Sunday, August 01, 2021

Moderator’s Musings

by Blaine Miner

During many trips to my visit mother-in-law in Northeast Kansas, I have witnessed some maneuvers made by other drivers. The maneuvers where I shake my head the most are when cars dart between semi-trailers. I may exclaim either, “What were they thinking?” or “What nerve!” The audacity to risk life and limb at seventy-plus miles an hour astounds me. Yes, I am also anxious to complete my trip, but I am not in that much of a hurry. I want to arrive in one piece.

As I hear the debate about how public funds are spent or the struggles our congregations face with diminishing resources, I wonder if we also read the Bible not as words of encouragement but with thoughts of the nerve of the prophets: “How dare they challenge the status quo!” The passage in Matthew from which I drew my theme for this district conference can be interpreted as audacious. What nerve to praise people for going out of their way to do things for those who cannot give anything in return.

Have we become so immersed in our culture and society that we use them to measure how effective and efficient our programs are? I enjoy watching “Shark Tank” and I have learned what is important to these potential investors in particular. They ask questions like, “How much does it cost to make?”, “What does it sell for?”, or “What are the acquisition costs?” The sharks are looking for efficiency and the cost-benefit ratio. The only audacious part at times is the nerve of the entrepreneur to ask for money.

As followers of Jesus, we are expected to do audacious things. We are challenged to be faithful and righteous acts demand endurance. Sister Joan Chittister, in her book “The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage,” speaks to the pathway to racial equality. She writes, “It took over two hundred years to abolish slavery; more years to abrogate segregation; and it seems even more years to extinguish the racism that is at our historical roots (page 51)”.

In what ways might extending charity be considered audacious? It is faithful, persistent, and it thinks outside of the box. It is not enough to call out sin and evil. Charity offers a vision and new ways of promoting righteousness.

Are we willing to tell the truth in Love? Do we call out the wrong we see and accept the criticism that comes along with it? The focus should be on changing what is holding people back. In the Matthew passage as it speaks to us today, are we willing to speak up for the homeless, the unclothed, the unjustly incarcerated, the hungry, the physically and the mentally ill?

Are we willing to be bold and audacious in our mission to glorify God for our neighbor’s good?