From Reading Wendell Berry During Sermon Prep.

“The whole creation exists only by participating in the life of God, sharing in His being, breathing His breath.  “The world,” Gerard Manley Hopkins said, “is charged with the grandeur of God.”  Such thoughts seem strange to us now, and what has estranged us from them is our economy.  The industrial economy could not have been derived from such thoughts any more than it could have been derived from the Golden Rule.

If we believed that the existence of the world is rooted in mystery and in sanctity, then we would have a different economy.  It would still be an economy of use, necessarily, but it would e an economy also of return.  The economy would have to accommodate the need to be worthy of the gifts we receive and use, and this would involve a return of propitiation, praise, gratitude, responsibility, good use, good care, and a proper regard for the unborn.  What is most conspicuously absent form the industrial economy and industrial culture is this idea of return.  Industrial humans relate themselves to the world and its creatures by fairly direct acts of violence.  Mostly we take without asking, use without respect or gratitude and give nothing in return.  Our economy’s most voluminous product is waste–valuable materials irrecoverably misplaced, or randomly discharged as poisons.

to perceive the world and our life in it as gifts originating in sanctity is to see our human economy as a continuing moral crisis.  Our life of need and work forces us inescapably to use in time things belonging to eternity, and to assign finite values to things already recognized as infinitely valuable.  This is a fearful predicament. It calls for prudence, humility, good work, propriety of scale. It calls for the complex responsibility of care taking and giving back that we mean by “stewardship.”

Wendell Berry in The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land, ed. by Norman Wirzba

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While it was still dark

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I woke up at 5:44 am this morning with these words running through my head:

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark…”

They are the intro to the resurrection story.

 

It all starts in the dark. Always, everytime – this is how God does things.

Seeds, chrysalis, the womb, the heat of the earth, the source of the font. The pre-cellular enzymes swimming in the depths of the ocean for billions of years.

All life, all new life, all transformed life begins, “While it is still dark.”

 

We do not serve the God of winning – we serve the God of transforming. This is a big ,big difference.   And this God was not afraid of the dark, of falling, of failure of expectations, of silence – in fact, it was part and parcel of it, of the transformation. It always is.

This God IS NOT afraid of what the dark holds – for it actually is the start of all transformed life.

 

I think of those women who walked in the dark, three days after a violent, bloody, terrifying day. They walked in unknowing, they walked not understanding, they walked forward only doing what they knew to do next. They walked with their hearts broken. They walked not even knowing if their physical safety would be guaranteed in this powder-keg city that cheered at the pain of this One.  This one who took their lives seriously and held their selves with love and kindness.

They walked in the dark.

And they were met. By something they could not have even imagined. By someone who knew their names.

 

This is a Sunday I can get behind – this is such a good story.

This Dark Day We Call Good

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(Christ on the Cross with Two Maries and St. John, El Greco, 1588)

 

If you missed a Good Friday service or you aren’t sure why you would go to one but are interested, here is the story told at The Road Church’s Good Friday service.    We played Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings following the story and gave space for silent reflection.  I’d encourage you to try that too.  

 

Walking Through The Days

So we have been gathered today to live into this story that marks us as a peculiar people, the story of a very dark Friday that we call Good.  We are going to talk about the story, and sit inside of it, just as those first hearers of the gospel would.  I’m telling the story as it comes to us in the book of Luke, if you want to read along, or go home and take a look at it, with a couple details included from other gospels for good measure.

 

A day before the big yearly Passover festival in Jerusalem,  Jesus said to his friends Peter and maybe his friend John, “We should find a place to have a Passover meal. Could you guys go get ready for that?” And they serendipitously found a place, and they got the evening ready.

On that Thursday night, Jesus and his friends sat down together and they ate. They ate this Passover meal, Maybe they had this done every year since they were kids with their families. But this year, this rag tag group of unlikely friends, ate like they were their own new family. They got ready their meal of lamb, of bitter herbs, of unleavened bread. They ate to remember when the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites that had been marked with lamb’s blood, when God saved them from slavery by bringing the realization of death onto their captors.

They sat down and ate together. It had been a long week of keeping up with Jesus preaching in the temple, of being with him while he said hard things and then going off to the Mount of Olives at night, to be quiet, to listen. So it was good to be eating, to be together. But as they ate, Jesus said something strange. Something they did not understand.

And because we are putting ourselves in the story, I’m going hand out the bread and hand out the cups, and we are going to wonder at the actions, the words, this person of Jesus.   I’m going to pass around a plate of bread and cups of wine or juice – take it like you normally would, eat it and drink it like you would when something was passed to you at your dinner table. Feel free to eat and drink it now as the disciples would have that Passover night.

As Jesus passed the bread around he said something strange, “Take some of it. Grab a piece of this bread. This piece of bread in your hand, in your mouth, its my body broken for you, given for you my dear, dear friends.   And he then he passed around a cup, and he said, take some, drink some – this wine is my blood, spilled out for you.”

His friends, used to his ways, but unsure what he meant, broke off hunks of bread and swallowed some wine, and wondered at his words.   They continued with their meal as usual. They talked, they argued over who was going to be greatest. Just like a bunch of humans. And so Jesus took off his robes and sat at their feet like a slave and once again tried to get them to see – that its not the greatest that is to be revered, its not the greatest that saves you,– it is the last and the least, the servant in your midst, the lowering of your own heart.   His words, and especially his actions were deeply affirming to the disciples hearts and deeply disturbing to the ways they were used to living – and well, that’s the way it was with Jesus.

Now, at some point in the meal, something happened to the disciple Judas—he got up and left, not saying a word to any of them, he left—I wonder if someone like John or James noticed the looks, the furtive words between Judas and Jesus. I wonder if Jesus met their questioning eyes, or did he look at his hands, and with a knot in his chest take a deep breath, knowing what the night would hold for him, and knowing what the night would hold for his friend Judas.

 

After this strange, beautiful, unsettling dinner, they followed Jesus and went to the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsamane. They spread out under the trees. Jesus asked, quietly, “Pray-stay awake and pray with me. Please.” I wonder if his voice betrayed him, if it wavered. I wonder if they picked up on it and if they had any clue what day it was that they were walking through or if it was just another normal, wonderfully strange day with Jesus.

