Thursday, March 22, 2012

When the rules and the rulers are flouted.

Why did Jesus have to die?

A weighty question from my child’s lips; why, indeed.   The short answer is: because of me.  Because of you, my darling.   Because not any one of us is willing to bend to authority.  We, each, want to be our own kings.  Our own little gods. 

My kids are good kids.  I’m told that frequently.  And I’m thankful.  But I’m also mindful of the moments when my boundaries are flouted.  My rules aren’t arbitrary, given only to show that I am in charge; that I rule over these little ones.  Don’t-run-into-the-street! Is for the preservation of them, the avoidance of horrific consequences.  It’s so that I, as well as they, don’t have to endure what could follow.   So that they are safe; and we are both unharmed.

The same holds true for us, as adults.  Though we may not like them, even speed limits are for our own good.  It’s likely that we don’t think about that when we’re being handed a much-deserved ticket.  Instead, we go home and slander the uniformed individual who caught us in our disobedience.  Blame them for our actions: that road shouldn’t be so slow.  Why aren’t they out catching murders or pedophiles, instead of ruining my day?  They’re just power-drunk.

Of course, how many of us, the lead-footed, have ever walked through the carnage of a fatal accident?  Seen the disfigured visages of children, or had to notify the next-of-kin?  There is a person inside the uniform, one who carries with him or her the memory of such incidents; one who is haunted by scenes most of us aren’t strong enough to handle. 

And to the world, aren’t God’s rules a bit on the…prohibitive side?  Why can’t we do certain things?  Why wouldn’t a good God want us to enjoy this life as much as possible?  Who is He to tell me not to do something?

And we build little altars for little gods.  I am going to do what I want.  When I want.  How I want.  We tell ourselves that God’s rules are arcane and too prohibitive.  Too colloquial.  Too unintelligent.

Yet, His rules are for our safety, just like mine for my children, the authorities’ for the governed.   He knows what the outcome of our choices are; just like I know what will happen to my children should they dart into the street in front of a car, who is only doing 35 in a 25.  Besides, 25mph is entirely too slow for this street anyway.  I know…, a police officer knows…, God knows the ramifications of our actions.  The awful, unthinkable, damaging consequences that can come from not following the rules.  Even the prohibitive ones.

Prohibition isn’t bad.  Authorities aren’t all evil.  Sometimes they genuinely are there to protect us from ourselves.  To keep us from becoming little gods of our own making.    

And so, Jesus had to die.

For you.  For me.  Because we can’t see the car speeding around the corner as we dart into the street after our ball.  Jesus absorbs the impact for us.  After the fatal wreck caused by our speeding, he trades places with the driver, and allows himself to be placed in the back of the patrol car instead of us.   He exchanges His freedom for ours, our lives for His.  Even though he knew what was coming.  Even though, His Father warned us against these destructive actions; put up boundaries to keep us safe.  Even though we refused to listen.  Refused to obey. 

Jesus offers to save us, in spite of ourselves.  We just have to keep letting Him.     

Monday, March 19, 2012

Touch, silence stretched out

With the absence of voice, touch has become my primary mode of communication.  A hand on a little shoulder to garner attention; fingers circled around wrists to slow movement and restrain the bounding-off that is inherent in children.   Hugs replace “I love you.”  Kisses instead of “have a good day.”  Holding hands for nearness, arms around shoulders for comfort, cuddling on laps is the stage for divesting the stories of the day. 

I have found that we laugh more on Mondays.  We are more connected.  There is more happiness in our day.  We more closely attend one another’s presence.  I have come to eagerly anticipate these days with fewer words and greater connections.

Yet, I am not usually the touchy one. 

I hug my children and kiss them; but in the busy flight of our non-Monday days, I don’t sit still with them on my lap much anymore.  And yet it is so obvious that they crave it.  They were made for it.  We all were.

