I’ve had my eyes opened these past few weeks. I’m reading, “An American Sickness- How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back”, by Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal. Also, in the past two weeks our church hosted two well attended documentaries, “Fix It, Health Care at a Tipping Point”, and “Big Pharma, Market Failure”. Both documentaries were created here in the Lehigh Valley.
Let me share some of the statistics that disturb me about our Health Care System in America:
- Jonas Salk, founder of the polio vaccine, took $1 for discovering this vaccine, as it was “too important not to save all the young lives”. He was not interested in profit and his sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible. When asked who owned the patent to it, Salk said, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?
- In United States we tie health care to our employment. We lose employment, we lose our healthcare. Talk about stress! What happens when you are going through cancer treatments and due to a recession, lose your employment?
- In 2014, 52% of overdue debt on credit reports was due to medical bills. Pg 224.
- Foreign companies coming to United States have to take into the equation, the cost paid by the employer for employee health care. Is that a burden some companies will refuse to tackle?
- Medical coding to receive payment from insurance companies and Medicare has become so complicated, a new profession has developed. The profession pays well and also secures large amounts of money for hospitals and medical providers.
The Medical field has become big business, big, big, business.
Our Health Care is available to ALL, but only if you can pay for it. Do I want to be part of that? Is my silence compromising my integrity? Should everyone have the same access to health care as my family?
I keep coming back to the scene in Genesis, where Cain answers God’s question about his brother, “Where is your brother, Abel?” Cain replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper”. The implied answer is YES! ABSOLUTELY! We are to take care of one another in our world. That is the best of the Judeo-Christian ethic of “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39).
Am I taking care of myself and my family and not actively pursuing health care for ALL? As a nation we might provide “Emergency Care”, but emergency care is not health care.
The information age has exposed, scout leaders, priests, coaches, military officers, politicians, and now doctors and the medical system…Is this the way it has always been? Is the information age just taking the veil off? Have we declined in our morality? Has capitalism, created a life for many Americans that keeps us content but silent about those not lifted up in the vast wealth we have created TOGETHER? What am I to do as a Christian? Am I my brother’s keeper?
I don’t begrudge anyone from making money. It is an incentive to discover, achieve, and progress. BUT, has it sucked the life out of the soul of our nation? Have I stopped judging injustice and become tolerant? Has the boiling frog syndrome taken MY life?
For me the problem is not them, it’s me. A silent, contented me. I have healthcare for my family. Those around me, have good care too. Why would I want anything changed?
Where is MY integrity? I am my Brothers Keeper
Over the course of these last two Sundays we hear in our Gospel reading from the first chapter of Mark, that Jesus has the authority to cast out demons and heal. Wow, right. Why can’t I do that?
I don’t believe in demon possession as ancient people did. I am sure some very good and faithful Christians believe in demon possession, but my mind, and faith, lack that belief. But I know we all have demons that can get the better of us. Ego, lack of attention, lack of trust in God that God will provide, materialism, fears…we all have our demons, and yes Jesus has the power to heal us.
Believe in what Jesus teaches! Trust in his words! Orient your life around his teachings. I find healing and life “there”. I make this distinction between Believing in Jesus and Believing in “what he taught”, because in various verses where it says, “Faith IN Jesus” can be equally translated “Faith OF Jesus”, (Romans 3:22, 26, Galatians 2:16, 3:22, any quality translation should make a note of that). I want the “Faith OF Jesus”. For me this is faith. A faith that lives fully, abundantly, with grace and peace.
According to John 12:44, “Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me.”. For me, my faith is grounded in having the “Faith OF Jesus”. This is why parables are so vitally important to my faith. Jesus teaches about his understanding of God, his Trust, his Belief that God is loving, gracious, and should not be viewed as a distant tyrant, but instead as a “loving compassionate, dad”. That is the faith I want! His parables point to that type of God, that possibility of Faith. I don’t need to anchor it on Jesus as much as I want to anchor it toward whom/which Jesus points, God. His actions, not only his words, proclaim God as well. A sacrificial, self-giving love for others. That is the “Faith OF Jesus”, I want it. I want to organize my life around it. I want to follow him, by following his teachings.
These early verses of the Gospel of Mark, suggest that Jesus has authority over the unclean spirits/demons. I want the power of Jesus in my life to help me deal with my demons. Authority is based on a role, once you find yourself no longer in that role, you don’t have that power. Chris Christie, recently retired Governor of New Jersey, attended a football game and stood in the VIP line, which he no longer has the authority to do, and was asked to get into the general admission line. Authority is nice, it’s a role, and once you are out of the role, you no longer hold the power of that office.
