February 29, 2008

Americans in Prison

The NY Times reported that over 1.6 million Americans are in prison. This is not only the largest in our history, but it is also the largest per-capita incarceration in our history. About 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars.

1 out of 100...

What's wrong with our legal system that says we'd rather have you out of our sight than do anything to help you become a better person and a more productive member of American society?

It was interesting to find this article in my e-mail this morning, juxtaposed to this e-mail from a daily e-mail from Mikey's Funnies (which aren't always funny):

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?"

Hands started going up.

He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first let me do this."

He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air.

"Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.

He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty."Now who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God's eyes. To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to Him. Psalm 17:8 states that God will keep us 'as the apple of His eye.'"

THOUGHT: The worth of our lives come not in what we do or who we are, but by WHOSE WE ARE!


February 12, 2008

Christian Unity

The Rev. Dr. John Crossin, OSFS, president of Washington Theological Consortium and noted author, was the guest speaker in chapel at Wesley this morning. It was a special chapel service to mark prayers for Christian Unity. His message centered around the motto of the WTC, Pray without ceasing. "I've been working on that for a number of years," he said. It's comforting to know that a man whose whole job is to bring together the many denominational seminaries in the greater DC area struggles with prayer. "We need to ask the Spirit to help us pray," he continued. "We aren't consistent in that. We become so consumed with our own work that we loose sight that we are doing this for the Glory of God." He said that too often he will operate under the "90% for God, 10% for Crossin" principle. "I'm trying to hold on to that little bit for me." And aren't we all. Philippians 2 talks about Jesus as a humble servant. The virtue of humility is essential to conversations around Christian Unity and to our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus emptied himself & worked for others, and we must also. We live in a world with far too many people out to serve their own interests. I don't know too many folks, myself included, who can put aside their own stuff to work for others. My grandmother, maybe... We don't just have a problem with Christian unity, we have a problem with unity & humility is all of American life. We can't look past our own stuff to see the bigger picture. I think about Jesus' high priestly prayer for his disciples the night before he was betrayed. He prayed that they may be one as he & God are one. It is difficult to be united with people with whom we might disagree, but what unites us as Christians is far greater than what divides us.