Sunday, January 24, 2010

What ObL Really Needs

Today's Gospel reading from Luke 4:14-21 where Jesus read from Isaiah contains a wealth of possibilities for a homily.
"‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’"

Curiously, our rector chose to create a sermon in which he spoke extensively on recent proclamations from Osama bin Laden and Pat Robertson. Weaving the disaster in Haiti into his homily, we were left with the assurance that God does not cause earthquakes, plate tectonics does, and what OBL needs is to rediscover Islam and Allah the "compassionate and merciful" by making a trip to Haiti and helping those poor people at this time. But I have to ask, is that what ObL really needs?

After hearing the Koran referenced in the sermon (and in the invocation) today my Sunday ears were alerted. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Exordium in the Koran, here is a translation:

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Universe,
The Compassionate, the Merciful,
Sovereign of the Day of Judgement!
You alone we worship, and to You alone
we turn for help.
Guide us to the straight path
The path of those whom You have favoured,
Not of those who have incurred Your wrath,
Nor of those who have gone astray.
(trans. N.J. Dawood)

And here is what ObL had to say recently about the recent attempt by an underwear bomber to bring down an airliner:
"The message delivered to you through the plane of the heroic warrior Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes of the Sept. 11, America will never dream of security unless we will have it in reality in Palestine,"

"God willing, our raids on you will continue as long as your support for the Israelis continues."

I don't doubt that Bin Laden wants the U.S. to help him bring about the downfall of Israel, but is that all he wants? Does he want to live in peace with Christianity?

I am sorry Charlie, but what ObL needs is Christ. Perhaps ObL could find that in the witness of Haitian Christians if he were somehow magically transported into the disaster area. What ObL does not need is to rediscover Islam. He needs to give it up.

And where does Pat Robertson fit in the discussion? I am speculating that he was included in today's sermon as another warning from our rector of the dangers of fundamentalism.

I wanted to see what the Christian Broadcasting Network had to say about Pat Robertson's most recent controversial remarks. – VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., January 13, 2010 --"On today’s The 700 Club, during a segment about the devastation, suffering and humanitarian effort that is needed in Haiti, Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti’s history. His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed. Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering."

Chris Roslan
Spokesman for CBN

This sounds like a bit of spin control, but it succeeds in reminding me to fear the wrath of God, and leads me to reflect on the power of God, and the sinfulness of not only those who make pacts with the devil, but the sinfulness of us all. In fact, each and everyone of us is sinful enough to have God make the earth open up and swallow us just as He did to Dathan and Abiram in Numbers 16:
Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

Then Moses said, "This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt."

As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, "The earth is going to swallow us too!"

And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

This should give us pause to realize that we, being sinners in God's sight, are all subject to His power and judgement as much as any other sinner in this world. Who will be our advocate? The answer is fundamental and simple.

I need Jesus,
Pat Robertson needs Jesus,
and Osama bin Laden needs Jesus.

In their absence, may I exercise "blogger's privilege" to pray;

Lord, Bring us all the Good News, open our eyes to the Word made flesh, and free us from our oppression.
Through Christ Jesus we pray.


  1. Unfortunately, Christians these days need to be very judicious with their words, if for no other reason, that the media is prepared to immediately jump on a turn of phrase, out of context, and create a caricature of the actual meaning in order to further its agenda of portraying all of us as lunatics.


  2. As long as being judicious does not compromise the message of the Gospel!

  3. I agree completely. What I meant is saying a nation needs to turn to God sounds better than a nation selling its soul to the devil. Further, given that the problem of suffering is one which vexes nonbelievers in the extreme, (see this) it's better to be gentle, methinks, while still maintaining the truth of the Gospel.