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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: Hope for Justice

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Jesus’ story of a widow and an unjust judge isn’t one to show how God is – it’s to show how God isn’t. Which leaves the question for us: Do we still have hope for God’s justice?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the eighteenth chapter of Luke (Luke 18:1-8), which begins with what we call “the Parable of the Unjust Judge.”

Jesus told a story about a widow seeking a decision in a case from a judge who, quite simply, didn’t care. She asked for justice against her opponents, and apparently hers was the stronger claim. Nevertheless, he would not give it.

So she came back. She came back, she came back, and she came back, and finally, worn down by her persistence if not the righteousness of her claim, he granted her her decision.

No doubt, in the first century Jesus’ contemporaries would have nodded at one another, recognizing something in their lives or their families’ lives or their neighbors’ lives, some occasion when the right had not been granted without long and hard argument before an uncaring magistrate.

Justice for the widows: well, that is the standard for justice throughout the Scriptures. If widows and orphans can’t get what they deserve, can’t get what is right, then the society, say the Scriptures, is hopelessly corrupt.

Nevertheless, the story was not about judges, not about the way that life was working in the first century – not the way that it works for far too many people in far too many places in today’s world – it was the contrast that Jesus made between this judge who required persistence and a God who was always responsive. “Will God wait long?” asked Jesus. “No. God is not like the unjust judge.”

We may well ask in our time when justice will arrive. And surely enough, to me it looks very much like justice for far too many is delayed for far too long, and I yearn for the intervention of the Holy One to bring what is good and right and beautiful and true to the Earth.

Yet I strive to answer the last question Jesus asked: “When the Son of Man arrives, will there be hope on the Earth?” I strive to answer that question, “Yes.”

I will still hope even as justice seems delayed beyond reason, beyond measure, and beyond hope. I will hope in God and the righteousness, and love, and redemption, forgiveness, and justice to come.

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: Hope, Video

What I’m Thinking: Appreciation

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Ten were healed – one came back to offer Jesus thanks. The first step of thanksgiving is awareness of how blessed we are.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the seventeenth chapter of Luke (Luke 17:11-19), in which Jesus encountered ten sick men. Luke calls them lepers. Some of them may, indeed, have suffered from Hansen’s disease.

In those days, if you were diagnosed with a skin condition that they identified as “leprosy,” it was a double hardship. First of all, these skin diseases were not treatable in those days. Second of all, because they feared the effects of the disease and their possible transmission, those people were cast out, forced to live away from their friends, their neighbors, their relative, in small and harsh communities of their own.

And so, from a distance they asked Jesus to heal them.

Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests. That would demonstrate, first of all, that they had been healed from the disease, but also it would restore them to their homes, their families, and their community. On the way to the priests, they discovered that they were, indeed, healed.

One of them turned back – a Samaritan – and gave thanks to Jesus, falling at his feet. Jesus comment was, “Weren’t there ten healed? But only one returns to give thanks and it’s this foreigner?”

There were indeed ten healed. Jesus did not rescind the healing of the other nine. All ten returned to their communities, to their families.

The difference, I think, for this tenth, was that he had a deeper sense of appreciation. The first step of giving thanks is an understanding of what has happened. The first step of giving thanks is an awareness of the goodness in one’s life.

And that, truly, is the reason, I think, that Jesus, that other religious leaders, and that I, myself, stress thankfulness in human life. Because to be thankful is to know just how wonderful the things, the people, the world around us are.

To be thankful is to understand that we are blessed.

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: Appreciation, Thankfulness, Whatimthinking

What I’m Thinking: Faithful Living

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In the opening of the second letter to Timothy, the author offers a sound basis for faithful living: a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the opening of the Second Letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:1-14). In it, our author commends Timothy’s faith, but also commends [or credits -ed.] its strength to the faith of his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice. Timothy, it seems, comes by his dedication to God through the earnest and active and faithful work of his family.

