From My Reading – April

  “What I began to see was that the Bible is not essentially, as I had always more or less supposed, a book of ethical principles, of moral exhortations, of cautionary tales about exemplary people, of uplifting thoughts—in fact, not really a religious book at all in the sense that most of the books you would be apt to find in a minister’s study or reviewed in a special religion issue of the New York Times book section are religious. I saw it instead as a great, tattered compendium of writings, the underlying and unifying purpose of all of which is to show how God works through the Jacobs and Jabboks of history to make himself known to the world and to draw the world back to himself” (Frederick Buechner, Now and Then.)

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One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers” (Gwendolyn Brooks).

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“Speaking about religion and race in 1963, [Abraham Heschel opened], “At the first summit on religion and race, the main participants were Pharaoh and Moses,” continuing, “racism is satanism, unmitigated evil.” Having fled Nazi Germany he knew all too well that racism diminishes our humanity, denies God as the creator, and shatters every principle of the Bible. He understood the systemic nature of racism, how it is institutionalized in an economy that forces some people into horrendous poverty, and in laws that function as barriers to guaranteed rights of education, housing, and medical care” (Susannah Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, Essays by Abraham Joshua Heschel)

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I realize  that there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go” (Jeffrey McDaniel).

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“I rarely see a sermon that lacks specificity on sin but that is great at propping up instances of grace.  It is almost always the other way around.  But we all need those boosts of seeing grace in action.  Because when a sermon or just an ordinary news story displays for us glimmers of shalom and vignettes of grace, our hearts sing.  Our pulses quicken.  And there’s a reason: God made us for exactly this” (Scott Hoezee in a blog post on The Reformed Journal:  The Twelve, February 16, 2021).

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“Jesus teaches his disciples through his lifestyle, a kind of “seminary of life.” He takes them with him (Mark 1:16–20) and watching him, they learn the cycle and rhythm of his life, as he moves from prayer and solitude to teaching and service in community. [As] crowds got to know him, they went after him.]  Can’t you just see the apostles standing at Jesus’ side, watching him, noticing how he does things: how he talks to people, how he waits, how he listens, how he’s patient, how he depends upon God, how he takes time for prayer, how he doesn’t respond cynically or bitterly, but trustfully and yet truthfully? Can you imagine a more powerful way to learn?” (Richard Rohr in Daily Meditation for February 21, 2021)                 

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“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence” (Rachel Naomi Remen).

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 “Every year you grow, you will find me bigger,” (Aslan, the Great Lion, C.S. Lewis).

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On Death and Resurrection

On Monday morning, October 5, I went into my husband’s bedroom to remind him that I had a Zoom call with my spiritual formation group and asked him if he wanted breakfast.  He shook his head no. I told him I would fix his lunch after the call. I think he nodded.

About ninety minutes later, I went back into his room and reminded him that it was time for his nebulizer. I helped him put it on and then went into the kitchen.  After two or three minutes, something told me to go back into his room.  I walked in to see him struggling to get the nebulizer off. I took it off. The rails to his hospital bed were up; I had never tried to lower them.  I leaned over and took his hands and began crying. He looked at me; then rolled on his side.  His body jerked three times. And then he was dead. I had no idea what to do.  He had been with hospice about three weeks.  We had talked about how to make him comfortable, not what to do if he died.  I called a member of my spiritual formation group who is a retired hospice nurse.  She was in the car taking her grandsons somewhere. She told me to call hospice, and she would call another member of our group to come and help.

After that things were a blur.  I went in and out of Fred’s bedroom, I guess to see if he had really died.  My friend came and called the funeral home.  The  hospice nurse finally came and, checking him, verified that he had died. She began carefully cleaning him up. I thanked her. She said, “It’s an honor.” Then she said, “I can’t believe this happened so soon; he was doing so much better with the changes in medication.”  I agreed and left the room sobbing. 

The men from the funeral home came, and put Fred on a cart and rolled him into the garage   He said I could say my good-byes and then they would take him to prepare him for cremation.  I immediately flashed back to a scene more than twenty-five years ago when Fred and I and his ex-wife awaited the transport of his 22-year-old son from the prison where he had died of unknown causes.  They brought him into a hallway with a blanket over him from the waist down. Fred collapsed and life changed forever.

