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A Blog for the Disorderly

The Disorderly Blog is for anyone who doesn’t fit—for whom the status quo is a failure. It is for anyone who recognizes that the political, economic, and religious cultures around them aren’t working.

The Disorderly Blog is for anyone suspecting a better way exists—for anyone curious about a man named Jesus who showed up two thousand years ago, teaching a new world order. A man whose teachings are so distorted in our culture that he is barely recognizable.

The Disorderly Blog will not spit out answers. But if it does its job, it will raise important questions about Jesus’s plan for the world. I hope you will join in the conversation.

The Disorderly Blog will look at notes attributed to a man named Matthew who heard Jesus speak about his plan. You can read these ancient notes in Matthew Chapter 5-7.

So if you are feeling a little or a lot disorderly, please sign up using the “follow” button on the website. If you’d like to read a few of the blogs, click on Disorderly Blog and scroll down, the most recent blogs come first.

The Presence of God in Your Life

Hi! I am looking for volunteers to help me write my next book. My plan is to write a book about spiritual practices for ordinary, busy people and would like to do so from the experiences of a diverse group of people.

Starting after the holidays, the group would meet Wednesdays 7-8 pm via zoom, but you’d need to be able to set aside 20 min a day where you can get alone to try whatever practice we are learning that week.

Email me at disorderlyparables@gmail.com if you are interested. These will be Christian practices, but you don’t necessarily have to be a Christian. You will need a strong desire to experience the presence of God in your life.

April Love-Fordham

Disorderly Parable Bible Studies on Sale now for $2.99

Will you be starting a new Bible study group soon?
Do you need a great Christmas Present for someone interested in scripture?
The Kindle Version of the Disorderly Parable Bible Studies by April Love-Fordham are on sale now for $2.99. That’s almost free! Grab one of each for yourself or someone you love. And please leave a review. You don’t have to purchase the books on Amazon to leave a review!

Here’s the link!

The Feast Day of St. Francis

After St. Francis became a follower of Christ, his goal became to fix the church which no longer continued the mission of spreading the message of Jesus through service to others.

This is all he owned–a robe that he continuously patched. This was all he needed to do the work of God. No seminary degree, no ordination, no money. He simply put his love for God and others into action.

It was not his goal to be popular, powerful, wealthy, safe, or secure. It was his goal to be the hands and feet of Christ.

On this his feast day, I pray our goals will be as sharp and determined. It is then we will know true joy.

You can learn more about St. Francis and the Christian Life through my book of the same name.

— Rev. Dr. April Love-Fordham

Celebrating St. Francis’ Feast Day on Oct 4th

On Oct 4 much of the Christian world will pause to remember St. Francis of Assisi. In the United States, we tend to remember his love for animals. However, several years ago Steve and I celebrated St. Francis’ feast day in Assisi. Not a pet blessing in sight!

Don’t Italians know that this is the day you bring your pet to church?

The beautiful cobblestone streets of Assisi were filled with Franciscans, pilgrims, and officials from every district in Italy including the Prime Minister. They were there to celebrate an agreement St. Francis orchestrated between landowners and the poor. For hundreds of years, district officials have met on October 4th to sign an agreement to live in peace and honor the poor. Then they march from the ancient city hall to the Basilica of St. Francis and attend mass together.

St. Francis was an activist. And not so much for animals, though he did love them. He lived in poverty so that he could spend time helping others thrive. He rebuilt churches and homes. He took care of the sick. He negotiated peace where there was strife.

I thought you might enjoy seeing where he was born, lived, and died. And here are some pictures of the church were he first encountered Christ.

Enjoy the pet blessings if your church has one! St. Francis would have enjoyed them. But don’t forget that this saint was far more than an animal lover.

I have captured many of his life stories (including the ones about animals) in my book St Francis and the Christian Life. Now might be a great time to read it!

James Cover
“James in the Suburbs” uses the antics of a soul searching, fun loving suburban Bible study group to illustrate the teachings of the Epistle of James
DI Small
“Dismantling Injustice” uses the story of an African-American congressman coming to age during the civil rights movement to illustrate the Song of Solomon.
Francis Cover
“St Francis and the Christian Life” uses the life of St. Francis to illustrate the lessons found in the Epistle to the Galatians..

Justice IS a Priority

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Mat 5:6 NRS)

For me this is one of the greatest things about the Reign of God.

However, some mistake righteousness for meaning, “those who are good at following the religious rules.” But that’s not it. Jesus wasn’t all that fond of religion or its rules—especially when they didn’t demonstrate love and mercy. The Greek word reflects more about social justice than being good.

While Jesus is preaching, he is looking into the crowd, searching for those who desire the world be a place of justice and equity—a place where everyone is included, loved, and supported. This kind of justice makes a way for everyone to develop into their full potential. It is shalom (wholeness) achieved for the entire community. Jesus promised that if we desire that kind of justice, then we will fit right into God’s reign of love.

Suggested spiritual practice for this week:
Look around you for signs of injustice.
Ask how God might use you to bring justice to unjust situations.
And have at it.

Meek

2021/Blog 4

Jesus taught: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” (Matt 5:5).

According to one dictionary, meek describes a person willing to go along with whatever other people want to do without ever speaking up for themselves. That’s not quite what Jesus is conveying here. Another dictionary has a better definition: a meek person intentionally makes sacrifices on the behalf of others without resentment.

Saint Francis advised the Franciscans to own nothing except two robes and a belt, encouraging his followers to live in reed huts and beg for their food in order to spend their days caring for the poor and the sick. This is meekness.

