Me and my boy-boy, who needed a snuggle
I could be preaching or counting off the daily schedule: They look exactly the same
Me and my boy-boy, who needed a snuggle
I could be preaching or counting off the daily schedule: They look exactly the same
I cry to you O Lord hear my voice.-Psalm 130:1
In the midst of two very public death by suicide, one female Kate Spade, and one male Anthony Bourdain, both of whom leave beyond tween daughter. I think of all those people who cry out, unheard. I think of the fact that I didn’t know that Kate or Anthony struggled with depression. I think how suicide rates are up 30%, I think of how much we need hope these days.
Let your ears be attentive, to the voice of my pleas
I think about that I sometimes go by Kate and my husband’s name is Anthony. I think of the times both my husband and I struggled with depression, and had to struggle just to get through the day, and how, though not suicidal, and not at the same time, we have both experienced this reality. And even though we were doing everything, seeing therapists and the like, it was so hard to get the help we needed.
And I think of the hard times, I think of when my child with autism has to stay up all night, all night, dealing with days of constipation, and how when that constipation stops, we are up and down to deal with diarrhea. Up in the middle of the night, drinking water, going to the bathroom, changing clothing, cleaning the toilet, up and down, up and down and I can barely think I am so tired. And together my son and I wait for the morning
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.–Psalm 130:6
I think of those long bleary hours, and I think of Anthony and Kate, who were waiting for the morning, who were stuck in the night, and couldn’t see the morning.
And I believe, somehow, that God Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, were longing for God, I’m so sad that they died before morning came.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its injustices.–Psalm 130 7-8
If you struggle from depression, please stay with us til the morning. We will miss you if your gone. When the night feels too long or overwhelming, please reach out!
US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Test Line by texting HOME to 741741
Today in America, I can safely say we are there, in the Pit.
In the Pit because Young People, People my age who look like me, were protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue with swastikas and Heils and Nazi chanting. Because there is nothing we can call these people, but Nazis.
It hurts me that these people are very close to who I am: White, Straight, Cis, Christians, etc.
12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.”” So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18 They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24 and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed. 28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
Now there was some hope too
UVA students stood their ground against the increasingly violent Nazis
An African-American Cop bravely protected these Nazis, who are against his humanity.
Clergy went down for a counter-protest and blocked the Nazis path and peacefully singing “This Little Light of Mine”
I feel for Joseph who was betrayed by his own brothers, As a member of the Christian Church, knowing that the Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville are baptized into the the Christian Church like I am. I have to own that, I have to acknowledge the problem, so we can work on it.
What can we do? I heard a lot of POC clergy saying its time to step up our “Thanksgiving Politics” where you are trying to get along with family members and yet still call them out when behavior is inappropriate. Its especially hard because its thanksgiving and your supposed to be thankful for these people, and they are your family but they are just so annoying.
But the truth is, we are not so good at standing up to bullies, we are a lot like Judah, wanting to be nice and placate. Placation is not the same as peace, but often we stand up there.
And sometimes we are like Reuben and we come back and try to help later. I have a recent incidence of racism at a conference, where, too excited by my own self-importance, I did not listen carefully to my colleague of color and let other people tromp on her ideas and leadership. It was so humiliating when 5 minutes later I realized I had witnessed it but was too embarassed/self-invovled to say “knock it off”
The truth is, we a the church are not so good at standing up to bullies. We are too concerned with offending people, we are, in short too nice.
But we need to name it. Too often we ignore the problem and try to just get along with the person or cut the person completely from our lives. (Think how we handle Thanksgiving again). Notice what is in common with both of these ways of handling the situation, we avoid addressing the actual problem!
Better ways to handle bullying are to call the bully on their behavior by telling them “that’s inappropriate” and to “knock it off” or to simply go to the person who is bullied and treat them like a human being. Often if you go over and have normal conversation with the person who is being targeted, say a Muslim, and ask them how they are doing and treat them like a human being the bully backs down realizing A) That person is not an easy lone target B) They are human.
