Category Archives: Lake Oswego

The Wolves Within

A Holy Ditch

Rev. Alan Claassen

Romans 12:9-23

Matthew 16 21-28

On the blessed Blessing of the Animals Sunday we enjoyed together two weeks ago I shared with you a story attributed to St. Francis. It was the story a village that was being terrorized by a wolf. St. Francis is said to have struck up a deal with the wolf. The wolf would stop eating the pets and little children of the village if the townspeople would simply leave a bowl of food out on their doorsteps for the wolf to eat each night. St. Francis’ plan worked.

I have another wolf tale for you this morning, called…

The Wolves Within

An old grandfather told this story to his grandson who came in to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story, said the grandfather.

“I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those who have taken so much with no sorrow for what they do; but hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking a poison and wishing your enemy would die.  I have struggled with these feelings many times.”

He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm.  He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended.  He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.  But the other wolf? Ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper.  He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason.  He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great.  It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.”

“Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

The grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

This morning’s passage from Romans is about choosing which wolf within us we are going to feed. Feed with our thoughts, habits, and actions.

This morning’s Gospel passage is about the inherent difficulty that may well arise within our world when we say that we have chosen the path of non-violence, and non-violent resistance. For Jesus himself paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving away his very life, by proclaiming that we should feed our enemies and not seek to destroy them.

Which wolf do we feed with our thoughts, habits, and actions?  The one that one is good and does no harm, lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended or

. the other wolf who fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason.  He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great.  It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.”

The one we feed is the one who wins.

Paul makes it very clear in Romans which one we are to feed. Let love be genuine. Bless those who persecute you, repay no one evil for evil, and never avenge yourselves. Nothing could be clearer than what is listed in these verses.

There are those in our world today, in our American religious and political spheres today that claim to people of Christian values. They seemed to have skipped this passage.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. For evil response to evil only creates more evil. It make take years or decades but and violent response to evil brings about more evil.

But that wolf within that is quick to temper, quickly says that non-violence is wimpy, can’t work, an the poor need to find their own way out trouble, they found there own way into it. And we ourselves may read this passage and simply out of the kindness of our best hearts may say, it just can’t be done. It’s too difficult, I may get hurt.

Which brings to mind for me the stories of two women and three quotations by a WWII Veteran.

The two stories exemplify not only the practice of peace as outlined in this passage in Romans, they also reveal what made it all possible for Paul the Apostle to call the early church to this very vision. And that is a deep sense of belonging.  Belonging to a community. Belonging to God. Belonging to family. Belonging to Christ who ends all sense of separation between people. No east or west, no gentile or Jew, all children of God. All brothers and sisters, including golden retrievers and hermit crabs.

These two women are familiar to you all very much I am sure.

Rosa Parks story and Miles Horton’s Citizen Ship Schools. Rosa Parks learned her self-acceptance and all peoples through her participation in these schools which included all races studying together.

Cindy Sheehan story. A mother of a Iraq War Veteran killed in action galvanized the peace movement by simply asking to speak to the President.

Now we all know that Cindy Sheehan has had to go through a lot of threats and misrepresentation. This is carrying her cross. Not hiding it. Not staring at it. Not running from it. Carrying it. Moving forward. Being pulled forward. Why? Because she belongs to her son, and she belongs to everyone mother, father, family who has a loved one serving in the military. She belongs to this country and she is speaking for many of us.

But some are not listening or hearing.

To love enemies, to love people that we disagree with or are angry with means talking with them. Listening, speaking. Searching for that place of mutual belonging.

And speaking out when that sense of connection to one another has been broken.

What would it sound like for a President to think like this? Which brings me to my quotes, actually said by a former President of the United States.

“There is no way in which a country can satisfy the craving for absolute security, but it can easily bankrupt itself morally and economically in attempting to reach that goal through arms alone.”

          “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

 “There can be no enduring peace for any nation while other nations suffer privation, oppression, and a sense of injustice and despair. In our modern world, it is madness to suppose that there could be an island of tranquility and prosperity in a sea of wretchedness and frustration.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

There is something deeply satisfying quoting a veteran, a Republican, a former US President in a sermon dedicated to exploring what makes for peace.

