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     This Week's Focus: "Love Among the Wolves"
       Click the link for Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 


Dear Friends,
In this week’s gospel, Jesus treats his disciples to a harsh dose of reality.  He is sending his fledgling disciples out into the world knowing the hostility and the dangers that await them. To be an open, active Christian means to be set among the disinterested, the hostile, even the threatening… predators who would like nothing better than to destroy their faith… even if it means destroying them in the process.

It was true then and it is true now. Predators come and go, but the faith abides…  armed and protected by the grace of all-mighty God.

The ongoing assaults on the faithful are not limited to the media reports of mass-martyrdom in the Middle East. In America today, routinely Christians now suffer the mini-martyrdom of the slight, the smear, the mocking smirk. Increasingly our culture tells us that it’s just “not cool” to be Christian.

“Those damned Catholics”: That’s the way the president of a major Mid-West university publicly referred to Notre Dame. A US Army directive reportedly had banned Bibles from Walter Reed Medical Center. In filing for tax-exempt status, a mega “media watchdog” organization openly declared that it will direct its $20 million budget to discredit “Christian-influenced ideology.”

In popular media, the stereotype “Wasp” has long been synonymous with country-club hypocrite; while Evangelicals are dismissed as knuckle-dragging racists. But the most venomous invective is reserved for Christian clergy of every stripe, who, at best, are caricatured as well-meaning dopes and more often than not as lecherous low-life’s.

When was the last time you saw a movie or TV show that depicted a minister or priest as faithfully living out their vocation as a servant of the servants of God? Remember, this isn’t 1st Century Rome. It’s 21st Century America. Yet the drumbeat is loud and clear: Christians are America’s last acceptable target of persecution.  So pile on… gross parodies, distortions, hate speech… they’re all a free shot. But no matter how odious… it’s only kid-stuff compared to the increasingly intense assault against Christians that is spreading worldwide.

In Libya, a score of Christians are marched out onto a beach and with choreographic precision, they are beheaded for the benefit of some blood-thirsty bloggers. In Indonesia, Christian schoolgirls are dragged from a bus and butchered in front of their classmates. In Egypt, the ancient Coptic communities have now been virtually annihilated. In Sudan, Christian villages are routinely bombed and strafed. In Nigeria, entire congregations are rounded-up, gunned down and left to rot. In India, venerable Anglican churches are burned to the ground, while the faithful are hacked to death. In Palestine, Iraq, and Syria, “ethnic cleansing” has reduced Christian communities to a pitiful few, elderly survivors.

With every passing day, we are reminded that the cross of Christ is not a piece of decorative jewelry or traditional wall décor. It is a covenant. It is a challenge. And more and more it is a target. That’s because from the very first it has always been a paradox… on the cross lies both earthly peril and eternal salvation.

Yet Jesus urges us on: The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. In this gospel, Jesus tells us that our faith is not a private matter. We are meant to proclaim it in word and deed. In the face of persecution, to be a Christian is not to slink through life in a defensive crouch.

We are here to build God’s kingdom, not bury it in our hearts. That’s not empty, tough talk. There is no bluster or bravado in Jesus. There is no macho in his message. In this gospel, Jesus does not order us to mandatory martyrdom. At the same time, denying him is not an option… and neither is revenge.

Jesus is telling us that love among the lambs is easy. Love among the wolves is hard. So what to do? The love of Christ is all we have. But it is more than enough if we work at it every day. He calls us to make a simple one-on-one transaction. When hated, we love. When insulted, we love. When slandered, we love. That is what Christians do. We love the persecuted and the persecutors. Each one of us is the custodian of Christ’s love. We live in it. We build it. We must share it… with the lambs and with the wolves. That’s why God put us here… that’s why Jesus saved us… to love among the wolves.

God love you!




 

A Reflection for 
The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

 
Copyright © 2019 David Sellery, All rights reserved.


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