Jesus watched his tired friends, fumbling into sleep with all their humanness, and walked to a tree a few yards away. His panic was strong now, his fear rising in his throat.   I wonder if He saw the flickers of firelight coming up the hill. “Father, Father,” he cried. “Please, please take this cup. You could, please.” He tried to remember, tried to put back together in his mind the promises, the promises of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-the promises of God to his own heart. He tried but he could not talk himself out of the fear, he could not get his head above the anguish of waiting for what was coming and so all he could do was surrender to it, let go inside of it, and say “But… Father…do your will.”

 

His friends, the disciples, They tried to stay awake, they tried to pray but must have nodded off because suddenly, in the darkness, flashes and flickers and voices were seen, heard, waking them up.     They saw Judas—he had brought soldiers. He brought men to arrest Jesus. To take him, to try him. The disciples’ anger was quick, firey, palpable, their adrenalin suddenly flooding them. They tried to fight and Peter grabbed his blade, lunging at the big man in front of him. But Jesus’ voice, strong now, was clear as a bell ringing in the mist,

“Peter, no, that is not the way your wholeness will come. That is never the way your salvation comes.” And He, He reached out his hands, touched the man who was there to hurt him, and he touched his wound, his pain, and restored his ear.

 

The shadowed crowd surged around Jesus and seized him by the arms. They walked too fast for his feet to keep up, or maybe it was his knees giving out, betraying his heart and he stumbled. The disciples watched, baffled, so very uncertain as to what was going on, they watched as the soldiers took him, they took Jesus, their friend, they took my lord, to the high priests house, in the dark and his friends, his friends, who had been woken out of their sleep, what had awoken to find the work they had given their lives to was taken and they just stood there. Just like that.   What was happening? What should they do? His friends, with the bread and the wine still in their bodies, were bewildered to the point of anger. Afraid to the point of denial. They were flooded with Confusion, anxiety, despair. These are not words we associate with the triumph of life and love in the world, and yet they are part of the story. They are here, they are part of OUR story and we don’t get to Sunday until we walk through them, honestly.

 

When we, 1000s of years later – generations later, read our story and live into our story, this is the hard part. I find I don’t “live into” Easter like I do with Christmas. At Christmas it is a thing of joy to wait, with expectancy—there’s hardship there, but we know at the end, the gift, the joy, the new life will come and so I’m ok with living in anticipation. But in a very real way, I do not want to have to live through these days that lead up to Easter.

I do not want to live through fear, the kind of fear that makes it hard to breathe. And yet I have. I do not want to live through confusion, bewilderment, the kind that makes me doubt every thing around me. And yet I have.   I do not want to have my expectations about my worth, my work, my family, dashed and trampled – that hurts more than we admit. And yet I have. I do not want to live through pain, through wounds, through messy messy hurt. I don’t want to do the hurting and yet I have . I don’t want to acknowledge that I am afraid and that I’ve denied the truth because of it. And yet I have.

But if we read our story, when we live into it, we know that its exactly here, in fear, sightlessness, weakness, doubt, confusion, destroyed hopes, anxiety, depression, even death, that our Father, our redeemer, plunges his hands right into the middle of it, deep down, and THERE, right there, does his work of transformation. He is not afraid to walk the days before Easter.

I don’t want to have to live into this story. I want a page of instructions, a guarantee and a happy ending with a bow on top. I want to win at life, or at least do well enough that nobody thinks to say anything. I do not want to stumble or fail or not finish in high standing, I do not want my hopes to go unfulfilled, I do not want to fear or be confused. I do not want to be in the dark.

And yet we do not serve a “Winning” God, we serve a “Transforming” God, a Transforming God deeply, inextricably woven into this life. And this changes the whole game.

 

Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Man, was here, now, on this day that we are walking through, at the mercy of thugs. The guards watching him, dragging him, began to mock him. Beat him. Cruelty comes easy. They hurt this man they did not know but had been told was the enemy. They blindfolded him, pushed him around, taunted him with “Prophesy then! Who hit you?” Cruelty comes easy.

Jesus was then dragged to the Sanhedrin, the place where the Jewish leaders met. They had gathered in the early morning, anticipating their victory over the rabble rouser, the one threatening their identity, their power, their understanding of the world. No proof was needed, the only thing that mattered was that his words made them feel threatened. They dragged him before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor who could punish this man the way they wanted. “This man is subverting our nation, he is disrupting what we do. He does not follow the order, the law, we need – that you need.” Pilate looked at Jesus, this bleeding, weak, hurt man. His eyes did not say rebellion, but I wonder if Pilate saw something much deeper in them – much deeper than rebellion, much more disruptive.

“You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. But I don’t see it. He has done nothing to deserve death.   I’ll punish him for you, a good flogging, and then release him,” Pilate finally pronounced.

The roars were deafening. The crowd bellowed to the point of rage – and rage in groups is a terrifying thing. Pilate was faced with the choice of killing an innocent man, or having an unruly protest led by the powerful religious leaders of the region. That wouldn’t look good on his resume back in Rome.

He looked at Jesus, the hurt bleeding man, whose eyes saw way more than Pilate was comfortable with and said, “Fine. But his blood is not on my hands.” He released another man convicted of insurrection and murder. And the Pilate stalked away leaving the People to their own devices. And all I can think about is how when the Everyone is loved, how when everyone matters, and every one is seen by God, how this is incredibly threatening to the ways we are used to doing things.

 

Nameless soldiers then led Jesus away, away to die.  They marched him through the city, down the dirt path. They grabbed a man named Simon from the Passover crowd and made him help Jesus carry the cross, carry that which was going to kill him. A big group gathered behind the soldiers including women, the text says. Women who wept, wailed, and mourned the suffering about to happen. Jesus saw them and knew that the pain they were going to suffer, and soon, even outweighed his own.   I wonder what the disciples were feeling. Their friend, their beloved, their cause, the reason they had left all that was comfortable and easy and embraced all that was hard but good, He was being led away to his death and they could do nothing to stop it.

Jesus was taken outside the city, to a hill called Golgotha which means Hill of the Skull with two other men who were to be crucified. The soldiers hammered nails into Jesus’ hands and into Jesus feet—there’s blood here, there is bodies being broken.   They hoisted the rough wood up and let it drop into its hole. The Body of my lord, the Body of this man hung there, heaving, dying, shutting down on itself, its life being drained with every breath.  We have a hard time imagining the pain. So we don’t. But we do not deny that it’s there, right there in the heart of God.  The pain is great and Jesus of Nazareth, eyes blinded by shock, pain, broken heartedness, cried out “God, where are you? Where did your face go? I cannot see you.”

