| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: Embracing Failure

Posted on 30 October 2014 by L.Moore

The word failure is full of negative connotations. It’s connected with so many other off-putting words – words like disappointment, inadequacy and inferiority. But, what if I told you that, when it comes to failure, you have been sold a bill of goods? That failure, when viewed from the right perspective, is actually a positive thing – a necessary element in all of your achievements? Would you believe it?

The truth is that failure is the primary building block of every success you’ve ever had. When you were learning to walk, you fell down countless times. Each time you got back up, you were sturdier. The first time you played baseball, you whiffed every ball, but, with practice, you began making contact. When you started driving, you didn’t whip right into your first parallel parking space, did you? You had to back up and try it again.

Life is a process of growing through the failures that shape your ability to succeed. The key is to have the right perspective. If you see failure as a dead end, it will destroy you. If you see it as a stepping-stone to greater things, it will be just that. As the famed American soccer player Kyle Rote, Jr. once said, “There is no doubt in my mind that there are many ways to be a winner, but there is really only one way to be a loser and that is to fail and not look beyond the failure.”

With every failure, you have a choice: you can either use it as an excuse to give up or you can let it grow you up. If you will choose to concentrate on growth, your failure can become a catalyst for moving you closer to the life God has in store. He will use the experience to get you ready for something greater in your future. To help you get there, take these four steps when failure strikes:

1.) Face the emotions associated with your failure. Don’t be surprised by the intense emotions that come along with a setback – and don’t ignore them. Acknowledge the feelings of fear, anger, blame or shame barraging you and make an effort to work through them. Get to the other side so you can focus on the future.

2.) Allow your failure to draw you closer to God. Failure doesn’t separate you from God. He is not disappointed in you and he’s not pointing an “I told you so” finger in your direction. Rather, God wants to use your failure to draw you deeper into his presence.

3.) Identify and learn from the source of your failure. If you don’t learn from your failure, you waste it. Your first step when you fail should be to identify the root of the problem. Once you figure out what caused the failure, glean whatever insight you can from that knowledge. What you learn can be an integral part of your growth.

4.) Find and obey God’s new plan for your life. When you give your failure to God, he will exchange it for a new plan. Rather than preventing you from reaching your potential, failure should be a building block to help you get there.

If you’ll consistently take these four steps, your failures will become the building blocks for the life you’re meant to have. One day, your story of perseverance may be the story that will inspire others to press through and build on failure in search of their own ultimate success.

Nelson Searcy is the lead pastor of The Journey Church in Boca Raton. The 3-year-old church meets at Boca Raton Community High School (I-95 and Glades Rd) each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. For more info., visit www.BocaJourney.com. He is the author of 11 books and served for 10 years as a pastor in New York City before moving to South Florida. Each person who visits The Journey Church this fall will receive a free copy of his latest book “Unshakable: Standing Strong When Things Go Wrong,” on which this article is based.

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CLERGY CORNER: Changing seasons

Posted on 23 October 2014 by L.Moore

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

King Solomon’s observation of life and human behavior resulted in numerous conclusions which are undeniably true. This particular truth relates to the fluid nature of the human experience. Nothing remains the same, everything changes and there is an appointed time or season when change will occur. In nature, we identify the progression of time through the changing of the seasons from Spring to Summer, from Summer to Fall and from Fall to Winter. Each comes with its own unique personality and characteristics (colorful flowers, hot sun, falling leaves, frigid temperatures).

Depending upon where one lives in this country, or on this planet, some seasons are more readily seen and experienced than others. South Florida tends to be a perpetual summer experience with a brief autumn respite (in my opinion).

An awareness of the coming change in a season enables us to prepare for it and adjust to its uniqueness. As we age, we also go through seasons of life with characteristics, expectations and responsibilities that are unique to each phase. The one constant, however, is that there will be change. Nothing lasts for too long, and each season fulfills some purpose.

The varying experiences that we face (challenge, struggle, satisfaction, success etc. …) also tend to be seasonal. We would love to park at the particularly pleasant and rewarding experiences of life and live the remainder of our days there, in peace and tranquility. The inevitability of change, though, indicates that we’d do well to be prepared when our situation undergoes a transition to something else. Though we may not appreciate change, especially when it involves moving from something good to something bad, Solomon’s wisdom indicates that each season serves a purpose.

