Embodying peace in a time of war

imagesPeace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. -John 14:27

Last night I fell asleep plagued with thoughts and worry about the air strikes on Syria. They were launched, apparently in conjunction with England and France. I felt ill as I drifted off, but somehow I did sleep. When I awakened I was temporarily free from worry as I stumbled about in the kitchen making coffee. When it was brewed I wandered off to my prayer corner in the living room and began to read a daily devotional. Only then Continue reading

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Honoring King, in black and white

Hobbs-Lorraine-Motel-Martin-Luther-KingFifty years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, and today we have a national holiday; but we have less respect for one another than ever as a nation.

A great deal of white America loves to talk about black-on-black crime, but somehow never uses that term for other crime.

A great deal of white America loves to say that they see everyone as equal, until a black family moves in nearby. Do you feel that way with your other ethnic neighbors?

A great deal of white America loves to say that this is a land of opportunity, and that you just have to work hard enough. Sounds good, but Continue reading

Life or death

LIFE_OR_DEATH_STEP-1On this last day of 2017, there are many articles and social media posts that look back at the year that was. I look back, thankful for some things, less thankful for others – and then I realize that even those things that are a challenge to be grateful for are gifts also. Every moment gives us the opportunity to glean something, to learn and to go forward. As a result, I won’t detail much of what was, but I will refer to one thing that resurfaced – regrettably so – in 2017.

Life or death? Which one do we choose? Most of us, if we are honest, float back and forth between the two. Whether it is too much sugar in our diet, or supporting a particular political position, or by avoiding the difficult and perpetual journey of examining our morals, principles, values, and conscience, we are constantly choosing one or the other.

Frankly, like many, I am not good at navigating this journey – and that is a huge part of what our faith journey requires. Heading down unmapped paths that are chock-a-block with challenges, difficult to traverse, and full of peril. Yet that is what we are called to do. Can’t I just stay on the sofa and scroll through social media or watch Netflix, not thinking about this stuff? Yet we are constantly called to make choices, most of them Continue reading

Memorial Day

timthumbI was not going to post today because Monday holidays are not big blog days, but I am going to offer a few words about Memorial Day.

Born in the late 50’s, I was very aware of the Vietnam War as a kid. My parents shouted things like “Give ’em hell!” or “Beat those Commies!” or “America, love it or leave it!” They were no fans of peace protestors because WAR meant defending AMERICA. Now in fairness to my parents, both now of blessed memory, they came of age at other times, and they also truly appropriated the fear and hatred of communism that we associate with that time. I am by no means suggesting Continue reading

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?

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.

What will we choose today?

Cemetery Angel text watermark.jpg

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?