Sunday, April 26, 2015

NEITHER DO I CONDEMN YOU : SCS No. 45


Sunday, April 19, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 45

(This is a series of sermonettes on The Gospel According To Mark. )

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s. Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

SCRIPTURE for Today: Mark 10:1-12 King James Version (KJV)
10 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.
2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
SERMON for Today:
Once again, Jesus’ opponents seek to test him (cf. 8:11; 12:15) with a question, this time concerning the legality of divorce. They hope to expose him as an opponent of the Law of Moses. The bill of divorce refers to the provisions about divorce in Deut. 24:1–4.

Jesus emphasizes that marriage, as a permanent relationship between a man and a woman, goes back to God’s purpose at the beginning of creation (Gen. 1:27; 2:24; Ex. 20:14). Moses’ regulations on divorce (Deut. 24:1–3) were not part of God’s original (“beginning”) plan but were instituted “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.”

In this passage and in Luke 16:18 Jesus does not include the phrase “except for sexual immorality” as in Matt. 5:32 and 19:9. One possible reason is that there was no dispute or disagreement among Jews, or in Greek or Roman culture, that adultery was a legitimate ground for divorce, and Jesus is not addressing that issue here. The disputes were over the many other causes for divorce, so Jesus gave a blanket statement about all the other causes without explicitly specifying what everyone already agreed was true.

Note that in Mark 10:12 Jesus says “And if a woman shall put away her husband” is the only time in the Gospels where it is assumed that a woman also has a right to initiate a divorce.

People like to take this passage of Holy Writ and say Jesus said there should be no divorce.  The verses are much more complicated than that.  Do not miss the fact that Jesus took the discussion back to the Creation of male and female.  His statement about them being “one flesh” took away the idea that the wife was the property of the husband.  This was further reinforced in private with his disciples when he says “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.”  This condemns the common practice of the day of getting a bill of divorcement simply because the husband was tired of his aging property and wanted a new wife.

The idea that it is God who joins a wife and husband takes the entire marriage process back to the creation story and not to the local courthouse.  You can lay all the guilt trips you want to on folks who failed in previous marriages, but you might want to reserve your judgement.  Their present marriage may be the only one that God had a hand in and that He joined the two and they became one.  Read this scripture and remember it well before you or your church turn your back on a couple who have remarried.  
John 8: 1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
 
Go and live in peace knowing the Lord walks with you.

 
NEXT WEEK: The subject will be THE RICH YOUNG RULER.  Mark 10: 17-31

 
PRAYER for Today: Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


© Ed Cooper, April 26, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

HOME IS WHERE YOUR HEART IS HELD IN LOVING HANDS

Fort Myers Beach, FL

The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament to Christians) tells the story of the Garden of Eden which was God’s first home for His human creation, but no matter how grand He made it we did not think it was good enough.  Jerusalem was the center or main home of the Jewish people, but think of how many times it was conquered and lost to other nations.  Stephen King wrote in his last book Revival that home was were they did not want you to leave. Washington, D.C. is our national capital and our nation’s home so to speak, but if you live on the streets there as I have, you soon find out you are not welcome in your home.

You have heard said that home is where your heart is.  I say home is where your heart is held in the loving hands of a caring community.  This embrace of soul and self is not always found in one’s family or in the neighborhood church or in any traditional community.  

“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future.” 
– Simone Weil, in her book The Need for Roots   

Simone Weil (/veɪ/; French: [simɔn vɛj]; February 3, 1909 – August 24, 1943) was a French philosopher, Christian mystic, and political activist.  I don’t think Simone ever found a home.  

“After a lifetime of battling illness and frailty, Weil died in August 1943 from cardiac failure at the age of 34. The coroner's report said that "the deceased did kill and slay herself by refusing to eat whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed".  The exact cause of her death remains a subject of debate. However, Simone Pétrement, one of Weil's first and most significant biographers, regards the coroner's report as simply mistaken. Basing her opinion on letters written by the personnel of the sanatorium at which Simone Weil was treated, Pétrement affirms that Weil asked for food on different occasions while she was hospitalized and even ate a little bit a few days before her death; according to her, it is in fact Weil's poor health condition that eventually made her unable to eat.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simone_Weil)

What would a home be like.  A place where I would be seen as whole even with all my brokenness.  The best example of this in literature is the way Jesus treated those He came in contact with.  He did not smile and agree with all they said and did or had done in their lives, but on the other side He was always willing to be with them and break bread with them.  

Home is where your soul and self are embraced, but not where your harmful actions are endorsed to the detriment of yourself or the community.  It is not a place to seek praise, but rather a place to seek peace for your inner self.  It may be hard to find, but it is worth seeking.