If you are favored with good circumstances (a good season), celebrate your accomplishments and enjoy your life. Be mindful, however, that things may soon change. If you are in a bad situation (season), seek to understand what lessons it may offer for your future benefit, or for others who are around you. Know that it will not last forever, and that you may well come out the better for it. Sometimes the challenges and difficulties of life are necessary to release the hidden greatness, brilliance and potential that lies in all of us. Consider that the caterpillar must go through a period (season) of isolation, darkness and struggle before it emerges as a beautiful butterfly. And oysters must endure a season of agitation and discomfort in order to produce the costly pearl.

Whatever season you may find yourself in, make the most of it by adjusting to its demands and facing it with confidence. Thank God for bringing you to it, or trust Him knowing that He will see you through it. You have not arrived at it by accident. Though you may be incapable of controlling what happens to you, the power to manage your response is all yours. Be grateful to God for His blessing or His mercy in each circumstance. He has brought you to this for a season and for a purpose.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302. The church celebrated its 90th anniversary over Labor Day weekend. 1924-2014.

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CLERGY CORNER: A Sukkah of peace a year of joy

Posted on 16 October 2014 by L.Moore

By Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

I don’t know about you, but I love to people watch. In between the holidays, I had to take a trip to Whole Foods. Whole foods is all about things that are healthy for you and I love shopping there, but, I know people who will not keep kosher because they say it’s too expensive, and yet, I see them shopping at Whole Foods regularly, and in case you don’t know it, the foods there are not exactly cheap.

While there, three different people, not employees, just fellow shoppers, approached me to tell me why I shouldn’t buy this or that product that I had in my cart. One of the three was massively obese, another was so thin that I expect she was anorexic and the third ran through a litany of medical conditions that they suffer from. Yet, there they all were, telling me what I should and should not be eating in order to stay healthy.

I’ve been dealing with a bad back, but, even bent over, I looked more robust than all three of them combined.

It is so easy for us to look at someone else and decide what’s good for them. We are so sure of ourselves when deciding what’s right for someone else.

We are in the midst of the Festival of Sukkot where we build a Sukkah. Our sages teach us that Chupah rhymes with Sukkah. A Chupah is a wedding canopy. On Friday evenings, we chant prayer that tells us to greet the Sabbath bride. With this being Sukkot, I want to teach you something about this particular prayer.

You see, I run into a lot of people contemplating marriage. As I meet with them, especially during individual counsel, one partner may go over a series of reasons why they are concerned that the person they are thinking of getting married to may not be good enough for them. They are concerned that they might just be settling.

I worry about such fears. But imagine this — imagine if, instead of focusing on whether the person you’re with is good enough for you, what if you spend some time reversing the question. Maybe what you should be concerned about is … are you good enough for them?

After all, if you really love them, you don’t want them to just settle? You wouldn’t want that for yourself; so why on earth would you want that for them? There is an old saying among our people; when love is strong, a couple can sleep on the edge of the sword, but when love is soured even a bit of 60 miles does not give enough room.

I am a big fan of small Sukkot. If the family can eat together in peace, in a small flimsy hut in the backyard, if the family can invite guests to join them and break bread together in peace in that very same hut, there must be an awful lot of love there.

Each one there has to take the time to make sure that they are not infringing on another person’s space. Each person there must be careful with the words they speak. Each person there must think of what they can do to add to everyone else’s joy.

And that is my wish for each and every one of you dear readers; in the midst of Sukkot, may we all be blessed to live together in peace with ourselves, with our family and with each other; and, with that, we will indeed be filled with much joy in the year ahead.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach, which is inviting Community Leaders and Residents to join on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. to help them “Think Out of The Box” as they plan for the next 5 years of programs and projects that will enable them to continue to be part of the very heart and soul of our beloved Deerfield Beach. All Are Welcome! They need your creativity, wisdom and originality. They need the gift of your presence.

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CLERGY CORNER: Change is not easy

Posted on 09 October 2014 by L.Moore

Have you ever tried to quit doing something that you thought was a bad habit or maybe bad manners? Have you ever tried to change these things yourself without any help? If you have an issue with anger, you may have at some point just said, ‘I will stop getting mad all the time and stop yelling.’ How is that working out for you?

You may have that special gift that you think was straight from heaven, and you can find the fault in any situation or circumstance. You know who you are because you can look at any situation and see only what needs to be fixed or what can be better. Maybe at some point you say, ‘Well I just won’t say anything anymore and I will just mind my own business and keep my mouth shut.’ How is that working out for you?