 

Two thieves accompanied Jesus to the door of his death. I can’t help but think of Jesus in the towel washing his friend’s feet the night before and thinking that this is fitting. Jesus with the rabble, Jesus with the sinners, Jesus with those who have no recourse, Jesus with the lowest, the least and there, there the lowest being found.

One thief said, “Why don’t you save yourself? If you are the Messiah?” And the other rebuked the first and said, “This man has done nothing wrong. We deserve this, he does not.” Then, in what I can only imagine as a miraculous feat of energy, this thief said to Jesus, “please, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Remember me.” And in a feat of unimaginable kindness in the middle of his pain, Jesus said yes.

 

“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land.” For the sun stopped shining.   And the curtain of the temple, the curtain that separated the place where God dwells from the people, this curtain was torn in two from top to bottom and Jesus called out with a loud voice, “FATHER! INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT. It is finished.”  And when he had done this, he breathed his last breath.

 

Its not many of us who get to watch as our loved ones breathe one last breath. But its surprising in its finality and its quietness. Life, and then no life. Breath and then no breath. Thought and then no thought. Sense and then no sense.

 

A centurion, seeing what had happened, was compelled to praise God and said, “Surely this was a right and righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts, as they had been taught to do at such things, but then they went away.

But those who knew him, his friends, with the feeling of his hands on their feet, his voice in their ears, the memory of his bread and his wine being shared among them still bright in their minds–his friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Christ has come, Christ has died, and this is the story we walk through today, remembering that we do not serve a Winning God, we serve a Transforming God. We serve a God who transforms death, not by denying it, but by wading right into the middle of it and declaring even it is His.

 

Let us pray

“Father in heaven, you are holy. This is your kingdom and we do not understand it and it weighs heavy. And yet we live in it. Be with us as we go home to our lives and ponder the nails, ponder the death, ponder what it means to be friends, brothers and sisters with Jesus in this season, and on this day.   Be with us in our vigil, in our waiting, until we meet again. May your hope be what keeps us going. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preaching the Psalms

rainTHIS is why I love Walter Brueggemann:

“Note that the Psalms thus propose to speak about human experience in an honest, freeing way. This is in contrast to much human speech and conduct which is in fact a cover-up.  In most arenas where people live, we are expected and required to speak the language of safe orientation and equilibrium, either to find it so or to pretend that we find it so.  For the normal conventional functioning of public life, the raw edges must be denied or suppressed for the purposes of public equilibrium.  As a result, our speech is dulled and mundane.  Our passion has been stilled and is without imagination.  And mostly the Holy One is not addressed, not because we dare not, but because God is far away and hardly seems important.  This means that the agenda and intention of the Psalms is considerably at odds with the normal speech of most people, the normal speech of a stable, functioning, self-deceptive culture in which everything must be kept running young and smooth.

Against that, the speech of the Psalms is abrasive, revolutionary, and dangerous.  It announces that life is not like that, that our common experience is not one of perfect equilibrium…Perhaps in our routinized prayer life that is one of the reasons the Psalter does not yield its power–because out of habit or fatigue or numbness, we try to use the Psalms in our equilibrium.  And when we do that, we miss the point of the psalms.  MOREOVER, OUR OWN EXPERIENCE MAY BE LEFT UNTAPPED AND INARTICULATE AND THEREFORE UNLIBERATED.  Such surface use of the Psalms coincides with the denial of the discontinuities in our own experience.  It happens daily in the reduction of our language to numb conventions.

Thus I suggest that most of the Psalms can only be appropriately prayed by people who are living at the edge of their lives, sensitive to the raw hurts, the primitive passions, and the naive elations that are at the bottom of our life.  For most of us, entry into the Psalms requires a REAL CHANGE OF PACE.  It asks us to depart from the closely managed world of public survival, to move into the open, frightening, healing world of speech with the Holy One.”   –From Walter Brueggemann’s Praying the Psalms, 1993

 

I know its heady but it is also true.  We live numb – I do anyways, so much of the time.  We let the ways we speak about the world and our own experiences in it dull the true things about it – true things that are at once very hard and very good. The Psalms, if we let them, will give us a way to enter the radically honest, radically hospitable language of a life with God.  And if we can do this together?  Well, we just might have a  community of radically honest, radically hospitable people who are being transformed by the Presence of the Living God right there in the midst of those words.

Truth and Reconciliation at The Road Church

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As you may know, yesterday The Road Church participated in The Blanket Exercise.  It is a learning tool to help non-indigenous Canadians know more of the history of Indigenous people’s in Canada and what the effects of those stories that are still being felt and dealt with today.   I was surprised at the level of impact it had on me to watch my own children, not really having a clue what was going on, being taken to another part of the sanctuary represent Residential Schools.    This small bit of walking in someone else’s shoes has been and will continue to be a point of transformation for me.  The question I couldn’t get away from yesterday, feeling that as I watched my girl’s head walk away was “How does anyone come back from that?”

It is an eye-opening exercise and we did it on a weekend where Indigenous/non-Indigenous tensions are at the forefront in the news with the Colton Boushie verdict.  At The Road Church these last few months, we have been talking about what justice looks like in general, in the bible and why we need to engage with that word and all its implications for our real lives in Calgary (check out the website for any sermons you might have missed).  And in many ways, The Blanket Exercise was a good way to end the series while at the same time, it was a jumping off point.  In very real ways, it highlighted the open-ended nature of the questions we asked.   As we debriefed at the end, so many people said, “Its such a layered history,” and “So what do we do now?”

 

If you are looking for more information here are some websites you can look to.

Check out the website for the CRC’s Aboriginal Ministry and the Canadian Aboriginal Ministries Committee.    These will give you a sense of our broader community’s engagement with the issues as well as worship/reflective resources for you to look at.   CAMC has just this week also put out a reflection for Lent which reflects on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s and our Faith-Full response to it.

 

As well, make sure you check out the magazine Faith Today for articles by Calgarian theologian Mark Buchanon and Christian-Indigenous leader Cheryl Bear on what it means to be reconciled as Christians.  As Cheryl Bear writes, “We can be better together. What are our first steps?”

