Death by #Suicide, Waiting for Morning

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

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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

 

Psalm 130

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#Walkout #Prayer #Neveragain (The this is not enough prayer!)

Walkout Prayer

We come for sanctuary Knowing the world is not safe, so we do not trust in the power of mortals or princes but in the Lord, who executes justice–the one who feeds the hungry, and frees the captives.
Breath departs & plans perish, but our God is the God who promises peace, the God who says #neveragain, the God whose kingdom welcomes both the lion and the lamb.
We pray for that day to come.

And then we move, we ring bells, we sing out, we walkout, we post signs, we weep when 6 year olds play lock out, we listen as closely about the 17year old Trayvon Martin as we do to the 17 Parkland Students. We befriend one another, we call mental health when a friend feels violent, we take time to listen to those who are bullied, we report domestic abuse, we give homes to the homeless. We do the hard work of worrying about each other’s safety. And then we work to MAKE the places where we assemble safe. The movie theaters, the churches, the colleges, the kindergartens the high schools, the middle schools, the elementary schools, the daycares, the malls, the homes, the libraries, the public spaces.

And we make our prayer with the work of our hands, each and every day.

May we all pray this prayer together

In the Pit

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.

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It hurts me that these people are very close to who I am: White, Straight, Cis, Christians, etc.

Genesis 37:12,17-28

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

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An African-American Cop bravely protected these Nazis, who are against his humanity.

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Clergy went down for a counter-protest and blocked the Nazis path and peacefully singing “This Little Light of Mine”

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Businesses Closed

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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.

Tasting #God

I look over as I raise my glass, the bread has been swallowed individually, because we are all individuals in Christ, and there is Westley, 7 years old and dead serious.

“This is the blood of the New Covenant, Friends, drink ye all of it” I pronounce. Westley holds his cup as steady as he can…and then he drinks it and we drink it.

And Westley tastes God.

Watching my autistic son take communion, being soothed by its ritual, experiencing the taste of the liturgy in community in a way the wordy-words of the sermon and even the half-warbled hymns from his throat doesn’t.

Westley loves church, because he knows he is loved. He knows he is accepted. Working on body language, empathy & instinct, Westley will run from the room if he feels unwanted. He knows. This little boy who doesn’t sit, not even in front of his beloved electronics without fiddling or bouncing or squishing. Sits solemnly throughout service. participating not just with the community, but as a part of it.

But this is his church, this is his space, he is growing up here. And for a little boy who has a lot of trouble speaking and understanding words, the bread and the cup (grape juice) speak to him.

For Westley, Communion is community, its love, its ritual, its sensational in all the right ways. Communion is the taste of God, the one-ness with humanity. Seeing Westley take Communion is holy ground, because we ask God to be present, and miraculously, God is there. God is in the little boy who carefully picks his bread from the platter, and eats it, waiting for the cup to be raised, so we can drink it, as communion.

 

Rendering Caesar: God & the World

This year my eldest is 8 so when we explained the presidential election, we had a lot of discussion about voting for the person who would be best for everyone, not just me. We explain that greed/selfishness is about valuing oneself over the community, talk about a  heave conversation.

Here in Acts 5:1-11 you have stories of community. After all the lovey-dovey sharing philosophy and the idea that the group will be of “One Accord”<–such a beautiful Idea

But here we are Ananias & Sapphira don’t actually live up to the ideal (ps there’s a reason why we don’t know their names its a depressing story). They sell land and don’t share the profit equally, so they are brought before the community to give account.

I think this is the moment when they could have explained, or apologized, and been int he clear, but they don’t. First Ananias, then Sapphira, lie. Then each of them fall down dead…WHOA!

But here’s the thing, they don’t share their stuff, but more importantly, they don’t share of themselves. They are not honest, they don’t do the work of being mutually accountable. (And note the community doesn’t do the sentencing, they just hold the couple accountable, God does the judging thing)

Put in the context of Jesus, we have Luke 20:20-26 the famous “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar” story. Its a fun one because “spies” try to “trap” Jesus by asking whether taxes should be paid or is that against Jesus’s religion?

Jesus responds by turning the idea on its head. First he subtly mocks the idolatry of money, noting that Caesar’s face is on the money–when Jews make no images of God, nor any idols. Then he says give to Caesar what is Caesar, but give God what is God.

The implications are bigger than world vs. God, thought. The implicit question becomes who do you want to belong to? Do you want to be rendered to Caesar or God? Do you want to be in the power of powers, principalities & politicians–as Nadia Bolz-Weber will say–under the rule of laws and checks or under the grace of God?

One of the words for God in the Old Testament is Accountant or Reckoner, Al-Hasib. It is used in the Old Testament for when God reckons the faith of Abraham (and then in turn asks Abraham to reckon the stars). This is become God keeps the story, the account of your faith, hearing the entire story, understanding the slip ups, keeping track of all of the details. God is the accountant not because God is ready to write us off, but because our God is ready to listen. Just as the church, the ecclesia, the gathering of the community was ready to hear Ananias and Saphira’s account.

Who do you belong to?

I am convinced that we, as humans, need to share our material goods because its good practice for sharing of ourselves. If we are unlikely to share our stuff, then we will never share of our very souls. However, the gathering of the church, the ecclesia, the community, is where we practice sharing our accounts, where we do the reckoning of our faith. We practice faith in community, because the sharing is a basic part of our faith. Church is where we practice sharing our goods and of ourselves. This is where we form the basis of community.

And if that isn’t a political realization about how you live your life, then I don’t know what is. God’s story is the community building story. And how we belong to that community: through rules, powers, principalities and politicians, or by graciousness, mutual accountability and God

Lets go and be that community.

 

Neighbor? Who?

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.

blm

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!

 

 

 

 

#GoodFriday (?!?) #emptiness

Good Friday is an emptiness so loud it echoes

The taste of hopelessness dry upon the the tongue

Its is the silence of all the voices that are not allowed to speak

My God, My God why have you abandoned Me?

Hell existing wherever and whenever love is impossible

Humans visit Hell all too frequently

When terrorists bomb, when children die, when hate masquerades as institutions or gospel or love

When our bodies betray us, when we are at the absolute end of everything we have to give, when sanctuary eludes us

It is the moment when we become stuck in the mire, knowing that even if someone wanted to help….they couldn’t

Emptiness Echoes

Somehow, Christ descended into Hell

The third day he rose again from the dead, conquering even death, even emptiness, even Hell

Making Love exist in impossible places

For Jesus came not to condemn the world, but to save it

Emptying himself

Because God loves the world, this impossible world

 

 

Why #holyweek? #drwho & #depression

Why Palm Sunday? Why do Christians do this crazy Holy Week thing, where we parade Jesus one week fully knowing he will be betrayed and die.
 
Dr Who’s (possibly best) episode in the reboot is a visit to Vincent Van Gogh who struggles with depression. He and his companion Amelia visit, and spend time with this amazing man who could see beauty amidst the the terror. They return to the present and Amy is convinced he would have lived longer, not died by suicide, and made more paintings. Seemlingly, nothing changed. And yet, it counted, Dr. Who says that the way he sees it (and he has had to struggle with his own darkness and good days). Life is a pile of good things and a pile of bad things. The good things don’t fix the bad things, but the bad things don’t ruin the good things either.And Dr Who says “We definitely added to his pile of good things”
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This is not just about Jesus’ resurrection, its about the full scope of humanity.
 
If you map Jesus’ journey he avoided Jerusalem–ping-ponging around Israel. Because he knew his very Being in Jerusalem would cause revolution, because Jesus’ very existence is revolutionary.
 
Ever have the feeling where you just click with someone and you know you are going to be friends? That’s how EVERYBODY felt with Jesus, so when he enters the center of power, the power starts to shift. Because who doesn’t want the person who SEEs you, GETs who you are and what your about, and LOVEs you.
 
Here’s the deal tho….Jesus knows he’s going to die. But whereas I might be cynical or really sad to enter Jerusalem knowing I was going to die, my guess is Jesus accepted it as what it was.
 
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
 
Jesus knows he is going to die, and appreciated it. Because at this moment, at the Hosanna time of the palms, people were good.
 
It was a good thing, and Jesus added it to the pile of good things. Human life is about the good and bad things. This is why we pray about the joys and concerns in our lives. Someone’s joy doesn’t fix someone else’s hurts…but it adds to the good things.
 
I believe that God is in every good thing. I believe that following God is to valiantly look for and add to the good things. Its knowing that especially in the midst of hurt and suffering and oppression, the good things matter. They matter so much, one kind word, one achievement, one moment of child’s laughter–can help you make it through the day.
 
That’s why Palm Sunday–because to be fully human is to embrace the good, to feel and know suffering. I’m sure Jesus had to deal with anxiety and stress, I’m sure he had relationships that didn’t work out the way he wanted them to…I’m sure he saw people hurt and die who he cared about.
 
Why Palm Sunday?
 
Because Jesus knows that suffering is a part of life, but so is joy, beauty and hope.
 
Because Jesus embraces the fact that God is within every-single-day, whether it is good or not (note the verse isn’t this is the good day that the Lord has made). This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

#Sacrifice, #Parable of a #church

A congregation came to Jesus and said, “Good teacher, what must we do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus said, do the commandments. “Love and respect your neighbor. Have courage to do new things. Enter the world to support those in need. Gather as God’s family and honor everyone as human. Render to no one evil for evil, learn how to be more than nice. Pray and support those in need, and open yourselves to the community”

And the congregation said, “Lord we have striven to do all of this”

 

Jesus said, “Then there is one more thing, give away your worship space to be a place of sanctuary for the rest of the community”

And the congregation went away grieving, for their sanctuary was a very beautiful and well cared for space.

Then Jesus said “Trust the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and remember you security is not in possessions or ownership of space and time, but is in God.”

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Mark 10

 

 

#ashwednesday is for….

Ash Wednesday is for when all four of your checks hit after the bank closes but before you can put your husband’s check in, including the really big rent check, and they therefore all BOUNCE!

Ash Wednesday is for your four year old child throwing up all over the house, and not quite getting the try to aim for the bowl or the toilet concept

Its for your special needs kid being better focused in class, even as you worry about his continual bad smell

Its for losing your voice on the night the pastor has to lead service

Its for your eldest who is struggling to concentrate getting a good email from the teacher.

 

Ash Wednesday is to lay out your whole self before God

To confess yourself, not to feel ashamed, but to be able to see yourself as God’s beloved

The very act of owning  who you are and your reality, the act of being you as God’s, frees you to be reflective of God.

I confess myself and seek God…because to me, they are the same thing….

Ps 34:4-5  I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.