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Video Series: What I’m Thinking

Each week, Pastor Eric Anderson shares just a minute or two of his thoughts on the upcoming week. But the most important part of “What I’m Thinking” is what you’re thinking. Please share your ideas in the comments, and see how they become part of Pastor Eric’s thinking, too!

What I’m Thinking: Humility

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As a dinner guest, Jesus ventured to recommend some humility to those who shared the table. It’s been a virtue ignored by some and enforced on others in our society. Or so I’ve come to think.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fourteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14), which finds Jesus at a dinner hosted by a religious leader, one apparently of some significance. And at the dinner Jesus watches the people choosing their places at the table. Apparently the social strata of the day was enough to tell some people, well, they were supposed to sit close to the host, and others were supposed to sit at some distance.

And Jesus said that if you were invited to a dinner that you should sit far from the host no matter your social status, so that you would be invited to come sit closer rather than suffer the embarrassment of being told that you had claimed a place that was not your own.

There was a Peanuts cartoon in which Linus took the seat at the back of Miss Othmar’s classroom. When she asked him why he’d done it, he quoted this passage. She told him to come to the front, and Linus told us the viewers, with some chagrin, that Miss Othmar didn’t seem to be all that fond of Biblical allusions.

True humility is not a high American value. We are far more accustomed to people claiming their places – mostly men. It’s a virtue that we have insisted upon in women, and it’s one that we tend to require of [female] candidates of political office even while their male counterparts show no signs of humility at all.

Honestly, I think that men and women could exchange virtues for a few generations, perhaps. It would be good for us to see women fully come into their giftedness and their authority. And it would be good for men, for people like me, to learn something about what it means to contribute our gifts humbly, perhaps even invisibly.

Most of all, though, I think Jesus says something about the nature of society. And I do wonder if he might not have followed up that statement about seeking a place lower than what you expect with a warning that, in the end, all of these social hierarchies are artificial.

The wealthy one is no more worthwhile than the poor. The healthy one is no more worthwhile than the one who is disabled. The man is certainly of no more worth than the woman.

In the end, I think we will find our places at a table that is… round. And our place is a place of honor because we share it with one another, and because we share it with God.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: Humility

What I’m Thinking: Purity and Compassion

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It’s an old question: is it more important to maintain purity – to preserve something important – or to exercise compassion? Or rather, what are the things that you and I will preserve rather than extend help?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the thirteenth chapter of Luke (Luke 13:10-17). It’s a familiar story.

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. A woman came in who was bent over and unable to stand straight. Jesus told her that she would be free of that which had bound her, and sure enough, she stood up straight.

But the leader of the synagogue was displeased that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath until Jesus pointed out that everybody took their animals to be fed and watered on the Sabbath. Was it not right that this woman should be freed from what had bound her?

It’s an age-old question: between doing what is good and maintaining what is pure in our homes, in our religious observances, even in our communities and our nation. And the question of whether to maintain purity or whether to exercise goodness and compassion, well, it’s a debate that goes back and forth, back and forth, over the centuries.

I should mention that in the Mishnah and the Talmud, the works that emerged from the Jewish scholars in the second and the third centuries, they’re very clear that it is proper to act compassionately and to save life and to heal on the Sabbath just as Jesus had pointed out.

And so, here’s my question for this week: What is it that we use to prevent us from doing things that are good? What are the things that we want to maintain in their pristine state? What is the purity that we value more than compassion?

I assure you: Think hard enough and you will find things that we would rather do than heal.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: Compassion, Whatimthinking

What I’m Thinking: Division

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Did Jesus come to unite? No, he said. He came to divide. Division is an activity human beings know well.

Here’s a transcript:

The Revised Common Lectionary is still in the twelfth chapter of Luke (Luke 12:49-56), and that has me thinking about division, for this is one of the places in the gospels – this is the place in Luke – where Jesus asks, do you think I have come to bring peace to the Earth?

No, I have come to bring division. In a household of five, three will be divided against the other two. I’ve come to bring a fire to the Earth.

So much for “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.”

The truth of the matter is that human beings divide all the time. We divide over issues within our households. We divide over issues within our communities. We are deeply divided in this nation over immigration, whether we are a welcoming people or whether we are a people that needs a wall.

Here on Hawai’i Island we are deeply divided over how to express different kinds of sacredness on one particular mountain.

It would be easy, I suppose, to say something like when we face division to make sure that the causes of our division are somehow “right.” But the simple truth of the matter is that we, each of us, have different notions of what is an appropriate cause over which to divide.

About all I can ask, about the only wisdom I can share, is that while we may divide over ideas, over questions, over beliefs, over commitments, we remain on this one island Earth. We cannot be fundamentally divided one from another, so at some point, we will need to live together.

So perhaps we might find a different way of honoring our differences, our commitments, our divisions: somehow to honor those aware that our roots go deep into the very same soil.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: Division, Video

What I’m Thinking: Present

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Jesus urged his listeners to be alert for the coming of the “Son of Man.” How did nobody realize that he was right there in front of them?

Here’s a transcript:

My apologies for the background noises today. We’re having some paint work done at Church of the Holy Cross, and it comes with some extra noise.

In the midst of it all, I am finding my way to thinking about the twelfth chapter of Luke (Luke 12:32-40). This is a section where Jesus starts talking about urgency and about attentiveness, that God does in fact want to give the realm of heaven to God’s people, but it is critically important to be aware and awake and alert. Have your lamps lit. Be ready like the servant preparing for the householder’s return. Be awake, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

It’s a funny thing that the Son of Man to whom Jesus referred so often was Jesus himself.

The Son of Man was coming at such an unexpected hour that the hour was right there and then.

And this, I think, is the both the secret and the obvious of the Christian faith: that Jesus is already here. God’s promises are already fulfilled. The Holy Spirit is present with us right now.

Just like the painters.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

With sorrow and aloha for the grieving and wounded of El Paso and Dayton.

May God lead us in wisdom and righteousness to days without violence.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: Video, Whatimthinking

What I’m Thinking: Regret

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In Hosea 11, God expresses regret and grief for the exile of Israel. In Luke 12, Jesus tells a story about a man who didn’t have time to regret his greed.

Here’s a transcript:

First, I am thinking about those who have lost loved ones or who have been so grievously injured in the mass shooting in Gilroy, California, over the weekend. My prayers are with them in their grief and in their recovery.

And we must put prayers in action to change a society that is… that is far too likely to turn to violence and to cause harm.

I’m also thinking about the 11th chapter of Hosea (Hosea 11:1-11) and I’m thinking about the 12th chapter of Luke (Luke 12:13-21). In Luke, Jesus tells a story about a man who gave his love to his wealth. He grew lots of grain and he built lots of barns and he saved it all up and said, now I will enjoy it – but it was that night that his life’s days came to their end.

Hosea is an expression of God’s grief, grief over the child Israel. God, through Hosea, describes teaching Ephraim (the people of Israel) to walk, and God’s grief over the exile into which they’ve gone.

I just wonder if we fully appreciate how anger and division and loss and distraction… I wonder if we appreciate that we will come to deeply, deeply regret those. I wonder if we realize that we will come to the place that God did with Hosea. I wonder if we realize that there is a story beyond the story that Jesus told: about the regret of the man who gave his heart to his wealth, and did not hold a heart for his family, for his neighbors, for the stranger.

There is a way not to regret. That is to be open hearted in our lives.

Once more I ask your prayers for the people of Hawai’i Island as we continue with demonstrations and police presence, but also conversation, on the slopes of a mountain held sacred by many people in many, many ways. May we be guided to some resolution yet invisible to most of us that will also heal our broken community.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: Regret
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