One of the things that I most appreciate from the Romans passage is the verse,

“Hate what is evil. Love what is good.” I can be angry but I must temper how I may express my anger. The “wolves within” story said it well, “He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. The right way is a very powerful way and it is a way that breaks the cycle of violence without getting rolled over and playing dead. It means speaking out against those who take more than they need at the expense of the poor. It means sometimes getting in trouble for doing the right thing, even to the point of risking security, comfort, and life itself. Do it anyway.

There is one other verse in the passage from Romans that I want to lift out before closing this sermon.

“If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.”

So far as it depends upon you.”

I am reminded of a quote I heard at a Conflict Resolution Workshop that we had at Cedar Hills UCC. It comes from the Dalai Lama.

He said that each one of us should ask ourselves this question,

“What can I do to preserve the beauty and wonder of the world, and,

What can I do to eliminate the anger and hatred in the world?

in that part of the world which I touch?

          What can I do to preserve the beauty and eliminate the anger and its root causes

in that part of the world which I touch?

          This statement encourages us to ask and to affirm, what can I touch? Not what can’t I touch, but what I can touch? It empowers us into action rather than the despair of being overwhelmed. It asks us to be clear about that which does depend on us. I think it also encourages us to allow ourselves to depend on others sometimes, too.

          Our sphere of influence begins right here, and within in our homes, and at the check out stand and coffee shop.

As members of the United Church of Christ our touch reaches around the country and world through the offerings that we give to special offerings such as Neighbors in Need, which is coming up next month.

          And as members of a democratic country our touch extends all the way to Congress and the White House.

What can I do to preserve the beauty and eliminate the anger and its root causes

in that part of the world which I touch?

          To eliminate anger and hatred and its causes in the world means beginning right where I am, where we are.

          It means reconciling relationships that I have, that we have.

          It means praying for those relationships we cannot reconcile and blessing both parties to God’s care.

          It means doing some small act of love, whether that be at the transitional shelter, the Red Cross, or in your own home.

          It means asking for help when you need it, and offering it when you have it to give.

          It is a new year for Lake Oswego United Church of Christ. How we act during these days and months ahead, in the part of the world that we can touch, will affect this church for years to come.

          How shall we go about eliminating anger and preserving beauty in this place? How shall we build a community that serves the community? How can we let people of this community know that there is a place such as this that welcomes everyone and is beginning a new journey into freedom?

          In this passage from Romans Paul has some words of advice for us that will help us feed the good wolf.

          As Eugene Peterson translates it in The Message,

          Love from the center of who you are, don’t fake it.

          Don’t burn out: keep yourselves fueled and aflame.

          Be inventive in hospitality.

          Surprise your enemies with goodness.

We do this out of gratitude for all that God has given to us. We do this because we are aware of all that Jesus Christ has done for us.

Let us, explore the possibility, so far as it depends upon us, to live peace, to love genuinely, to hold fast to what is good.

And may both wolves within us, lay down together.


The Way of the Wise

The Way of the Wise

Isaiah 60:1-6         Matthew 2:1-12

Rev. Alan Claassen

January 6, 2007

          Good morning. I am one of the men that visited the newborn baby Jesus when he as lying in a manger. I am also one the men wise enough not to go back to King Herod as he had instructed us to do. Once I saw Jesus I saw a new authority that deserved my deepest allegiance.

          I am here this morning to clear up a misconception that has developed of the years since I first saw the baby Jesus. I also want to share some things that I and other wise men and women have been thinking about over the last century. We like to stay current.

          So first, the misconception: I am not a king, my two friends were not kings. I know that you all just sang the chorus from the song, We Three Kings. I know the song has a wonderful melody, and I love the words of the chorus just as much as you,

                   Star of wonder, star of light,

                   Star with royal beauty bright

                   Westward leading, still proceeding

                   Guide us with thy perfect light.

          I would have no problem with the song if the words were about the wisdom of the stars… but we were not kings. We were magi, astrologers, star-watchers, and wise men from the east. Over time the stories got a bit expanded and people wrote hymns calling us kings and so it goes.

