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A Sign To Be Spoken Against

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. —Luke 2:34-35a

Jesus’ life, his teaching, his willingness to heal and hear outcasts, broke the accepted rules of his society.  This upset many of the people who lived by the rules.  I think this is partly because, in breaking those rules, he demonstrated that they were not natural laws but behaviors that people had chosen.  They could no longer say, “This is how it is, this is how it’s always been, this is how it has to be.”  They had to take responsibility for their choices.  They had to confront and acknowledge the thoughts in their hearts.

Our lives as Christian preppers challenge the dominant culture’s assumptions about work, security, safety and community.  This upsets some people who live by those assumptions.  We must guard against assuming that upsetting other people is proof that we are following Christ.  But there is value in a constructive way of life, which makes people aware that they really have a choice about how to live.

When I started raising questions about work, economics, and the Gospels, some people said I was unrealistic. It would be nice if we could supply our basic needs in a way that did less harm to other people and the earth, but it just wasn’t possible.  It would be nice to live more by gifts given and received and less by market exchanges, but it just wasn’t practical.  But I found a few people who had already started to opt out of the systems that seemed wrong to them and had begun practicing a new way of living.  They gave me hope–I really could live with integrity!–and a challenge–I couldn’t blame my lack of integrity on the folks around me.

As Bill McKibben writes in Hope, Human and Wild, “An example [of positive change] is almost as annoying as it is inspiring…for it puts the burden on us to do something about the problem.”  I’m grateful for that annoyance and that inspiration, and I am learning to pass it on. Who annoys and inspires you? Who is annoyed and inspired by your life?

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Today In Christian History

May 10th

1812 – Birth of Frances Elizabeth Cox, English translator. She made 56 contributions to the 1841 publication, “Sacred Hymns from the German,” including “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above.”

1828 – English church leader John Henry Newman wrote in a letter: ‘I wish it were possible for words to put down those indefinite, vague and withal subtle feelings which quite pierce the soul and make it sick. What a veil and curtain this world of sense is. Beautiful, but still a veil.’

1859 – Birth of Wilhelm Wrede, a German Bible scholar who contended that the gospels reflected the theology of the primitive Church rather than the true history of Jesus. Wrede thus contributed his name to the title of Albert Schweitzer’s 1906 theological classic: “The Quest of the Historical Jesus: From Reimarus to Wrede.”

1912 – The first Southern Sociological Congress closed, in Nashville. The four-day convocation met to address “social, civic and economic problems” of sixteen Southern states, and was an example of government, social agencies and the Church working together for social betterment.

1939 – The Declaration of Union reunited the Methodist Episcopal Church in the U.S. after 109 years of division. (The Methodist Protestant Church had separated from the parent denomination in 1830, as had the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, later, in 1844.)

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Source for Today in Christian History: www.studylight.org

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