The Plight of the Dispossessed

May 17th, 2019

Divine identification with the plight of the dispossessed in the event of the exodus makes understandable the constant return throughout the Bible to themes of God’s special concern for poor, powerless, oppressed, and marginalized persons. Gracious and merciful, God acts to make a new future possible. Such compassionate concern also undergirds the great biblical ethic of hospitality: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:21); and more positively, “You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19). The people liberated from slavery must act in like manner as the Holy One who delivered them.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 38

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 15, 2019

Finding Our Positive Intention

May 15th, 2019

Our positive intention reminds us of the life goals that dwelling on painful experience has shifted aside.

The biggest drawback to telling grievance stories is they keep us connected in a powerless way with people who have hurt us. When we mull over our past wounds and hurts, we remind ourselves of a part of our life that did not work. Reconnecting with our positive intention reminds us of our goals and enables us to move forward.

Positive intention can be defined as the strongest positive motivation we had for being in the grievance situation in the first place…. All grievances start with a situation that did not work out. We had an experience where either we did not get what we wanted or we got something we did not want. In either case, we wanted something for our well-being. Our positive intention is remembering what that something was and expressing it in the most beneficial terms we can find.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 142

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 15, 2019

Embracing the Excluded

May 13th, 2019

In all three stories, the point isn’t just that Jesus healed these people; the point is that Jesus touched these people. He embraced them just as he embraced other disparaged members of society, often regarded as “sinners” by the religious and political elite — prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans, Gentiles, the sick, the blind, and the deaf.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 184

Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012

Delight in What’s Before You

May 10th, 2019

God, right there, today, in the person in front of me, joy beyond holding, beholding this day, Paradise. You delight in what is before you today in Christ. Richard Rolheiser writes that, “the opposite of depression is not happiness, it’s delight.” After all, we breathe the Spirit that delights in our being. We don’t breathe in the Spirit that just sort of puts up with our mess. It’s about delight.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 159

Photo:  Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Love’s the Loudest Thing

May 9th, 2019

I know that for many people of faith, maybe even for you, LGBTQ acceptance is still, in a very real way, a spiritual world rocker. I pray that if you are unsure how to respond to someone who comes out to you, you’ll take a cue from my father, who — despite all he didn’t know or understand in the moment — didn’t feel a pressing need to lecture, preach, or answer every question. He simply made sure that his love was the loudest thing he spoke. He didn’t realize it then, but he was showing me Jesus in a way that surprised and inspired and transformed me.

Friend, the heart of the bigger table is the realization that we don’t have to share someone’s experience to respect their road. As we move beyond the lazy theology and easy caricatures that seek to remove any gray from people’s lives, we can meet them in that grayness, right where they are, without demanding that they become something else in order to earn proximity to us or to a God who loves them dearly. Just as was true in the life and ministry of Jesus, real love is not contingent upon alteration, it simply is. There is no earning of fellowship or deserving of closeness; there is only the invitation itself and the joy that comes when you are fully seen and fully heard. When in Rome, you shouldn’t need to do as the Romans do in order to be welcomed. You are already welcomed.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Tablep. 18-19

Found Because He Searched

May 7th, 2019

What may we say was the reason for the lost sheep becoming found? Was the sheep saved by the doing of good works? Was the sheep saved by the following of law or commandment? Was the sheep saved because it recognized its own state of ‘lost-ness’, and went searching for its shepherd? Heaven forbid! The lost sheep was found for one reason and one reason alone. The lost sheep was found because the Good Shepherd came looking. The shepherd commenced a search and rescue operation that would never finish, until his sheep was found.

His is a personal search, a persevering search, a successful search. He will search until they are found. The lost sheep contributed nothing to its being found.

— Peter Gray, Until They Are Found, p. 26

Photo: Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Communicating with the Dead

April 29th, 2019

Books are the way that the dead communicate with us.

The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, the way that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over.

— Neil Gaiman, Art Matters, “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”

Photo: Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Turn

April 28th, 2019

Whatever you call it, repentance is not about beating up on yourself; it’s about turning from old ways that don’t work, old habits that don’t work. Turning and turning, like a flower turning in the direction of the sun. First, we turn.

— Michael Curry, The Power of Love, p. 29-30

Photo: Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Be Beautiful, Be Yourself

April 26th, 2019

If you can accept your body, then you have a chance to see your body as your home. You can rest in your body, settle in, relax, and feel joy and ease. If you don’t accept your body and your mind, you can’t be at home with yourself. You have to accept yourself as you are. This is a very important practice. As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 23

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 8, 2019

The Christian Calling

April 23rd, 2019

If conservative Evangelicalism was truly concerned about sin…

… conservative Evangelical Christianity would be truly and completely trusting the Spirit. For the Christian calling isn’t to change people, but to love them unconditionally while the Spirit does what only the Spirit can do. In the presence of perceived sin, conservative Evangelical Christians would be doing everything possible to get out of the way of the Spirit and to doubly make sure they didn’t serve as a detriment or distraction to the Spirit’s work. They would be so sensitive to this movement in people’s lives that to potentially error on the side of thwarting God’s transformative hand through fostering false guilt, shame, and condemnation, would send shivers down their spine, causing them to value restraint above all else — if it was all about sin.

— Chris Kratzer, Leatherbound Terrorism, p. 111

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 8, 2019