Tag Archives: anger

Short Homily – Lent 3, Year B

READING:   John 2 verses 13-22

Imagine a fine Spring today.  A man is driving cheerfully along a country road, when, suddenly, from around the bend ahead, a car comes lurching toward him in his lane.  He brakes hard.  As he swerves past, the woman driver screams at him, “Pig!  Pig!”

Furious, he shouts back at her, “Cow!  Cow!”

Pleased with himself, he drives around the curve and runs smack into a pig.

There is no doubt that anger will cause us to do things that we would not do otherwise.

Anger is normally perceived as a negative emotion.  Shouting, bawling and getting all worked up usually doesn’t get us anywhere.  ‘Losing the head’ does not achieve very much, and can make us look quite ridiculous

However, sometimes, there is another kind of anger that is, in context, acceptable, even necessary, if good is to be done.

I suppose we could call it ‘righteous indignation’ – anger which is directed toward some kind of injustice or unfairness.

In the gospel story – appointed for this Third Sunday in Lent (Year B) – we encounter an incident in Christ’s life when he acted very uncharacteristically.

This is not the ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ that we are used to.

This is Jesus getting his dander up.  Here he is anything but meek and mild.

But his anger here was of the ‘righteous indignation kind.

In this story, he was angry at the way the temple traders were profiteering at the expense of the poor.  Here he was directing his anger at those who abused the sacred.

Sometimes there is nothing wrong in taking an aggressive stand for God – if the situation and circumstances seem to warrant it.

Better to speak or act forcefully for what we believe is God’s way, than sit on the fence or do nothing.  And to do so, even if the consequences might hurt us.

This brings me to this very well known story, with which most of us are familiar.  A true incident that happened in 1858.

The young Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia, the Rev. Dudley Atkins Tyng, boldly and aggressively preached against the evils of slavery to his congregation, telling them plainly and bluntly, that to hold a fellow human being in slavery was a sin.

They did not like what they heard.  Many of his congregation owned slaves, a common practice in those days, and they booted Mr Tyng out of his Charge.

Undaunted, he hired a hall in the city, and very successfully carried on his ministry there.

Then, one day, when he was walking alone through the fields of his farm, he stretched out his arm to pat a mule, which was working a machine stripping corn from the cob.

One of the long sleeves of his preacher’s gown was caught in a cog, and he was drawn into the mill, where his arm was torn off.

It was a long time before he was found, and carried to his home.  There his friends and associates gathered to witness his agonising end.

One of those present was a Presbyterian minister, George Duffield.  Moments before he died, Tyng took Duffield’s hand and gave his last instructions for the continuance of his mission.

“Tell them” he said, “to stand up for Jesus”

Deeply moved, and with these rousing and encouraging words ringing in his ears, George Duffield went home and wrote a hymn.

The following Sunday, he preached on a text from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Stand therefore, having your loins girded with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness”

He concluded the sermon by reading out the words of his new hymn, “Stand up!  Stand up for Jesus!”

When we encounter evil, hypocrisy, corruption, or anything else that is counter to the world of truth, beauty, peace and justice that is God’s will, let us, with righteous indignation, take an aggressive stand for God.  Let us, too, ‘Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!’

Let me finish by quoting a verse from the original version of the hymn:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus!

The solemn watchword hear,

If while ye sleep he suffers,

Away with shame and fear,

Where’er ye meet with evil,

Within you or without,

Charge for the God of battles,

And put the foe to rout.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Questions

Some questions…..

Why do doctors and lawyers call what they do practice?

Why is abbreviation such a long word?

Why is it that when you’re driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on your radio?

Why is a boxing ring square?

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

How did a fool and his money get together in the first place?

There are indeed a lot of things in this life that we just really don’t understand.

But let me take it to a deeper and more disturbing level. For example, we don’t really understand disease.  Why is a youngster perfectly healthy for 13 years of his life… and then suddenly just happens to be in a place where he suddenly encounters some germ or bacteria that invades his body and destroys it? This happens in meningitis cases.

And we don’t understand accidents.  They are so random and indiscriminate. You start out a day that is like any other day… and then something happens in a matter of seconds… and life is forever different.  You can never go back beyond that accident.

On and on we could go with our list… of things we don’t really understand.

Why is there so much pain in our world? Why do good people suffer? Why do we hurt one another? Why can’t people get along? And why do some of the best prayers seem to go unanswered?

Now, all of these difficult questions prompt us to raise yet another crucial question: What can we count on from God?  When we face the troubles of the world, the heartaches of life, the tough challenges of this existence… what can we count on from God?

Christ tells a parable – a rather strange parable. It involves two people: an unjust arrogant judge and a humble but persistent woman.  The judge ignores her at first, but finally grants her justice because she is so persistent.  She won’t give up and she won’t go away… so eventually he gives in and comes through for her.

