St Andrew Lutheran Church
   4420 Center Point Rd NE
   Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
   (319) 393-4021
   www.standrewlutheran.org
PENTECOST XIII
August 23, 2015
 
"Just Stick to Religion"
 
     "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."     (John 13:34)
 
     The opinion section of last Sunday's paper included a column by Leonard Pitts, a writer who usually makes me stop and think with his straightforward thoughts and observations.  When I saw that his column had a quote from the Bible at the beginning, I was intrigued, although I'm aware that he is a man of faith.  He began by making some relevant and pointed observations about what our world would be like if even a portion of the 2 billion people claiming to be Christian were to live according to this commandment. 

     Mr. Pitts then wrote about the recent trip Pope Francis took to South America, and his call to love and serve the poor, as by doing so we serve Christ himself.  This, of course, bothered a columnist and several politicians, who felt the pope was exceeding his authority by doing what is essentially preaching the Gospel.  A papal letter expressing concern for the environment (also known as God's creation) brought forth further complaints.  Then came the part that left me wondering if I should laugh, cry or get angry.  I'll just quote this sentence as Mr. Pitts wrote it, as he says it so well:

     "The pope, they say, should stick to religion -- to 'making us better people', and leave the state of the world to others."

     What in the world are these people thinking when they say something like this?  It sounds as though they believe he could be helpful in assisting people write a good list of New Year's resolutions, but that's about as far as he should go. 

     Of course, you know the pope is just the highest-profile person to generate this reaction -- Christians of all denominations are likely to be told essentially the same thing -- leave religion out of your everyday lives. We know, however, that Christianity can't be limited, or put on a shelf and brought out only on special occasions.  Jesus was very clear that faith is much more than a state of mind or an emotional response.  It is action and expression out in the open, caring and doing something about the state of the world and God's people in it. 
 
     Mr. Pitts closes his column with these inspiring words: 

     " 'Love one another,' he said.   And love is not talk.  Love is compassion in action.  It is intolerance of suffering.  It is urgent empathy.  And it is something 2 billion of us are told to give."  THAT'S "sticking to religion"!
 


 Your friend in Christ,
Mary Rogers
Worship Times
Holy Communion
  Saturday 5:30 pm
  Sunday 9:30 am
A Very Special Sunday, September 13
All are welcome to a busy, joyful day starting with worship at 9:30 a.m., followed by a brunch served in Bethsaida Hall, hosted by Learning and Witness Ministry Teams.  This kicks off  the new year of learning and faith formation, as Sunday School and other learning opportunities begin on this day.  After all are fed, inspired, and energized, "God's Work - Our Hands", the ELCA-wide event of community service opportunities will take place.  
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