In order for most to really change, they need help and assistance. We want to change and we need to change, but we do not have the ability to change on our own and we need help. Because God is great, He can help us change. Because of the greatness of His love, He will defend us and also help us to change.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.

NKJV

God uses love as an action word. When God uses love, it is a verb. They say that love is not love until you give it away. The Bible says that God loved us while we were sinners. There are no conditions on God’s love for us; he chose to love us at our worst. Not only did God love us when we were a total mess, but God will never quit loving you because He is very patient with us. When I was much younger, I remember looking in the paper and asking for something for Christmas over and over. When I would open that present on Christmas day, I remember being so excited about getting that toy. Then, six weeks later, I would forget I even had that toy.

God will never quit loving you no matter what you did or what you do. God’s love even includes acceptance. God says, ‘I love you, come as you are;’ but we say, ‘I love you if you do this for me.’ Our love has conditions on it, but God’s love is unconditional. Not only will God accept you just the way you are, but He will give you room to grow.

We always seem to accuse others of not being able to change and staying the same way, but God loves us so much He not only helps us to change, but He gives us room to grow and change at our own pace. We should never compare our lives to anyone or anything but God’s Holy Word. God loves us so much it makes us want to change and not only can we change, but God will help us to change. Just be yourself with God and let Him change you into the person that He wants.

Tony Guadagnino is a pastor at Christian Love Fellowship of Deerfield Beach.

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CLERGY CORNER: First impressions, second chances

Posted on 02 October 2014 by L.Moore

Just as we were approaching the Jewish New Year, a report came out that showed the two biggest reasons that those looking for employment have their resumes thrown out. One of the reasons had to do with grammatical mistakes. And the other had to do with typos.

Now, if I were the head of human resources, I could make a good argument for immediately throwing out such things. I could say to myself, this person doesn’t even take the time nor have the education to get their grammar “down to a T.” And I could think to myself, hey, if they won’t even take the time to proof their own resume and to correct any spelling errors, typos or grammatical errors, I sure don’t want them working for this company.

But, as I thought about this, I looked back on some of my own writing and I have to tell you something, I don’t think there is anything I have ever written, anything I have ever sent in for publication, that I wouldn’t tweak, that I wouldn’t change at least a little bit, if only I had a second chance.

Even when my articles and sermons get to the publishers, the editors, those whose job it is to make sure that the spelling, the grammar and the content are without blemish, well, they miss things too. They are human. And I have to tell you, using the voice dictation on my computer, maybe my computer is human too (LOL) because some of the mistakes it makes our hysterical. (And for those of you who are paying attention, yes, the computer just goofed again, as, instead of typing “are” before hysterical, it typed “our”.) Then again, maybe my computer needs to have its hearing tested. Does anyone out there have a practice that prescribes hearing aids for Apples?

Over the years, I have met many human resource directors, wonderful people who have the privilege and responsibility of choosing employees for their company. While many are often frightened to meet them, I have found the vast majority of them to be sweet as a button.

Then again, I’m not sure I would feel the same way if I had to sit across the desk from them, hoping and praying that I would get the job I seek.

I applaud those seeking a great resume, but a perfect resume … if there really is such a thing … it just might have been put together, not by a job seeker, but by a resume professional, who is paid to make a person look great on paper.

As we are in the midst of the Days of Awe, let me share a little secret with you, I am not perfect, and neither are you. I’m not even the best I can be yet, I’m still working on it, and I hope you are too.

Too many of us spend far too many hours looking for perfection in others. And so often the first thing we notice is a typo, a small error, a little something that immediately causes us to just throw that person’s paper away, or worse, to throw the person away, to not give them a chance at all.

During this season of repentance, as we pray to G-d to give us another chance, let us do the same for others that we ask of G-d. If you meet someone and the first impression is not a good one, don’t rush to toss them aside, rather do what you want G-d to do for you and what you would want others to do for you … Let’s give each other a second chance!

Shalom, my friend

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach, which is inviting community leaders and residents to join us on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. to help us “Think Out of The Box,” as we plan for the next 5 years of programs and projects that will enable us to continue to be part of the very heart and soul of our beloved Deerfield Beach. All are welcome! We need your creativity, your wisdom and your originality. We need the gift of your presence.

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CLERGY CORNER: Is Your Spirit Healthy?