 

If you are interested in further discussion on what the reconciliation with our Indigenous neighbors that is being asked for looks like and what it means to respond as Christians to this  real-life  justice issue on our doorsteps, we are going to host a Truth and Reconciliation Report Reading Group with its first meeting being Thursday Feb. 15 at 7pm at The Road Church.

 

As always, what was most striking about the day spent with the exercise and with our facilitator Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes was that, even though our worldviews and spiritual understandings are different between Christians and Indigenous peoples, we don’t need to collapse them into sameness to see the value in each other, to be welcoming to each other and MOST IMPORTANTLY to take one another’s stories seriously.  That is an important things to hold on to.   When we talk about God doing his work of reconciliation, its this – that HE does this work in our hearts  when we let down our guard and see each other as God sees us all –  as His beloved children.

The longing for justice is the longing for putting things to rights.  Every human has this longing innately working within them – for ourselves and for others.  As we ourselves are healed inside and out, we then look to be a part of the healing of others.  What would happen if we continue to follow this longing? Where would that thread lead us?  What story would we actually be telling then?  What story do we indeed live out of?    In His grace and peace, and only by the power of that grace and peace,  we will walk down this road together.

 

 

“Yes, no…uh, I forgot what I came in here for…..”

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Thinking with a friend today about how we are free to make choices.   We were talking specifically about having more kids. And the longings on both sides of that question.    But the concept is clear.  We are free, we are made free and we can say yes or no.  And saying yes to one thing means saying no to other things. And saying no to one thing means saying yes to other things.  Seems black and white.  But add some grace in there and maybe its something different altogether….

 

I think about how to do this work-mom balance.  How to do life once I’ve said “Yes” – a big, wholehearted “Yes” to doing work I love to do.  Safe to say I don’t have it figured out.  I still spend a good couple of hours in quality time with those babies of mine each day.  They are thriving and happy kids but I do worry about the tv time.  And the quick dinners.  I am squeezing in a lot of work late at night or early in the morning.  I forget things all the time.  I forgot to pick my kid up from school once.  I forgot to take my kids to the dentist when I made the appt. THAT MORNING!  I bailed on an interfaith dinner last week that was important to me because my kids were in no condition to come with me and we couldn’t find an alternative care plan in time….and I was surprised at how hard and disheartening and like failure that felt.    My brain is often preoccupied with what I should be doing next, it feels full when someone talks while I’m trying to process something.  And the house is closer to a garbage pile decorated with a slime-pocked carpet than a home—well, at least the home I envision smart, capable, fun, brilliant people have.    Also….there’s rabbits…..

 

Yes and no.  Yes to calling and yes to my beloveds.  No to uncluttered entryways…. Its not undoable, this work/mom thing.  But it probably won’t feel clear and without big waves – not for awhile anyways.  I read this just now in the introduction to Colossians Remixed by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmat who happen to be scholars, pastors, married to each other and parents.  And the thing with the New Testament’s vision of life – new life – is that it is done together.  Everything we know about becoming God’s, becoming more our self’s and becoming each other’s happens with those right in front of us.  All we know about God will blossom in community – grown in soil, tilled and fertilized but the harvest comes within community.  And they mentioned how they wrote this book together, over many years, WITHIN their family life – within the first community of intimate living.

“Our three children did not have to “suffer through” the writing of this book.  If they did then the book would in fact lack credibility.  We did not “sacrifice” family life through long absences while researching and writing.  So we offer the kids no apologies.  Rather we thank them for grounding our lives in the important things like learning and housekeeping, playing and growing up, stories and nighttime prayers, tears and laughter.”

My calling only makes sense within the confines of this family, worked out with generosity and honesty and trembling and forgiveness and patience.  Worked out while their lives are rooting more each day in beautiful and hard things.

And that to me is the truth and the “Yes” of this year and this life going forward.  Yes to figuring out how to live this vision of wholeness, reconciliation, and grace IN THIS FAMILY, WITH THESE BABIES, AND THAT MAN WHO IS, AS WE SPEAK, WRESTLING THEM WHILE THEY SHOULD BE BRUSHING THEIR TEETH.  I love them all and all this is for nothing if the truth of restored living does not bear fruit in the growing with, the playing with, the listening to, the story-telling  back and forth that shapes it all.

 

Not sure if any of that made sense.  But tonight, this has helped ground my overwhelmed heart.  In the context of community, this community, will I know this calling fully.  Its not either/or.  Its not family or vocation.   But Both/And/This-sometimes-yes/that-sometimes-No.  Its slower but rooted and that is good.

 

And so now its off to break up the wrestling and read some Captain Underpants, do the dishes and think about good good news.

 

 

“Yeah, About Shithole Countries…..” or “This is our Story, This is our Song.”

 

Oh friends,

I just need to say it here – we are all from shithole countries.  Mine?  Poland after the First World War.  Poland, where the war devastated cities, towns, communities. Poland, where the greed of some led to the hunger of so many, even there, after 1929.  Poland where 3 million jews were marginalized way to easily and with barely a peep from the majority, with deadly, catastrophic, evil results.  That’s a poor, angry, troubled shithole country to me.

He might as well of said “how dare they, the poor and troubled, come to my home and think they deserve to have the food, safety, opportunity that I have. Only people who I would hang out with should be allowed in.”  And if you think this is an American thing, overheard last year, in a popular neighbourhood here in town when a homeless man collecting bottles was walking down the street: “Ugh…that’s why we moved here – so we didn’t have to see this.”

People of God, if we are not upset and hurt by what is happening to our neighbours because it is cutting us to the core of our faith in a good God, then it is because we have missed the Gospel.  We have misread that bible we so vehemently defend.  We have been told and told others, a lie, a mistake, an incomplete story.   And we have enough money and power for our lives to not be impacted by any of this.  We have been told that God loves us and wants the best for us.  And it ended there.  But actually, the story doesn’t end there.

When I was in seminary we had to read the whole bible multiple times-cover to cover.  And I remember staying up all night 2 nights in a row and underlining verse after verse in the old testament and the new about justice.  About caring for the poor,  the foreigner, about ensuring that those who do not have the resources to live whole flourishing lives, be given to and provided for, by those who do have those resources.  Thousands of Verses.  And I was so taken with them because — I HAD NEVER HEARD THIS BEFORE.   I had NO IDEA that this was part of our faith. Oh I had heard, be nice to people – but never in this full-bodied, take others actually seriously, sacrificially and with love way.   And to think I had almost walked away from this faith because, in the way it had been given to me,  it could not actually address the real world.   Thank GOD he did not let me and he gave me that bible in hand – and thank God I had been taught how to read –  for I had received an incomplete story.

