10/18/15 Pastors Essay

Will Rogers was quoted as having said “I am not a member of an organized political party. I am a Democrat.”
Irrespective of partisan politics, democracy may be messy, but it respects people. When any group of people gathers to discuss or decide most any question, there are differrences of perspective and differences of opion. That is one of the reasons I love being a minister in the United Church of Christ. In the UCC we debate many issues and we hold a variety of views.
But, these efforts are always to find the Mind of Christ, to do justice, love, mercy and walk humbly with God.
The Christian Church is in a transition period. Is it our duty to preserve ancient cuture, ancient values, and ancient thught forms? Oxford professor, Richard Dawkins, a biologist, has written books and articles attacking the idea of God, published in the Wall Street Journal some time ago. At the bottom of his argument however, is an attack on trying to use ancient views for contmporary understanding. Before the solar system, or the atom, or microbes and viruses were known, mankind explained the world in ways unacceptable to knowledgable people today.
It is a huge challenge for “traditionalists” to hold that all spiritual truth was recognized in one ancient culture before there was scientific knowlege of the universe.
To me, the Biblical declaration “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever” speaks of the unchanging power of divine love. It does not mean that we must perpetuate ancient culture, ancient thought patterns, ancient lanuage and ancient values. We must apply eternal principle to contemporary needs in relevant ways.
UCC believes that we ought not be prisoners committed to maintaining ancient culture where women are-and should be-uneducated chattels; nor should we uphold ancient culture where slavery was tolerated. Even in the Holy Bible itself, St. Paul writes of a slave, that he should be content with slavery! (Philomen 16) Does this not fly in the very face of the notion of divine love that recognizes the dignity and worth of all people? That direction in culture conditioned; not eternal word!
While the “faith once delivered to the saints” may be the same from age to age, its understanding must always be in terms of the contemporary age and culture. As the poet wrote “new occasions teach new duties.” That is why justice is so important to UCC Christians.