Yes or no? The Good Friday edition.

EDITmoab (1).jpgMy friend Kevin Ahern, who is a theologian and ethicist said this on Twitter on Holy Thursday. I found the photo and added the text to it as a reminder of what forms crucifixion comes in. Systematic violence is inherently challenging because it is systematic. We “need” to do this, what are the “alternatives” if we do not do this, we will “get” the bad guys, and so forth.

As Jesus Christ hung on a cross he was flanked by a cross on each side. Crucified next to him were two thieves, and to one, the one who asked for help, Christ promised heaven.

There is no reconciling or rationalizing violence and death. Even when it is done to us, did we not receive the greatest lesson in not retaliating? I get the desire to retaliate, but what about the consequences? What will we choose this Triduum? To follow the Prince of Peace, the great reconciler and restorer of order and good? Or will we follow the path of crucifixion and death? The choice is ours, even if we wait until the last minute. Yes or no? To crucify or to be crucified? Yes or no? What will we choose?

Yes or no? The Holy Thursday edition.

siegerkoder-washing-of-feetOn this Holy Thursday, let us remember that where there is charity and love, God is there. God is always present, but in charity and love, the presence of God is made real. To love others, to serve others, to walk courageously with Christ, no matter what we face… this is our way of life.

However, we all fall asleep, get distracted, we can’t face the hardest truths, we do not always love as we have been loved. Yet, all it takes is one moment in which our avoidance, our fear, our absence all turns towards the One. A single yes uttered in a sea littered with the refuse of a lifetime of no no no can change everything. It does not have to happen in church, it might be a hello to a stranger, coffee for a homeless person, opening the door for that annoying neighbor and inviting them in instead of pretending not to be home. The charity and love of the word yes, typically a yes uttered in the face of resistance is the inbreaking of the divine.

The simple repeated chant of this Ubi caritas from Taize is a prayer for all of us. Where will charity and love be present today? The answer lies with each of us. Love one another, serve one another. May the blessings of Holy Thursday and the Triduum be with you all, may the eternal love of Christ guide us today and always.

Ubi caritas et amor,
ubi caritas,
Deus ibi est.
(Where there is charity and love,
God is there.)

Bread line, Lent 1 short

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Seen in Spain, during Camino.

“I gotta put bread on the table!” How often has that line, or something like it been used to justify doing things? Doing things that go against what we know is right. Whether it is not honoring the Sabbath, completing a work assignment that has moral implications, missing time spent with family or loved one… you fill in the blank. We’ve all done it. We all do it.

Today’s Gospel is from Matthew show us Jesus is in the desert being tempted. It has to be hot, challenging, and lonely. He must be exhausted, hungry and thirsty. It would be easy to give in, it would be reasonable even. Right?

But is anything about a life of faith, a life following Christ, ever reasonable in the material sense? Think about that and you have your answer. This does not mean some intense over-scrupulosity that turns self-induced sacrifice into some kind of holy-making exercise. Instead, we are asked to keep God first in our sights and choose accordingly. It means trusting God when the last shred is about to tear away. It is that simple, which indeed that difficult. And it does not always work out in the way we wish for. There’s the rub.

How often do we do what we should not? What else can we do…  we don’t want to end up on the breadline, do we?

(I’m off of social media for Lent. What I am doing is posting a photo a day on Instagram, with a short reflection. Each one posts to Facebook automatically. If you are on Instagram, check it out.)

Can we follow?

gandhiimagesOn this day in 1948, the man who did more to show the world the power of non-violent resistance and peace was assassinated. That man was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi used Jesus Christ as his inspiration and example, although he did not subscribe to the dogma of faith. He was a lifelong Hindu. His peace civil disobedience movement brought forth the freedom of India, once a colony of England.

He offers us an example to follow today. He followed Jesus more effectively than most of us. Can we follow now?

This scene from the 1981 film “Gandhi” is a powerful one indeed. Will we have the peaceful reserve that these people had? It was their fortitude as people of peace, not their weapons, that brought forth change. Can we follow this example? I hope so, because I think we are going to need it.

Ultimate measure

the-ultimate-measure-of-a-man-is-not-where-he-stands-in-moments-of-comfort-and-convenience-but-where-he-stands-at-times-of-challenge-and-controversy

This quote from Martin Luther King, whom we celebrate on Monday, has been on my mind all week. In fact I used it the other day in a post. Today, as we head towards that particular celebration of a civil rights hero, a firestorm erupted on social media.

Apparently Rep. John Lewis of Georgia had an interview with NBC on Friday and he noted that he did not see Trump as a legitimate president. You can see a portion of the interview at this link. Whether or not you agree with John Lewis, he is a man who has given his life over to the betterment of our nation. An early and active leader in the Civil Rights, one of the “Big Six” in the movement during the 60’s. At the head of this group stood none other than Dr. King. Roll Call said of Lewis, “John Lewis…is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.” Ultimately, Lewis’ leadership is not some dotted line or winding road attached to the legacy of Martin Luther King, it bears a direct connection. Connected to this is the legacy of the non-violent protest.

All of this, which you likely know a good deal of already, points to what went down on social media today… In response to Lewis’ interview, the president-elect saw no other path forward than to blast him. Hard. In fact, here it is, 7:45pm on Saturday night and as recently as 20 minutes ago, the president-elect was still tweeting about Lewis.

c2hhls9ucaaqtu2-jpg_largeThis got me to thinking about the King quote in relationship to the two men. What is their measure? John Lewis was a leader of the nonviolent resistance movement in the 60’s, (pay attention people, that is the movement that we all need to focus on!) who has been attacked by dogs and men, and who did not react with violence. Donald Trump who was busy avoiding the draft in the 60’s responds to the slightest criticism with a barrage of angry tweets.

What is the measure of  each man?

Now remember, this is a blog about the intersection of faith and life. So let’s talk faith… I am thinking about another man in another era. He was also known as a man known for his nonviolent acts of resistance. In fact his acts of nonviolent resistance were all about revealing the Kingdom of God to one and all. OK, he did get angry that time and turned over the tables, but nobody got hurt as far as we know. Mostly he Continue reading

What will we choose today?

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Tenderness or severity? What will we choose?

What will we choose today? Tenderness? Severity? We seem to believe that severity is the go to for keeping law and order, but I’m not sure it is all that simple. Many of us profess to follow the Prince of Peace. Severity did not seem to be his thing and here we all are, 2000 years later, still worshiping a man who was hung like a shameful thief on a cross. He never resisted, he did not fight back, he did not choose severity – even when it was chosen for him.Knowing that death was coming for him, Jesus responded to violence by saying

“Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”- Matthew 26:52

What will we choose today? Especially we who follow Christ? Will we “show them” who is in charge, whoever them may be… Black people, Muslims, fill in the blank, there are many “thems.” For some, out of madness and rage, out of destruction, “them” are the police. More death does not bring forth life, it brings forth only more pain, sorrow, anger, and ultimately, even more death.

What will we choose today? Will we blame all of “them” and hold ourselves unaccountable when in fact we all have a role in what is happening? Will we clasp our hands in prayer and pray for a new president to “fix” things? Will we keep saying “if there were no blacksgaysmuslimsdemocratssocialistsimmigrants then we would be ok?”

What will we choose today? And what will be on our heart as we take our last breath, whenever that may be? Will we be glad that we spent more time wallowing in despair or spouting anger? Will we be glad that we used all the power given to us by God to keep order? Or will we regret that severity won the day, leaving tenderness in the dust? Discernment is of the highest order, when we consider each moment of our own precious lives, and of the precious lives of others.

What will we choose today? Why wait for death to find out? What will we choose?