          The significance of our being there, as the gospel writer, Matthew, rightly understood it, was that we came from a long way away, from a different country, from a different culture, from a different way of thinking, to see this who this star was guiding us towards.

          We came from Persia, Babylon, and the place where the ancestors of Jesus, were exiled hundreds of years before. Our ancestors were affected by their ideas and we also had a hope for someone who would come and set the world back on its proper course. ; a course that is in line with the universe, in line with the stars, in line with creation.

          Our being there said, and still says, something about Jesus, something about God.  Which is, that God is not the property of any one nation, any one people, any one culture.  This was an entirely new way of thinking about God. It’s a way of thinking about God that seems to be forgotten quite often, it’s a way of thinking about God that seems hard to understand.

          And it’s not because it’s a difficult concept; it’s because it’s just such another way of thinking from others that we also get taught as we grow up. This is the way that Jesus would later teach his followers when he grew up.

          Jesus says in his society there is a new way for people to live:

                   You show wisdom by trusting people

                             You handle leadership by serving

          You handle offenders by forgiving

                             You handle money by sharing

                   you handle enemies by loving

          In fact you have a new attitude toward everything, everybody. Toward nature, toward the place you live, toward women and men, toward the poor, toward every single living thing.

          Now this isn’t the way of the world at large is it? In fact if you start talking about trusting people and serving people and forgiving, sharing, and loving people you’re likely to be considered foolish or dangerous.

          And you know that’s what happened to us. To us wise guys I mean. We were so profoundly moved and changed by seeing a vision of God in the form of a human baby that we understood why this new child was a threat to King Herod. So we didn’t go back to him as we said we would when we first came into town. We went home by another way. Another way. Being a disciple of Christ means looking for and following another way. Sometimes this requires a lot of imagination; sometimes it just takes freeing up your God given common sense.

          And so we have been traveling the world ever since that day, passing along the story of being guided by a light to the village of Bethlehem, to see the perfect light of a child. And that light is still proceeding, and that brings me to other thing that I wanted to share with you this morning.

          When we sent to see that Baby Jesus two thousand years ago we were guided by a light and a prediction, a hope, of the birth of someone who be a light for all humanity. Do you all know what’s going on in science these days? The scientists of your day are actually looking at the birth of stars and galaxies!

          And they are looking at nothing, emptiness. When they use those tools they have nowadays to look at atoms and into atoms the physicists are seeing elementary particles fluctuate in and out of existence. Elementary particles, leap into existence and then leap out. A proton emerges suddenly- where did it come from? Who made it? How did it sneak into reality all of a sudden? Particles come out of nothingness. That’s the way the universe works. That’s the way it worked in the beginning. Physicists are just seeing this now but it’s the way that the spiritually wise have always seen the universe.

          We three wise men, from the Orient were, ahead of our time.

          May I recite a quote familiar to you all? In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. The God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.”

          Scientists from a couple of hundred years ago wanted to reduce the universe to a machine that followed certain logical rules. Well to a great extent it does. But now they are also seeing the mystery of the universe and consequently seeing the universe and the earth as a living entity that is held together by mutual attraction, which we can either call gravity or we can call allurement or we can call love.

          May I recite a verse from a hymn? “Bless be the tie that binds.” That is true not just for communities but for all of creation. God’s blessing ties everything in the universe together.

          Please excuse me for going on so long about these scientific discoveries, but I just love talking about stars. The elements, such as carbon and iron that were made in the explosions of supernovas billions of years ago are what make us, and the earth, and just about everything we know. We are stardust. We wise men knew that centuries ago. But thanks to the discoveries of modern science you all have seen it with your own eyes.

          Thank God for Evolution.

          But I hope that you see that when we begin our thoughts with the way of creation it has a profound affect upon how we view our world, our little place. And remember that this is the perspective that Jesus taught from.

          There are many indications that Humanity has forgotten its connection with creation because we have so many ways in which we can destroy it. Whether it’s the slow destruction of pollution or the mismanagement of limited resources or the immediate destruction that we can inflict with our weapons we have come upon a power that we do not seem to know how to control. Our ability to destroy has made some members of the human community aware of our need for healing and living our lives in another way.