© Ed Cooper, April 21, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I AM NOT FIRST: SCS No. 44


Sunday, April 19, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 44

(This is a series of sermonettes on The Gospel According To Mark. )

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s. Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

SCRIPTURE for Today: Mark 9: 33-37 King James Version (KJV)
33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
SERMON for Today:
I am not first.  Do you think you are?  This teaching of Jesus is much harder than it seems at first glance.  Humility is not something that comes easy to any of us.  It certainly is not one of my foremost traits.

The attitude of heart Jesus is teaching does not even overlook a lowly child but receives, and thereby cares for, such a little one in Christ’s name. In contrast to the status-seeking of the disciples , Jesus is showing them they should willingly take on lowly, often unnoticed tasks and care for those who have little status in the world. Anyone who does this, Jesus says, receives me and in so doing also receives the Father. Humbly caring for people of lowly status out of obedience to Christ will be rewarded by rich personal fellowship with both the Son and the Father.

To become a servant rather than be the one served is hard, but it is what Jesus requires of His followers.  He does not demand perfection, but He does demand servanthood.
 
NEXT WEEK: The subject will be Divorce.  Mark 10: 1-12

 
PRAYER for Today: Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


© Ed Cooper, April 19, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Sunday, April 12, 2015

THINK HIS WORDS THROUGH: SCS No. 43


Sunday, April 14, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 43


(This is a series of sermonettes on The Gospel According To Mark. )


(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s. Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)


SCRIPTURE for Today: Mark 9:1-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.
11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?
12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
     
SERMON for Today:


Mark 9:1 may be one of the hardest verses in the entire New Testament to understand if one does not take time to think it through.  The writers Matthew (16:28), Luke (9:27) and Mark all record Jesus saying about the same thing.  Some folks would have us believe that Jesus made a prediction that did not come to pass.  They claim Jesus was talking about His second coming.  However, if you take in to account that Mark's Gospel was most likely written forty years after the death of Jesus and Matthew and Luke even later then you would know that the writers would have to have been recording a false statement by Jesus to say they meant to say Jesus was talking of His second coming.  They would have known the world had not had the big event predicted to happen at His second coming. The Gospel writers must have known He was speaking of something else.

It is much more likely they were recording a prophecy Jesus was making about His resurrection and victory over death that brought in the Kingdom of God on earth.  People who have an agenda to catch inaccuracies in the New Testament do not look for logical answers or explanations for things that seem puzzling. If you look carefully at and think through His words you will not find any inaccuracies.


The next 12 verses of Mark are about what we call the Transfiguration of Jesus.  This story can only be understood in light of verse one.  Jesus is showing three of his disciples that He is the Messiah and giving them a preview of His glory.  As usual they get only part of it and are mostly in the dark.  Many of us today are like the disciples before the Day of Pentecost.  We simply do not know what to make of the person we call Jesus.


The fact of Jesus’ victory over death means we can have life, but we have to live like we believe the fact He had that victory in order to have the win ourselves.   


PRAYER for Today: Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


© Ed Cooper, April 12, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Morgan Firestar and the Lunatic Fringe


**The Dream Again Journal:A Bimonthly Journal of Spirituality & Madness was published for a number of years by Dream Again Press.  Ed Cooper was the Editor and Patty Cooper was the Managing Editor.  The July/August 1996 issue (Volume 2, Number 4) was dedicated to the memory of Morgan Firestar.  At that time Ed published a piece written by Morgan on the front page of the DAJ with the following words under it.  This piece is from Volume 3, Number 5 of the LUNATIC FRINGE.  It is reprinted here without the author's permission.  I hope Morgan is not upset with me.  I take this risk to honor the life and death of a true 'radical thinker, writer, songwriter, artist, dreamer.'  Here I go again.  While going through papers the other day, I found a copy of the issue of the DAJ that was dedicated to Morgan Firestar and felt the need to share it all over again. Here it is. Ed Cooper, 4/8/2015, Stoney Creek, TN **


NEVER AGAIN 

                                by Morgan Firestar 

When I was 14 I was put into a state mental hospital through the collusion of my parents and a psychiatrist.  For two months I was terrorized on an electroshock and insulin shock ward.  Then I spent three months in a city hospital, ten months in a private hospital, nine months in an open institution called a "residence", and when I was 21 another two months at a different hospital.

I was forced to try at least 20 different drugs (even as an outpatient) and I had severe physical illnesses, such as tonsillitis and hepatitis, which were not recognized for long periods despite my complaints.  I could not get into the college of my choice, so I went to the only school that would accept a "mental patient"---City College of New York.  In my fifth year I had to drop out because the psychiatric drug I was taking, stelazine,  made reading impossible.  It took me 15 years to finish college, but I eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude.  I attended no high school or college graduation.  All I have is a piece of paper.