I was determined not to collapse, but I didn’t know what to do as the men stood in the hallway waiting for me to say good-bye.  I held his hand and stroked and kissed his face and then walked away, never to see him again.

For weeks I struggled with the question, “Where’s Fred?”  At the beginning it was a real question.  I would wake up, get up, and wonder, “Where’s Fred,” I would walk in the house after getting the mail and wonder, “Where’s Fred?”  I would run into his room to share some news event and see that the room was empty. Several times I dreamed of wondering in a panic through huge open rooms or out in nature, calling for Fred.

About three months ago, “Where’s Fred?” became more of an existential question.  I created a “grieving wall” in my study where I taped poems and notes and writings from people who had faced the deaths of loved ones. During Holy week, I read everything on the wall, noticing how many paragraphs I had saved spoke of Resurrection. They had touched my heart and my soul and even spoken to my intellectual questioning. On Good Friday I decided I would share some of them on a blog post; perhaps someone else in mourning would find the help I had. And now, on Easter, here they are.

*****

“For if we genuinely love Him,

we wake up inside Christ’s body

Where all our body, all over,

every most hidden part of it

is realized in joy as Him

and he makes us, us utterly real, and everything that is hurt, everything

that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,

maimed, ugly, irreparably

damaged is in Him transformed

and recognized as whole, as lovely,

and radiant in His light

we awaken as the Beloved”

in every last part of our body” (Symeon the New Theologian, 949-1022)

*****

“Where are we going? After a very short visit to earth the time comes for each of us to pass from this world to the next. We have been sent into the world as God’s beloved children, and in our passages and our losses we learn to love each other as brother, or sister. We support one another through the passages of life, and together we grow in love. Finally we ourselves are called to exodus, and we leave the world for full communion with God” (Henri Nouwen).”

*****

“The resurrection is God’s way of revealing to us that nothing that belongs to God will ever go to waste. What belongs to God will never get lost – not even our mortal bodies. The resurrection doesn’t answer any of our curious questions about life after death, such as: How will it be? How will it look? But it does reveal to us that, indeed, love is stronger than death. After that revelation, we must remain silent, leave the whys, wheres, hows, and whens behind and simply trust” (Henri Nouwen).

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“In the eternal world, all is one.  In spiritual space there is no distance.  In eternal time there is no segmentation into today, yesterday, and tomorrow.  In eternal time all is now; time is presence.  I believe that this is what eternal life means:  it is a life where all that we seek – goodness, unit, truth, and love are no longer distant from us but are now completely present with us” (John O’ Donohue).

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Easter Sunday, 1945

Some time ago I watched a moving episode of NCIS. One of the story lines on this episode saw Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the “Boss” of the unit,  commandeered by his aging father to visit a dying WWII vet who had saved the father’s life during the war.  The moving story becomes even more moving when it is revealed that the airman who saved the father was a German whose  fighter plane bore a huge swastika.

The story brought not only tears but also the reminder of  a story from my own life.  My father, a young minister of a Reformed Church in America congregation in New Jersey, volunteered as a chaplain during WWII and served with the 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division.  As a chaplain, he was also medic’s assistant and was always at the battalion aid station usually within 800 yards of the forward infantry lines.  On Dec. 17, 1944 after negotiating with German officer to stop bombing a house in which soldiers he was treating were hiding, he was incarcerated in a German prisoner of war camp. In March, 1945, the prisoners were liberated and began a long march to Allied lines.  It was during the march that the incident occurred which the NCIS episode brought to my mind. It is recounted by a fellow soldier who shared it with me:

Rowland Koskamp was ‘every man’s preacher.’  He was the sort of person who gave courage and confidence to his friends  and all others who came into contact with him during our time as POW’s.  He calmed the griper, supported the downer, let it be known that our present circumstance was only a temporary setback and that there is a caring God who is concerned and offers eternity to those who call upon him.

Easter Morning, April 1, 1945!  We had been on our trek for about a week with early mornings on the road.  Usually we were placed in barns where we would spend the night.  Rowland had requested that Easter morning be spent at the same farm at which we had spent the night so that those who wished to attend a service could do so. Those of us who wanted to attend a service were taken by the guards to a nearby corral.  I was one of the last into the corral, and I was standing at the rear of the group.  Just before Rowland’s first words, the German Colonel in charge of a group of about 300 prisoners entered the corral, closed the gate and stood next to me.   Rowland’s message was first about the meaning of Easter, the historical event and its meaning to Christians.  Then he delivered a powerful sermon on man’s inhumanity to others and the need for people to overcome petty human concerns and to serve God and one another.  The Colonel, standing beside me, was in nearly constant movement as he almost imperceptibly twitched and dug his toes into the mud of the corral.

