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The Tie that Binds

The questions before us in this e-bulletin are two: How important are beliefs in an evolving faith? and, Does community need to agree on belief? More generally, the issues pertain to the tie that binds community and the experience that underlies that tie.

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Belief

I’ve been reading another smart and literate atheist arguing the absurdity of belief in God. Someone asked me once if I was threatened by the recent self-assertiveness of atheists and, surprisingly, I could offer a confident “no.” The fact is that I am heartened by the resurgence of atheism because I agree with almost all of it. The kind of shallow, or at least, immature systems of belief that atheism attacks, should be debunked and I feel like I play my own part in debunking them from the pulpit most Sunday mornings. But the arguments of the atheists never get to the real point or even address the heart of real faith.

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How Important are our Beliefs?

It’s interesting to see what Jesus thought about beliefs. Jesus, in his parable of the Good Samaritan, makes it clear that the righteous one is not the Pharisee or the lawyer, who are learned and who know about the law, correct belief, or so on. The righteous one is the one who cares for his neighbor, who reaches out to the stranger in need.

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I Corinthians 13 – A Paraphrase

For love is long-suffering and abounds in kindness. It is not arrogant or boastful. Love does not behave rudely. Neither self-serving nor quick to take offence, love never thinks the worst.

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Along the Way

The Right Moral Way has not changed over time and remains psychologically sound. In a “Psychology Today” article entitled ‘The (Only) Seven Spiritual Principles We Need to Succeed’, Karl Albrecht reveals traditional key values for moral living that are still crucial in contemporary times.

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Beyond Belief: Spiritual Practice as the Focus of Christian Community

Dogma and doctrine should not get in the way of practicing Love, who is God. Doctrines can be interesting: they help us understand the origins and background of our religion. But repeating creeds is not the price of admission into Christianity. Instead of caring whether the story of Jesus’ resurrection was a fact or a myth, let’s look in the story for inspiration to turn from the way of death to the way of life. Let’s care about our neighbors without jobs or health insurance, face the resentment in our hearts that needs to be released, become activist citizens, and learn to bring our careers in alignment with our highest values. Let’s gather in churches, soup kitchens, work-places, living rooms, and cafés to support each other in doing things that matter, and let go of old doctrines that don’t.

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Blessing Taxes, Honoring Oaths

The form of the blessing differ, but the essential message is the same: we give thanks to the Love that is God for the good that comes through our taxes. They are a special form of our “offerings” in worship. Many blessings flow from them, and divine guidance is needed for us to have the wisdom to see to it they are spent for the best purposes.

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The “Faith” in Clear Faith

The terms faith and beliefs are sometimes used interchangeably, but I think it is useful to make a distinction between them. Beliefs are things you think are true, like “I believe in God.” “I believe that there is life after death.” These are improvable opinions (or they would be accepted by all as “facts”). A list can be made of beliefs.

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Love One Another

Love one another as I love you all;
In others’ needs hear my insistent call.
I bid you wear with me love’s seamless dress,
Welcome the outcast from the wilderness.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus and Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons and Easter. Resource Types: Hymns.

Praying to God

I sometimes wonder if God ever tires of our prayers. Weekends must be the worst Friday prayers at the mosques Saturday appeals in the synagogues Sunday petitions from the churches. An endless round of requests. Do this, …

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Topics: Fiction and Poetry and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 2: Pluralism and Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: Pluralism Sunday. Ages: Adult. Resource Types: Poetry.

the lord watch over your going out

Do you ever find it odd that worshipers are greeted as they leave the sanctuary? This rite of transition from comfort to challenge. The grasping of hands, a warm smile, a word of encouragement as if to …

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Faithful Action for Border Justice

In the afternoon we went to Tucson’s US Federal Court to witness Operation Streamline. About 70 migrant in chains, wearing the same sweaty clothes in which they were caught crossing, sat in the upper level of the courtroom, waiting to be tried for the crime of illegal entry into the United States. This proceeding happens in several border cities as a way to criminalize them in an attempt to deter them from entering the US immediately after being deported. “Culpable… culpable… culpable…” they said, pleading guilty, and then walking out in chains to be jailed and then deported. Students from around the country, also doing spring break border justice programs, were in the courtroom with us – many of them in tears as they witnessed the silent parade of misery before them.

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Jesus Christ Is Alive

From the ‘Sing Young, Sing Joyfully’ collection

Jesus Christ is alive and lives in me
As I touch the Christ within,
As I open my life
To the power of God’s love
I obey the Risen Christ.

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If I Think that I Am Wiser

From the ‘Sing Young, Sing Joyfully’ collection

If I think that I am wiser
But you feel that you are right
We don’t need a fight to settle
What is black and what is white

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I Don’t Have to Be

From the ‘Sing Young, Sing Joyfully’ collection

(Boys) I don’t have to be king of the castle,
I just want to be me.
(Girls) I don’t have to be queen of the castle,
I just need the courage to be,

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We’re Really Like the Onions

From the ‘Sing Young, Sing Joyfully’ collection

We’re really like the onions
With skins beneath our skin.
Each face has ways of masking
The private worlds within.

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