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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

September 2013



And again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid.  In his joy, he goes and sells all he has in order to buy that field.” 
~Matthew 13:44



Dear Members and Friends,

            Walter Rauschenbusch was a professor at Colgate Rochester Divinity School (my most recent alma mater) in the early 20th century.  Rauschenbusch believed that Jesus wanted personal salvation for believers, but that Jesus’ vision of “The Kingdom” also called for the renewal of human society.  Rauschenbusch was not a Utopian; he knew that the world would never be perfect.  But, in his view, if a church emphasized personal conversion and neglected social justice, then it was guilty of distorting the vision of Jesus.  This theology came to be known as “The Social Gospel,” a term that is sorely misunderstood today.  Consider this parable by Rauschenbusch:

When the 19th century died, its spirit descended to the vaulted chamber of the past, where the spirits of the dead centuries sit on granite thrones together.  When the newcomer entered, all turned toward him and the spirit of the 18th century spoke: “Tell thy tale, brother.  Give us word of the humankind we left to thee.” 

            “I am the spirit of the wonderful century.  I gave humankind mastery over nature.  Under my rule, knowledge has unlocked mines of wealth, and the hoarded wealth of today creates vaster wealth tomorrow.  I freed the thoughts of humankind.  They now face facts and know.  The deeds of the East are known in the West at morn.  I broke the chains of bigotry and despotism.  I made humankind free and equal.  Every person feels the worth of his or her humanity.  I did for humankind what none of you did before.  They are rich.  They are wise.  They are free.” 

            The spirits of the dead centuries sat silent, with troubled eyes.  At last the spirit of the 1st century spoke for all: “We all boasted of our accomplishments when we first came here, and you more arrogantly than any other.  But in time, shame and guilt have choked our pride.  You speak as if the redemption of humanity has come at last.  Has it come?”

            “You have made people rich, so does that mean that there is no one hungry today and no one fearing for tomorrow?  Do all children grow up with equal opportunity and education?  Do none die before their time?  Has the mastery of nature made people free to enjoy their lives and loves?  You have made people wise.  Are they wise or cunning?  Have they learned to sacrifice selfish interests for the greater good?  Have they learned to treat others with justice and love?  You have made humanity one.  Are there no barriers of class to keep people apart?  Does no one benefit from the toil and degradation of others?  Do people no longer spill the blood of others for their own ambition, and the sweat of others for their greed?”

            As the spirit of the 19th century listened, his head sank to his breast.  “Your shame is already upon me.  My great cities are as yours were.  My millions live from hand to mouth.  Those who toil longest have the least.  My thousands sink exhausted before their days are half spent.  My human wreckage multiplies.  Class faces class in sullen distrust.  Their freedom and knowledge has had many benefits, but it has also made people selfish and apathetic to the suffering of others.  Give me a seat among you, so that I can sit and ponder what went wrong.” 

            The others turned to the spirit of the 1st century and said, “Your promised redemption is very long in coming.”  He replied, “But it will come.” 

In Christ’s Peace,