Always a very innovative and thoughtful man, Rowland had saved his bread ration for a few days and had somehow obtained a bottle of wine in the war-torn countryside.  Then he led us in communion.  He passed a part of a loaf of dark bread.  Each broke off a piece and passed the bread along.  The Colonel accepted the bread from me, broke off a piece, and passed it along.  When all had been served, we took the bread together.  Then the bottle of wine was passed and each of us, including the Colonel, took a sip and passed the bottle along.  To me it was an extremely meaningful time, especially as I shared the loaf and the wine with a man who was our enemy. 

This deeply moving experience occurred on the last Sunday on earth for Rowland and the Colonel.  They were both killed on the following Thursday.

Another soldier’s account of the deaths of the Colonel and my father reports that they occurred while 600  American planes were  bombing the city of Nuremberg. At the end of the raid, the American pilots dumped their remaining bombs on a train station near the liberated POWs  (who were running for cover) and blew up a railroad car loaded with munitions.  Another American chaplain was sent to secure dog-tags from the bodies of the dead and came to one that read Rowland A. Koskamp.  He says he quickly dropped the tag, reached for his shirt collar, saw his cross, and said a prayer for his wife and little daughter. (I have the cross which was made into a ring.) My father was 29 when he died in service to his God and his country.  I was two.

Dr. Gregg Mast, former President of New Brunswick Theological Seminary and a friend of mine for more than 50 years wrote an article about my father in The Church Herald (April 2001), the former denominational magazine for the RCA.  He said this:

Four days after Koskamp’s tragic death, in a camp named Flossenburg, less than fifty miles from where Koskamp was killed – a young German theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer was taken out and hanged for the opposition to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.  An English officer who was with Bonhoeffer at Flossenburg later described his last service on Sunday, April 8.  The words sound like an eerie echo of Koskamp’s last service, just a week before. 

“Pastor Bonhoeffer conducted a little service of worship and spoke to us in a way that went to the heart of all of us.  He found just the right words to express the spirit of our imprisonment.  . . . He had hardly ended his last prayer when the door opened and two civilians entered.  They said, ‘Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.’ The next day he was hanged in Flossenburg.”

Two pastors.  One American, the other German.  One known and loved by his family, friends, and small congregation in Raritan, New Jersey.  The other, already known by a world that had heard and heeded his courageous voice of prophetic sanity and ethical love.  Two pastors, both tragically killed by their own countrymen in a war that has helped produce what Tom Brokaw called the “greatest generation.”

This Easter Day, thank God for the lives of the men and women who served in armed conflict, many in the name of the Risen Christ. There are hundreds of stories like these two affecting the families of  millions of Americans, English, Germans, French, Russian, Canadian, Japanese . . . .  we could name every nation in the world.  The legacy of those men and women should be that those of us still here, especially those of us who are Christian, will find a way to love, forgive, and share life with those on the other side.

And in April, 2021 as we mourn again the death of George Floyd, it seems more crucial than ever to find a way to get along with people who are different than we are – and even look for ways to save their lives.

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Sharing Our Hope


Many years ago, I served on a statewide volunteer adult literacy board. Jim (not his real name), a business owner, was also on the board. He was controlling and sometimes rude, verging on crude, and I tried to stay out of his way.

However, one day during a break at a meeting, he was quite vocal about his struggles and depression. He eagerly shared with me his fascination with a song by Pink Floyd that likened human existence to a bunch of worms living in a can, tromping all over each other in a fight to get to the top and escape the can. He said that image described his life experience perfectly.  I was horrified by his dark and desperate view of life.

 At another meeting, as he shared his “glass – totally empty” view of life, I got up my nerve and said I disagreed with him. I told him about the view God has of each of us and of the world he created. I suggested that he read the first three chapters of Genesis.  He grimaced.