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and Love your neighbour as yourself.    THAT IS THE SUM OF ALL OF THIS.  That is the sum of Jesus’ death, sacrifice and resurrection – to bring back together what was torn apart.  Us from God and Us from Each other.  IF we do not actively resist that which tears us, Capital “U” Us, apart, simply because we don’t have to and still live a relatively happy, food-filled life, then we have misread our bibles.  Full Stop.

 

There is a reason Jesus was from a shithole country.  Why?  Because God was doing something about transforming our hearts – sin and brokenness made us obsessed with power, with having, with taking, with being number one.  It made us afraid  to not have stuff and to not have power.  And so in the process, in the incarnated way HE DOES EVERYTHING, he rooted himself in the shittiest shithole, the armpit of the empire, despised – “Nothing good comes from Nazareth”– and said, “Come all who are weary and I will give you rest.  Come find life, find water that heals, nourishes, satisfies.  Be healed and re-enter the life of the world around you.  Come and be made whole by letting go of all the stuff you have grasped to yourself in your fear and dark imagining.  And follow me – poor, homeless, from-the-shithole me and I will give you life…”

 

 

“Lastly, but in many senses most importantly, we are in danger of reducing Christ’s gospel, which we have been charged to preach in full.

If we create an over-emphasis on some elements of the gospel as being more foundational than others, we can lead to a misunderstanding of faith, or a skewed practice of it – i.e. a sense that following Jesus is all about feeling loved, or all about just “me” and “him”.

Many of us have become aware that our faith has become over-individualised in recent years, and so it is no surprise that the way we teach those we wish to protect and nurture the most, can become the place where this over- emphasis is at its most extreme.

Christians are called to have a personal, intimate walk of faith – to know that they are loved, and to pursue a deeper relationship with God. But loving others, and acting to promote justice, peace, and the increase of God’s presence and kingdom in every context we are in (home, school, community, nation and world) is not an add on doctrine that we should teach children when we decide they are old enough to proactively tackle the world’s brokenness. It is absolutely core.

Jesus answered the question ‘What is the greatest command’ with ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’ but he did not finish there – he went on to summarise the rest of the law as ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ – neighbour here literally meaning anyone you have anything to do with. To Jesus, expressing love for God is inextricably linked with loving others. Ignoring, or retreating from, the suffering and injustice in our world – whether in our family, on our street, or in a different continent, is simply not an option. Multi-directional love is at the very centre of the Christian faith.”  from www.thesanctuarycentre.org

 

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I have come to love the Reformed tradition  (so much that I might even call it out sometimes and I will be called out by it sometimes).  And it is rich with the understanding that we help make the world a better place – we “put the world to rights” (NT Wright’s definition of justice) as the response to God’s love.  Justice is exactly our “I love you too Father” that that bible makes abundantly clear (Matt. 25 folks).  It is the manifestation of our gratitude grounded in a clear picture of who we really are and WHOSE we really are and what this Kingdom actually is.

We do it imperfectly, we do it short-sightedly, we do it weakly and that is ok.  We do it on big scales and on small – we do it in the community and in our homes.  We do it in the meals we make.  We do it with our money and with our attitude.  We do it out loud and in private.  At times we will focus on our own needs and at times we will focus on the needs of others.  But we do it, and we are never excused from an orientation towards each other, to putting the world to rights,  because we know our own woundedness, we know the shitholes from whence we came, and we know the love that meets us there 100% of the time.

 

THIS is our STORY, this is our SONG.   I’m going to sing it all the day long.

(just fyi, when I refer to s-hole countries, I am using it rhetorically, to upend the sentiment it was originally spoken in – the truth of the matter is, that the countries referred to, their people and the societies they create, are beautiful and broken and beautiful – like every bit of this world we make a home in.  Beautiful and good with a good dose of the human condition.  Places I would one day be so honoured to see first hand)

Once There Was A Girl….

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So, the rumors are true – this girl is getting ordained!  It seems like a pretty simple sentence but behind it is a lifetime or two of wading through what it means to be a woman of faith, intellect, spirit and questioning.  And it’s at once a hard and good story.   But for now I think its just good to acknowledge that I have found myself amongst some of the clearest, most loving, down-to-earth-real-people Christians and have found my home.   I have found myself amongst women and men who see no issue with being thoughtful, considered, reasoned, informed, passionate about the state of our theology and our world.   These are people who at the same time are deeply prayerful, trusting, seeking, receptive, responsive and open to the Everywhere Presence of God and the proclamation of a good news Kingdom.   I am in a place where being a woman is in no way a liability or an indulgence.   I am in a place where Jesus is pointed to with wonder.   I am home.   This is a home that has good bones and I have been wandering slowly into it, spreading out my stuff, wondering how to best let this little corner of it reflect the reconciling spirit of Christ that dwells within me and within all of us in this community.    Again, that’s a sentence that doesn’t quite portray the depth and challenge those words hold.  But I am here.

 

ANYHOO,  This is a good news story and an unexpected one. A year ago I did not have a CLUE that this was on the horizon.   My mom had just passed away and I was deeply hurting, although there was also present a sense of “enough of this” and I was starting to pray about how I might start teaching and leading more intentionally.  And then the way the opportunity opened up had some pain , some conflict, present in it’s circumstances.   That’s not lost on me – this enterprise of “church” is deeply grooved with our brokenness as much as it is deeply held by God’s faithfulness.

 

So, for those who aren’t familiar,  the CRC takes its theology very seriously (a good thing, really, believe me).  And so they take the examinations of their pastors very seriously.   I was examined on a stage by dozens of men and a few women, and asked questions that I sometimes had the answers to but also sometimes I couldn’t get my own self across to my knowledge and wisdom in that excruciating  moment.  It was hard, humiliating and had all the potential in the world to sow a deep rift of distrust of myself and of others.  But in that, and through the affirmation of a whole slew of mentors in this church,  I realized that even there, even in an examination to determine if I was truly called to this life, church and calling, it wasn’t about me and my abilities to wow anyone, or to prove myself.  It was about He who calls us, me,  into being.     And so even there, God made his “letting go” path, the actual calling we are all called to, known in a deeply visceral and ultimately redemptive way.    Again, it’s a long story….a good one I think though.  And again, this is not lost on me.

 

So this Sunday, November 26 I will officially be ordained in my church, The Road Church.  We will meet in our little chapel, bringing our bagels with us.  People I know well and some I hardly know will be there.  We will sing some songs and someone will talk for a bit about this way of Jesus.  There will be words and prayers.   There will be coffee and I will go home and celebrate with wine.    And it will be a good, normal day.

I have no idea what this means in some ways.  I still am a bit in the “well, huh!” phase of this.  But I do know this–that it is God who works within us to will and to do according to his good purpose – not to create a world of people afraid of other people, not to create a world of us and them, not to create a world where we are afraid of beauty, fun, needs, difference, or people who challenge our understandings of the way we think things are but to create a world in which HIS WAY of life, that which was intended from the beginning and carried out into completion is OUR WAY.  The way of love, mercy, justice, humility,  reconciliation, redemption.  It is the way of being seen and being known.  It is the way of sacrifice and covenant and is a whole earth life long.  It is the way of wholeness and shalom – of the flourishing of all of creation, not just some of us.   It is the way of INCARNATION—the way of Him who let go of all power to enter into real life with real love.  Not one inch of this creation is not loved, known, brought in close.

 

More than a couple people have mentioned to me “You seem happier this year.”  And I think that’s because I get to talk about and even practice these things that have been building in me for years –  And when I talk I get to point to Jesus who is “bringing unity to all things in heaven and earth.”  (Ephesians 1:10) and hopefully draw people up to the table with love and care and mercy and good laughter–and it will be my kids causing the ruckus in the corner.   I am full and I am happy and I am busy and scattered and unsure too.  I am, as they say, #allthefeels

But… to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than anything I could ever ask for or imagine, I am looking.  And so here I am getting ordained to minister and pastor and teach and lead and mostly follow, follow, follow – God help me.

And now that they have me, they won’t get rid of me.

The Exhaustion or Good Freaking God! or How I’m responding to the inter webs this week.

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There is an exhaustion creeping over us who care.  Do you feel it?  I read the news, and then I read the comments and then I see the drivers and then I see hear the casual but in the end dehumanizing dismissals of those who think politically different than us.

 

There is an exhaustion creeping over us who think that it should be expected that not once in a life should a woman have to defend her body and her heart from others who would just take it for themselves.  Make no mistake- our bodies which include our sexuality, do have everything to do with our souls – we do not divorce one from the other.  When one is taken from us, manipulated from us, violently stolen or just assumed it’s not important to us, or important to the world – this is an attack on our souls and its wrong.

 

I’m tired of having to say it and having to speak up though.

 

I am not a Christian because I think people like me are right.  I am a Christian because I read these old words about Jesus and somehow they make my heart leap—they, in a miracle of mystery and call, affirm my whole self.  And these old words were the actions and words and orientation of Jesus to this world –to this good world that he is dedicated to the point of death to restoring, redeeming, reconciling.  Even me – a sensitive girl who grew up loved, and also sometimes confused, who is kind to others but also sometimes am not and who cannot, for the life of me, live in every way I think I should.  And to this “even me” and to this “even you” has a home been given in His words.  For there we are held, known and thought of so highly that even the life and love and every creative force of this universe is committed to making us whole.

 

““Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature.”

Dorothy Sayers…..Thank you Jesus for her.  You better believe she fought it all and she kept stubbornly believing that Jesus even thought she too was a full human.

 

The multitudes of women who are typing “Me Too” onto their facebook feeds this morning….they are doing this out of a deeply horrifying experience of power asserting over their bodies, lying to them about their worth.  They are writing to somehow combat the truth that a raped body will require less jail time than stolen goods. Good Freaking GOD!  What have we misread about the gospel of Jesus that this has been status quo in our “Christian” society and is still ok in our time?  Let us re-read it now – let your sisters re-read it to you now!

If there is one thing we know about following Jesus – its that it’s a following into powerlessness.  Where power is extolled and lived out to the point of taking what you think you deserve – that is nowhere CLOSE to what it means to follow Jesus.   Make no mistake – what you see at “voter values” summits has almost nothing to do with the covenantal redemption story of this whole cosmos we follow Jesus down to in these Scriptures.   Some words might be the same, but if it’s not a shedding and yielding of power, it misses the point.

 

When you decide to be on the side of the women whose bodies have been assumed to be less than their own and less than God’s good creation, you will decide on a shedding of your power to have and to control.  This is the Jesus way and is truly the only way to follow him to the kingdom he is building.

 

I am tired of pulling against the current of our culture that’s mistaken “Christian” for clout, power, right and that’s mistaken success for God’s blessing.   The life of Jesus is one of letting go of our power which is no power really – it all is God’s and it is all for The Other.   This is connected to our race relations, it is connected to sexual assault and violence.  Because you better believe that those whose power and humanity has been dismissed for centuries know what it is to follow Jesus to restoration.  Blessed are the poor, those who mourn, the meek and powerless—they will get it, this kingdom business.   What we read every day over the interwebs is connected to whether we diminish this world God created or whether we participate in the work to reconcile it, bring it into unity and follow to the dark streets this Light that doesn’t blink twice at emptying its self for the sake of the other.

 

The funny thing is, even when we are exhausted, when we follow that power-emptied Jesus down into his full humanity, we will be given back ourselves—we will be given back a creative, spirit-filled life that knows no bounds but continually rejoices when truth is manifested.  It’s a miracle but I’d stake my life on this truth.  The truth that Jesus, the downward path of this Son of Man who doesn’t blink at my femaleness or any other form of otherness, is for us, with us and is busy doing His work of restoration.  Look for that, in your exhaustion.  Look for that reconciliation and rejoice in that.  That is the value we can vote for.  That is His business, His economy, His world He’s not given up on yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encounter

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Let me say that humans are so strange.  I know this because I’ve been one my whole life and I’ve lived with them my whole life.  Even this week, I looked at my husband, who I really truly adore, and he looked at me, who obviously he adores, and  we both thought – “huh?”  He looks at me and wonders why in the world I am not able to put the shoes away in such a way that we can functionally use the closet.  And I look at him and wonder why in the world it is beyond this wonderful man’s capacity to put the dishtowel onto the oven handle instead of bunched up on the counter!   And these are the smallest of the small issues—truly—but they show what is the crux, the meat, of every relationship.

