Monday, December 28, 2009

Jemglyn to Break Silence

Remember Jemglyn, the spider ? Well, she has finally divulged to the narrator the next installment. So, when time and wakefulness allow, I'll let you in on it. And now I think I'll succumb to the looming hypnogogic state... after the prerequisite pilgrimage downstairs for a drink of milk.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus

This Christmas season, I've been asking Jesus what it really means that He came to earth. I know, I've been told since I can remember that He came because He loves us... to die for us... but several interactions with people lately make those reasons sound a bit flat to my own ears. I am on a journey of re-discovery, and perhaps I am about to enter the Kingdom of the One who simply tells us, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind... and your neighbor as yourself."

I wonder if anyone ever had to tell Mary to love her Lord with all her heart, soul, strength, and mind. She carried Him in her body for nine months. He was as near to her as her own heart. All her physical and emotional strengths were bent toward bringing Him to earth in human form, even as she wondered at the mystery of Immanuel, God... with her. Is this what it means for us to love Him as well?

In loving my neighbor as myself, do I actually engage in Jesus' ministry of reconciliation? The angels who announced the advent of the King of Kings didn't intend their message of peace on earth to dissipate in the Bethlehem night air.  Unless it compels us to befriend and engage living, breathing people who need forgiveness and love as much as we do (but are more honest about it), the God who is glorified by justice ["care"] served to the broken is only glorified by our annual singing. Weak incense. From where did the church learn that it is more Christian to hurt those who hurt others than it is to forgive them? The news coverage of the "balloon boy hoax" intrigued me, particularly a profound and shocking comment made by Mr. Heene's attorney:

"That's where this society has come; vengeance and justice are one and the same in the minds of many people." -David Lane

I would add that the vengeance=justice ideology is made more lethal when coupled with religion... one reason being that people can act almost without reason when they believe their actions are sanctioned... another being that the Jesus who raised eyebrows by talking to (and going home for lunch with!) outright sinners and forgiving people convicted of crimes deserving of death is portrayed as a carbon copy of the Pharisees He rebuked. Maybe it seems pointless to decide how the Heenes' case should have been handled, but the fact remains that the views we form shape us... and increase or decrease our love for the people around us who might be annoying, disruptive, and even destructive. Kinda like the rest of us, you know?

This evening, for Bible Study, my youth group carried candles to an inn where we were told there was no room for us... and on to a bitterly cold stable to worship the One who came to be with people just like us... in the company of goats that pee and horses that chew on clothing. I was overwhelmed by the how deeply the Father loves His delinquent kids, how lost this delinquent kid would be without Him, and how much this delinquent kid wants to love her Father with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength... and her neighbor as herself.

"Kyrie", a Christmas confession by Jonny Baker

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

Holy God, accept our confession. You asked for all of our being - our thoughts and actions, our creativity and expression. What do we give you? We think back two millennia to when the Christ child was born. What would we give the baby? What does the baby ask of us? What gifts did the baby receive?

Gold - a gift for a king. A metal so precious that we have died and killed for it. We treat your creation like it wasn't our home. We've robbed the earth of its riches and left its wounds open to infection. Forgive us for not unwrapping your gift to us in the right spirit. Forgive us for not giving you the best of us. What's the point of giving you our religious bits if the rest is kept closely guarded?

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

Frankincense - a gift for God. The fragrance of worship. God's eau de cologne. Worship - giving God the honor that is due to him. We saw your creation as a dirty thing, that we had to manufacture souls for heaven. Forgive our efforts to worship you only when it's convenient to do so and with the people that we choose - making outcasts of our brothers and sisters. Forgive us when our actions make our words of worship meaningless.

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

Myrrh - a gift for a mortal. The smell of a cover up to hide death and decay. But nothings is hid from you. Forgive us for denying the reality of pain, suffering, and struggle. Do we get angry and shout at God, or do we bury our pain? Forgive us for not giving our pain and suffering to you and for not interceding for others.

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

You ask for all that we are. What do we give? May we take seriously the meaning of your birth and your cross. Amen.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. I love you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

marketing peace

Sometimes CNN has some truly superb stuff. I never heard of Randy Ruiz before, but he's pretty profound. I wish I had his authority over a pen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lunch-break ponderings

While packing orders this morning, I had an epiphany.

A box, ready to be shipped, is just how I want it. I've selected the very best of the products the customer ordered. I pack it carefully, taking care that at least two inches of packing peanuts protect the product on all sides. Even the tape securing the box and the labels directing it to its destination are placed with care. The cardboard box is clean and smooth. Aesthetic and quality... that's what I want for my customers.

Some of my customers are as far away as California and New Mexico. As the box takes its FedEx journey, it is handled by many people. It's loaded onto trucks and unloaded in warehouses. Neither trucks nor warehouses are devoid of gray machinery dust. I've been impressed with the care with which FedEx handles packages, but, nevertheless, the packages are handled... and the box starts to bear witness to the fact. The corrugate shows, indented, through the once-smooth cardboard. The neat white label is scuffed with gray. Whether jostled en route or accidentally dropped, occasionally the contents of the box break. One customer opened her box to find the packing peanuts a solid, sticky blob, and the jars that had contained the honey she ordered were interspersed in shards throughout the mess. The box contained everything I sent her, but it was most definitely not what I wanted her to receive. What is her view of me and the company I represent? How will she view the FedEx workers?

The God who has been coming to man since He first created Adam must feel the same way. His message of love, His instructions for living, are delivered by... and understood by... people. Though we might try to observe the "handle with care" instructions, the contents and packaging undoubtedly endure jostling and scuffing. Sometimes, left with sticky pieces, we try to understand what in the world God sent us. It takes a certain amount of faith to trust God's good intentions toward us as we sort through the contents, trying to identify and comprehend.

Learning to allow for, and even embrace the impaired vision of humanity toward God can be exciting. It's mysterious. It adds to the beauty. It leaves more to be discovered of this God who still comes to us.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bob Marley, on politics

"Dem's a play with people's minds. Shouldn't play with people's minds."

I love how loosely Marley holds things so many revere. Granted, that was pretty much his philosophy on life. He also said, "I handle fame by not being famous. I'm not famous to me." It just tickles me.

Are politics simply mind games? Words on flat paper. Intangible laws. Hope in remote people. They do seem transient and extraneous next to the nine-year-old girl I know whose dad is in jail for violence and whose life is devoid of any security whatsoever. She told me a few weeks ago she might be placed in a group home, even further from the people from whom she really needs love. Would her circumstances be different if a Republican were in office?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

All I want for Christmas

"All My Tears"

When I go, don't cry for me
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store,
Come and drink, and thirst no more

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

-Jars of Clay

As Christmas approaches, my heart finds a voice in the cries of  the Roman-enslaved Israelis so long ago... "We need a Saviour!" Jesus, isn't it about time You showed up again? The flickers of light in this world sometimes seem engulfed by the darkness that enslaves so many. How much longer can the planet bear so much suffering? All I want for Christmas is for You to come, to place Your scarred hands on our heads, and to heal us. All I want is to sit with You and be able to see You as I talk to You. Living here wears me out, body and soul.

But Jesus tells me, "I have come, and I am here. You are part of my Presence, so keep at it. The lights aren't as wavering as they seem from ground level. They are spreading, and soon I'll engulf them in my Light."

For the record... if I die before then, please spare the expense of an ornate casket. Send the money to Uganda. Better yet, take the money and go to Uganda yourself. Take light and healing with you.

Just sayin'.