But oh, how times have changed in the church!

I recently received a call from a faith organization asking for money. They didn’t say they would allocate it to caring for the poor and sick or even teaching the message of Jesus. They said they needed larger reserves to impress the people they were interviewing for a leadership position.

This lets slip an enormous problem plaguing much of Christianity.

We need—at least we think we need—members and their tithes to hire staff, maintain property, keep the van running, and print those Sunday bulletins. Taking care of the hungry and acting as the hands and feet of Christ often takes a backseat. The job of keeping members happy so they will contribute becomes a tremendous burden for church leadership. In the end, we dare not teach Jesus’s message for fear of alienating the big donors. After all, who wants to hear that we must love our enemy, provide for the destitute, and put others first—even before building and maintaining the church clubhouse?

Church possessions can quickly become the death of a church. But possessions can also get a strangle hold on individual people. Their maintenance takes up our time and energy, leaving the more important things neglected.

But Jesus teaches an alternative way of living. He promises that when love reigns, the earth no longer belongs to those who can buy or steal it. Instead, the sacrificial servants who prioritize others before themselves will inherit the earth.

Suggested Spiritual Practice for this Week:
At the beginning of each day, ask God to show you
where you can make sacrifices that will help others.
At the end of the day, journal how that went.

Needing Comfort

2021/Blog 3

As Jesus describes his way of living where love is the core value, he turns from addressing The Poor in Spirit to addressing The Mournful:

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” (Mat 5:4 NRS).

Again, Jesus is intentionally vague. What are they mourning? Racism, poverty, riots, pandemics, hunger, war, death, personal failure, personal sin?

I don’t think it matters. He calls everyone weeping to be a part of the Reign of God—the Reign of Love. It is here that we all belong! The promise Jesus makes is that his way of living will address our deepest needs and hurts.

But

There is something Jesus teaches later that is very important. To fully experience the comfort offered to us, we need to forgive those who have brought us to tears. This doesn’t mean we don’t hold them accountable or stop them from causing further pain.

My friend defined forgiveness as:

“We will not do to them what they have done to us; however, we will hold them accountable.”

Accountability is an act of love. Stopping injustice and harm is also an act of love. So is making room for the repentant in Jesus’s world order.

Jesus is calling those in pain to him. Our part is to accept the comfort and wholeness offered by forgiving those who have caused us pain, stopping them from causing further pain, calling the guilty to repentance, and inviting the repentant into Jesus’s way of love.

Suggested Spiritual Practice for this week:
At the end of each day ask where you experienced hurt that day

and where you may have hurt another.
Make a plan for showing love both to those you have hurt
and to those who require forgiveness & accountability-holding love.

Feeling Down?

2021/Blog 2

Does anyone need convincing that the world isn’t working? I doubt it. Not after this past week. Jesus didn’t think the world was working either. So, like Trump, he addressed his followers. Trump, however, demanded his followers march down to the capitol and fight for him–risk their lives for him. He tells them they can’t be weak. They must be strong. He even says he will go with them, but then retreats to safety while he delights, watching on as they do his dirty work.

Jesus is different. He begins his address with “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” (Matt 5:3). I love the intentional vagueness of “poor in spirit.” The Greek word used is prochoi, meaning expendable, empty, bent over. Poor in spirit describes the person wanting to retreat to an off grid cabin in the mountains and hide for the next decade. It also describes the activist who wants to change the hearts and minds of the oppressors while working for justice on behalf of those being mistreated. Poor in spirit even describes the mistreated—the ostracized, the homeless, the hungry, and the sick. It describes those suffering injustice—those hurt by racism, sexism, ageism, religion. The list is long.

Jesus tells the poor in spirit to have hope, because “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”—the reign of God, the reign of love. Jesus didn’t choose mean, angry men dressed in hate to fight for him. He chose the poor in spirit to build the reign of God—the core value of which is love. Then Jesus, unlike Trump, led the march, putting his own life on the line, serving as an example of loving with an unconditional love. And two thousand years later, Jesus is still relevant.

If you are feeling poor in spirit, let love be your core value, the guiding light of all you do. For you are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven!

Suggested Spiritual Practice for this week:
At the end of each day ask where you showed love,
where love was shown to you,
and make a plan for showing love tomorrow.

The Reign of Love

2021/Blog 1

Jesus was born into a world where the faith of his ancestors, Judaism, was in full religious bloom. Judaism had become a relationship with a set of religious rules—thousands of them. This is not a failure specific to Jews. It has happened inside Christianity too. Instead of being a funnel that helps people connect to God, religion becomes a way to control God (I keep the rules and God blesses me) and for the religious leaders to control society (The people in power define the rules and I keep them in order to fit in).

The rules many churches set forth today include some subset of: vote for the right political party, have the right theology, don’t be gay or different, and do the right set of good works like reading your Bible daily or giving a tenth of your income to the church. In more extreme cases, drinking, dancing, and hanging out with people who do are on the list.

As this blog unfolds in 2021, I hope you’ll agree that Jesus wasn’t teaching a list of rules to follow, a detailed theology to believe, or even a set of required deeds to do. He was doing something much larger. He was outlining a new world order: the Reign of God. And since God is love, the Reign of Love.

He was teaching us how to live in love for each other. Weekly, we will dive into one of Jesus’ teachings from Matthew 7-9.

This week’s (optional) Spiritual Practice is to take some time to meditate (spend some intentional time thinking) on what a society whose core value is love would look like.
What role would you want in that society?

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