Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stations of the Cross

Following Jesus is supposed to look like freedom. It often does not. We are bound by religious strictures, ordinances, laws, the expected judgement from our backup clique of like-minded thinkers who applaud when we do something their Jesus would do, but throw us into the dirt when we do something Jesus would actually do.
            Over time, we have become mirror images to the Pharisees—the very people Jesus called out and yelled at. We laugh and make jokes about being a Pharisee without recognizing the depth of who we ourselves have become—Pharisees.

Come Soon, Lord

Come rescue our weary souls
From the pits of despair and distress
Come soon, Lord Jesus, Come soon
We wait for you
Come triumph over the wickedness
So prevalent in our worlds
We grow restless with each day that passes
Come soon, Lord Jesus, Come soon
We wait for you to come back to us
Come soon, Lord Jesus, Come soon, O God
We wait for you to bring us back home

There is pain and there is toil
Injustice strikes into the soil
We feel helpless to be a voice
For those in dark chains

Come soon, Lord Jesus, Come soon, Lord
We wait for you to redeem this world
Come soon, Lord Jesus, Come soon, O God
We wait in expectation for you

Come soon, Lord
Come soon, Lord
This ground cries out in desperation

Come soon, Lord
Come Soon, Lord
Our body and hearts lie broken

Thoughts on Church Membership

A few weeks ago I sat down with a friend and we discussed the idea of church membership. I, being a military brat who has never stayed in one church for more than two years, previously has no understanding of why church membership was a valuable component of the Christian life. I thought: why can’t I be a member of the church by merely getting involved in serving and partaking in the community? Isn’t this essentially the same? I’ll probably just be leaving within six months to a year anyway. I won’t be here long enough to become a “member”. My friend, however, strongly believes becoming an official member of the local church you attend is not only biblical but often necessary, and, the next step in the individual-church relationship (hence the DTR metaphor). I peppered my friend with question after question, he pondered, he searched Scripture, and he answered with wisdom and honesty. There are still things I am unsure about, but I did come away with a much better understanding of Why Church Membership?

Wonder

I have a friend. She has embraced the embodiment of wonder as an attribute. She has retained her ability to cry over pain and enter into empathy. She has her cares but she is careless. She knows the world, but she maintains bliss.

I live in a world where wonder is rare and is considered ignorant, naïve, and unrealistic. I live in a world where wonder is frowned upon, looked down upon, and thrown out to the corner to shiver through the night. I live in a world where wonder is so long forgotten, when we encounter wonder once again, we shrivel back in disgust, misunderstanding, and judgment.

I live in a world that tells me and my friend we are too sensitive. I live in a world that mocks us when we break into tears over something that seems frivolous or mundane. I live in a world that has hardened me but seems to have untouched my growing-ever-softer sister.

I used to cry over heartbreak not my own. I used to find delight in the little things. I used to express my emotions externally better than I do now.

My friend has somehow kept delicacy and gentleness and softness about her—this is what I long for. She sees the world through a grown-up child’s eyes. She is not blind to reality or hardship, but she holds an enduring hope for better things ahead and isn’t afraid to seek possibility and opportunity.

When we, the hardened members of this green and blue community, come across something so blissfully sweet, we often respond with hate. We respond to undying love and grace with hate and I don’t understand.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Path of Peace

           In life, we walk paths. We often think we choose our paths—sometimes we do—but we often have no say in the path our feet tread. There are side paths along the way that lead us this way and that, but there is an overarching path our life is taking. Recently I have been wrestling with God over this idea of the “Path of Peace” my life seems to be on. The life I have led has always been overshadowed by doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, and a thought process that goes a million miles per second and never shuts up—much like the popular device used by Virginia Woolf in her writing: stream of consciousness. I am constantly taking in every detail and thinking ahead and back and in one moment I’m fearful, the next I am questioning, the next I am laughing with my friends. I’m not sure if there’s ever been a waking moment in which I’ve had true rest from this barrage. This is not peace.
            Perhaps you experience this as well. It is exhausting. More often than not, I yearn for a break from everything—the noise, the distractions, the disasters, the crises, the people, myself, but these are still things constantly surrounding my daily basis. The ins and outs of my life are ensconced between constant noise. I also have tinnitus. In my case, this means my ears are ringing and buzzing (sometimes at different frequencies) 24/7. So, even when everything else is silent, I’ve got a constant companion of noise. This is not peace.
            With these distractions, with this noise, it often seems difficult to hear God, or even find Him. However, as a Christian, we are called into peace. The peace that surpasses isn’t a one time offer, or only for special occasions. The peace of God, through Christ Jesus, is a gift we have been given.
            I am learning, through trial and error and a distracted, noise-filled world, to be with Jesus in the moment—in the present. I am learning what it means to be still although chaos ensues, although stress tempts, although anxiety tries to peel my peace away. There is a point in which we, as followers of Jesus Christ, must understand that His peace covers all trial and trouble and heartache and pain. His peace is constant and remains. We can still our souls in His presence at any moment of the day—as we should throughout the day. Because even in the noisy and the busy, when we come before Him, surrounded by happenings on all sides, and step into the peace He has given us, this is where we can hear Him speak ever more clearly than before.
            When I imagine just being still with the Lord, I think of the times Jesus sat around a bonfire with His disciples—with the community—with the little children—and just sitting and soaking in the silence of the moment. There is a beautiful, overwhelming feeling of togetherness that comes from this picture, and, further, seeing Jesus sitting next to me, or walking with me. Sometimes He gets up to play with the children, or He laughs with His friends, or He merely smiles and we cannot help but smile back, because this is what peace looks like. Being. Just being with Christ.
            This is not to say we cannot have peace while we go throughout our day, or while we converse, or while we're in meetings, or during emergencies. I believe we are called to "just be" with Christ in all moments of our life. Meaning, we lay down our defenses and our anxieties, and we are in tune with His love for us and His guidance and will throughout our every day and night. In conversations, in classes, in any situation, we can be present with others and be active in the world, while simultaneously just being with Christ. In Him, we find our peace.

            Will you join me on this path of peace, hand in hand with our Savior and Friend?