Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

The Lord God created them male and female in God’s image.

It is our earliest shared human story, our genesis from the book of Genesis, our beginning in the heart of a creative and loving God. Creation is not some accident of an unfeeling universe; it is and was intentional. Intentional too was the fact that all humans were created by God and in the image of God.

247 years ago, a new nation was taking shape, in the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson wrote, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” This was the foundation of our democracy, and yet from the beginning of that democracy exceptions were made to those self-evident truths. Even as our founders pursued a more perfect union, the voting and legal rights of women were far from equal, and the evil of slavery would sow the seeds of racism, seeds that would tear our nation apart.

The Lord God created them male and female in God’s image. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

Two foundational statements; one of the Judeo-Christian traditions, and one that captures the aspirational vision of the United States of America. They come together this morning and demand more of us than an intellectual assent, at some point we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves a critical question. The answer to the question will not change reality but it might change the way that we look at God’s world, our neighbors, and those of other lands, races, and religions.

The question quite simply is this: do you believe those statements? Are all people deserving of basic human rights and freedom; is every race created in God’s image? Or is it possible that in your heart you believe that God has favored nations or favored races? Does God hold a special affinity for “Christian nations” or Christian people?

As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ is the most complete revelation of God, but it would be arrogant of us to believe that we have cornered the market on truth. We do not hold that Jesus was the only revelation of God. Restricting God’s mysterious movement to our own experience would be foolish. There is deep spirituality, wisdom, and truth to be found in other religious movements. Christians believe that God has called us to do good work and to share good news. Does it follow that this calling offers us special status with God? Do we assume that God somehow favors Christians above Jews, Muslims, or atheists? Are we so self-centered that we believe that our children and grandchildren are loved more by God, that their lives are of more value than Muslim children? Does God favor the United States? Is our wealth and power a sign of God’s favor?

The Lord God created them, male and female in God’s image. That is either true or its not. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. If we believe the foundational statements of our faith and country, then we should live and act accordingly. How will we view the stranger at our door, the refugee at our border, the homeless in our midst, Palestinian families, and our Jewish neighbors?

Enjoy your coffee this morning, coffee sipped leisurely in a cocoon of freedom and security. And then, take a moment to ask Jesus the question that has puzzled humanity since the dawn of creation; “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer was quite clear; every child of the earth is a child of God, created in the image of God, intended to be equal. The answer articulated by Jefferson was intellectually “self-evident,” living it with integrity has proven to be more difficult.

Living with integrity, guided by truth, may we one day experience the abundant life that God desires for us.

One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread, I am your

Pastor Jim

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