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Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

by Jim Gordon

Here in the United States, things have seemed to be pretty weird this year. Just with the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential election and all the strange events with demonstrations, hurricanes, forest fires and such, it really makes a person wonder what is happening. I have to say, what we see going on in the world and especially in the USA is quite disturbing.

Many people like to blame politicians and political parties, a president, police, militant groups and many other reasons. I am not sure any one person or group can be blamed for everything, yet I personally do not put any faith or trust into any politician or political party. I do not think any of them are the answer.

It makes me angry that here in the US, so many people would rather focus on a politician or political party and fight and argue, even ruining friendships and separating families over people who do not even know or care about us. Politics will never be the answer for the world’s problems. I believe if we would stop putting our entire hope and trust in any political party or politician, things would be better. Politicians do not care for the people. They say they do, but they really only care for their party and their interest in gaining power and money.

I do believe if we human beings could look past the labels and differences of opinions and work together, care for one another and look for what would be the best for everyone, things would improve.

Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was more concerned in the heavenly kingdom of God than he was in any political party or kingdom of this world. We would be so much better off if we could do the same.

Nothing wrong with being actively trying to improve your country through political action. Yet to put your complete hope and confidence in a political party is futile.

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by Jordan Hathcock

Central to God’s covenant with ancient Israel (the spiritual ancestors of Jews, Christians, and Muslims), these laws describe and prescribe what the new life beyond “Egypt”—at that time seen as a symbol of bondage, economic exploitation, impoverishment, and slavery—is to be like. They embody God’s dream, God’s passion for a different kind of life on earth, here and now, in this world. – Marcus Borg

What do we do when we are placed in a time with so much uncertainty and fear? With the current pandemic we are facing, how do face the reality of death and economic turmoil? Whatever your view on the causes of the covid-19 virus—from conspiracy theory pandemonium to “mainstream media” coherency—we cannot deny the current effects of the onslaught of mental and physical devastation. When we are hit with something that is so out of our control, how do we react in a healing and liberating way? Well, trusting in our first responders (the real heroes) who are putting themselves in harm’s way for the safety of others is what we must do now. But what about the bigger systemic issues that are taking hold?

One idea comes to mind: Jubilee. No, not the chick from X-Men (hehe). The word “jubilee” is derived from the Hebrew word jobel, which means “ram’s horn”; since it was precisely that horn which was used as a trumpet, whose sound indicated to everybody the beginning of the jubilee year. We find the concept of the jubilee in the book of Leviticus, in the code of holiness, which tells us of the significance of the jubilee year: a year of liberation, alleviation and simplicity. It is within this framework that the official reset idea was started. To experience the commonwealth of God, living out this jubilee reality wouldn’t hurt. I believe we find ourselves in such a time where the spirit of jubilee could burst forth and become incarnated in the current coronavirus-stricken world.

Liberation

The Year of Jubilee, which came every 50th year, was a year full of liberating people from their debts, releasing all slaves, and returning property to its original owners (Leviticus 25:1-13). Could we use the essence of this ancient “law” (which really was a vision for a new lifestyle) in our current state of affairs?  Let’s see how this can correlate with our current social issues. Here are some stats (from the U.S. perspective):

Covid-19 has cost more than 33 million Americans their jobs in the last seven weeks – 10% of the entire US population. The official unemployment rate had shot up from 4.4% to 14.7% on Friday (unseen since the 1930s Great Depression).

Forecasts suggest COVID-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998.

Using the most recent data, the World Bank has predicted coronavirus is pushing 40-60 million people into extreme poverty.

The areas most affected depend on the impact of the virus on economic activity and the number of people living close to the international poverty line.

It isn’t just what the virus is doing to the economic climate now but what it was doing prior to the lockdown. Mass incarceration, education reform, racism (in all its forms), civil rights, climate change, white supremacy, etc. all were issues before covid-19 hit. We are still facing this, as we just witnessed an actual murder on video of an innocent black man: Ahmaud Abrey! If this is not the call for liberation (which includes merciful justice) then I do not know what is.

Alleviation

The other side of this coin is the over exacerbation of western consumerism. If we do not keep up with the “empire money making” machine, we will be left in the dust. Western civilization has over emphasized the competitive spirit into a form of slavery. If we do not work those long hours, we do not move up the corporate ladder (yay). Look, hard work is great when it is done in a way that benefits you and others well-being. Hyper Capitalism (not taking any sides on the socialism vs. capitalism debate) is not helping anybody. We are stuck in the consumerism rat race and we need to take steps to release the chains.

Especially with the current pandemic we find ourselves in, we cannot ignore the fragility of our “economy of exchange” that is not up to handle an onslaught of helpless communities in need of care. This is not to criticize our first responders (nurse, doctors, fireman, etc.). We would be utterly doomed without their heroic service. What I am implying is the current trajectory that western societies are headed, we will see no type of practice of rest (sabbath). You see through popular culture the rise of awareness for the importance of meditation. By this becoming more of a daily practice will be a huge step into this sabbath way of contemplation. Like all mystics of the past, the way to encounter true existence is to be aware of the ever-present moment.

Simplicity

Last but not least, is the jubilee call of simplicity. When its all said and done, the task of one living the “simple life” is to actually stand against the plague of disease, social injustices, and economic woes. I do not know about you, but during this quarantine I found less of the non-stop merry-go-round business of life and found more of a content way of being. Yes, I understand that not all of us our experiencing this. People are losing their jobs, houses, and more. But this is where privileged people like me can step up and really show a service minded outset to bring about the peace that is so needed in our current culture. To quote Richard J. Foster from his book, Freedom of Simplicity:

“Simplicity is not merely a matter of having less stress and more leisure. It is rather an essential spiritual discipline that we must practice for the health of the soul.”

There it is. The Jubilee. Yeah, a pretty hefty proposal, I know (is it really, though?). Look, this is not an attempt to make the utopian jamboree (though it does sound nice). It is also not some idealistic plea to just make me (or you) feel all warm inside (not that I am against that haha). But I do strongly believe it is something we can (and should) explore. Why, you ask? Well, when faced with an entity (virus) which has taken us to a place we have never been before—societal disorder on a worldwide scale—that’s when the spirit seems to move herself to places where we have never seen available. Jesus was not lying when he said: “you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” It starts with the breaking of the fruit of the spirit to entice us to act in love. Placing our trust in a new “abnormal” could just be the ticket to embrace a new kind of communal reality. One that brings the jubilee admonition of liberation, alleviation, and simplicity. That is good news, right? Some good news sounds pretty fucking fantastic right about now…

“Now is the time to give me roses not to keep them for my grave to come. Give them to me while my heart beats, give them today while my heart yearns for jubilee. Now is the time.” -Mzwakhe Mbuli

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by Jim Gordon

War, terrorism, politics, COVID-19 pandemic, how could we possibly be at peace in our world today with all this turmoil?

How can we be at peace with people with all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations, beliefs, different religions and ways of life?

The dictionary says of peace: harmony in personal relations; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. We certain have a lot of strain in personal relations and much unrest and worry in thoughts and emotions about events going on in our world today.

Romans 12:18 reads, if possible, so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men. To me this means we are to live in harmony with others, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of us. In other words, we live in love. That does not mean total agreement, but love and acceptance of who the other person was created to be.

Jesus told us we were given the peace of God by saying “peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. It is a peace that we, in our finite human minds cannot make sense of or understand.

Jesus also said “in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This world will provide plenty of worrisome events, plenty of turmoil and plenty of things to worry about each day. Yet Jesus said by putting our trust and hope in God we can overcome the worry and fear we have in the world.

The Kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world. Our world is a temporary home, yet the Kingdom of God is now. It is within us. The Spirit of Christ is within us. Our spiritual home right now is in the Kingdom of God. We do not recognize all the effects because we are to accustomed to the ways of the world. Jesus said the ways of the world have been overcome by the Kingdom of God.

The more we can focus on the Spirit and the Kingdom within, the more we can enjoy the peace Jesus provides. The peace of Christ works within our spirit, much different than the peace we think about in our world system.

Remember that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live and trust God. We are not responsible to live as others do or think we should. We are not responsible to tell others how they should live. We are to allow the Spirit to work in our lives and follow the Spirit on the path we are following. Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in all our lives. Living in this manner would accomplish much more in showing the love of Christ and allow us to live in peace amidst all the turmoil in our lives.

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by Jim Gordon

We all know it is a fact that no matter what you believe, what your interpretation someone always has a completely opposite view. This is true on about any subject, religion, nationalism, LGBTQ issues, women’s rights, abortion and during the present day especially on COVID-19.

It seems we can get excited about hearing some truth that really connects. Then the next thing we read is an article by another person that completely disagrees with what you just heard. This is true whether it is religion, politics or the medical world.

More than that, most of us Christians get mad when someone disagrees with us and believes something different from “our” way of thinking. We get on Facebook and make ourselves look crazy because we talk about brotherly love, then we fight and argue with someone because they interpret things differently. Most of the time it is about things we cannot prove one way or the other.

We really have to stop and think that whatever it is we believe, whatever our interpretation, everyone is not going to agree with us. Everyone has a right to their way of interpretation as long as they do not force it on others. There is no reason for us to get mad at someone for seeing things differently.

In regard to our christian life, it is all a matter of faith. No matter what it is in spiritual matters, no one can really prove what is right and what is not, or what is real and what is not. Just because someone has a different interpretation does not mean they are right or wrong.

We need to keep our ears open to the leading of the Spirit, and follow on our own path looking to Jesus. That does not mean any and every path is the right one, but we cannot be the judge of who is right and who is wrong. Jeremy Myers, in his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire’ states, “The beautiful thing about following Jesus is that while He leads us all in the same direction, there are millions of different paths He can take to get us there. His goal, of course, is to advance the Kingdom of God on earth through the people of God who are being conformed into the image of God”. We need to follow Christ as he leads us individually, and then be ready to love all people, no matter if they are on the same path or not.

Let’s stop arguing, fighting and demanding that everyone agree with us. Follow the leading of the Spirit within and love those we meet along the journey. I think the Spirit of God is big enough to lead us all into truth in individual ways, yet all to the same goal.

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by Jim Gordon

We all can agree that the events going on in our world today are shocking. Those of us alive today have never known anything quite like this.

Just as in about anything that is said or happens in our world, I find there is a wide array of opinions on this going from one extreme to the other. Most believe what our medical experts are saying and are trying to do what they recommend. Yet, spend any time on social media and you will see there are many who think this is a government conspiracy, a highly inflated and overdone death count, media hype or a complete hoax.

Of course, we always have people who say this is a judgment from God on this group or that group, or due to this sin or that sin. I personally do not believe God has sent this upon us for any reason. We live in a natural world where things happen. I do believe God will see us through this time and give us wisdom to use what we learn and experience to make improvements for all human beings.

Personally, I do believe this is all real. I suspect some of the numbers could be exaggerated due to not knowing the exact cause of illness or death, but I do not believe this is done intentionally. Unfortunately, I believe the government and medical world was caught off-guard and unprepared for such an event and now they are doing whatever they can think of to help.

Though we have never had a situation exactly like this in the past 100 years, I do see some similarities in the situation based on the following from the CDC website with information about the flu pandemic of 1918:

‘Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic. While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood. With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly’.  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html

For my wife and me, it is not as much of a problem for us staying home. We are both retired and have regular income. We can order groceries, food and needed supplies online and have them brought direct to our home. Yet, I certainly do understand those who are younger who may be laid off work with no income. Their jobs could be in danger, their business may never recover, they may have young kids to take care of. Even with unemployment, many are having trouble getting registered and many still waiting on checks to arrive.

Then there are those who are still working out in the public. First responders, medical staff, essential employees. They all have to wonder in the back of their mind if they are being exposed or bringing this disease home to their families.

I believe the government is trying to do things to help, but we all wonder if skipped mortgage payments, rent, credit card payments and such are going to cause more problems later on due to taking advantage of these things that seem to help for now.

I can certainly understand the fears and frustrations of people in each of these situations.

So often when disasters and events like this happen, it brings people together to help each other and work together to improve the situation. It is good to see so many new innovations and new ways to provide PPE, disinfecting PPE and new testing processes for the virus that are happening. It is good to see how people can work together to come up with new ideas to help in this time of great need.

