2014-12-7 Messages From Sermon “Make the Path Straight” Tezenlo Thong

Make the Path Straight

Mark 1:1-8

Messages received:

  • I try to act like there is no prejudice
  • For those who are following us make the path:  straight, level, smooth, with equality, with righteousness, without violence.
  • Make the journey down the path with faith and life and love and hope and justice as you prepare it for those who are following
  • We must do our best to help God make the path safe for other followers

 

2014-12-7 Sermon “Make the Path Straight” Tezenlo Thong

Make the Path Straight

Mark 1:1-8

On March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi undertook an important step known as the Salt Satyagraha or Salt March. He walked for 24 days, covering a distance of about 240 miles. His goal was to pick a handful of salt at the end of the march. Why would you want to walk for so long just to pick up a handful of salt? This was Gandhi’s principle of active nonviolence protest against the British rule in India.

Salt was, as it is today, a very important element in the diet of every Indian. The British saw an opportunity to exploit this essential item for economic gain. The British mandated a law that prohibited Indians from making salt. Picking or making salt for self-consumption was now illegal. The only salt that is legal is the one sold by the British. Gandhi saw this gross injustice as an epitome of the British rule in India. So he marched in order to make the path straight for the suffering ordinary Indians. He walked for so long because he wanted to level the playing field for the oppressed and the exploited. He wanted to make the rough ground smooth for the future generation. Inevitably, the moment Gandhi picked up a lump of natural salt on the Dandi seashore, he was considered a criminal. He broke the law, no matter how unjust, and was arrested and put into jail by the British.

I see marches or walks being organized everywhere in the US at this point in history. Last Saturday, a group of Native Americans and supporters walked from the Sand Creek Massacre Memorial site and ended the march at the state capitol. This was in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre that took place in 1864 where about 200 Arapahoe and Cheyenne people, mostly women, children and elders, were murdered by an infantry led by a Methodist clergy, John Chivington. Following the verdict by a grand jury not to indict the police officer who killed an unarmed teenager, some protesters started a 120-mile march from Ferguson to the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City. Again, in New York, following another grand jury’s decision not to bring charges against another police officer who chokehold a man who later died, there is a national protest march being called on December 13 in Washington, DC. These marches are reminiscent of the civil rights marches in the 1960s when people walked hand in hand in order to make the path straight and the rough ground smooth.

While we will never be able to totally overcome our sense of prejudices, biases and self-love/-centeredness, we are called to walk the path of righteousness so that those who come after us will find the path smoother, straighter and broader. While we will never experience a world without injustice and discrimination, we are called to

“Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.”

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor, Simpson United Methodist Church


2014-10-19 Sermon Simpson UMC “Religion and Violence: Does Religion Promote Violence?” Tezenlo Thong

“Religion and Violence:

Does Religion Promote Violence?”

(Micah 4:1-4)

Is religion inherently bad? Does it promote violence? Does it foster hate, fear and conflict? Or does religion make human beings better people? Are human beings better off because of it? Or is religion neither inherently good nor bad?

On one hand, we don’t have to look far to find atrocious examples of violence done in the name of religion. On the other hand, some of the greatest historical figures who have exhibited strong moral leadership are people with deep religious convictions, such as Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Thích Nhất Hạnh and others.

No religion is immune from violence. All are guilty of perpetrating hatred and division. Religion, including Christianity, can be and has been used as an excuse for violence. However, we must never condone, much less perpetrate, violence in the name of religion or God. On the contrary, we ought to be a people of peace, love and goodwill and treat people of all faiths with respect, love and dignity they deserve.

“Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

(Micah 4:1–4 CEB)

But in the days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of the mountains; it will be lifted above the hills; peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say: “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God, so that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in God’s paths!” Instruction will come from Zion and the LORD’s word from Jerusalem. God will judge between the nations and settle disputes of mighty nations, which are far away. They will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war. All will sit underneath their own grapevines, under their own fig trees. There will be no one to terrify them; for the mouth of the LORD of heavenly forces has spoken.