A Pastoral Thought

The Occupy Wall Street protest seems to have taken on a life of its own, spreading from Wall Street to many major cities and across the world.

I find it amusing in an ironic way that those who supported the Tea Party folks find the Occupy Wall Street folks as repulsive. One would think both of these movements would literally shout that there is something VERY wrong with our society.

With all the mess going on…and the awful things each side are saying to each other, with the news media behaving like vultures and people jockeying for positions to be called heroes, we now see this embarrassing fighting standing in the way of making sure the folks of our country are protected, secure and safe…

I was doing some meditation time and this particular passage struck a deep nerve.

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (Philippians 2:1-13 (The Message))

Regardless if one is a Christian or not…it seems to me this is a formula for working through this mess…a way of peace, a way of strength, and a way of walking the talk. A way in which everyone could walk away saying they had a hand in working through the challenge.

I guess I want to ask the question of all; what are you personally doing to help this come to reality? See, I get that both sides are deeply entrenched on their side of the argument; however what is each side doing to make the words of the quoted passage a reality?

I am sitting at my desk wondering if this country and it’s leadership have become so jaded and drunk with power, they have forgotten the basic tenet of our country which says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all… are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among the people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”

Maybe it is indeed time for a change. I think this crisis proves what we have known for a long time…the politicians do not really care if you or I can pay the mortgage or rent.

They do not really care if you or I have enough money to pay our bills or put gasoline in our vehicles.

HIV and it’s spread only matters if a large block of voters suddenly die or there is oil in the country.

They do not really care if you live or die unless it gives them some sort of leverage in the power and control game.

No, the only thing at stake is their position of power, money and comfort, and they would sell their own mother if they thought it would keep them in power.

The recent behavior of the political and religious right and big business proves that all those “so-called Christians” have forgotten a key to their faith…”Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

Yes, maybe now is the time to call for a change…and in the meantime all I can say to our government is:

Shame on you Mr. President.

Shame on you Mr. or Mrs. Congressperson.

Shame on you Mr. or Mrs. Senator.

Shame on those of you in big business that have lost sight of the people upon whose backs you made your money!!

Finally, but not least by any stretch of the imagination, shame on all those big CEO’s and big business people who forgot why they were in business to begin with,”…that all… are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We are faced with the conservative political right and the religious right constantly beating us over the head with their brand of morals and practice of faith, telling everyone how to think and what the bible says.

We are faced with the political left not listening to the real concerns of folks and the progressive people of faith forgetting it is not a contest of “their way or my way”.

Damn it, folks, read this passage one more time:

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (Philippians 2:1-13 (The Message))

So the real questions of the day perhaps are these:

What are you doing to find agreement with those around you?

What have you done to become deep-spirited friends?

Are you pushing to the top or are you waiting your turn?

Are you a person who says what you mean and means what you say or are you a B.S. artist?

Have you stepped outside of yourself to help another get ahead?

Are you obsessed with getting your way?

Can you forget yourself long enough to offer a helping hand, without judgment?

Just a passing pastoral thought…

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.