          When we don’t realize the source of our life we stumble in confusion and sorrow. But when we realize where we came from, we become naturally tolerant, amused, and kind-hearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. Immersed in the wonder of God we can deal with whatever life brings us. For our strength, our wisdom comes from God.

          Another way: We came to see Jesus as the Prince of Peace not of a nation but of all creation. And how does this prince rule his kingdom? Just as the Psalmist sang in Psalm 72: His power is felt as naturally as the rain that nourishes the earth. He does not stand with the powerful but with the poor and the needy. He comes to the aid of those who have no helper. His people are precious to him.

          It’s as if, like those elementary particles that come out of nowhere, there is someone or something that comes to our aid when we are knocked down. We are in a period in history where there is great potential for uniting the parts of ourselves that have been separated, such as science and religion, such as men and women, such as people of different cultures.

          But sad to say, what was true in 2,000 years ago is still true today; this way of partnership with God, the stars and humanity is a threat to those who would rule by domination over others. This way of peace is still a threat to some kings and presidents. But you have also had visionary leaders, such as Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel who understood that there is an other way to lead, based upon truth and reconciliation. As far as I can see it, that is the light that is still proceeding. That is the light that will not be overcome by darkness, not matter how strong the darkness might appear.

          I’ll leave you with one last thought. I hope that you consider it wise.

          Another wise man, his name was, … let me see, Caspar, Bathalsar, Melchior, that’s me!, …Galileo, Copernicus, … Einstein, that’s it! Einstein had a theory of relativity that’s hard for a lot of people to understand.

          Well Melchior’s Theory of Relativity is easy to understand, and it is, simply, that everything is related. We are all relatives. We are all made of the same stuff. We all came from that moment when God said, “Let there be light.” You can’t separate us from each other, human from nature, body from mind and spirit, poor from rich, Muslim from Christian.

          So many of our problems come from believing that we are separate from God. When you see God in the face of a baby all notions of separation just go away.

          So when your intended route seems to be taking a turn for the worse; take a word from the wise; try another way.

          I know that isn’t easy, in fact I wouldn’t suggest trying it by yourself.

          My two buddies and I, we are still proceeding on that journey. Making our choices based upon the vision of a star, the vision of the kingdom of heaven. Sometimes it’s all a question of who are you following. Are you following in love? If you are then you will learn and understand the mystery of life and learn what you are meant to do and be. (Howard Thurman/Jim Strathdee, I Am the Light of the World)

          Think of your life as a gift that you take to God, the one who gave us the gift of life in the beginning. Everything we do is giving gifts back to God.

          Each one of us can choose right now to go another way. It’s not the way of the crowd. It is, what Jesus called the narrow way. When we make that choice, be ready for some elementary particle to pop out of nowhere and say, 

          I care about you. I will walk with you if you will walk with me.

          Come; follow the star, the light of the world.

          In my journeys I have discovered you don’t need to look to the stars to see bright lights shining, you just need to look into someone’s eyes and see the magnificence of the universe.

          Well, being a wise man, I know when it is time to stop talking, and that time is now.

John the Baptist Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Christmas

John the Baptist Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Christmas

Isaiah, 11:1-10        John 1:35-42

Alan Claassen       January 15, 2006

          JB didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas. Jesus wasn’t the powerful, wipe out all the bad guys type of Messiah he thought God was sending.

          JB had good reason to expect something; he just forgot that it was going to come from something small. Something as small a new shoot that grows from a fallen tree.

          Have you ever been in a redwood forest? If you have, you probably have seen or even walked inside a circle of towering redwoods. It is enough to be amazed by the size of the trees in a redwood forest, but to come upon a circle of redwoods is to walk into a sanctuary designed by God.

          When a redwood tree is destroyed by lighting or cut down, what sometimes happens is that new growth will sprout around the base of that old redwood and form this circle of beauty and magnificent power. 

That’s where it all begins, with God’s eternally creative spirit. It cannot be stopped. It is genetically wired into creation.