Now that’s the parable. Jesus then makes his point and he frames it in the form of a question.

He says, if an unjust judge gives this woman justice how much more will God bring about justice for his chosen ones?

A loving God hears our struggles, hears our cries of help and then responds to them.

WE CAN COUNT ON GOD TO BE WITH US WHEN WE ARE HURTING.

A tragedy left the man homeless, widowed and fatherless. Fire had swept through his house, and all was lost. It took some time for the full weigh of the loss to descend, and when it did, he was nearly crushed.

Like Job in the O.T. he would not be comforted…When the gift of shock was lifted, anger, resentment filled every waking thought.

God had not been fair to him God had not protected his family. He had not come to him with a special visitation to explain the “why” and the “what next”.The greatest temptation was to add to his losses by forfeiting his faith.

He felt justified. No one would fault him. Some might even support him. He prayed angrily now, daring god to hurt him further, challenging him if you like.

He prayed angrily, but he prayed, and God could handle it….The anguish continued to mount until one afternoon he uttered a cry so forcefully, it could only be described as a scream. No word was spoken, just a loud angry scream against the forces of heaven and hell, as if to say, “I’ve hurt all I can, and I’ve paid my dues for love…. Help me.”….

The silence that followed was quieter than silence. A peace was evident for the first time in months.

He believed, at last, that God was caring for those he lost. That God was caring for Him. that God could handle his honest anger, his honest emotions

And God can handle all our pent up emotions, feelings, denials. He is with us in our hurt and our pain.

And, although our questions may not be answered, we can come to know him as the one who always listens, always cares.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Righteous Indignation

Imagine a fine Spring today.  A man is driving cheerfully along a country road, when, suddenly, from around the bend ahead, a car comes lurching toward him in his lane.  He brakes hard.  As he swerves past, the woman driver screams at him, “Pig!  Pig!”

Furious, he shouts back at her, “Cow! Cow!”

Pleased with himself, he drives around the curve and runs smack into a pig.

There is no doubt that anger will cause us to do things that we would not do otherwise.

Anger is normally perceived as a negative emotion.  Shouting, bawling and getting all worked up usually doesn’t get us anywhere.  ‘Losing the head’ does not achieve very much, and can make us look quite ridiculous

However, sometimes, there is another kind of anger that is, in context, acceptable, even necessary, if good is to be done.

I suppose we could call it ‘righteous indignation’ – anger which is directed toward some kind of injustice or unfairness.

Sometimes there is nothing wrong in taking an aggressive stand for God – if the situation and circumstances seem to warrant it.

Better to speak or act forcefully for what we believe is God’s way, than sit on the fence or do nothing.  And to do so, even if the consequences might hurt us.

In 1858.the young Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia, the Rev. Dudley Atkins Tyng, boldly and aggressively preached against the evils of slavery to his congregation, telling them plainly and bluntly, that to hold a fellow human being in slavery was a sin.

They did not like what they heard.  Many of his congregation owned slaves, a common practice in those days, and they booted Mr Tyng out of his Charge.

 

images

Undaunted, he hired a hall in the city, and very successfully carried on his ministry there.

Then, one day, when he was walking alone through the fields of his farm, he stretched out his arm to pat a mule, which was working a machine stripping corn from the cob.

One of the long sleeves of his preacher’s gown was caught in a cog, and he was drawn into the mill, where his arm was torn off.

It was a long time before he was found, and carried to his home.  There his friends and associates gathered to witness his agonising end.

One of those present was a Presbyterian minister, George Duffield.  Moments before he died, Tyng took Duffield’s hand and gave his last instructions for the continuance of his mission.

“Tell them” he said, “to stand up for Jesus”

Deeply moved, and with these rousing and encouraging words ringing in his ears, George Duffield went home and wrote a hymn.

The following Sunday, he preached on a text from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Stand therefore, having your loins girded with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness”

He concluded the sermon by reading out the words of his new hymn, “Stand up!  Stand up for Jesus!”

When we encounter evil, hypocrisy, corruption, or anything else that is counter to the world of truth, beauty, peace and justice that is God’s will, let us, with righteous indignation, take an aggressive stand for God.  Let us, too, ‘Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!’

a verse from the original version of the hymn:…..

Stand up, stand up for Jesus!

The solemn watchword hear,

If while ye sleep he suffers,

Away with shame and fear,

Where’er ye meet with evil,

Within you or without,

Charge for the God of battles,

And put the foe to rout.

1 Comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Fear

Fear is the path to the dark side. 
Fear leads to anger. 
Anger leads to hate. 
Hate leads to suffering.
– Yoda

Image

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Two Wolves

Imagejoy, peace

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic