Monday, November 14, 2016

Super Moons

Last night I received a text from my mom ' be sure to look at the moon.'

I was grateful that she reminded me to check out the super moon and all of this glory.  Looking at moons isn't new to us.  My parents encouraged me to spread my wings and so I left the nest to attend college 5 hours away from home in the deep south.

I think college was where I first realized the fullness of racial tension.  I'd grown up being part of a school system that bussed their students across town to integrate students.  I'd been the minority for most of my school aged life.  I had been part of a community of friends that didn't see the color of anyone's skin, we didn't care which neighborhood you lived in or what kind of car you drove (we were just lucky to have a car at all to drive).  We danced together...we laughed together...we cried together.....we hated assignments together....we worked on homecoming floats together....we celebrated birthdays together....we stood up for one another when we were away from our school....we went out together.  We didn't see people as 'other' or 'them'...we were simply all in it together.

I had to come to believe that this was the way the world functioned.  I believed that everyone saw the good in others.  I believed that everyone strived to treat one another with respect, shared acts of compassion toward one another.  I believed that all of us were created equal.

The reality of hostility and disrespect came breaking through when I moved to the deep south to attend college.  I didn't have a car my freshman year and I remember asking what I thought was a friend of mine to take me to the Civil Rights Monument that was part of the city's history. The friend responded: 'no, they didn't deserve it to which I responded back then you don't deserve to be with me.'  I ended the friendship that evening.

I vividly remember conveying that story to my mom and feeling as though I was alone in this world of hatred and sense of rightness.  She reminded me that the very one who had taken the time to create me, had also created the person with whom I was talking so fiercely about just seconds before. The one that had created me, the other person had also given birth  the moon, the stars and the sun.  She reminded me to go outside, to look up at the bright moon, to stand under its light and be reminded that all (every single one of us; even those with whom we disagree) were formed with the depth and breath of our God that I firmly put my faith in.

Over the years, we have called to say, go, look outside, be sure to see the moon.  We'd go outside under the cover of the light to share the reality that all of us no matter what state, timezone or country we may be in, we were encased in the glory of the moon.  We've stood under the light of the moon talking about those with whom we disagree and push our buttons to be reminded that the light stands with us in the darkest of the places and guides us ever so gently into a new day; new opportunity; new beginning.  The moon has always been a place of comfort that all of us were created as scared, joined together in a journey of life to encourage, stand with and call out to in our time of need.

As we stand under the super moon tonight as a country, I'm praying that we'll be reminded that there is a light pulling us out of the fear, disbelief, anger, disappointment into a life of trust, honor, compassion, joy and solidarity.

Go stand outside.....  Look up.....  Feel the breeze.....Stare at the moon....Let the Gravity of Love pull you towards a new beginning; a new life; a new courage!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The second Saturday

Orange, yellow, red and green surround me this evening.

The second Saturday of the month always rolls around a bit quicker than I want.

The second Saturday of every month is always filled with a dread of all the work that lie ahead and yet a joy of all that is to come.

The second Saturday of every month I step into our church building and am in awe of the persons that fill the pews, hallways and second floor. Our building is filled with families from our county (depending on the data it's the poorest to the third poorest county in the state of Tennessee), students from a local private school, university students from a prestigious private school, professors from the university, retirees and their grandchildren that live within our community and members of Morton Memorial UMC.

Every inch of our space is used...pallets of food, bags of produce, carts used to transport the food to the cars.

Today I did not want to be there. I'm suffering with bronchitis and on any other given Saturday it wouldn't be a big deal for me to be at home resting. Today I had to be there, we had some of our key leaders out of pocket and I knew our Director of the Food Ministry might need my support for the problem solving that happens 'downstairs'. Begrudgingly I got up and went.

I arrived late, the sanctuary was already filling and people wanted my attention.

In a week where division, grief and yet celebration has been spewing across our news feed, as I stepped into our building none of that mattered. What mattered was that people came hungry. It's a hunger of longing to be seen, to matter, to feel important, and to be reminded that they are not alone. People younger than their skin might reveal, and whose hearts are larger than we might give them credit for came with a hunger deeper than I can possibly comprehend.

Hearts were opened and stories were shared.

Hospitalizations without health care to offset the cost.
Diseases that are raving the body without health care to receive any treatment.
Adults who have to admit that they cannot read or write and ask for assistant to fill out a form.
Picking up food for your neighbors because they are coming home from having a stroke and need food in the pantry.
Tears flowing because they are at the end of their rope in caring for family members.
Weariness and fear about how to walk in the midst of their situations.

Feeding others merely begins when you offer food, it only happens when we are able to set aside our discomforts and listen to one another. Hunger turns to nourishment when trust is established and vulnerability is shown.

Orange, yellow black and white they are all precious in his sight......it doesn't matter whether we are the one in need of receiving or the one willing to give, every single one of us can feed the other.

Where are you exhausted and dreading a task? May you be willing to step in, look around and sit long enough to be fed. May you have the courage to be vulnerable to others trusting that your story will be held in confidence. May you have the boldness to listen deeply to hunger of those with whom you meet. In this season of grief and celebration may you be fed.







Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Steps

I've been thinking about steps a great deal today.

Currently my fitbit tells me that I've walked 13,642 steps since I put it on this morning just before breakfast.

While I have been thinking about the physical steps that we've been taking each day today I was thinking about steps on a very different level.

We began our morning sitting on the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount.  The steps are the steps that pilgrims from the southern end would have terversed in order to enter the top of the Temple Mount. The view is breathtaking.  But something happened on the steps this morning that bothered me and clung to me for the remainder of the day.  The four of us were sitting, reading our Bibles, walking through the reflection questions that I had crafted for this holy space and another large group came and seem to overtake the space without any regard for the time of prayer that we were having.  Sharing space isn't/was't the problem because here in the Land of the Holies space is limited and is meant to be shared.  The difference was that the pastor acted as if we were invisible.  Due to the size of the group they all had earbuds that are used in order to allow the guide/pastor/leader to speak to the entire group without disturbing other pilgrims.  This pastor jokingly made a comment about how loud he could be and proceeded to talk at (yes at and not to) his pilgrims.

I felt invisible.
I lost my concentration.
I felt as if where I was in my journey was not as important as his ego and getting his point across.
I was bothered.

Again, the words and the feeling clung to me.

Later in the afternoon we were again sitting in a quiet court yard at Peter in Gallicantu..the House of Caiaphas writing in our journals and another group evidently did not see us.  They literally invaded our space to the point that I was forced to duck my head so that I would not be hit with a backpack.  The group was not discussing or reflecting; it was merely a time in which they wanted to sit down and gab.  Frustration rose and in my journal I began asking God, why in the world we could not have one experience today that allowed for the presence of the Holy not to be interrupted by some sort of self-centered talking.  When they left, I turned to the others and said; are we invisible and do we not count.

I'm sharing this story because it all came full circle today as we sat in the Church of All Nations in the Mount of Olives.  Jesus was a man of steps.  He didn't merely climb the steps to the Temple Mount, he took the steps to meet people where they were.

He stepped toward those who were lost.
He stepped toward those who were invisible.
He stepped toward those who were broken by the circumstances of their lives.
He stepped toward those who did not believe or uphold the exact same traditions as himself.
He stepped toward those who were facing challenges.
He stepped toward relationship instead of law.
He stepped toward love instead of hate.

Have we merely built our churches so high and lofty that we are unable to see those sitting?
Are we so consumed with our idea of Christianity that we look over those who are not in our group?
Are we so consumed with ourselves and our ideology that we have made others invisible?
Do we think so highly of ourselves that we cannot see that others are on the journey but that it might look different than our own?
Have we stationed our lives one presidential candidate believing that they are going to be our savior  and in the mean time stepped over or around someone else because they are not voting for the right candidate?

If I am going to be a follower of Jesus Christ and walk in his steps then I must be wiling to take steps toward those who are invisible. I must be willing to step toward those who are different.  I must be willing to step in love instead of hate.  I must be willing to step into relationships.

Are you willing to take a step?