So that’s our job now, to address the problem, because thats the only way we stand with the oppressed. This is what Jesus does, he calls people on their inappropriate behavior or he goes over to talk to the lone woman, the leper and the tax collector and treats them like a human being. When he does that, the entire mob mentality becomes transformed, when he does that he starts to create community. Jesus stands with the minority/marginalized in this way! This means that this is our job too! We need to go out and do the work that is so obviously needed to stop bigotry. We need to acknowledge and address the problems and know Our God stands with the marginalized, and that God’s love is accepting of every skin color, gender, sexually and faith. That is our God, and its that God’s Kingdom we are building.
The first time the people riot in Luke is in response to Jesus preaching in his hometown. (hinting at his eventual crucifixion by the state) There he proclaims the word of the Lord to the poor, lost, forgotten and marginalized.
He talks about that the Word of God, he says he is there to fulfill the word of God
and the People of Nazareth say “Great, me first”
Jesus says, “Nah”
Then they get mad, because they want to be first. Because they think that if they don’t go first God won’t get to them.
It should be NazarethFirst or JewsFirst or AmericaFirst: Those who are the most entitled should go first in the human world.
Not to Jesus, tho, for Jesus says I’m helping the most needy ones, the forgotten ones.
During the inauguration speech the only piece I felt like struck home was when Donald Trump said was “No one will ever be ignored again”
Do not be confused, we humans often look for a human savior/king. Lots of the Old Testament is about humans begging God for a King they don’t need. When Donald Trump did his alter call for patriotism, insisting that it negated all prejudice, we Christians all shook our heads and said. Only JESUS does that. God calls not to nationalism, but to the forgotten ones.
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.–Psalm 146
Because people DO feel forgotten! About 3 million women gathered on all 7 continents and march to draw attention to all that gets ignored. If that isn’t a counter to blind nationalism I don’t know what is.
These women marched for a variety of reasons, and yet the same thing
They marched for
Women’s Rights, Black Lives matter, the queer community, the Muslims, the immigrants, poor in the rust belt, Flint water, Indigenous rights, survivors of assault, climate change, sex workers, the poor, the disabled, poor.They marched
They marched for their children and husbands and communities.
But most of all, they marched for the forgotten & ignored.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith for ever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.–Psalm 146
Our God is the one who fights on behalf of these people. Our God is not a human or a politician, our God is the God of the marginalized, the lost and forgotten.
Jesus made that clear. Its not about being first or getting the most. Its about making sure NO ONE GETS IGNORED.
We need to do this work, the time has begun.
Luke 4: 14- 30
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 23He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ 24And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers* in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
I have a deep seated theology about belief vs. faith.
Belief is individual, Faith is shared–hence community of faith.
Faith is the vast array of beliefs, doubts, worries and hopes that are held in community.
When a disciple asks to increase faith, the disciples says, “Increase our faith”
The disciples feel like they don’t have enough, enough hope or energy or whatever to get the job done.
And Jesus says, you–plural all of you–all you need is the faith of a mustard seed, and you can do all the moving you need to do.
5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”’
You know, I have never seen the thriving church. I’m 33 and I have never seen the church the way it used to be.
But I have seen the church. I’ve seen it in my small church which struggled to find a new pastor, which put in thousands of hrs to sit with and reconnect with the local community.
I have seen it in the four years we could count on, the 6 years we’ve had and the 2 more (at least) that are going to happen.
There Jesus is, in a group of people who don’t know if they have enough resources.
Jesus doesn’t say don’t worry….I love this about Jesus, Jesus never says don’t worry. Because God knows to worry is to be human. We are great at worrying, we are super champs at worrying, and its how we deal with
Jesus doesn’t say don’t worry, he doesn’t dismiss the worry or tell us its stupid. Instead Jesus says “I have good news, the good news is that all the faith any and all of you need is the size of a mustard seed. I can work with that amount of faith”
The implications being this faith is enough to grow.
And when we have those moments of faith, the hymn or the prayer, the sermon snippet or the conversation in the parking lot. We are church.
I have seen the church–come see it with me….
At the beginning of the week, and saw that the passage was about prayer. Thank God, because no matter what happens this week, I know that it will apply.
Then the African-American caretaker of an autistic man was shot……
I am the mother of an autistic child. Right now he is small and cute. When he flaps his hands giving “exclamatory hands” to excitement or frustration, its not very threatening, and if he does throw a tantrum he is still small enough that I can pick him up in a worse-case-scenario.
As the mother of an autistic child I can say, I don’t care who this police officer was aiming for, this was a terrible action.
