Friday, February 21, 2014
Reminder from yesterday: People often think, “I’ve put that (traumatic event/loss) behind me.” Or, “I saw a counselor (or talked with my pastor) about that at the time.” All the while they are wondering why certain present time events or encounters keep bother them or bring up the long ago pain or struggle. What folks don’t take into consideration is that: they have changes, their lives have changed. The meanings they constructed in the past (on their own, with a pastor or therapist) may no longer fit.
We often need to go back later and form new meaning from old, long past struggles. It is simply a part of our human condition. If you think about it, look how long the followers of Jesus have been trying to live into the meaning of his death and resurrection…
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The reign of the Kingdom of God is most often most powerfully proclaimed by those who are least aware of it. Jesus knew that so when he, “sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:41-44).
And when I was sitting in my group room earlier today a widow told this story: “I used to frequent this little food pantry once a week. Somehow they had so much bread, much more than they could give away before it would mold. They would give it to me and I’d drive it around and donate it to other food pantries. I only quit when my car broke and I couldn’t afford to get if fixed. I miss that and I wonder if someone else started driving the bread.”
Monday, February 17, 2014
Here is what I learned today: Church matters. It matters, I think, enough or even more to the folks who are not in the pews than it does to us pew sitters. What should matter for us churchy folk is the mirror of cultural perception. All those Spiritual But Not Religious, Lapsed Whatevers, Grew Up In A Tradition But Quit Goings, still care about what we believe, what we say about the Bible and their lives. They are sitting home and watching the Discovery Chanel, the National Geographic Chanel, the History Chanel and they are filtering what they are hearing through the lens of whatever they remember from as much Sunday School as they got. They are filtering it through the who they year the Christian church is on the news and they believe what they are told, at the same level of faith development that they had when they were 6 or 7 or 12 years old.
All these things do not make sense to them and how they have experienced life and who they are and who they fear they are…. So they are not in our churches. They look to google and drink, sex and sports and drugs and whatever else they can find to distract or numb or forget or avoid.
I learned this because something deep inside me, the Holy Spirit me thinks, got me responding to a question in my morning group with a brief overview of how the cannon was developed —they had no idea that there was an oral tradition and that the Bible as we came together as the result of men sitting around deciding what parts of the tradition to include and exclude— and the realities of “Biblical Authority” –they’d never considered that folks who claim it to support their position have picked over and left out all kinds of Biblical injunctions that they’ve decided no longer have hold over their lives.
And because there were gay folk in the room, I gave a brief overview of how the Bible once was used in this country to unreflectively enforce slavery and to subjugate women (issues I am aware upon which we still need to work). I told them briefly about the overwhelming medical evidence supporting the truth that same gender sexual orientation is as natural as heterosexual orientation.
To my amazement, the folks in the group were on the edge of their seats. They were finding the words of grace for which they’d been longing. Even the souls, who, by the everyday beliefs and practices and configurations we live in most of our churches, we’d consider the most reprobate, couldn’t get enough of this unexpected grace. “I like what you’re selling,” is a compliment from a reformed gangbanger with several stints as guest of the state, especially one committed to trying to turn his life around.
These folks who are not in our pews need to be, not for us so we don’t die. Are we not to follow Christ’s command to be proclaiming the salvation of humankind? And isn’t the salvation of God’s compassionate live for their very lives, exactly what they are looking for.
It matters then for more than just us churchy folk, what we say we believe and how we live what we believe and how we treat one another and the least among us. Was not the marker of the earliest followers the proclamation from those who were not among their numbers, “See how they live one another?” And, do we not love Jesus loving our neighbors, especially those who are the least? In these we exhibit the Kingdom of heaven to the world.