2900 County Barn Rd. Naples, Fl. 34112

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Yet another in a long line of mass shootings that plaque our nation and culture takes place.  This time in Lafayette, LA.  Newtown, CT didn’t have an effect on the nation’s gun laws, so why would we think the latest shooting would change anything?  Most likely it won’t but people, we are better than this.  What is wrong that we can’t change the laws and make it more difficult to purchase a gun and realize that the Bill of Rights was written in a different time and for a different purpose than those who promote the second amendment as an unchangeable right.  To the people that want to hold fast to that right, what about the commandment, “Thou shall not kill?”

I think Jesus would disagree.  What right does an ordinary citizen have to take another life?  Jesus’ teachings are love, grace, forgiveness, compassion.  His teachings did not condone random killing or taking of another life in any manner.  Can we call ourselves Christians if we believe it is okay for one citizen to kill another?  Or even have the ease and ability with gun ownership to do so?    

Earlier this week I was at a meeting in Miami Dade County for disaster preparedness.  As part of the session we listened to an officer from the county Sheriff’s office talk about what to do in the case of an active shooter.  In part of his talk he asked the question, “Who has ever heard a gunshot?”  A number of hands went up.  Then he said the first time he heard an AK-47 he was assigned to work in Opa-locka, FL.  His thought when he heard it was, “These guns aren’t supposed to be here.”  If a sheriff’s department officer thinks that, then what is wrong with us that we allow it to be that way in our society? 

These guns are not supposed to be here.  The average citizen in our society has no need of a gun of any kind, unless they are hunters. 

We are better than this, aren’t we?  God…. I hope and pray it is so!

     

Joy seems to be lacking a bit in the world these days as we recall the words from the famous Christmas carol by Isaac Watts, Joy to the World, the Lord has come.  Let earth receive her king.

When we look around and see all the ills of our society that attempt to steal our joy.  Whether it is violence in our time, racism, lack of trust and faith in government, lack of trust in humanity, climate change, where is the joy? The line from the poem, Casey at the Bat comes to mind, “There’s no joy in Mudville tonight.”  That may be how you are feeling.

Jesus promises a different type of joy.  It is a joy that resides in the heart, mind and soul of a believer.  It can protect a person from all that society can through at us.  Jesus also says his kingdom is not of this world.  His kingdom exists in the minds, hearts and souls of believers.  Can you feel it?  Have you experienced it?  Do you understand what I mean?  This is a joy that keeps us at peace amidst the storms of life.  When the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket we don’t lose our joy.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

Regardless of which ism you choose, we are all guilty of suffering from isms in our lives at one time or another to one degree or another.  Racism is in the news almost daily with all the finger pointing and blaming that goes along with the various stories.  We could also be talking about sexism or classism to name just a couple more isms that have been plaguing humanity for all time.  We think this is something new or we are reverting back to another time in our nation’s history.  History, if we look at it closely with objective eyes shows us that isms are nothing new and they will not be going away anytime soon.  It is human nature to want to be on top of the heap and in so doing someone has to be at the bottom.

There is a way to improve not only our personal isms but also the isms of society.  Look to Jesus as the example in life to follow.  He reached out to those who were at the bottom of the society of the day, women, the lame, the poor, the hungry, the Samaritan, the blind beggar on the side of the road.  It did not matter to him.  In fact he often spoke against the established society for their neglect of those who were marginalized in his time. 

We need to look around as well.  Who are those that society marginalizes right here in this community and our nation?  Are we exercising our isms towards them or are we looking at them with eyes of compassion and love?

There is so much misinformation about Jesus today.  Sadly a lot of it comes from news and social media.  Both avenues of spreading ‘news’ most often shows the extremes, the negative, those seeking publicity around an event for their own gain and so the average person who does not have a life of faith or knows little about Jesus, is very jaded by all aspects of social and news media. 

How do we counter that?  It is difficult, but necessary.  From the time of Jesus, it has always been an uphill battle.  Societies will do all they can to try and contain the work of Jesus and the work that churches and people of faith do in the name of Jesus.

The best way to counter all the negative talk and hype about Jesus, religion and the church is to do just the opposite.  Be positive about Jesus.  Share with others what Jesus does for you each day.  Explain to those who do not know Jesus, what he did while he was on earth, what he stood for while he was on earth and how the church today does the best it can to emulate Jesus in its work and mission.

What Jesus stands for goes against the cultural norm.  He stands for love, compassion, forgiveness, grace, peace, mercy, helping the helpless and marginalized.  That is just the beginning.  The more one learns about Jesus, the more appealing he is to follow.  That is the beginning of a life of faith, following Jesus and becoming like him in our lives.

The political machine is in full swing already for the next presidential election.  By the time the person is elected, my guess would be most of us will be tired of the whole thing. Regardless of which person you listen to, vote for, or like, they all promise things that are very similar, and in the end there is little difference between any of them and the changes to our everyday life is miniscule.  Take an honest look back at your life and has it changed all that much because of one person elected at President? 

There is one who can make a real difference in your life.  There is one person who can bring about real freedom for you.  Sadly, you cannot vote for him.  He died a long time ago. His followers to this day claim he is alive but in a different form.  While he was alive as a person he never ran for any political office.  In fact, he would rather have nothing to do with the political leaders of the day.  He drew crowds of followers wherever he went.  He reached out to the poor, the sick and marginalized.

Ultimately he was killed by the political machine as the sacrificial lamb, but God allowed him to rise from dead and he exists today in the hearts, minds and souls of his followers.

Of course it is Jesus who offers this real freedom.  If you read his words and learn about what he did while he was on earth and what he does today in all who believe, you will see examples of real freedom.  Give Jesus a try.  What have you got to lose? 

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MAYFLOWER CONGREGATIONAL UCC

2900 County Barn Rd 
Naples, Florida 34112

Office Hours: 
8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mon - Fri.

Sunday Worship 9:30
            Refreshments 10:30

Church Phone: 239-775-0055
Fax Number: 239-775-3253

Pastor Alan's Cell: 239-227-8500

office@mayflowernaples.com
pastor@mayflowernaples.com

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