Several months later, he came to the meeting with a huge smile on his face. He told me that recently he had been hiding from life on the couch in a state of depression, when my suggestion to read the Bible came to his mind. He said, “I decided that I couldn’t feel worse, so I tried it.”  I nodded in total shock. He reported that he began with Genesis and read through the entire Bible – and he had met God.  As he talked, I was reminded of Jacob wrestling with and then yielding to God. I was stunned by his softened heart.

Light in the Darkness

As the next few months went by, the chatter among the board members became, “What’s going on with Jim? He has totally changed!”  Finally Jim told his story to the whole group. He described changes he was making in his marriage, including respecting his wife more and spending more time with his daughter. He talked about new attitudes about his business ethics and changed policies regarding the treatment of the employees at his manufacturing company. His vision for his purpose in life now matched his new commitment to Jesus. Jim was still Jim, but, as Richard Foster likes to say, he was more of the Jim he had been created to be.  Light had come into his darkness.

Sometime later Jim brought me a photo he had taken, a gorgeous, beautifully –framed, 24” x 18” photograph of Lake Michigan at sunrise.  Through tears he explained that it was a thank you for being willing to share my hope with him when he was at his lowest – a hope that he now also shared with others.

 That was my first venture in what Peter recommends (and demonstrated):  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Peter 3:15). As my faith journey continued, I began to understand that what James Bryan Smith says is true, “[People] don’t want a lengthy explanation about authority of the Bible or why the Muslims are wrong. They just want to know what happened to you, how you got caught up in a new story with a new set of practices.”

People don’t want our sermons.  They want our stories. They want to know the reason for our hope. I’ve discovered that telling stories and sharing experiences that also have a reference to the larger story of Jesus becomes easy, even second nature. That’s because it’s not a forced presentation, not a required download of information. That is especially true in our American culture now. Our neighbors and co-workers and friends at the gym generally don’t care about theology. They care about how we make it through the day and why we love and serve the way we do. The Easter season is a great time to tell someone about how we are “becoming more of the person we were created to be.”

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Lent 2021: Not What We Give Up But What We Live For – Part 4, Selfless Love

holylent“This Lent needs to be not what you will give up, but what you will live for. Not how you might demonstrate your piety, but how you might live in true obedience to God. Not what you will prove, but what reproves you” (Karoline Lewis in “Working Preacher” (Feb. 26, 2017).

This series on Lent was first posted in February and March, 2017 and has been updated. It is fascinating to observe how much more difficult our lives have become in four  years. These Lenten meditations will be posted on Tuesdays and Fridays.

SELFLESS LOVE

Today’s political climate offers many challenges – particularly to Christians! How do we stay informed without drowning in anger?  How do we bless those who are on “the other side.” How do we truly model the love of Jesus in a time of dissent and anxiety? Here’s  a distillation of a practical message from the writings of Cynthia Bourgeault and Richard Rohr.

First of all, as a general principle, we need to recognize that the opposition we face is not actually the problem to be overcome. For example, my husband once visited with a family whose seventeen-year-niece was pregnant by a much older man who also was involved in human trafficking. During the visit, the mother, an aunt, and other family members berated the girl for being stupid and worthless.

As Fred and I discussed ways that we might softly intervene in this seemingly hopeless situation, I thought: The pregnant girl is not the problem. If it were, we could perhaps help. The problem is this dysfunctional family. All of these people are so caught up in their own issues (homelessness, unemployment, feelings of anger and revenge, manipulation, etc.) that the girl and her baby have been lost in the shuffle. They can’t solve the problem of their problem-filled family by pointing fingers at one member.

Second, it is appropriate to resist an idea or philosophy that we cannot agree with. What Cynthia Bourgeault calls “holy denial” is the only way to bring needed change. Someone has to think differently and offer other options. I think this is the example Jesus set for us. He spoke into many issues of his day – especially the rigidity of the religious leadership – and he brought something new to the table: love trumps rules.

Thirdly, when we have reached an impasse, a place where we just cannot agree, we have to make a conscious choice. We can choose to believe that the enemy is never a problem; instead it is an opportunity. Rather than trying to annihilate or silence the enemy, usually with angry words or insults, we can try to live in the tension and work collaboratively together for a creative solution that is totally new. As Bourgeault says, “If we are locked into ‘this’ or ‘that’ thinking, “the pendulum swings back and forth or stays stuck in an impasse.” Forward motion requires stepping outside of binary options and looking for something new.