So what am I supposed to do, pray?
What can others do for me and my son, pray for us?
Prayer is often used as a comforting action–but that is not its only purpose.
When you pray for someone, you are placing them in God’s hands. You are enacting love. You are opening yourself to be in relationship with them.
Whenever there is a harsh disagreement in the church congregation, session (board of leaders) or the Presbytery (our higher governing board). I will be the first to raise my hand and call for prayer.
And I’ll tell you what it is difficult to immediately stop and pray, the temptation is to continue arguing, the temptation is to prove that I am right, and that you should be listening to me!
This is exactly when prayer is needed, though, because you are trying to focus on God, to change your own individual perspective. Prayer is an act of Holy Imagination, where the world is viewed as the beginning of what God wants for us. God’s priorities and love are given voice and precedent over our own perspective. True prayer, opens oneself to actively love others, and that love is changing. That action is one in which we practice persistence to build a practice and discipline of prayer.
Time after time the most effective antidote to bigotry and prejudice is not education or knowledge. Its not about who is on the “right side of history.” Its having a relationship with someone who is different than you. Its knowing and loving a queer person or a person of color or one who is trans, female in leadership, or living in poverty.
Love is dangerous, because love changes your perspective.
Praying for someone is looking at them and loving them. Praying for another person an act of loving God, one where you recognize the other person as a child of God.
Just as Jesus looked at Martha, and then loved her, and then spoke to her last week.
So too are we called to love each other. Prayer is a discipline by which you practice seeing the world as God wants it to be, so we are more equipped and enabled to bring that world into being. Praying for one another is loving them through all the joys and hardships and struggling to find community with them, especially when we disagree.
Prayers are so much more than a comforting platitude, prayer is one of many disciplines by which we are able to get things done.
its been a crazy week. I’ve in essence heard the Good Samaritan story three times.
First time was with Alton Sterling, then Pilando Castile and finally with the Dallas police officers who were targeted. This in the wake of Orlando is wearying.
And then we hear the story of the Good Samaritan and the lawyer asks but…who…who exactly is my neighbor?
My flippant answer is whoever is close enough to annoy you. And as you know people can be pretty far away and still be close enough to annoy you.
My more serious answer is those you are close enough to hurt. This is an amazing thought because you can be very far away–all across the world or thd internet and still be able to hurt someone.
The counter to that is that if you are close enough to hurt someone then you are close enough to hurt someone then you are close enough to help them.
the Good Samaritan story was so revolutionary because the Samaritans were so politically and religiously at odds with one another. They would desecrate each other’s temples, burn each other’s buildings and fight over the same land and water. When Jesus tells this story it angered people because it’s like telling about Muslim and a Christian or an African American young man and a police officer. This was Jesus’s answer to Who is my neighbor.
The Belhar Confession, which is being adopted by the PCUSA was written by Africa about apartheid. We in the USA don’t seem to have apartheid until you look at the kind of violence that is going on and how it hurts African-Americans until you look at the kind of violence that is going on and how it hurts police officers.
Belhar Confession is about unity being both a gift of God and our duty. I don’t know what to do about African-Anericans being stopped for minor violations and things escalating so quickly. I don’t know what to do about police officers being targeted for violence. Unity Both a gift and a duty because God says we belong to one another.
We belong to one another because we each of us are called to bind up the wounds of the cops and the African-Americans. We belong to one another because Jesus has loved us into being showing us how love affirms our??? identity. Christians need to love like Jesus. There are no “buts” I this love, it’s not I love you but… It’s I love you and We belong to each other.
Real love is the kind that takes nothing away from you it affirms and does nothing but add to your identity it’s a live not based on your value or progress or perfection. God made us each unique and still belonging to one another. The word of God is not to believe in God and be the same, but love one another and affirm each identity so we add to each other.
Love is a language that doesn’t even compute in the financial, political and corporate world . That is the kind of love we are called to practice because we belong to one another God gives us to one another as a gift and it’s something to also work for. We belong to one another. Who is my neighbor? All those whom we are close enought to help. This is the word of the Lord thanks be to God!
