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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    Commentary: The Ugly Truth

    March 7, 2024 / By Rev. Daniel J. Bradley, Pastor at Faith Journey UMC / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The Rev. Daniel J. Bradley is a pastor at Faith Journey UMC in Clay, NY. He wrote the following article to juxtapose the biblical story of Amos, a humble prophet, with his passion for the Buffalo Bills to highlight the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of challenges. Rev. Bradley emphasizes the need for Christians to actively work towards justice and compassion in society, drawing from their own experiences of hope and resilience. This piece encourages readers to be like Amos, bravely speaking truth and striving for a better world.

    “And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and peat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was 1 no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now therefore hear the word of the Lord. “You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’ Therefore, thus says the Lord: “‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’” 

    The ugly truth about Christianity is this: there is no finish line. No Hail Mary pass at the last second. It is a life lived in Christ that makes all the difference.  

     I love football and have watched the Buffalo Bills all my life. I wept with wide right and wide left. I cheered until my voice hurt and yet all their franchise history, they have failed to bring back a Lombardi Trophy. They’re still my team and suffering go along with victory. My favorite part of the game is the touchdown dances. The players and fans are exuberant, and it seems as if a bomb of joy has gone off in the stadium. That’s how it is with life. We win some and lose some, but there is always joy when we make a touchdown. 

    Christianity has developed in a counterculture which focuses on self and selfish principles that push people down and create structures that are unholy. It seems as if there is an awakening in the culture where pocket of hope is rising over the oppressive structures that have hurt, enslaved, murdered people in the name of God. We still have a long way to go. This is just the beginning of a revolution which I believe will transform the Church of Jesus Christ in the years to come.  

    Amos is referred to as the “anti-prophet.” Amos was a farmer of sycamore fig trees. He had no formal training to be a prophet. He simply had a word from the Lord to an evil and corrupt Priest of Bethel Amaziah.  

    Amos with the authority of God spoke prophesies called the corrupt leadership of Israel to task. This was not easy to do. It’s like shaking hands with a great white shark and being only a minnow. Amos doesn’t strut--he simply speaks what he knows to be true.  

    These are the things that I know about God that are true. They come from the Book of Discipline ¶102 Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task: Basic Christian Heritage-- 

    “The created order is designed for the well-being of all creatures and as the place of human dwelling in covenant with God. As sinful creatures, however, we have broken that covenant, become estranged from God, wounded ourselves and one another, and wreaked havoc throughout the natural order. We stand in need of redemption. We hold in common with all Christians a faith in the mystery of salvation in and through Jesus Christ.” 

    This belief is one of the reasons I am and always will be a part of The United Methodist Church. It is the central bulwark that can never be moved. We are a part of this created world and are in need of salvation in Jesus Christ.  
    Anything less is rubbish. 

    Every August when pre-season football starts my heart gets full of excitement for a good year of Bills football. I cheer, shout, and hope my team wins. I have learned the phrase that I have taught to my daughter, “There is always next year.” Year after year I never give up on my Bills. In every win there is a loss and every loss there is a win. The point of all of this is that we keep going. Another day, another chance to throw the ball and dance in the endzone. I thank God that God doesn't take football as serious as I do.  

    There is much to do in this world. Isn’t it time we started speaking truth to power. Isn’t it time we start lifting up the oppressed. This is our mission: to be a voice for the voiceless, a light in the dark, a port in the storm for all who are in need in this world. Be an Amos today, speak to power and corruption. Speak the truth of God’s grace and mercy. Even if it’s ugly.  

    In Christ,  
    Rev. Daniel J. Bradley 

    TAGGED / Advocate

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."