Posted on 26 September 2014 by L.Moore

The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit? Proverbs 18:14

Life’s challenges can be successfully overcome when one’s spirit, inner being, is strong and healthy.

The power of one’s inner drive is undeniable in attempting and accomplishing great feats.

Mental fortitude, control of one’s thoughts, disciplined reactions, and an optimistic outlook are traits of a healthy spirit.

Solomon’s observations about life revealed that even physical sickness cannot break down a person whose spirit is healthy. The will to live and survive often sustains the one facing an infirmity.

The importance of the spirit to our management of life however, is shown in the reality that when it is broken, life is unbearable. If a healthy spirit enables us to face unhealthy situations in life, how are we to go on when our spirit is unhealthy and broken? When the thing that you rely on for support becomes unstable, what do you do?

We live in a world where many things threaten to break our spirits. Stress from work, financial, family and personal issues are taking a toll on far too many. The pressures of life have driven some over the edge and left others teetering close to the brink.

Solomon does not offer a solution so much as make the observation, but perhaps he wanted us to consider the need to maintain a healthy spirit. Our bodies are kept in health by a proper diet and exercise. What are we feeding and ingesting in our inner being? What are we listening to that may be affecting us for good or for bad? What kind of thoughts are constantly streaming through our minds informing our attitude and disposition? What do we possess internally that will help us to address the external issues that we face daily?

It has been discovered that a common trait among successful people is that they meditate at least once a day.

The ability to sit silently, close out the world, and concentrate on one’s inner self has been proven to be therapeutic and advantageous to a person’s wellbeing. Meditating upon God’s mercies, His love, and His plans for us help believers to maintain a healthy spirit.

Solomon’s father, David, remarked in one of his Psalms, “I would have fainted had I not believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13). Thinking about and anticipating God’s favor upon his life sustained David in some harrowing experiences (facing a lion, a bear, a giant, and a jealous king).

If your spirit is unhealthy or broken, you can regain vitality by feeding it with the instruction and promises of Scripture.

Connect or re-connect with God in a relationship that recognizes His sovereignty and your dependence upon Him. Meditate upon His truth and strengthen your inner man through obedience and faith. Allow your thoughts to be directed by what is good, pure, right, just, honest and lovely. Let your attitude inform you how to respond to adversity, rather than be emotionally driven by the circumstances of your life.

Live selflessly and learn to love your neighbor as yourself.

Be thankful for the good things you have experienced, for lessons learned in adversity, and for the people who bring out the best in you.

Practice kindness and hospitality daily. Laugh often and smile consistently. These are the types of activities that promote a healthy spirit.

Strengthen your spirit and transform your outlook. Transform your outlook and watch how it will affect your life.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the Pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441, 954-427-0302. The Church just celebrated its 90th Anniversary over Labor Day weekend — 1924-2014.

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CLERGY CORNER: “Ought” and “Ought Not”

Posted on 17 September 2014 by L.Moore

Someone who comes to services voiced her upset because during my sermon I said that we are SUPPOSED to live our lives a certain way and I went on to say that we OUGHT to do as many mitzvot as possible.

She told me she couldn’t stand when somebody tells her that she is “supposed to do something.” You see her idea of freedom is the ability to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, no matter how much it may hurt another.

Rabbi Bradley Artson, wrote about a conference organized by Elie Weisel. Weisel had seen so much hate in his life, and having survived the Holocaust he knew what hate could lead to. The main questions that arose during this conference had to do with why people hate and why people band together to express hatred. But there was another question that arose that I wanted to pose to you today.

Many people have historically criticized Judaism as being a religion of law instead of faith and love.

And yet, when Nobel Lauriet Elie Weisel held a conference on hate, the question was posed — what is the opposite of hate? You might think that the great minds at the conference immediately thought that the opposite of hate is love. But I have a surprise for you. These amazing minds felt that only a belief in an execution of the law can defeat hatred.

Rabbi Artson notes that this confirms the Jewish conviction that law is the indispensable expression of love and decency. And, when people abandon law, it is at the peril of their own character, justice and survival.

The mitzvot that are given in the Torah are a list of laws, a list of the things we are supposed to strive to do. They are a list of oughts. So, today, I am dubbing The Commandments and The Golden Rule as “OUGHTISMS.” If you look up the word “ought” in the dictionary, you will find that it refers to obligations; it refers to things we owe to G-d, to others and to ourselves.