          John the Baptist knew this. He lived very close to creation. And undoubtedly he knew his prophets, and this very passage we just heard read this morning. And he also could see evidence all around him, in the actions of the Romans, and his own religious leaders, that the intentions of God were not being carried out.

          And so he gave these most amazing, upsetting, impolite, set of speeches and performed the symbolically rich act of purifying people in the Jordan River, in nature rather than in the corrupted Temple, and he told everyone that something is big is going to come and wipe away all the bad and lift up the good.

          And this is exactly what Jesus did not do.

          John didn’t get what he wanted. A powerful new ruler who would annihilate all evil. Of course, John wasn’t really around long enough to see what Jesus did have to say, and what Jesus’ program actually was. IN fact, perhaps the fact that John lost his head had a big impact upon the words and actions of Jesus.

          Because the fact is that Jesus did not have coercive power. Jesus did not have financial or military power. In the ways of the world Jesus was incredibly poor and weak. And it is so helpful, I believe, to remember this, when trying to make sense of what Jesus said.

          I want to talk about this power that Jesus had, this power that I want to call lamb-power, in light of today’s passage from Isaiah.


          The Wolf and the lamb lie down together.

          This is very good news for the wolf.

          I can imagine a wolf family sitting around the breakfast table eating breakfast and reading the morning paper. Headline reads, Prophet Isaiah says, Lambs and wolves to lie down together.

          Papa wolf says, Great news family. No more hunting. According to this Isaiah guy the lambs are just going to come and lay down with us, when they do, we’ll eat ‘em.

          Boy this new world order is going to be great for us wolves!

          The lamb and the wolf laying down together means some basic so-called laws of nature are going to have to be changed. Or else we have some very well fed wolves on our hands.

          And if you read on in the passage, not only are the wolves going to be well fed, but also the lions are going to become vegetarian? What was Isaiah thinking?

          This is ridiculous naive pie-in-the sky garden-of-eden thinking that won’t get us anywhere.

          And what is the Papa Lamb thinking as he reads the same headlines.

          The situation in Jesus’ time was that Israel was the lamb and Roman empire was the wolf, and a great number of the religious authorities, to save their own hides, wore the wolves clothing.

          Jesus came onto the scene, a tender branch, a shoot from a once and mighty family, but without any power, and began talking about the power of the lamb.

          Let me tell you what I mean.

Part of the problem we have in understanding Jesus is that we read the lamb’s teaching from the point of view of the wolf, and we think it is naive, idealistic, not helpful.

          Jesus’ teaching on nonviolence have been perverted into injunctions to passive nonresistance, which, as we shall see, is the very opposite of active nonviolence.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your outer garment, give your undergarment as well; and if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, go two” (Matthew 5:38-41).  And the crowning blow: don’t resist evil at all.

          A clearer translation of this passage is given in the new Scholars Bible: “Don’t react violently against the one who is evil.” The meaning is clear: don’t react in kind, don’t mirror your enemy, and don’t turn into the very thing you hate. Jesus is telling us to resist evil, non-violently.

          Jesus gives three examples to explain his point. The first is: “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.”

           Most people picture a blow with the right fist. But that would land on the left cheek, and Jesus specifies the right cheek. A left hook wouldn’t fit the bill either, since the left hand was used only for unclean tasks, and even to gesture with it brought shame on the one gesturing. Jesus is speaking about striking the right cheek with the back of the right hand. This was not a blow to injure. It was symbolic. It was intended to humiliate, to put an inferior in his or her place. It was given by a master to a slave, a husband to a wife, a parent to a child, or a Roman to a Jew. The message of the powerful to their subjects was clear: You are a nobody; get back down where you belong.

          It is to those accustomed to being struck in this way thus that Jesus speaks (“if anyone strikes you”). By turning the other cheek, the person struck puts the striker in an untenable spot. He cannot repeat the backhand, because the other’s nose is now in the way. The left cheek makes a fine target, but only persons who are equals fight with fists, and the last thing the master wants is for the slave to assert equality.

          But the point has been irrevocably made: the “inferior” is saying, in no uncertain terms, “I won’t take such treatment anymore. I am your equal. I am a child of God.”

