Archive for October, 2012

¾ of Americans saw at least one of the presidential debates.  Yes, there is great interest in the election, but I think people were also looking for a fight.  And they were not disappointed.  During their debates, the candidates talked about peace and making the world a more peaceful place.  But they LOOKED ready to do battle. . . with each other!  Especially in that second debate when they constantly interrupted each other and got in each other’s faces!  Politics is a lot of fighting – some, I suppose, fighting for what they believe in – most of the time, however, it’s just a power play; their battles simply a strategy to gain votes. (more…)

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One of the marks of good writing is avoiding the use of the passive voice.  For example, if I say, “I am holding a pen.”  “I” am the subject of the verb – I am doing the action.  The “pen” is the object of the verb.  To state that in the passive voice we would say, “The pen is being held by me.”  That’s not good English.  “I heard it through the grapevine” is in the active voice.  “It was heard by me through the grapevine” is passive . . . and awkward. . . .and not a catchy song title anymore.  So the active voice is almost always better.

Sometimes there might be a reason to state something in the passive voice.  Politicians like to use the passive voice when they are trying to obscure their own responsibility in something.  So Reagan famously says when scandal hits his administration, “Mistakes were made.”  No mention of who actually made those mistakes.  When the power company sends a notice to those who haven’t paid the bill, they say, “your power will be shut off.”  Passive voice.  They don’t want to say, “We the electric company are turning off your power.”  Too harsh.

So when we are writing a paper, we avoid the passive voice recognizing that there are others times we might deliberately use the passive.  We all know that when it comes to our relationship with God, we must get comfortable with the passive voice.  We realize that “we are saved by grace”, we don’t save ourselves.  It is important to acknowledge that “I am loved by God.” “I have been justified by Christ.” “I have been baptized into his death and resurrection.”  Those are all beautifully in the passive.  Our pride wants to put ourselves in the active voice – as in “I have decided to follow Jesus” but we learn from Scripture that when it comes to our salvation we are passive.  God does it all.  And faith receives it all in the passive voice.  This is good Lutheran theology.  And that’s where we must always remain . . . or is it? (more…)

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A little child had his hand stuck in a vase.  His parents tried and tried, pulling and tugging, but they could not free their child’s hand from the vase.  Finally, the child asked, “would it be easier if I let go of the penny?” (more…)

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Everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Everyone can benefit from less salt in their diet.  According to the Center for Disease Control, high levels of sodium contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.  And Americans consume way too much.  Our bodies actually need about 500 mg of sodium every day.  The level recommended for most adults is 1500 mg.  The upper limit – the highest level of daily sodium intake that will likely pose no health risks is 2300 mg a day.  And here’s the kicker: the average daily sodium intake for Americans age 2 and older is over 3400 mg.  So we are way off the charts.  Decreasing sodium intake can save lives.

Now of course, these statistics were not available to the people of Bible times, so we might cut Jesus a little slack when he says in our Gospel today, “Salt is good.”  For most of us, it’s not good. And for almost all of us, it is something to be avoided.  But Jesus isn’t referring to sodium.  He’s talking about us.  “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount.  And in today’s Gospel he says, “Everyone will be salted.”  “Have salt among yourselves.”  The salt Jesus is talking about has nothing to do with our diet but it has everything to do with life and salvation. (more…)

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Neil Armstrong was the first man to step foot on the moon in July 1969.  When he died a couple weeks ago, he was remembered as a humble hero who did not capitalize on his celebrity status.  He seemed to have a healthy perspective on himself.   While returning home from that historic space flight the astronaut looked out the window of Apollo XI space craft and saw a small blue planet in the deep blackness of space.  As he reflected on this awesome view he said, “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. But I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” (more…)

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