It is also defined not only as a duty or moral obligation, but as a natural expectation. And we certainly have natural expectations of others and of ourselves. For instance, we ought to honor our parents, we ought to avoid stealing, we ought not murder and we ought to find ways to help others.

Someone came up with a very clever idea for helping others. They came up with this idea of raising money through a bucket challenge, not a bucket list; but a bucket challenge, where one would use a bucket full of ice and have it dumped on them to raise money for the Amyotrophic Lateral Schlerosis (ALS) foundation.

This ought to have been a wonderful way of raising money for this cause. And indeed a great deal of money has been raised. Even a young teen with Autism wanted to help. And when classmates approached him, he was delighted to get the chance. But these rotten kids did something that I simply can’t comprehend; instead of using ice, they dumped a bucket full of feces and urine onto that boy. They ought to have known better; they should have behaved differently, but they didn’t. It would seem that the laws of human kindness have no meaning to them.

I have been asking myself all week — if one of them was a child of mine, what on earth would I say? What would I do? How would I feel?

Dear readers, I hope you take some time this week to think about what you would do!

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Shalom of Deerfield Beach just South of Hillsboro Blvd. on Military Trail. You can come and hear his message of the week during regular Shabbat Morning Services (9 – 11:30 a.m.).

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CLERGY CORNER: Do you still remember?

Posted on 11 September 2014 by L.Moore

Do you still remember how you felt? Do you remember the feelings you had that day 13 years ago?
Maybe you had feelings of fear because you did not know when or where the next attack was going to come from. Maybe you felt anger because you lost family or friends in the attacks. Maybe you felt confused because you did not understand why all this bad stuff was happening to our country. I remember seeing all three of those emotions from people all over our country. I pray that we not only remember one day every year what happened on Sept. 11, 2001; but, I pray that we always remember!
2 Peter 3:2
2 I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles.
-NLT
It has been 13 years now and we need to make sure we remember that we, as a united country, turned to God in our time of need and He brought us comfort.
I remember all the members of Congress standing on the Capitol steps and praying to God for help. I remember seeing men and women risk their own lives to try and save those who were in the middle of those disasters with no fear. I remember our enemy trying to scare us and intimidate us on our own soil, in our very own country. I remember a great country and a great people rising up together and turning to God for help. With God’s help (because we asked for it), we rose above what our enemy tried to do to us. I even remember feeling anger when we went to New York City the following year to visit family and being able to see the two holes in the ground that were left.
Please do not ever forget the tragedy that happened that day. Do not forget the lives that were taken in those horrible events. Do not forget the lives that were given by our civil servants. Do not forget that God helped us through that horrible time and allowed us to begin to heal. Remember and pray for those that lost their lives and also for those who gave their lives to help others.
2 Kings 17:38-39
38 Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods.
39 You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.”
-NLT
I want you to remember not only how we all felt as a nation but also remember how we responded by turning to God and by protecting our freedom. God wants us to remember the teachings we got from the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Do not forget God’s teachings or the way you felt that day 13 years ago. Please do not forget that still today our military has men and women fighting for our freedoms overseas and let us all pray they come home safely.
Tony Guadagnino is the pastor at Christian Love Fellowship Church.

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CLERGY CORNER: “Labor Day” or “La-Bore Day?”

Posted on 04 September 2014 by L.Moore

Labor Day just came and went and many of us are right back where we were before, at work!

So, you might be wondering, what does Jewish tradition say about work? Let me give you just a few examples.

For those of you who are struggling, working overtime, working two jobs, for those of you who come home achy and exhausted from heavy labor, and for those of you who are under constant stress in the workplace, this line from the Talmud might be of interest to you. It says, “To earn a living can be as hard as to part the Red Sea.” (Talmud: Pesahim, 118a)

Also in the Talmud (Kiddushin), we read, “Not to teach your son to work is like teaching him to steal.”

And there is an old adage that says, “The hardest work is being idle.” And you will have to pardon the pun here, but I simply can’t resist telling you that if you disagree with this statement, you just might be an “idle worshipper.” (Feel free to groan … LOL).

I read a story many years ago from the works of Psychoanalyst Morris Mandel. As I recall, it tells of a young woman who has a most unusual job. She sits in a store window all day with one of those old potter wheels where one foot sits on a pedal that must keep a good and constant rhythm going up and down while the other foot rests flat on the floor throughout the work day.

A customer watches in fascination for a while and goes over to the woman at the potter’s wheel and says, “Your foot must get awfully tired having to move up and down so rapidly all day long.”