Jesus, divinity incarnate, knew the desperate need in each person for touch.  As present before creation, he knew the tactile connection built into humanity (Colossians 1:15-20).  He healed the untouchables with his hands, restoring their connection to both community and the Divine.  He allowed his beloved friends to recline on his breast, washed their feet and allowed his to be washed as well.  Revelation promises that in the age to come, God will wipe every tear from every eye (7:17, 21:4).  Not merely dismiss these tears, not vaporize or impersonally dry them, or simply cause by supernatural power to stop. 


The action requires a hand placed on a cheek; a thumb drawn across the most tender part of the face, a gentle caress across the delicate skin beneath the eyes.   The image given is God, touching every believer, personally and physically removing the physical outpouring of pain and sadness, healing the heart beneath.

Touch to heal.   

Today, I am thinking about the people for whom touch is abhorrent.  Those for whom touch has been hijacked and perverted; twisted and mauled into something vile, something best avoided at all costs.  We were all made to be touched, to touch others; but fallen humanity ruins even this.  I am praying for those for whom touch is repulsive.  Those for whom touch is frightening.  Those for whom touch is prayed against.

I am also praying, today, for those who are desperate for human contact, for the tactile connection to another beating heart.  For children who craved hugs, yet do not receive them.  For individuals who are wrapped up in their own worlds, with fortresses around their heart and person, growing bitter and stale as their days are spent without personal contact.  For couples who have fallen into a pattern of polite conversation and icy distance, the warmth of the other’s touch a fleeting memory.  For the widowed, who float about in a world of people with no tangible connection to comfort.   

Is there someone in your sphere that is screaming into the silence for touch?  Someone who literally aches for human contact?  There are times when words aren’t enough.   Sometimes, cupped hands, an embrace, held for what is societally prescribed as too long, ministers to greater depths of the soul the most eloquent litany.  Sometimes we must still our tongues and offer our arms.  For the deepest hurts require the greatest connections.

Today, I will begin to use my touch as Christ did: to comfort, to heal, to connect.  I will push myself outside of my barriers and give what has been given to me, what is needed in a sterile and disconnected world.  I will close my mouth, open my arms and let love prevail.     



Monday, March 12, 2012


Hope…floats.  It lifts and levitates.  Makes the weighted fetters of this too long and weary world buoyant.  Hope and joy inextricably tangled up in one another.  One cannot be separated, parsed out, and whittled down to the essence of just the one-without-the other. 
Hope is the smile blooming on lips lined from their pursing.

Joy is the expanding dawn over eyes too often searching the floor for answers that won’t come.
Their co-mingling, an arpeggio of voices raised in concordance.  The hymn of a resounding yes, becoming an answer for too much yearning; the opening of gates for what was designed.  Then lost, and then again restored.

A community of people, beautifully bound to hope, and resilient and courageous enough to push through doubts and barriers; a committed people who want to be the change.  To step it out.  Follow a different, new-old trajectory that points only to glory and leads each one home.  A church that isn’t…and at the same time is. 
Home, where hands and time and treasure are spent in pouring out a love so freely given.  Home, where each person is viewed through the lens of Him who made them, and He who saved them.  Home, where love grows and joy lives, and hope sustains.

I am found in this home.  

I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul
rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness
praise spring up before all nations.

~ Isaiah 61:10-11

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stand Against Silence

I don’t think that Invisible Children are naïve. I don’t think that President Obama was ever blind to this matter either: his own father, a Kenyan, hails from the Luo, the same tribal group that has suffered so much at the hands of Kony. My hunch – and hope – is that they see this campaign as a way to encourage wider and deeper questions about wholly inadequate governance in this area of Africa.

The filmmakers at Invisible Children probably did a few things wrong.  For starters, I wasn’t entirely comfortable watching a 3 year old absorb information about children being forced to kill their parents and then labeling Kony as a “bad guy.”  Granted, Kony is the bad guy in this story.  But so is the government that’s effectively ignored him for over 2 decades.  But, yeah, as I parent I realize that’s a hard topic to distill for a 3 year old.

That being said, the guy narrating the video had every reason to see Kony as the bad guy.  Jason Russell, Invisible Children’s co-founder, has a personal connection to the story he’s telling.  He’s been there.  He’s seen, and focuses the lens of his camera on, the children.  He’s watched a now-dear friend mourn the brother he saw killed.  Having an actual connection to that kind of hurt makes things real for people.
So when we, a nation of consumers daily bombarded with violent images and political rhetoric and heads full of our own criticism, balk and take up verbal arms against a grass-roots movement which is asking only that we mobilize our nation’s resources on behalf of a people who are too young to save themselves, I have to wonder: who are we?

Has our affinity for self-help so out-paced the basic principle of chivalry, of using our resources and strength on behalf of those in need, that our first reaction when thus approached, that we fold our arms and decry the requestees as war-mongers and financial parasites?  Really?  After checking the veracity of the story [yes, the entire world seems to agree that children are being kidnapped and forced to be soldiers and prostitutes], we honestly think the best course of action is to sling mud and stuff our hands into our pockets? 
Okay, so we don’t agree with the current Ugandan government.  I can get behind that (given the very minimum charge that they allowed Kony to continue doing what he does).  We don’t want the focus of this very non-American issue to become the non-profit organization that brought it to our attention.  Spectacular.  Don’t give them a dime.  But do give them props for bringing it to the attention of those of us with our heads buried in the sands of our own little worlds. 

Even with those qualifications, could we not, still, advocate that our very able military “advisement and support” contingents empower the people of Uganda to stop Kony and then install new government officials?  Not ones that we’ve chosen, but ones that Ugandans choose from among their own people?  As Americans, couldn’t we all get behind the idea of a government of the people, for the people…in Uganda?  So that the people of the Congo and neighboring regions might live without the fear of kidnapping, terrorist activities, and the worst kind of atrocities enacted upon innocent children?  Can’t we agree to use our resources and strength for the benefit of basic human rights?     
Isn’t that something we should all work towards?

E-mail your Senator.  It costs you nothing more than moments of your time, maybe a few missed status updates.  Let your congress-person know that you want Joseph Kony caught and tried for his actions.  Let him or her know that you support a Ugandan election that will allow for the people to genuinely chose who their leaders will be.  So that their children will be safe.  So that every person may have the most basic of rights: identity and safety, and the extravagancy of the freedom to choose whom they will follow.

And then you’re not financially backing any specific organization, nor are you favoring a government that has also enacted atrocities upon its people, if only by omission.  You’re advocating for those without a voice.  You’re saying that you support them having one.  You desire that all should be heard. 

You’re standing up against


Jesus said,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Silence that Can't Go Away

Make Kony Famous, 2012

It’s all over Twitter, and facebook, and the news.  And, frankly, I’m crazy disappointed that: that’s what it took for me to become aware of it.  But it’s exactly what I’ve been praying to be made aware of: people without a voice.  Forgotten people.   People who wonder if God hears them. 

And then, tonight, this video was everywhere

 It’s everywhere because it should be.  It’s everywhere because we need to think about this.  We need to see it.  To personalize it.  To stop yammering on about idiotic comments from shock-radio jockeys and start thinking about the global community.  Start saving lives.  Start writing or calling or texting or tweeting our Congress-person, not because it’s unfair that some people in our country make a whole lot more than others, but because children are being stolen from their beds while they sleep and then forced to do things we can’t even put into our movies.
We need to do something. 

Yes, this is a reactionary post.  Yes, I’m a comfortable, white, suburban, American mom; and all that those categories imply.  Yes, I can’t wrap my mind around this topic. 

Can’t wrap my mind around it.
I don’t care about the critics to this video.  I don’t care if it’s too shocking, or too slanted, or too let’s-take-all-our-money-and-give-it-to-the-needy-so-it-makes-us-feel-better-about-ourselves.  Because even if this video helps ONE CHILD, then it’s worth it. 

Really, I have to ask the naysayers and politicians and critical rhetoricians: how many kidnapped kids are too many?  1?  6?  600?  6,000?  66,000?  6 million?  How many children forced to be soldiers is enough to require action?  Or sex slaves?  Or parent killers?
Or, to frame it a little more personally:
        How many nights is too many to keep watch, ensuring that your child won’t be stolen from you while you sleep?