Power on the other hand is available to everyone, but power is something I give to a person. My pastor might have authority in the church I attend, but have no power in my life, because I don’t respect his/her actions or words. Parents have authority to raise their children, but eventually as they get older and move out of the house, those same parents lack authority and want power! Receiving POWER only happen if your child respects you and your opinion. Jesus has lots and lots of power in my life. I guess I’m steeped in Jesus and I can’t imagine another way of living.
It’s a daily battle to fight demons in our lives, Jesus is a powerful force in that journey. We can change, repent, reform, be given new life, by listening and then “doing the will of the father”. Matthew 12:50, For whoever does the will of my Father is my brother and sister and mother.” As a brother or sister in Christ, YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD!
It’s not Good News, its Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious news!
The Good News or Gospel is simple! God loves all people. Don’t make it more complex than it needs to be.
Christians often throw the word, “Gospel”, or “Good News” around. When pressed to explain what the good news is, I rarely here that it concerns God’s love for all People, no strings attached. Its not that I believe the correct, true, or right things, it all about God and who God is. More often it is framed with the good news of Jesus’ death that appeased God so that humanity could be forgiven. We call it Good Friday for a reason. I do believe that some authors in the Bible believed that. They were, after all, raised in cultures that based their relationship with their gods, in the need for blood atonement for forgiveness. BUT, there is another important story line and major thread in scripture about what the Gospel is, and it doesn’t have to do with Jesus’ death!
How can Jesus call his disciples asking them to share the “good new” or the “gospel” as the first act of their calling if he hadn’t explained it to them? In the earliest Gospel, Mark, Jesus’ calling of his first disciples tells them to repent and believe the good news. Has he explained the Gospel to them?
Mark 1:14-15 (NRSV) Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
What is this Good News that Jesus is referring to? This is the 14th verse in the Gospel’s opening chapter. What is this good news? Is it expressed in the first 13 verses, or was it something the author assumed everyone knew? I think it is expressed in those first 13 verses, specifically, verses 4-5:
Mark 1:4-5 (NRSV) John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
The Good News is that the forgiveness of God, or a relationship with God is no longer constrained to the Temple, and it’s open to All People from the whole Judean countryside, Jew and Gentiles, rich and poor, those who qualified to enter the temple and those who didn’t. This is not only good news, its Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious NEWS that we take for granted. Remember Jesus is not dead, he is starting his ministry! Confidently he calls his disciples to this simple message that John started and Jesus continued. Jesus continues to call disciples, you, me, and ALL types of people to proclaim this good news
God loves lepers, blind, demon possessed, women and the poor. The day is over of Blessings and Curses from the days of Deuteronomy. That is what is radical about John and Jesus’ message. The “old School” from Deuteronomy was those who follow God will be loved by God and blessed. Those who do not keep the commandments, the Law, who do not have a relationship with God, they will be cursed. (Read Deuteronomy 28). The Gospel says blessings and curses are over! There is a radically new call which requires a full 180 degree mental shift. God is on the loose, out of the temple, and available to all people. ALL PEOPLE.
This is the calling of every Christian today.
Pastor Phil’s Classes
Wednesday, March 7 — Soup Supper 6:00pm. Program begins at 6:45pm and concludes by 8:00pm. Faith Community Worship and Discussion — Engaging our hearts and minds Why do we live with fear? Are we able to live without worry? Am I a good Christian if I fear? Is all fear...
Wednesday, February 28 — Soup Supper 6:00pm. Program begins at 6:45pm and concludes by 8:00pm. Faith Community Worship and Discussion — Engaging our hearts and minds Is there such a thing as divine healing? Why do we need doctors if we believe in Divine Healing? Can...
Wednesday, February 21 — Soup Supper 6:00pm. Program begins at 6:45pm and concludes by 8:00pm Faith Community Worship and Discussion—Engaging our hearts and minds What did Jesus believe about God? Is God vengeful, judging and angry? Do we become the God we imagine? Is...
Wednesday, February 14, 7:00pm — Worship – Imposition of Ashes – Communion February 21: SOUP SUPPER 6:00pm, Program begins at 6:45pm concludes by 8:00pm Faith Community Worship and Discussion—Engaging our hearts and minds What did Jesus believe about God? Is God...
First Wednesday of every month at 7:00pm
Sunday Mornings: 9:45-10:30am—Join Pastor Phil for an adult class in the church library. We are discussing “An Evolving Faith.”
Thursdays 12:15-1:15pm—Presently reading through Mark. No Bible knowledge needed. Join us as we read the Bible and study what is...