I could go on and on, explaining how psychiatry ruined my life---but that's not what I want to say.  The more I educate myself about psychiatric oppression of minors, the more I realize---I'm one of the lucky ones.  I escaped from the system, through no special talents of my own, purely by luck.  After a while, of course, I learned to manipulate the system.  I studied psychology and caught them in lies and unethical behavior on wards.  I documented their actions.  Suddenly I was "well" and discharged.  They probably hoped I would forget what I learned in the school of psychiatric oppression.  They were wrong.  I'll never forget.  But I am fortunate to have the brainpower  to remember.  I'm a lucky fish who wiggled out of the net.
the end

Sunday, April 05, 2015

TO GIVE TO OTHERS: a poem by ed


(This poem was written in Atlanta, GA in the late 70's and was last published in Ed's book When Even the Devil Deserts You.)

How Lord,
     Did we miss the fact
     That your death and resurrection
     Was to embrace, feed and save
     A world in pain and need?

Help me Lord,
     To touch someone today.
     Show me the way
     Help me each day

TO GIVE TO OTHERS
     What you have given me.

© Ed Cooper, Atlanta, GA
rewritten 4/5/2015, Stoney Creek, TN

      
     

Friday, April 03, 2015

DR. BRITTNEY COOPER’S ARTICLE SURPRISED ME:exclusionary instead of inclusionary?




Until I read Professor Cooper’s article the other day, I did not know I was a white supremacist, racist, sexist, homophobic pig.  It is true that I am a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) born right after World War II and raised in the 50’s.  It is also true that I grew up on a mission station in what was then called Southern Rhodesia which was run by an apartheid government.  Zimbabwe did not get its full independence until much later although I was there when Ian Smith declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on behalf of his white government in 1965 (the only other country to do so besides the the USA). Maybe it was in Rhodesia I became a racist pig?

I was surprised to know how bad I was.  It might also have surprised a very close female friend I had in south Florida a few years ago.  She was African American, a recovering addict, a former prostitute, a mental health and addictions advocate and a wonderful friend to both my wife and I who we lost to complications from HIV.  Val would have been surprised to learn I was a white supremacist, racist, sexist, homophobic pig.

The article would surprise Tony Campolo the author of the books Love Not Power, Red Letter Christians and It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming.  Bono wrote this about Campolo and Red Letter Christians, “As regards Tony Campolo, it’s always been an embarrassment to me that the Preacher is more radical than any rock star.”  President Jimmy Carter wrote about the same book, “This book, by a young (Shane Claiborne) and an elderly Christian (Tony Campolo), will help you decide how we Christians could change the world if we took the “red letter” words of Jesus literally and seriously.”   It would surprise Tony Campolo to know that as an evangelical he was being called racist, sexist, and homophobic person because he has spent his life teaching and preaching the social gospel.

My point is simple.  I am asking is it fair to paint with such a broad brush or is Dr. Brittany Cooper doing the same thing as she is accusing others of doing?  Is she being exclusionary instead of inclusionary?  I will let my own writings and life stand as my witness as to whether I should be included or excluded, but I think all of us should remember that if you buy into the Gospel story none us us are the judge.  If I remember the “red letter” words of Jesus correctly He warns us against judging others.

Dr. Cooper points out in the article that she is an academic.  I don’t know whether that is a good word or a cuss word, I never did well in college so I am certainly not an academic.  However, Jesus was not lynched as she states in her article.
“His message of radical inclusivity was so threatening that the state lynched him for fear that he was fomenting a cultural and political rebellion.”
I have no idea why she used this language because not too long before that in the article she used the correct terminology.   Maybe she was trying to make Jerusalem sound like the old south, but she knows better.  However, this is not what I consider to be her biggest departure from the Gospel story.
“The Jesus I know, love, talk about and choose to retain was a radical, freedom-loving, justice-seeking, potentially queer (because he was either asexual or a priest married to a prostitute), feminist healer, unimpressed by scripture-quoters and religious law-keepers,  seduced neither by power nor evil.”
I have studied the four Gospels well and the only conclusion that I can draw from her summary depiction of Jesus is that she made Him in the image she wanted Him to be and did not care at all how accurate it was to what was recorded in the Gospels.  She is correct that Jesus was a Jew and not a blue eyed blond, but what she follows this with is as far a reach as anyone that thought he was a blue eyed blond.

Dr. Cooper also seems to think if you are pro-life that also makes you a devil.  Her intolerance for any other viewpoint other than her own seems very violent in its own way.  Her language is not kind or tolerant towards anyone other than those who agree with her or are like her.  I am pro-life and have been all of my adult life.  When faced with service in the military during the late 60’s, I was a medic in the Army and filed for noncombatant status.  I do not try to push my views or will onto others about pro-life or nonviolence.  I believe and Project Dream Again has stood for since its inception in 1988, that each individual has the right to be free and to decide their own path to reach their own dreams in this world.

A person like myself who has spent years being treated worse than a second class citizen and who belongs to a group who by virtue of their psychiatric label have less rights in this country than any other group, does not feel like being lectured on how bad they are towards other people by anyone.  So, Dr. Cooper stop lumping all WASP’s together.  We do not all sting alike.     

© Ed Cooper, April 3, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved