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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Commentary by Pastor Bruce Ray

With stores opening on Thanksgiving Day for door-buster shopping for the first time, I asked myself (and others), “Is nothing sacred?”   Maybe Thanksgiving never was sacred since one could always find an open grocery store for last minute items, but there was something disturbing this year about Black Friday oozing insidiously into Thursday. Loosening our purse strings is more urgent than loosening our belts around the table with family.  Feeding the meters takes priority over feeding the homeless.  This shift made me realize all over again that Black Friday and Christmas consumption is its own form of worship in our culture.

Think about it.  We are told that through participation in the rituals of shopping, our life will improve.  In fact, everyone’s lives will improve.  The economy will stabilize, our families will be healed, peace and harmony will increase and the world will be saved.  So we head off to the temples of commerce to the strains of holiday songs.  We encourage our children to stand in line to reveal their secret desires to a mysterious father figure, who promises that their prayers will be answered.  The high priests of Walmart and Target promise special rewards to the faithful who hold vigil outside their doors.  We walk the labyrinth of aisles until we deposit our sacrificial offerings into the holy cash registers.  And we believe the hype and we trust in the hope.

Maybe I’m just a crotchety old man, but I’m going the way of Scrooge.  Bah!  Humbug!  I’m tired of the hype, and I’ve lived long enough to know the hope is false.  I refuse to worship at the Church of the Open Door Busters this year.  I want to sit in the quietness of candlelight and reflect on the Love that stooped to share flesh.  I want to be immersed in the glorious drama of light overcoming darkness and be awed by the Gift.  I want to give myself to the One of all-surpassing value and lift up what is eternal.  Amazon.com doesn’t–and never will–have what I want in stock.

Commentary by Bruce Ray, Pastor

On October 11, 93-year-old Rev. Billy Graham and his son, Franklin Graham, met with candidate Mitt Romney at Graham’s North Carolina mountain home.  Following the meeting, Rev. Graham issued the following statement, posted on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association web site.

“It was an honor to meet and host Gov. Romney in my home today, especially since I knew his late father former Michigan Gov. George Romney, whom I considered a friend. I have followed Mitt Romney’s career in business, the Olympic Games, as governor of Massachusetts and, of course, as a candidate for president of the United States.

“What impresses me even more than Gov. Romney’s successful career are his values and strong moral convictions. I appreciate his faithful commitment to his impressive family, particularly his wife Ann of 43 years and his five married sons.

“It was a privilege to pray with Gov. Romney—for his family and our country. I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads. I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms.”

A week later, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association took out full page ads in national newspapers and papers in battleground states which read, “I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman,”

While I respect Rev. Graham’s right to express his opinion and respect his storied career, I am deeply distressed by his (and his organization’s) limited definition of Biblical principals and implicit endorsement of Governor Romney.  Not once did Rev. Graham express concern for the poor.  Though he used the language of “sanctity of human life”, he did not raise the issue that 1 in 4 children in America live in poverty.  Once again, Rev. Graham as a representative of evangelical America has reduced Biblical principals to opposition to abortion and gay marriage.  Adding unconditional support for the modern nation/state of Israel as a “Biblical principle” is (in my opinion) a mishandling of Scripture.

I believe we need to re-hear the parable of Jesus regarding the separation of nations in Matthew 25.  The care of the hungry, the homeless, the immigrant, the thirsty, the oppressed are of utmost concern to our leader, Jesus Christ.  Those are the “Biblical principles” that need to guide us when we enter the polling place on November 6.  And I believe it is time for “evangelicals” to begin following the example of Jesus and truly preach good news to the poor.