And so, to him has been given a spirit, not a spirit of cowardice, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of self-discipline.

Is there any more appropriate definition for a faithful life than that?

Power: the ability to make change in the world.

Love: that which guides the change. Love makes changes that are beneficial for others. It does not simply think of oneself.

And self-discipline: Not reliance on even mother or grandmother to restrain ourselves, but to make that part of our own living, our own acting.

Power and love and self-discipline: These are the spirit of the Church.

I also wish you a L’shana Tova, a Happy New Year. I’m recording this on Rosh Hoshanah, and last night I was blessed to be invited to participate in the Rosh Hoshanah observances at Ahava ‘Aina, the Jewish community here in East Hawai’i. So I wish you a very Happy New Year.

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: Faith, Love, Power, Self-discipline, Video

What I’m Thinking: Rich and Poor

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Jesus told a story about a rich man and a poor man, and the way their conditions reversed after they died. He had some opinions about poverty.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the sixteenth chapter of Luke (Luke 16:19-31), and it’s a much simpler story than the one we faced last week with the “dishonest manager.” This time the characters are pretty straightforward. You’ve got a rich man and a poor man, and the rich man lived in comfort, and the poor man died in suffering.

Both, in fact, died. The poor man, whom Jesus gives the name of Lazarus, went to the seat of Father Abraham: something like a heaven. And the rich man, well, he went to a place of suffering.

From there, though, he could still see Lazarus and Abraham, and asked if Lazarus might bring him some water to cool his tongue. Well, no, that couldn’t happen. There was a chasm between them.

“Well, could Lazarus go back and say to my brothers that they should change their ways?”

“No, no, that can’t happen either. Besides, they have Moses and the prophets to tell them what they should do.”

“Yes, but if somebody came back from the dead they would believe!”

“No, no,” said Abraham. “If they don’t believe Moses and the prophets they won’t believe somebody coming back from the dead.”

Isn’t that just how it is?

The Scriptures are just filled with all these injunctions for us to care for one another, to build a society in which nobody is left suffering by the doors while others eat their fill in comfort in the houses within. The Scriptures are full of them: the old Scriptures of the Hebrew people, the newer Scriptures of the Christians. And we, in fact, know that somebody died and returned from the dead to reinforce that message.

And to this day, people sleep outdoors while others eat their fill in comfort, even though someone returned from the dead to tell us it should not be so.

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: Video, Wealth

What I’m Thinking: Puzzling Parable

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Jesus told a story commending self-serving, dishonest, even criminal behavior. What are we to make of that?

Here’s a transcript:

I”m thinking about the sixteenth chapter of Luke (Luke 16:1-13). It contains one of Jesus’ more puzzling stories. We usually call it “The Parable of the Dishonest Manager.”

This fellow was accused by his employer of financial irregularities, perhaps embezzlement. Knowing that he was going to be fired, he went to his boss’ clients, people who owed him money, and said, all right, what I want you to do is pay, right now, but to do so at a discounted rate. The idea, you see, was that these folks would now be obligated to him when he was seeking a new position.

I’m honestly not sure that anybody would want to hire somebody who defrauded his employer like that, but that was the idea. And the original employer actually commended the dishonest manager for making friends for himself with this money.

Jesus said that the children of this world know how to make friends for themselves with dishonest wealth, but the children of the light: they do not.

Following the parable Jesus said one of those other troubling and very memorable things: that you cannot serve God and wealth, and that, I think, might be the real key to this story.

The dishonest manager: he served himself. He did it well. And it looks like he was going to make a new way for himself in the days after, what I assume was going to be, once more, his dismissal.

Is that the way we want to be?

Or do we want to be people who understand that this can be done, that this can be the way of the world, but we instead choose some other, better way?

I think that’s what Jesus was encouraging us to do.

And the friend, the best friend to make with the use of our possessions and wealth: that friend is God.

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: Honesty, Money, Video, Wealth
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