I do believe we will get through this and things will begin to get back to some type of normal. I do understand we all see things differently, but pray that we can look past our differences and work together to support one another and help bring this time of sickness and hardship to a close.

No matter how you view this crisis our world is going through, remember we are in this together. Do your best to remain calm, to be kind and helpful to your fellow human being. Out of respect for one another, follow the social distancing and general health precautions when you are out in public. We will get through this and better times will return.

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by Jim Gordon

I have talked a lot about the church system, pastors and leaving the institutional church. I do not want anyone to think I am against the organized church. Even though we are divided with denominations and various interpretations of the bible, we should be united in love for God and for one another.

My parents took me to church when I was so young I did not know what church was, and I was faithful just about every Sunday for the next 58 years.

Many good things happen in church, many good friends are made in church, a lot of good information and knowledge about God, love, grace and hope are found in church.

For my wife and I, we grew very dissatisfied with the method of church that is so common today. We would rush to get ready, rush to get there on time, shake a few hands, sit and listen to a few people do all the talking then rush out to get on with our day. There were times when we participated with the various meetings and opportunities the church offered and there were times when we only went to the planned meetings on Sunday and Wednesday.

I want to point out that if you enjoy gathering together on Saturday or Sunday with other believers in an organized service, there is nothing wrong with doing so.

While I personally do not believe church attendance is a must to be a follower of Christ, many people do believe so. That certainly does not make us enemies. Whether in the organized church or not we are all people who love God and are brothers and sisters in Christ. God loves us all just the same.

For me, a few things I look at differently about church is that I do not believe true church is a building, a place, or an organization. I believe Church is people and it does not matter if you attend a building or not. If you want to meet in a building that is OK, just realize you do not have to. We are the temple of God.

Pastors are not the mouthpiece or middle men/women of God. They are fellow brothers/sisters in Christ who are to support, encourage and build up others in their walk with God. The Holy Spirit lives within us and the Spirit is our teacher and guide.

Sunday is not the sabbath. That was old covenant. Many people call Sunday the Lord’s day and I agree, but I also say Monday is the Lord’s day just as every day is the Lord’s day. This (today) is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I no longer believe in tithing. That also is old covenant. That is not to say we are not to give but we give as we determine in our heart. We give to help others, not to support a religious system. If you regularly attend an organized church then you should give to help support it. There are salaries to be paid, mortgages and utilities to be paid and various expenses to keep the organization running. Yet giving to those causes is not tithing and not required.

So basically, what it boils down to is that each of us in our own way want to love and worship God and we want others to know of God’s love. How we go about it, if we attend a building for a religious service with others or if we do not, makes no difference. We can go out daily knowing the Spirit of God lives within us, teaches us, guides us and shares the love of God with others. We do not need to look at each other and think the other is wrong for the way they choose to follow God. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are called to assemble together in the commonality of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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by Jim Gordon

To take this title literally would be something that would make me mad and upset. In the midst of a pandemic some think it is spiritual to show they are not afraid and can ignore all that is being said because God will take care of them.  They tend to think it shows a lack of faith on their part to take the precautions many are calling for. Many say trust God and throw caution to the wind.

I do believe we will make it through this time and I do believe we can trust God to provide for us. Yet I do believe we have minds and common sense to do what we can, without panic to protect ourselves and to protect others.

The one statement that so many pastors and church organizations use to promote church attendance is the one mentioned above, forsake not the assembling of ourselves together. I have always been told that means we need to come together every Sunday at a designated place to sit through an organized meeting led by the pastor. If we fail to do so we are certainly not being the ‘good’ Christian we are supposed to be.

Yet to me, and especially in this time we are going through, this phrase speaks more to assembling together by helping one another, encouraging one another, checking on one another.  The dictionary describes assembling as bringing together or gather into one place. That does not necessarily mean a physical place but a place of agreement, a place of commonality for a similar purpose.

Now is the time to physically keep your distance, but it is also time to assemble together in the sense of fulfilling a common goal of caring for your fellow human being. It is time to put aside differences and join together for the purpose of caring for one another and supporting each other through these difficult times.

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