So just track with me–Each of us grows up in a different body.  We are each enfleshed in such a way that no one else ever will have the same body, the same influences, the same words and pictures in our heads.  Each one of us is so incredibly unique in our make-up and thus our perspective on the world.    So someone who stands over here on the left, will see a slightly different reality than someone who stands over here on the right.  Our eyes do this right?  One sees this side, and one sees the other side and when we put them together, we see something much closer to the truth of the object.  By the nature of our bodies and minds being separate and located on a specific place on this earth that no one else can exactly inhabit, we will have different understandings of reality, different points of view, different ideas of what’s important, different ways of making sense and of working through the world.

And this might blow your mind but THIS  is how it was designed to be!  We were built in this way, by a God who made us in the image of His own very flourishing life.  So we were built then to encounter each other over distance—geographical, physical distance and also emotional, intellectual distance – we were made in such a way that we have to communicate and to dialogue with each other in the space between us.

 

And this is pretty amazing.

As the poet John O’Donohue puts it,

“Its just incredible that we can make any sounds that can reach over and across to each other at all…The beauty of being human is that we are incredibly, intimately near each other; we know all about each other but  yet we do not know, nor ever can know, what it is like inside another person…(The truth about the world full of individuals is) that the world is always larger, more intense, stranger than our best individual thought could ever reach.”

 

 

And having different points of view then, its not a sin.   Misunderstanding, miscommunication can happen though.   And the refusal to listen to the other and the possibility for the dominance of one point of view over the other  is where sin can come in though.  That’s where the  potential for damage to each other and outselves can happen.  That’s where the potential of any person or institution with power, like say, a church, can hurt others when it doesn’t listen and dialogue well.  Was it Jonathan swift who said, “We have just enough religion to make us hate one another, but not enough to make us love one another”?

But how we choose to respond, to  listen to our differences and to dialogue with other points of view is a point of invitation from an incarnated Jesus to us.  I can listen to why Brad thinks its so important that the shoes be lined up, why its important to his understanding of the world, for how he functions.  And He can listen to why I understand the world to be better when the dishcloth is hung up on the oven rack.  We can listen, hear, and respond to each other and take each other’s view seriously, work to find a solution and contribute to a flourishing relationship.

 

So the key words here then are “listening” and “responding.”   And its no small thing that the Hebrew word for obedience is actually rooted in the word for “listen”  – listen and obey—obey is not just do what I say because I said so, but for grown ups, to obey is to listen and then respond to what is being said.  Listen and respond to your mother’s point of view.  To your your son’s point of view, to your neighbors point of view.  Listen and respond so those who have experienced something you have not and who have knowledge you do not– and then to respond with your life and your knowledge.  Listen and respond to God, to his voice and his way—to God’s point of view.

Being made for relationship means listening and responding to this Word.

 

What we are finding in this meditation on relationships can be described as ENCOUNTER.  At the heart of relationship is the space in between us where we “encounter”, where we touch, where we listen to words, to bodies, to hearts.  Where we speak words back and forth, where we dialogue, we learn, we grow – so imperfectly but we keep doing it.  This is the echo that calls us towards God.

 

Our lives are encounter.

Our faith is encounter. Story after story of encounter.  Here’s one:

 

To set the scene…In the gospels Jesus is different than other prophets and other preachers.  The drama of Roman occupation and the tensions of religious, communal life created many men who travelled and taught, but there is nothing like Jesus in the literature of the time.  While there is a lot of history about other prophets and their teachings, their speeches, their precepts,  what’s unique to the gospel accounts is how they recorded the small stops between the speeches and teachings of Jesus.  They recorded the interruptions in the “grand ministry” the constant encounters are remembered, not just the concepts, precepts, new rules for living. Its telling us something that those moments are what was recorded.   And even more telling is the fact that the encounters recorded are with rich people, with poor people, with sick people, with powerful people, with powerless people.  Jesus’ ministry, and the importance of his ministry to those who followed him  was definitively rooted in HIS encounters.  These totally unexpected encounters are really the meat of his work.  This fact alone in the life of Jesus should startle us – even a little bit.  There is not one bit of human reality, not one bit of human life that is an impediment to his message, work, love-there is not one encounter that distracts him from this work.  The God of the universe is incarnated in every encounter – encountering others is his work.

 

In Mark 5 is a story of encounter like this.   Jesus and his friends enter a village in Galilee—rural, fishing, backwater, no name town- maybe 500 people, maybe less.   By this time Jesus was a bit of a celebrity, however reluctant, and there have been rumors in the air – at the markets, over fences, there has been talk of this prophet out of Nazareth who teaches with authority and who heals – not with magic and incantation and payment but with a word or two and with his presence, his proximity-maybe a touch.  This sort of celebrity news does in this village what it still does in us – it makes them hopeful, it makes them talk, it makes them want to see it – out of curiousity and out of an unspoken hunger to harness something that  will work for them, maybe somehow it will make them bigger, better by them experiencing it.  Maybe it will heal them?  Maybe it will give them what they’ve always wanted?  We still respond to celebrity and trends and “buzz” like that.

 

Jesus comes to this no name town and he is met by the synagogue leader or ruler – he is a powerful person in this small town, but he comes with a direct and desperate request.   His daughter is sick, to the point of death, would Jesus please come.   Jesus stops for this encounter – and says, yes, I’ll come with you.

 

The crowd, which would have been mostly men in that segregated culture, surged around Jesus here in this village commons.  They were eager to watch the action, eager to see the local celebrity at work—ooooh something’s going to happen, oh I heard about this.  Shouts, laughter, excitement, servants, disciples, energy, heat from the sun, heat from the bodies, a whole scene making its way towards Jairus’ house.  And then suddenly Jesus stops.  The whole procession jostles – those on the outskirts of the action keep talking, laughing, awareness that something is going on is slow to reach them.  Jesus stops suddenly and says, “Who touched me?”  Who touched me?  Who reached out across the distance between us and touched me and took some of my power?”  And the disciples, maybe with a  patronizing side-eye, said “um, look around you.  Everybody is touching you.”  But Jesus looks around again and looks at the faces….  And he sees one. One who absolutely should not be there.  He looks at her for indeed, it is a her, a woman who dared to reach out and I wonder if he asked again, “Who touched me?”  “Who are you who touched me?  Who are you who has touched me and taken some of my power?” he is saying right to her.  Jesus knows something significant has happened in this encounter- he felt it.   And she makes a small movement forward and says “ I did – I thought if I grasped you, even just a bit of you, I would be healed.” And in that moment, she also knows that she was.

