Now we know what goes on behind closed doors when some corporate executives get together to discuss racial integration. A former employee has joined a $500 million class-action suit charging Texaco with racial discrimination [Philadelphia Inquirer, November, 1996].
The evidence we have heard so far is extremely compelling, which is why Texaco stock has plummeted to the tune of $800 million, why some groups are advocating a boycott of Texaco products, and why the lawsuit was settled already this weekend. The reason the evidence is so convincing is that a former employee secretly taped a meeting at which members of management were discussing their hiring practices. Among other things, the Texaco board used familiar racial slurs, ridiculed ethnic holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and discussed the necessity of destroying self-incriminating documents.
“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord.”
Do you recognize that quotation? Who said it? Where is it found?
It sounds like something you might hear on Thanksgiving Day. “Go and enjoy choice food,” like turkey and stuffing, or potatoes and gravy, or cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. “Go and enjoy. . . sweet drinks,” like apple cider and egg nog. “Send some to those who have nothing prepared,” like the homeless who have already come to this church for Thanksgiving Dinner. “This day is sacred to our Lord.” A day of thanksgiving is a sacred day, like this coming Thursday morning when we will meet here to praise the Lord.
Christmas will sound a little different in some churches this December. Earlier this year the Pilgrim Press published a new hymnal called The New Century Hymnal. It is intended to be a hymnal for the 21st century and it bears the endorsement of the United Church of Christ.
The New Century Hymnal is nearly a thousand pages long but it does not have room for the traditional Christmas carol “Good Christian Men, Rejoice.” Instead, the old carol sports a new title: “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice.” Is that a good change or a bad change?
Tonight I want to read you a story by J. B. Phillips called “The Angels’ Point of View” [in New Testament Christianity, pp. 15-19]. The story is a meditation on these two passages of Scripture:
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. . . The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world (John 1:4, 9).
Concerning this salvation, the prophets. . . searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. . . Even angels long to look into these things (1 Pet. 1:10-11, 12b).
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is my second favorite Christmas television special for children. My favorite, of course, is the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, which ends with Linus’s beautiful recitation of the second chapter of Luke.
The Grinch is a close runner-up because it sounds very much like the gospel. For those of you who have not read or seen Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas [New York: Random House, 1957], the story goes like this:
When King David assembled his great army to defeat King Saul he was joined by 200 sons of Issachar, with all their relatives under their command. The Scripture says that the sons of Issachar were men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chron. 12:32). Surely these men were among David’s most trusted advisors! Nothing is more valuable to a king than counselors who understand the times and know what to do.
A week ago we agreed that we wanted to become like the sons of Issachar who served in the army of King David. The Bible says they were men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chron. 12:32).
How should we understand our own times, and what should we do about them? In our last Window on the World I tried to show that we are living in apostolic times. We face many of the same obstacles and opportunities faced by the New Testament church. The apostolic times were religious, international, immoral and dangerous times. Like the first Christians, we live in a global village marked by religious pluralism and moral indifference.
The Christians at Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, Scotland, know how to pray. Every Saturday night sixty or seventy of them gather in the church hall to spend two hours praying for the work of the gospel around the world. One Saturday night I heard a church leader pray against the rulers and dominions of spiritual darkness in the city of Aberdeen. He prayed against the principalities of corruption, and drinking, and gambling, and materialism, and prostitution. “And especially,” he continued, “that demon, sport.”
Several weeks ago a spokesman for the United States Department of Health commented on the health risks associated with women who have abortions. When questioned about the moral implications of his findings he declined to answer, saying, “We try to stay away from the emotional issue and to leave the interpretation to others” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/8/97, A1).