For all the “problems” in America, I have never, NOT ONCE, sat up at night worrying about my children being taken from me.  To be made into a soldier or a prostitute, who would then be forced to execute me.
I’ll be honest: I hate politics.

 Mostly because I’m jaded and sincerely doubt that there’s much out there that resembles truth.  I’m the cynic that thinks one person, or one small movement, is too little to make lasting and real change in the world.  The one-person-at-a-time approach I totally buy into, and completely agree with.  I also stand behind the fact that One Man did change the world for the ultimate better.  Forever.    
But with those two caveats, I lean towards avoidance.  Oh, I vote!  And every chance I get; because it’s not a “right” but a privilege, given to me which I intend to use to make my voice “heard.”  At least once every few years.  But otherwise, I’d rather not talk politics.  Or hear about them.  Or read about them.  Or think about the people involved in them. 

Not because I’m too weak minded.  Or that I don’t think the issues aren’t important.  But because I find incessant rhetoric of comfortable Americans getting exercised about their idea of what’s important, off-putting.  To a nauseating degree.              

-----But, I digress. 

Tomorrow morning, I’m getting up and e-mailing my Senator and Representative.  And then I’m going to shoot them a hard copy through the mail.  And I think I’m going to save that original e-mail and keep sending it, every day, until Kony is arrested.  I might get sent to the junk mail folder.  I might be dismissed as a loon.  I might be sworn at as a serious irritant.  Whatever the outcome, because I am now aware of it,

                I will not be silent.   

Fellow Coloradans, here is the e-contact information for your senators and representatives.  Do something for these kids.  Use your voice on their behalf.  Today. 

(202) 224-5852
Udall, Mark - (D - CO)

(202) 224-5941

Ed Perlmutter, Washington D.C. Office
1221 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515


Friday, March 2, 2012

Desire Dominates


tə·šū·qā·ṯōw: desire

 It’s the same word in Hebrew, the same domination-or-desire that every daughter of Eve and son of Adam will struggle with.  This desire seemingly born of curses into a lifetime of grappling and straining for the most honored places.  These are the only times this dominion-desire word is used.  In the entirety of scripture. In Genesis, it is judged [not cursed, judged] that Eve’s desire will be for her husband.  Later in the beginning, Cain is told sin desires to overtake him.  And in the Song of Songs, the woman, after twice saying her lover is hers, says, “his desire is for me.” [1]

The first is a consequence.  The second, speaks of potentiality.  The third, a reversal. 

Because of Love.

Love turns domination to sacrifice, a willing offering.  One body given up for another.  Wife to husband, man to woman.  Christ for all. 

Jesus for each. 

Love enables one to surrender their entire self on behalf of another.  To be spent for the other’s sake.  To be poured out for the good of someone outside of self.  Love, sacrificial and all-encompassing, ignites desire for more of its object.     

Love for God [in the Song of Songs] transcends covenantal fidelity alone and achieves an arousal and joy that is never consummated fully in this life…for [the saints of Christianity] there was no discontinuity between the Song and their passion for God.  These two expressions of desire welled up from the same center of their being.[2]

While Lent points to death, Christ dying for sins so that we may die to them, it is also a preparation of love.  An anticipation of joy.  This sacrifice of His body for mine, making me His, makes my desire Him.  His willingness to give up his life in exchange for mine is love reversing judgment.  Love’s surrender, love’s sacrifice, takes away my just rewards; and showers me with grace.  Ransoming my past, and bestowing upon me a future which anticipates delights as yet unknown to my shackled and battered soul.      

And so, dominion becomes desire.  Desire gives way to surrender.  Surrender embodies love; and love frees.  Completely.

This is the way of Lent: a desire, not completely achieved on this earth, for God; only possible through the willing surrender of his Son’s body out of love for us.  Death to make a way for Love.  And love to fulfill the righteous judgment, so that relationship is possible. 


[1] Eve – Gen 3:16; Cain – Gen 4:7; Woman – Songs 2:16, 6:4. 7:10
[2] Richard Hess, Song of Songs.  Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005. page 34