 

Imagine now the crowd’s response.  This is a small town, these are the men of this village here to see with a mixture of hopeful and greedy hunger the Jesus who everyone is talking about and they’re on their way to a miracle.  Then  Jesus draws attention away from the immediate need happening to a woman who is on her knees, in the midst of them, not looking up. They know who she is.  Immediately a ripple of revulsion shivers through this crowd.   This nameless woman has been bleeding, hemmoraging, for 12 years.  She has been experiencing menstrual bleeding for 12 years.  And in both the religious and roman culture of this village, that is a relationship death sentence.

 

Because in this culture—the broader roman cultures and the jewish culture within it, we know that when a woman was menstruating, she was regarded with wariness or even downright hostility and derision.   Pliny the elder, a Roman writer and historian writing in this area around this time writes that contact with a woman who is having her monthly flow, through a dress, or through touch would make “new wine sour, makes crops wither, kills skin grafts, dries seeds in  gardens, causes the fruit of trees to fall off, dims the bright surface of mirrors, dulls the edge of steel, kills bees, rusts iron and bronze.  Dogs that come near a bleeding woman become insane and their bites poisonous.”  I’m not joking.  This is the world and culture that determined encounter and the relationships of real people, in the place of the world God came to live with us.

 

 

You put that general, in-the-air culture together with the religious culture of this small jewish towns.  For hundreds of years, generation after generation, God’s chosen people, the Jews, they have been telling themselves, “We have been occupied and dominated because we did not fully live by God’s laws.”  So you better believe that those purity laws were being taken very seriously.  And within jewish purity laws, when a woman is bleeding, or even if you touched a dead body, or a dead animal on the road, you are unclean and therefore cannot be touched so as not to make anyone else unclean.  And being unclean is a big deal because an unclean person cannot experience God, you cannot go to the temple, cannot make sacrifices, you cannot enter God’s presence and experience God so it was important that you avoided someone who was unclean.

So its within this culture and religious life that this woman dared to be encountered.

Everyone in this town and every man in this crowd knows that this woman has been bleeding and is unclean and therefore  has been beyond the realm of touch and encounter for 12 years.  She has not had a moment in the last 12 years where she has been touched or where she has touched.  She has not known any form of contact let alone a hug, or even a welcome—“Oh I’m glad to see you here”  no one said that in 12 years.  Depending on how strict this town and synagogue was, She might not have even been able to touch a piece of furniture that someone else might touch.  No one is welcoming her to their house.  How many subsequent years then, has she been without dialogue, without conversation? How many have been without eye contact?  How many people remember her name.  Maybe some people feel pity.  Maybe people left food out for her.  All her money, every resource she has, has been spent on doctors the text says.  But after a while, how many people start to think she must have done something wrong – this must somehow be her own fault.   And we do, even now, to somehow reassure ourselves that something this horrible won’t happen to us.  How long was it until they all start avoiding her gaze? And once that’s done that its easy forget that she has a heart and a voice and an experience, parents, a background, a perspective – she is just a body to be avoided.  She has been reduced to this one thing of which she cannot do a thing about.

 

 

This woman, crouched unseen, and she risked making every man there unclean.    Moreover, she dared to make the celebrity in their midst unclean. The prophet they eagerly hoped would do something they could gossip about for weeks.  The honored guest and the prophet who at this moment was on his way to Jairus’ house – argueably the most powerful man in town’s house to heal his daughter.  Imagine Jairus’ jaw dropping in the moment that crowd cleared to reveal her and the horror of what’s going on dawns on him.  His hope for his daughter’s life is in one moment of touch doomed – Jesus can’t touch her now.  Jesus can’t even come into his house now for Jesus is unclean.  His daughter is as good as dead and indeed a servant shoulders up to him in this moment and says – its too late my lord, she is gone.  Grief and rage probably don’t even begin to start to describe what is erupting in this man, this crowd at the sight of this woman daring everything for encounter.

 

“Who are you who touched me?  Who are you who took my power, who made me unclean and took some of my power of life and authority for living for themselves?  Who?” the word who reaches over the distance says to this woman.  I wonder if she told him her name.  I wonder how long it had been since she had told someone her name.

 

 

 

This is the power of this echo, this longing which is a call for each of us to know encounter, to know relationship, to know the truth that we are made for each other.  And THIS is where it intersects with Jesus.  We were made to work through what it means that we have to encounter other human beings.  We are not disembodied souls destined to transcend it all in a cloud of holiness, we are bodies, hearts, minds, and souls made to reach out and meet in the middle.  And its hard and we are weird creatures and it requires work, effort, humility, listening, speaking up and forgiveness and maybe a willingness to get unclean.  But this is the echo.

Then the words, “You are healed. You are made whole. Your faith has saved you. Go live.”

 

Every human is made for relationship.  This unnamed woman was made for relationship and it was her need for encounter, relationship that drew her to Jesus.

For her, “being saved” by Jesus was not to come to some intellectual or even moral conclusion about him.

Her salvation came when Jesus showed up in her town and she dared to think that even she might be made whole  and therefore be able to enter the fullness of her birthright as a daughter of God made for relationship.  And that’s what God intended all along for her, that is why Jesus, stopped EVERYTHING, reached back to her across that space and this is exactly what he does for every one of us.

 

 

 

Jesus, this Jesus we sing about, he didn’t stop there though.  He and his complete disregard for what others thought made him unclean then went to JAirus’ house, and he dismissed the people there that day who would gossip and hang around to see what would happen, and for the sake of that daughter and those parents he healed her-without the crowd, without the fanfare, he just did what this encounter asked of him.

2 women, one old and one young, being made whole and entering a new life of relationships, of knowing and being known.

 

 

 

 

So….questions then.

Where are the encounters in your life – where at work, where in your home?

Who is it that is reaching across the space and reaching out?

How can you listen to what’s being said from another perspective?  How can we do that as a church?

 

Who are you that is longing to reach out?  Are you ready to answer and say your name and what you need?  Are we all ready to hear and welcome another’s name, another’s story.

 

And what indeed is in the space between us—A better question is WHO is in that space between us?    Well, its Jesus, the Lord, the one whose presence, without payment, magic or incantation, can indeed restore us to him, to ourselves, to each other.   To what our hearts truly long for.

Lets pray.