Meet Me in the City


After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called Beth’zatha, which has five porticoes.  In these lay many invalids–blind, lame, and paralyzed.  One person was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw them lying there and knew that they had been there a long time, he said to them, “Do you want to be made well?”  The sick person answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.”  Jesus said to them, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”  At once the person was made well, and they took up their mat and began to walk. Now that day was a Sabbath.


John 5:1-9


We live in a world hell-bent on destruction, power, and domination.  The competition for resources is heating up.  Well, we are governed by the third law of thermodynamics.  Which says, “It is impossible for any process, no matter how idealized, to reduce the entropy of a system to its zero point value in a finite number of operations.”  What this means is that everything we do expends energy, on an individual & corporate level, heat is a byproduct of these energy exchanges and eventually all energy will be heat.


When the heat is on the pressure also increases.  This is the natural state of the world.  This is thermodynamics in play.  I bet y’all had no idea that you were going to get a lecture on thermodynamics this morning.  I am no expert in physics but I did get a good nights rest.


You see I know just enough physics to sort of impress a well-educated people.  Perhaps, bore is a more accurate word.  There was a time when I was better versed in science and math; then again this is true for the entirety of America.  We are following the path of entropy and losing energy to heat, heat in the form of public rhetoric.  The louder and more profane the public discourse the truer it must be.


Knowledge is being tried as a product of the devil.  Reason is being branded the muse of evil.  Love is for those not strong enough to Lord.


Faith, hope, and love are being replaced with guns, sex, and wealth.


Aurora.  Newtown.  Oak Creek.  Carson City.  Grand Rapids.  Tucson.  Fort Hood.  Binghamton.  Blacksburg.  All have fallen victim of mass shootings in which high capacity magazines and military style weapons were used to commit these atrocities.


For every mass shooting there are 100’s of other violent deaths perpetrated with the barrel of a gun.  Trayvon.  Benji.  Heaven.  Cordell.  Brian.  Carlos.  LaToya.  Ronnie.  Jerome.


These pasts few weeks there have been a few cases of very young children killing other young children with guns.  The response has been one of public outrage and condemnation.  The counter to this has been the circling of wagons and the call to arms.  The government is working to undo the 2nd Amendment.


They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.


We are knee deep in another fight for civil rights.  The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s controversial law banning Same-Sex marriage, Prop 08, were heard in the Supreme Court last month.  DOMA restricts over 1,000 civil rights and liberties to legally recognized married couples.  Then defines legally married couples to be opposite-sex only.  Prop 08 and many other State amendments seek to define marriage as “Traditional” between a man and a woman.


63% of the nation disagrees with this.  If you break down the demographics by age more than 80% of those under 40 believe that couples same-sex or opposite-sex should have the right to marry and all of those protected rights that come with it.


For years now there has been speculation about gay professional athletes.  The WNBA has quietly led the charge to full inclusion.  A gay athlete in the WNBA is not an anomaly it is part of practice.  The NBA just got its first out athlete.  Jason Collins came out as the first gay male professional athlete saying, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”  The condemnation was swift.  Sides gathered and fingers pointing in the direction of “those fake Christians” began.


In an article on CNN John Blake writes, “As proof, Sprigg (a public speaker of opposition to homosexuality) points to the backlash that ESPN commentator Chris Broussard sparked recently. Broussard was called a bigot and a purveyor of hate speech when he said an NBA player who had come out as gay was living in “open rebellion to God.” Broussard said the player, Jason Collins, was “living in unrepentant sin” because the Bible condemns homosexuality.”  Mr. Sprigg then relates that it is easier for people like Jason Collins to come out as gay than it is for people like Mr. Broussard to oppose Mr. Collins for being gay.


“What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”


Last week I read an article in the New York Times that shared with the public that there is a church in NYC that has a 2 billion dollar endowment.  A two billion dollar endowment!  Their pastor makes a $600,000 salary per year.  And they are fighting over the money and how to spend it or not spending it.


All of this while the middle class deteriorates.  The rights workers have fought for over the years are being taken away.  Wealth accumulates in the top tiers of society and poverty and hunger grow.


Denominations everywhere are experiencing a loss of members.  Megachurch, non-denominations, mainlines, progressive, conservative, black, white, Korean…they all are losing members.  In the wake of these losses resources dwindle.  Fights over money ensue.


While fights over money happen, in the background hundreds of clergy are turned out in to a world with the average of $50,000 of debt to serve a church that is fighting over money and might have 3-4 years of livable service in them.  The panic button has been pressed.  The ship is being abandoned.  The church is not sustainable as it is.  We are not broke.  We are not destitute.  We have clinched our fists out of fear.  Look down at our hands, what is it that we are holding on too?


It is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.


I say this with love.  If you are Christian in the US and believe that you are being persecuted for your beliefs, you may want to revisit that thought.  Christians make up over 70% of the nations population.  If you want to go down the line and start weeding out “real” Christians and “fake” Christians that might be the root of the problem.  There is no fake or real Christian.  That is up to God not you.


Listen to the parable again, There was an ill person lying there at the well.  They were one amongst many, lying there exposed to the sun, struggling for shade.  Looking for hope.  Countless people walked past them, intentionally not making eye contact, lest they become dirty in the process.  Stepping over and around them.


Jesus saw them there and asked one of them, Do you want to be well?  The sick person said yes…Then Jesus’ eyes rolled up and back in to his head.  He waved his hands in a circular fashion as he recited some indiscernible words and POOF!!! A cloud of smoke filled the air.  [cough, cough, choke…] When the smoke cleared the crowd saw that Jesus had turned the ill person in to a well.  Now there were two wells from which people could be healed.


This world could use as many wells as it can get.  There is a diversity of faith.  There is not one way to be Christian, nor is there one belief that is Christian.  But your belief had better be one that connects you to the world in real ways.  If your faith does not connect you to the world in real ways you might find yourself in Beth’zatha looking for a cure.

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