          By turning the other cheek, the oppressed person is saying that she refuses to submit to further humiliation. This is not submission. It is defiance.

          Jesus’ second example deals with indebtedness, the most onerous social problem in first century Palestine. The wealthy of the Empire sought ways to avoid taxes. The best way was to buy land on the fringes of the Empire. But the poor didn’t want to sell. So the rich jacked up interest rates—25 to 250 percent. When the poor couldn’t repay, first their moveable property was seized, then their lands, and finally the very clothes on their backs. Scripture allowed the destitute to sleep in their long robes, but they had to surrender them by day (Deuteronomy 24:10-13).

          It is to that situation that Jesus speaks. Look, he says, you can’t win when they take you to court. But here is something you can do: when they demand your outer garment, give your undergarment as well. That was all they wore! The poor man is stark naked! And in Israel, nakedness brought shame, not on the naked party, but on the one viewing his nakedness.  Jesus is not asking those already defrauded of their possessions to submit to further indignity. He is enjoining them to guerrilla theater.

          Imagine the debtor walking out of the court in his all-togethers. To the question what happened, he responds, “That creditor got all my clothes.” People come pouring out of the streets and alleys and join the little procession to his home. It will be a while before creditors in that village take a poor man to court! But, of course, the Powers That Be are shrewd, and within weeks new laws will be in place making nakedness in court punishable by fines or incarceration. So the poor need to keep inventing new forms of resistance. Jesus is advocating a kind of Aikido, where the momentum of the oppressor is used to throw the oppressor and make him the laughing stock of the community. Jesus is not averse to using shame to kindle a moral sense in the creditor.

          Jesus’ third example refers to the law that permitted a Roman soldier to force a civilian to carry his 65 to 85 pound pack. But the law stipulated one mile only. At the second marker the soldier was required to retrieve his pack. By carrying the pack more than a mile, the peasant makes the soldier culpable for violation of military law. Again, Jesus is not just “extending himself” by going the second mile, He is putting the soldier in jeopardy of punishment.”                                                                    (Walter Wink, Can Love Save Us)

          That’s lamb power.

          The examples Jesus gives are something more than passivity. They are gutsy, courageous, and aggressive.  It’s a powerful kind of power when you have not got coercive power.

          They are the kind of power that the Fellowship of Reconciliation devised when they sent the Freedom Riders to the south, to sit, black and white together in restaurants, and then to sit together black and white in jails, and there to refuse bail. To stand with strength and say we will not be humiliated. And we will not resist violently. We will bring the pain ourselves in an act of courage that is meant to awaken a nation and heal the curse of racism.

          That’s lamb power.

          Gandhi had lamb power. He couldn’t violently oppose the British, though many of his countrymen were trying.

          ML King had lamb power. He couldn’t violently oppose the racism in this country, though many of his countrymen were trying that method.

          Nelson Mandela had lamb power and the whole world took part in the non-violent revolution that took place in South Africa.

          Each of those leaders used great force to achieve their goals, but they didn’t use violence.

          But what do we as a nation do in our relations with other nations that can be in keeping with the wisdom and teaching of the Bible?

          We need to balance the wolf and the lamb.

          The first section of the Isaiah passage describes this.

          It describes how the king shall act and the results of his reign.

          The future king would resemble David’s son Solomon, renowned for the wisdom of his judgments. No “appearance” or “hearsay” would mar his ability to judge; instead, he would go to the heart of any matter brought before him.

          The poor would find in him a friend, and the ruthless an enemy. So strong would this ideal king be that the justice he meted out, and his “faithfulness” to God’s law, would be as readily seen as the royal sash he wore in public to signify his authority.

          Being filled and guided by the spirit of God this ruler will act on behalf of the poor, the weak. IN other words, the wolf cares for the lamb to have a world of peace

          The wolf acting alone can think that power is all that is needed. I can have my way and not ask any tough questions or be responsible to other nations or the earth itself because I have all the power.

          The wolf and the lamb in balance with one another can create a situation where evil is responded to but not with more evil, violence is responded to but not with more violence.