As Albert Einstein famously said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” If we are going to make progress on any issue, big or small, we need to move into a new space, a new consciousness, a new direction, a new energy. Bourgeault says, “This process gives everyone a valuable role to play in the creation of something genuinely new.”

So far, so good. Now . . . here is the problem. The main ingredient for making this process happen is a Christ-like love which truly wants the best for all concerned. Self-less love is the only way to bring reconciliation into the equation. What would American politics look like if reconciliation were the goal? How would the life of the pregnant teen mentioned above change if all family members put aside their own issues, stopped thinking about this girl  as a problem, and worked together to love her and find ways to plan for her and her baby.

Apprentices of Jesus have the opportunity, the responsibility, and the power of the Holy Spirit to solve real problems through selfless love. During Lent (and beyond) let’s look for ways to do just that.

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For more discussion on this process click here for A Reconciling Third and here for Both/And.

Check out Cynthia Bougeault’s book, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three for a detailed discussion on the information in this blog.

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Lent 2021: Not What We Give Up But What We Live For – Part 3, Tender Mercy

holylent“This Lent needs to be not what you will give up, but what you will live for. Not how you might demonstrate your piety, but how you might live in true obedience to God. Not what you will prove, but what reproves you” (Karoline Lewis in “Working Preacher” (Feb. 26, 2017).

This series on Lent was first posted in February and March, 2017 and has been updated. It is fascinating to observe how much more difficult our lives have become in four  years. These Lenten meditations will be posted on Tuesdays and Fridays.

TENDER MERCY

What is mercy?  What does it feel like? To me mercy is cold water when I am parched or  long-awaited relief from a persistent leg cramp or walking out of humid, 95-degree Michigan heat into an air-conditioned room. Before reading the rest of this post, take a minute to try to feel what being shown mercy is like.

Before writing this post, I spent some time with dictionary definitions of the word mercy.  The one I like best is from Vocabulary.com:

“Compassion leads you to have mercy, which is like forgiveness. If you have mercy on someone, you let them off the hook or are kind to them somehow.”

Here are some questions I have about what mercy is

♥   Does mercy precede forgiveness or accompany it?

♥   Do we really “love mercy” as a value? Or do we resent mercy when the “other” seems to receive it?

♥  Does everyone recognize mercy when they receive it?  Do you have to be shown mercy to give mercy?

♥ How is the political climate we are enduring driving the concept of mercy underground?

♥   If we can’t show mercy, is it even possible to say that we have  compassion?

♥  Can we really claim to be a “Christian” or a Christ-follower if we do not show mercy?

Amy Oden says that “Mercy is the currency of the kingdom of heaven” (Working Preacher website, February 2, 2014). What does that mean? Currency makes it possible to do business with each other. Currency  is what we exchange when we receive something and what we receive when we give something. Without currency the world would be chaos. And without mercy our world is in chaos. Mercy re-orders life in the Kingdom of God.  It should re-order our families, our churches, our social justice system – and our politics.

Micah 6:8 explains how we can show mercy.

“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously— 
    take God seriously” (The MSG)  

Where can you show mercy today?  Who do you need to confront for their lack of mercy?  Our master said that when you bestow mercy you will receive it (Matt. 5:7). What greater reward can there be?

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Lent 2021: Not What We Will Give Up, But What We Will Live For – Part 2, Active Compassion

Lent needs to be not what you will give up, but what you will live for. Not how you might demonstrate your piety, but how you might live in true obedience to God. Not what you will prove, but what reproves you” (Karoline Lewis in Working Preacher (Feb. 26, 2017). This series on Lent was first posted in February and March, 2017 and has been updated. It is fascinating to observe how much more difficult our lives have become in four  years. These Lenten posts will be posted on Tuesdays and Fridays.

ACTIVE COMPASSION

The word compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Active compassion is the feeling that arises when we are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to go out of our way to relieve that suffering. Some of us have the gift of compassionate service.  Others of us, while feeling empathy, may need to be prodded by the Holy Spirit a bit to actually do something to relieve the pain of another.  

This season of Lent, the need for acting on our compassion is all around us. We need to educate ourselves about the political issues of the day and how they impact the lives of those around us. Immigration laws, health care reforms and voter registration issues are not just policies; they are calls to action for Christians. Foreign policy is not just for wonks and nerds; it is essential to how our country speaks to global issues.  Christians must take their active compassion to the political arena.

