Responsibility

President Barack Obama,

There are times when I falter; when I believe that my letters to you are a waste of my precious time, that my efforts would be better spent on something else. Then I find a website like Human Rights First, where I see this listing of the letters that retired military leaders have sent to you – and know that I am in good company. Although my suggestions, if I may say so, are more expeditious then theirs. If you implemented my suggestions of pardoning all the men held in the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on a Monday say – you could have an empty prison by Thursday or Friday of the same week. But then I am at a disadvantage; I am a former enlisted man of the United States Navy, currently an Engineer – I only know about getting things done – not about endlessly talking about them.

You may have convinced yourself, these retired military leaders, the pundit class, most of the people of our country and the world, that the Congress of the United States – not yourself – is now responsible for confining indefinitely the men in the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

But I and the handful of people who read this blog know differently.

You are responsible: as President of the United States.

The only reason these men are still in prison is that you don’t want to personally take the political heat for releasing them. It is easier for you to let these men rot than the political price you believe you might have to pay to pardon and release them.

It is a strange coincidence, that the church I attend is named after Saint Martin of Tours. Saint Martin was famous for his missions of mercy – pleading with the political leaders of his time ( 4th Century ) to release people they were holding prisoner. He was reputedly so persuasive that those same political leaders would refuse to meet with him as they were unable to refuse his requests for mercy. I only hope that someday you will be moved to release all the men held in the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

These men have suffered enough. Please let them go.

You could do it today.

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First Sunday After Christmas – Life and Light

I occasionally preach the sermon at my church. I preached this sermon 29 December 2013.

(Readings for 29 December 2013 are below)

When I was asked to speak to you today, I started by researching our lesson from the gospel of John. It seems that more theologians have written commentary on this passage of scripture than most other parts of the bible. This passage is as theological as it gets. We are not using parables here, we are attempting to directly describe the indescribable, on its own terms.

Among the many theologians that came up in my research were St. Thomas Aquinas and John Gill who is known as the first Baptist theologian. I learned several things this past couple of weeks from the commentaries of these men and several others. You will notice in the first sentence of the lesson from gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Word is capitalized. It is a proper noun – in this sentence – like a person. I learned that in the earliest Greek versions of the gospel of John the word for Word used here was Logos. Logos is a word with many meanings. To the Jewish people the words associated with God are acts of creation. God created our world through forming the idea of our world and saying a few words. When God speaks – things happen. To the Greeks, logos means reason and logic; but logos is also a collective term for the underlying principles that order the universe – the kosmos – that we inhabit. Logos is also the source of all inspiration and creativity. To we Christians, Logos in this context means the person of Jesus Christ, and also all these other meanings as well. A person who was born among us and was known to the first Christians as a man, but also existed in some form in the beginning with God the Creator; One being with the Creator; He was the Word that the Creator spoke in the Creation of the Universe.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

I make things. Most recently, I’ve been etching patterns in copper and copper alloys; bronze, brass, and nickel silver. I design and build custom electronics gadgets: mostly clocks and toys. I’ve worked with leather; making myself watchbands and belts. I have experimented with fiberglass molding. For the past 15 years I’ve also been practicing the art of Batik, which is a method of making designs on cotton cloth through the use of fabric dyes and wax. The wax is applied where ever you don’t want the dye to be absorbed, the fabric is put into a dye bath, and this process is repeated: applying wax and dyeing the cloth, until the design is complete. Then the cloth is boiled to remove all the wax and the design is revealed.

Something I have learned from a lifetime of creating things – the maker always recognizes their own work. No matter how many years pass, when I hold something I have made or read something I have written; the years and miles melt away and I am transported back to when I made this, or to when I wrote that. A connection is formed between the maker and their creation; which is forged in that act of creation. Every time I create something, some part of me has been incorporated into what I have made and shaped with my hands, my mind, and my will.

What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

I believe that when God the Creator made the universe, our world, and all of us; that in that act of creation we all had something divine incorporated into us. Life and Light. The Light that shines in the darkness. Which the darkness cannot overcome. Think of the connection which I feel to the things I make. Now, imagine the connection God the Creator feels towards us as his creation, God’s recognition of that Life and Light of His own Being which He included in our design from the beginning and which has been reproduced in each one of us to the present day.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

God will always recognize each and every one of us as His creation. It is impossible for Him to forget us. God will always hope, that we will acknowledge Him as our Father, by accepting His Son: Jesus Christ – we become God’s children by believing in Christ’s name.

As a maker, I play a little game nearly all the time I am awake. I imagine the design process of the person who designed this alarm clock, or that Light Emitting Diode based tail light in the car in front of me, (These are the really bright tail lights). I can speculate about some of the trade-offs that they made, the effect that they wanted to achieve verses the limits in actually constructing that design, to what finally was created. How well it works, how well it is holding up under real world conditions. Only sometimes, do I look at the world, remembering that everything I see was made by a Creator, who also made me as well. That Everyone I meet, has the Life and Light of God the Creator in them, so that Jesus would say that:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

We will soon be starting a new year. My New Year’s resolution this year is to be aware that I was created with the Life and Light of God within me. To be aware, that Everyone I meet was created with the Life and Light of God within them. And acting in this awareness to treat Everyone I meet as I would Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 61:10-62:3
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.