To which the laborer responds, “No, it’s not the foot that works that’s tired …it’s the foot that just sits there; it’s the foot that is idle.”

Indeed for some of us, idleness just might be, as my Christian Colleague would say, “The Devil’s Work.” And whenever I hear that, I can’t help but picture Flip Wilson using his famous comedic excuse, “The Devil made me do it.”

On Labor Day weekend, many of you may have gotten to travel. Many of you might also have to travel on business during the year. When I was growing up, United Airlines had a wonderful advertising slogan that said, “Fly the friendly skies of United.”

But nowadays, instead of being united in the skies, it seems that many just have too much idle time on their hands. And so it was that two passengers recently thought of themselves and of no one else and, in the midst of the idleness sitting on a plane for hours, they both lost their cool.

One was using a device, a knee defender that makes it impossible for the person sitting in front of you to lean their seat back. He refused to remove it when a complaint was made and that is when the other passenger lost it as well and threw a cup of water in the other’s face. Both will argue that they were in the right, but they both had too much time on their hands and they were both wrong. On top of that, their childish behavior led to everyone else being delayed.

Drink not from the bread of idleness,” lest it lead you to sin. Keep busy with your labor and with Mitzvoth and you will not become an “idle worshipper.”

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. The Temple is located one block South of Hillsboro Blvd. on Military Trail. Come by and see how warm and haimishe this Congregational Family is. Better yet, become a part of our family!

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CLERGY CORNER: Fixing Ferguson & fixing the planet

Posted on 28 August 2014 by L.Moore

Imagine God decided to break the covenant with humankind and flood the earth again. But this time, Noah’s ark is big enough to hold all humanity. Everybody in the world would have another chance. Our fate would depend on everybody in the ark getting along!

This is a scary idea for several reasons, not the least of which is we would all be in the same boat. Because if we were all in the same boat, it would be hard to distinguish people jumping overboard on their own from people being thrown overboard by somebody else.

No time would pass on the new ark before people would segregate by race, religion, culture and language. Territories on the ark would be fought for and claimed. Competition for resources would be intense. Walls would be built to keep undesirables out. A scant few pockets of genuine joy would be threatened by jealousies that annoy. These things and more would occur before flood waters recede; that is, if flood waters recede …

Ferguson, MO and what happened there is not new.

It is a sad sequel provided by the “Show Me State” that gives us a fresh peak under the rug … Another young man’s life is tragically lost; another policeman’s life is dreadfully wrecked. Families mourn, communities are torn, friends defend friends, looters loot and shooters shoot, politicians and, even clergy, scramble to grab a picket sign or a microphone when God only knows and understands.

Paul writes to the church in Rome, “God does not show favoritism.”

What Paul is telling Christians in Rome is, “We all are already in the same boat …” Our boat is called planet earth and we all occupy this space under the same expectations of the same God. How ‘bout we begin with that, hmm?

What are God’s expectations of people of faith?

The answer to this question is key because if we satisfy God’s expectations then tragedy like the one in Ferguson, Mo. will be averted. God’s expectations are found, in part, in God’s law: the Commandments, the Torah and the Holiness Code, and some would argue the entirety of the Holy Bible.

We need law, but when we see people use and abuse even God’s law to establish or sustain their own ideas, their territory, their walls, their pockets, their expectations, then we begin to realize all of us have the capacity to miss the forest for the tree.

Christ Jesus comes, in part, so we may more clearly see God’s expectations for the planet. It was a lawyer, an expert in the law, who asked Jesus, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the words of all the prophets.(Matthew 22: 36 – 40)

Our role as followers of Christ Jesus could not be clearer.

Yes, the president has a job to do. The Attorney General has a job to do. A governor, mayor, sheriff, prosecutor, defense attorney, journalist, a minister preaching the social gospel, a grand jury has a job to do. We all have a role to play, but the sooner we understand we are all in the same boat subject to the same expectations of the same God, the sooner these tragedies end.

If you want to make things better, then, sure, run for office, grow the economy, create living wage jobs, elevate access to quality education, register voters, establish more crime prevention programs; improve police community relations. Really, there are many good things you can do …

But if you want to fix Ferguson, if you want to fix the planet, then “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Dr. Dennis Andrews is a reverend at Community Presbyterian Church, at 1920 SE 4 St. in Deerfield Beach, 33441.

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