Jesus’ life was the model of compassion.  He went out of his way to speak about and relieve the suffering of others. But as, Bryan Morykon  says,

We must see Jesus always speaking with the fire of pure love burning in his eyes. He did nothing simply to provoke, nothing from fear, nothing to prove anything, nothing out of woundedness. All was from an unshakable awareness of His belovedness and for the eternal good of  the other” (Renovare Weekly Digest March 10, 2017).

We need to burn our fears, our need to prove ourselves, and our woundedness  in that “fire of pure love” and be willing to risk action. What suffering have you been confronted with? What action are you motivated to take? I have several friends who have been responsible for bringing a mother and her two young children from South Sudan to our town. They found housing, helped with furniture and clothing, gave rides, showed the mother how to negotiate our town and its services, helped the mother find a job, provided childcare for the children and helped them learn English. In addition, they raised thousands of dollars so that the mother could be trained, certified, and find employment in a health-related field. [Some time after this was written, they also supported the father’s arrival to the U.S. and helped him find a job.] They were confronted with a need and took action – and this action is a long-term commitment.  

When Richard Foster, well-known author on spiritual formation issues, turned 75 he posted a birthday idea on the Renovare website. He suggested that readers help him celebrate by giving $75 to someone in need or 75 minutes to someone who is lonely. Do you know anyone or any organization who would be blessed by $75? Think Doctors without Borders or Compassion International or your Feeding America Food Bank. Do you know anyone who would be blessed by your attention?  Perhaps COVID prohibits a visit but a letter,  phone call or e-mail or a FaceTime or Zoom visit can help them feel loved and valued.

We all have been blessed to be a blessing. How can we live that out today?

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Lent 2021:  Not What We Will Give Up, But What We Will Live For – Part 1, Speaking the Truth

holylent

“This Lent needs to be not what you will give up, but what you will live for. Not how you might demonstrate your piety, but how you might live in true obedience to God. Not what you will prove, but what reproves you” (Karoline Lewis in Working Preacher (Feb. 26, 2017). This series on Lent was first posted in February and March, 2017. It is fascinating to observe how much more difficult our lives have become in four  years.  These Lenten posts will be posted on Tuesdays and Fridays.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH

When we take on the name of Christ (as in calling ourselves “Christians”), we take on the role of a peculiar (distinctive) people. Our political environment is teaching us that being people who strive to speak the truth makes us truly distinctive. But speaking the truth is more than not lying. Truth telling is about doing as well as not doing.  We must speak out our truth, God’s truth, in every situation we are in, even and especially when it is inconvenient, dangerous, or uncomfortable.

Our truth comes from God’s word in Scripture, from the life of Jesus, from the whispers of the Holy Spirit, and from communities of worship. It comes from life experiences, especially those that caused pain and heartache. It comes from sharing our lives in community with others – people who are willing to be vulnerable and create a safe space for us to be the same. The learning from these combined experiences fills our reservoir of truth; this reservoir is waiting to be dipped into.

Some time ago, I was with a small group of women who were facing the reality that speaking our truth is difficult. One woman shared an angry outburst she had with someone who was explaining a change in policy – a change that affected work she deeply loved. Later she realized how she had injured the person. She made amends. She realized that the other person was not the cause of a problem but merely the bearer of a problem-filled message. She spoke her truth, but it fell on the wrong “soil” and with heat but no love. Now she can get on with speaking the same truth in  a meaningful way to the right people.

A second person was in the process of preparing to speak truth to someone but was concerned about not presenting the case well enough – and thus failing.  She is learning that perfect performances are not necessary. We only need a Spirit-filled heart and appropriate information to speak the truth.  Like seeds, truth must be carefully planted but God is in charge of the blossoming.

A third woman recognized that she was being called to speak the truth in several situations, but she was afraid of being viewed as confrontational. She is learning that we need to separate our emotional needs from the process of  truth-telling. If we present truths as apprentices of Jesus (accurately and lovingly), it doesn’t matter how we are perceived or whether we are liked or not.  That reality is God’s truth and Jesus’ example.

What truth are  you being called to speak to your world?  

Posted in Living as Apprentices | Tagged , | Comments Off on Lent 2021:  Not What We Will Give Up, But What We Will Live For – Part 1, Speaking the Truth