Monthly Archives: March 2011

Today, 31 Years Since his Assassination

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

Amen.

Today marks the 31st Anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

H/T: sojo.net

The Prayer of St. Patrick

patrick

“The Prayer of Saint Patrick”

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation

Thanks to lightparty.com for archiving this poem.

 

My Romantic, Idealistic and Ridiculous Prayer

I usually hesitate to “give up” something for Lent. See, my life is nuts. I’ve got two kids and they’re young. One is in diapers and the other makes me want to wear diapers, in a nursing home. So yeah, I’m not going to “give up” coffee for 40 days. Are you crazy? Do you think I’m crazy? I’m already in the desert.

I digress. It’s amazing how I can get so caught up in the supposed difficulties of my life that I forget what I’m capable of. I forget that I have the power to make choices. I loose my sense of self and when it comes right down to it, I forget who I am.

I don’t think that the main purpose of the Season of Lent is to suffer. Suffering may be a means to an end, but it should not be the focus, as it often is. Rather, we should think of it as entering a season where Christ reminds us of our true identity. Lent can be a rare opportunity to change some well-worn ruts in our thought pattern.

God reminds us of who we were before we started drinking coffee, bingeing on chocolate, or bowing to technological media. Lent is a call to wholeness.

So by now you’ve started your Lenten fast and you’ve begun to assert your God-given choice-making power to say “no” to something. This a good start and no doubt, there will be a little suffering involved.

Now what are you saying “yes” to?

What gift does God have for you during this season? What will fill the void of the caffeine, alcohol, sugar or Facebooking? If we fill it with more shame and lies we will be no further from hell than when this season began. Heaven, on the other hand, comes that much closer when we realize our uniqueness, gifts, and secure identity in the Love of Christ.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   James 1:17

This season I’m saying “yes” to Creativity and here is my romantic, idealistic and ridiculous prayer: that in the midst of my suffering, and the suffering those around me I would practice creativity.

Inwardly I hope this will practically look like writing, painting, and taking my camera for a walk in the woods and snapping some photos. These are the places where I experience wholeness and it gives me the energy I need for outward expression.

Outwardly I hope to be aware of creative responses to oppression. Whether I find oppression in family or friend, neighbor or news headline. I’m not sure exactly what it will look like, and that’s part of being creative.

As we follow Christ into the Wilderness of Lent, may we be open to the hidden gifts and the promise of real life resurrection.

Poem for Lent

My daughter asked me where the old door went.

The brown door.

It’s still there.

Just gave it a fresh new color with a little red paint.

It looks brand new.

It is, and its still the same door.

We were always image bearers, all of us.

Nanglam’s 9/11

I’ve been reading about the nine little boys who were killed by U.S. forces in the tiny village of Nanglam in Eastern Afghanistan. I couldn’t help but think of these words from Wendell Berry:

State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,

the energy sources, the kinds of security,

for which you would kill a child. Name please,

the children whom you would be willing to kill.

 

Children are always casualties of war: this is reality. I have two children. Their right to life and peace is the equal to that of the children of Afghanistan. As a Christian, I believe that everyone “bears the image of God” and are therefore a sacred, holy, and treasured part of Creation. So how is it fair, how is it just, that in the name of security and fighting terrorism, we justify the killing of their children in order to protect our own?

President Barack Obama says that our wars are fighting terrorism, preventing another 9/11, and liberating the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. But if we are their liberators, why are they constantly screaming for revenge against America? Furthermore, that little village in the mountains of Afghanistan probably feels a little like New York City did, ten years ago this September. Pools of blood, chaos, weeping, anger. I wonder if the percentage of lives lost in Nanglam was similar to the percentage of life lost in NYC? Nanglam’s now had their own 9/11.

A NEW DEFINITION FOR TERRORISM

Here is one description from a villager:

“Finally we found the dead bodies. Some of the dead bodies were really badly chopped up by the rockets,” he said. “The head of a child was missing. Others were missing limbs.”

“We tried to find the body pieces and put them together. As it was getting late, we brought down the bodies in a rope bed. We buried them in the village’s cemetery,” Ashabuddin added. “The children were all from poor families; otherwise no one would send their sons up to the mountains despite the known threats from both insurgents and Americans.” (NY Times, 3-2-11)

When this war was begun, it was known full well that children would most definitely be among the casualties. So, based on the graphic description above, could we also consider waging war as an act of terrorism– against children? When nine children die, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if it was because of a suicide bomb or a military missile. It doesn’t matter if it was for liberation, democracy, security, or pre-emption. There is no greater good. They’re dead.

War is not the answer and this war must end.

 

Photo courtesy of zoriah.com

Leavings (Counterpoint: Berkley) 15, 2010.

Why Doesn’t This Make Me Mad?

A GUEST POST BY HEATHER BURSCH:

When I read Ben’s post last week about caring for our environment, I was aware of how foreign the concept has been to me over the years. I grew up being told all kinds of things about what it meant to follow Christ and honestly not once do I remember caring for the earth being a part of the discussion. I don’t think that’s because everyone in my family or surroundings dishonored the environment. But something for me was lost, perhaps never taught and for sure not caught as they say.

One day while driving down the freeway my son angrily said, “This is stupid, they are making the roads bigger and chopping down more trees. Why are they doing that? How can they just do that?” I was a little shocked because he was so mad. He went on to explain that natural homes for animals will be destroyed and that birds (which he is extremely fond of and spots throughout our urban environment) will not have a place to live and thrive. I heard him a little but it wasn’t registering as mad for me. Without thinking I just started saying how this road is so bad and the traffic at certain times of the day is horrific. By the look on his face, he wasn’t having it. He shot back with “who cares and we should never have invented cars in the first place.”

Now wouldn’t that be crazy? Think of all we can do because we can get from point A to point B: work, provide, shop, see friends, and play. But my son would say, think about ALL we do to our world to get from A to B, oh and as fast as possible: tear down habitats, destroy our ability to sustain, damage the air we breathe, and all that our environment needs.

Why doesn’t this make me mad, I wondered? And at whom? Me? Why is it so easy for my brain to rationalize a need and overlook the consequences? How did I get so far removed?

So I’ve been wondering about what Ben said around taking this conversation to a higher level. While I agree, what if higher is simple? Not childish but childlike. I believe children are innately connected to the earth and caring for it comes from within, a connection to the Creator. But it can be lost and changed and like all living things it can lose its life. Sadly as a parent, I can actually have a part in that death. Thanks to my mad man and the ways he doesn’t let me off the hook, I’m realizing that caring for the earth isn’t lost on me yet. What’s the next step? I don’t know, but before I spend too much time getting lost in my head I’m going to go ask my kids.

What are the little people in your life saying about the environment? What if we all started paying attention?

Heather Bursch is a non-conforming full-time mom and part-time foodie. She loves to create space for conversations and experiences to remember. Heather began her post college years by teaching 1st graders. After saying she would never homeschool, that’s exactly what she’s doing. When she’s not helping her kids publish books, Heather is cooking, creating, writing, moving furniture, learning to garden, and getting ready for kid number 3. You can read more of Heather’s thoughts at olds and news or follow her on Twitter.