          The wolf and the lamb in balance with one another realize that my well-being cannot be at the expense of another’s.

          The wolf and the lamb in balance with one another. The only way for that to happen is for both of them to be well fed.

          Are we confident that we are doing all we can with our great power to feed the world? When I look at the poverty in our own streets, the homelessness in our own streets, the number of children in our country that do not have a safe start, and a healthy start, a moral start and a head start, I don’t think the answer to that question can be yes.

          When I hear Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, said that her bill in Congress to help the children of our country is stalled in committee but Congress is willing to support repeal of taxes to our major corporations I don’t think that the answer to that question can be yes.

          I can give you an example from US history when we could say yes, when the wolf did lie down with the lamb.

          What do you think of this advice from a senior U.S. military officer and statesman about how the people of the United States should deal with a part of the world torn by war, poverty, disease, and hunger?

  “…it is of vast importance that our people reach some general understanding of what the complications really are, rather than react from a passion or a prejudice or an emotion of the moment…. It is virtually impossible at this distance merely by reading, or listening, or even seeing photographs or motion pictures, to grasp at all the real significance of the situation. And yet the whole world of the future hangs on a proper judgment.”

          The speaker was General George C. Marshall, outlining the Marshall Plan in an address at Harvard University on June 5, 1947.  Surveying the wrecked economies of Europe, Marshall noted the “possibilities of disturbances arising as a result of the desperation of the people concerned.” He said that there could be “no political stability and no assured peace” without economic security, and that U.S. policy was “directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”

          As Marshall’s words so plainly suggest, finding the terrorists should be part of a much more ambitious campaign, one in which the rich countries approach the appalling inequities of the world with the same boldness and determination that the United States brought to bear in Europe under the Marshall Plan.

          The United States and the other industrial nations should launch a global “Marshall Plan” to provide everyone on earth with a decent standard of living. We can already hear the cries of people claiming that such a global plan would “cost too much.” But let’s look at the numbers.

          A 1998 report by the United Nations Development Programme estimated the annual cost to achieve universal access to a number of basic social services in all developing countries: $9 billion would provide water and sanitation for all;  $12 billion would cover reproductive health for all women;  $13 billion would give every person on Earth basic health and nutrition; and $6 billion would provide basic education for all. 40 billion dollars.

          Too much?            Military expenditures by all nations? $780 billion each year.

                                                (Source Dick Bell and Michael Renner, World Watch Institute)

          This is the kind of thinking and acting that plants the seeds of peace and thinks for generations and generations not just for today. This is the kind of thinking and action that has a chance of annihilating evil.

          This is the wolf and the lamb acting together. This isn’t idealism; this is spiritual, practical, earth-friendly, and the intention of creation that was planted in us by God.

          What can we do, in the part of the world that we can touch that will give birth to mercy and compassion?

          On the personal action level we can participate in the Mission Programs of this Church and of the United Church of Christ.

          We can support organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund and Mercy Corps and the Oregon Food Bank.

          On the national level we can support the Fair Wage campaign.

          On a spiritual level we can ask the question, what do you seek? What are you looking for? What are our expectations? Are we willing to consider the teachings of the Prince of Peace who is as clever as a fox, and as strong as a wolf, and as powerful as a lamb.

          There were men who were followers of John the Baptist and he directed them to Jesus, “Look there goes the Lamb of God.” So those men left John and caught up with Jesus who was on the move, making the road of peace by walking it. He turned, looked over his shoulder at the disciples, and asked, “What are you looking for?”

          “Where do you live, Jesus?”

          “Come and see,” was the reply. You gotta move when the spirit says move.

          We learn by following. We learn by acting, doing, resisting without violence.

          Because we trust the wisdom of the redwood tree. One may fall, but six or eight will take their place.

          To paraphrase Marian Wright Edelman, I may not have the power, or the eloquence or the wealth of humanity’s great leaders

          but I care

          I am willing to serve

          and I stand for children.

          And now to close with the words of Alice Walker.

Look closely at the present you are constructing.

It should look like the future you dream of.

The Universe has a dream and we are that.

And let the people say,