topic! The recent call for a coalition government by Profesor Brian Meeks head of Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (, ) at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus in Kingston Jamaica.

Why was I involved? I had made a speech to the Lay Magistrates way back in October 2012, and posted parts of it in my weekly blog/mail out, and which inter alia called for the establishment of a coalition government in my country. The context ? The crisis as I saw it, was manifest  in the  extreme violence in the society driven in large part by the gangs of young men led by Dons, and  who have been socialized to kill without any conscience; an unbearable burden of national debt occasioned by years of anemic economic growth; unbelievable and unacceptable display of immoral behavior  in the society in general, and in our young people in particular, fueled in large measure by the worse aspects  of the dance hall culture and the influence of cable television.

Based on that assessment, I believe I was led by my relationship with the God who I serve to call for a different kind of political arrangement, an urgent need to rescue our young men, the use of social media to introduce a conversation which would appeal to young to seek a higher moral ground, and for the appreciation and spread of the "correct faith" by the church which would lead to a revival of the church and a renewal of our society.

I made my contribution, and so did Professor Meeks. At the end of the program I was only able to introduce the fact that I also called for a revival of the role of the church, and for other elements in the society. And I felt that I ought to have said more about that part of it and did not.

I gave it no more thought, until this morning two passages of Scripture came into my mind as
" songs in the night", and try as I would I could not fall back to sleep, so I decided that it was the will of God for me to write to you early this morning. We are talking about 5:00 am in the morning, so it was a struggle.

The first Word, was shared with me by my spiritual mentor, the late Suffragan Bishop Herman Spence, years ago, and he in turn received from  the now retired Bishop of Jamaica Neville Desouza. And only the Lord could have led me to think about it  early this morning in my sleep. The 'discussion' centered on the need to be involved in public affairs without losing one's focus on the fact that only  God alone can rescue a society. And that His priority is for us to focus of the Redemption ushered in by the death of Christ on the cross of Calvary.

And then this came:
" Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which to which I have carried you in exile.Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."  Jeremiah 29:7 NIV

The second Word came as I continued to ponder on the ' discussion' as stated above.  There were two parts to it.
One: " For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."  And I was  also struck by the verse that follows....For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God". 1 Cor. 1:17& 18 NIV

Two: " When I came to, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. "  Again I was also intrigued by what followed......" I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith may not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. 1 Cor.2:1-2 & 3-4 NIV

What do I make of all of this!  First of all it is my first 'letter' for the week, which is unusual. Secondly, I am on holidays with family (especially grand-children), far from Jamaica, made this call months ago and which did not receive much traction,  and  I am not a ' political commentator', and  therefore wondered, aloud,  to the pleasant young lady from RJR FM 94 if she had contacted the right  Dr. there is a political scientist by that name.  But she was very patient and quite sure with whom she was speaking. Thirdly the book which I am currently reading, Thomas Kelly's " A testament of Devotion" opens the chapter on ' The Simplification of  Life ' with these words ( written in 1941)

" The problem we face today needs very little time for its statement. Our lives in a modern city grow too complex and overcrowded. Even the necessary obligations which we must meet grow overnight, like Jack's beanstalk, and before we know it we are bowed down with burdens, crushed under committees, strained, breathless, and hurried, panting through a never ending series of appointments. We are too busy to be good wives to our husbands, good homemakers, good companions of our children ( and grandchildren - my words), good friends to our friends and with no time at all to be friends to the friendless.
But if we withdraw from public engagements and interests, in order to spend quiet hours with the family, the guilty calls of citizenship whisper disquieting claims in our ears. Our children's schools should receive our interest, the civic problems of our community need our attention, the wider issues of the nation and of the world are heavy upon us.........The times for the deeps of the silences of the heart seem so few. And with guilty regret we must postpone till next week that deeper life of unshaken composure in the holy Presence, where we sincerely know our true home is, for this week is much too full"

There is more. Much more. But the excerpt above serves to make the point sufficiently. Life is complex only because we do not make it simple. And making it simple means  as Kelly eloquently and profoundly suggests later on in the chapter that,  " Our real problem, in failing to center down, is not  the lack of time; it is, I fear, in too many of us, lack of joyful , enthusiastic delight in Him, lack of deep, deep-drawing love directed towards Him as every hour of day or night. I think is is clear that I am talking about a revolutionary way of living. Religion isn't something to be added to our other duties, and thus make our lives yet more complex. the life with God is the center of life, and all else is remodeled and integrated by it. it gives the singleness of eye. The most important thing is not to be perpetually passing out cups of cold water to a thirsty world. We can get do fearfully busy trying to carry out second great commandment, " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself', that we are under-developed in our devoted love to God. But we  must love God as well as neighbor. These things ye ought to have done and not to have left the other only partially done.
There is a way of life so hid with Christ in God that in the midst of the day's business one is inwardly lifting up brief prayers, short ejaculations of praise, subdued whispers of adoration and ender love to the Beyond that is within. No one need know about it......."

Bishop, there is enough in here for all who will read to  seriously contemplate within the context of the prayer which undergirds this  Internet ministry which the Lord Himself has organized.
" Lord renew thy  church beginning with me;
Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation".

I therefore believe that,  in a special way, God's power is at work in this experience.

No doubt, then, that  this note will feature on Sunday night when the wider ' membership' will receive it in a different but related  context about which I am already being led to reflect. But for now I am copying this note to  others with whom I have been in contact this week, on another and related matter,  for the Lord to touch their hearts, as He has touched mine,  as only He can.  With power. And for His purpose.
Sent from my iPad