Generous Jesus, we confess that you are the Son of God. You heal the sick, you comfort the stricken, you find the lost ones. Yet, we confess we find it easier to love you than our neighbor. We would rather love our politicians and celebrities than those who live right beside us. We continually make ourselves into groups, codifying who is us and who is them. We do this to show how we are better or how we are always right. Forgive us Jesus. Remind us to call any and all neighbor, especially those who are close enough to annoy us. Help us to give of ourselves through love and devotion like the widow. Teach us how to love we pray…
My very savvy 7 year old asked me today what Hell was.
Can I just say that a. I’m glad he asked me b. I’m glad he didn’t have a concept yet
Because, I’m a Pastor and I’m always a little afraid of what is seeping into my child’s brain theologically
I have no doubt this query was prompted by The Corpse Bride.
Halloween is great, and I mean it. Its a way to conceptionalize and deal with fears of death and Hell.
Deep Theology going on.
I have a working concept of Hell.
Its like a hypothesis–in theory this concept has withstood my theological understanding and it works for me to understand life, the universe and everything
Its like a practical application concept. (By the way that’s what theology is…its a working concept of how you apply your faith/beliefs)
The Bible is mostly unclear about what Hell is. When mentioned in the Bible it often carries with it whatever the local culture thinks is the underworld.
My working concept of Hell is that it is that deepest darkest place in existence that has no love.
Not a shred.
Because to me, that is the most horrific concept ever….
And though God promises to be with us, no matter where we are–When we descend to Sheol, God promises to be with us, this does not mean we are able to feel God’s presence/love while we are there. (Romans 8)
When Jesus Christ goes to Hell, when he cries out “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me” I believe that Jesus Christ experiences the lonely heart-wrenching existence of no love.
The hows and the whys of Jesus Christ not being with God and Love when His very self is God and Love escape me, but the definition works for me. Because we all have times in our lives when we feel unloved.
When we feel alone, unloved, unlovely and unable to love.
““Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the Lord has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” ” Ruth 1:19-21
Naomi feels this, she says, call me Mara, bitter. I exist in a place with no love.
Even if we aren’t actually alone or unloved.
These places and times are Hell for us. A visit into what happens when God is completely ignored and unaccepted in our lives.
On the other hand, it means that those who love, have seen the face of God.
Those who love experience joy and pleasure and beauty and understanding.
In this way, I believe that whether Hell is a physical place or not, it exists.
(For me it was Jr. High, when I hadn’t really any friends was horribly socially awkward, and for a while a group of bullies told me to shut up every time I spoke or laughed)
Have you experienced Hell?
It makes sense then the contrast of Hell is Heaven, a place of love, a place of family, a place of hope.
How many times have poets compared love to Heaven?
Love exists too, and if we are bringing the Kingdom of God to Earth, then we will be like Ruth. Following Naomi, loving her even when she can’t accept that love.
There are times in our lives when we are loved, and we can’t feel it. The entire stage of teenage-hood comes to mind. Where we are loved, but we feel like no one cares.
The important thing about love, though, is that its different from “fixing someone.” Because fixing someone isn’t permanent, but love can go on and on.
Those of us who are married know that no one is perfect, and we can’t fix them forever, that doesn’t actually happen, but we can still love them. I would argue that loving someone is the opposite of fixing them. Its going where they go, experiencing what they experience, and keeping with them.
Too often at church we forget and try to fix people. Often we can’t fix someone, or the fix is temporary or we don’t know how to fix them. We can however, love them. We can experience life with them and build the family of God. We can make sure no one gets left behind, or forgotten, and call one another brother and sister.
That’s why we do this church thing, so we can be together in Christ.
And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’
Thanks to Chuck Goodman for the Ohana Lilo and Stitch reference
Moses Asks: Who am I to do all this
God says: I am with you, You are on Holy Ground.
Because God makes Holy Ground to be where God and humanity meet. That is what makes things Holy.
Moses: Who are you then?
God: I am who I am<–God the one and only, often imitated, never duplicated……the living God
Moses: You don’t have a name?
God: I am the God of all things, I don’t need one name, you can name me
26And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? 27He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.’
Exodus 1:8-14, 3:1-15
8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.
3Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ 4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 5Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ 6He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
7 Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ 11But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ 12He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’
13 But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ 14God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’* He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’ 15God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord,* the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:
Won't You Be Our Neighbor
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Love is the answer - now what's your question?
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ROBERT LAMBERT JONES III
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