Archive for September, 2010

According to a recent Harris Poll, 89% of all Americans believe in heaven and 73% believe in hell.  In that same survey, 76% said that they believe that when they die they will go to heaven while only 2 % believed they were going to hell.  Those numbers either mean that most people understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or that most believe themselves to be good enough to get in on their own.

I doubt the rich man in today’s Gospel thought he was going to hell.   He had everything he could ever need – why would heaven be denied him?  And furthermore, why should some good for nothing beggar like Lazarus deserve to go to heaven?  These are the questions our Gospel reading answers for us today. (more…)

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The new season of The Apprentice started this past Thursday evening.  This year’s candidates are average Americans whose lives and careers have been hit hard by the recent economic turndown.  Each of the contestants will be vying for a 6-figure job in Mr. Trump’s organization, including Wade Hanson, a real estate agent from Woodbury.  They will be judged on how well they perform certain projects and challenges.  Unfortunately, each week along the way, one of them will have to hear Donald Trump say, “You’re fired.” (more…)

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I’m not a person who usually loses things, BUT if I temporarily misplace something very important – my phone, my wallet or my keys, everything stops until I find it.  I can’t rest until I’m got these essential things in my possession.  I can get pretty focused on finding these items.  I may even turn the house upside down.  After all I can’t get very far without my wallet or keys. 

But I don’t think I’ve ever been as crazy as the people Jesus describes in the parables in our Gospel for today.  They were obsessed with finding something – and it doesn’t even seem like it was something all that important!  One sheep out of 100?  Let it go, shepherd.   And then he announces it to the neighborhood?  They’ll think he’s lost more than one lousy sheep.  He’s lost his marbles!  Or the woman turning the house upside down for one coin?  Come on,lady,  Get over it.  And then she even invites her friends and throws a party when she finds it?  What a nut!  (more…)

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I think the Gospels give us plenty of evidence to conclude that Jesus would not have made a very good politician or a good salesman.  And we are grateful.  We would not want Jesus to have been either.  And no one has ever claimed he should have been.  He is given names and titles in the Bible like Savior, Teacher, Brother, Friend.  That’s who we want Jesus to be.  Not a crooked politician or a slick salesman.

And yet, I think if Jesus had used a little savvy marketing, he could have boosted the ranks of his followers quite a bit.  In today’s Gospel, he does anything but that.  (more…)

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In her Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Miss Manners attempts to teach humility.  She says that it is important in social circles to broadcast one’s accomplishments using the language of humility.  In other words, to establish first that you have reason to be proud before you show your contrasting humility.  She offers three approaches:  Disbelief, Fear and Manic Elation.  Disbelief would sound like this,  “Those excellent test scores?  I can’t believe I did that well.  I was sure that I messed up  . . . “   Sounds humble, yet lets the listener understand the reason for pride.   Or using fear:  “I got that excellent promotion, but I’m not sure I can handle all the new responsibilities I’m going to have. . . . Or manic elation:  “What?  They bought my idea!  Do you know what they’re going to pay me??  It’s crazy?”  You impress your neighbor while at the same time come off as very humble . . . in a way.

Miss Manners may have her etiquette right, but I’m not sure she understands true humility.  At least the kind Jesus is looking for in us!  (more…)

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