Archive for the ‘Acceptance’ Category

Beyond Sameness

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

One look at the group Jesus first assembled as his followers tells us that something is lost when sameness is the defining characteristic of a church. Jesus’ example teaches us that something is wrong when we leave out people who differ from us and only feel at home when everyone is the same. His goal is not to make us more of what we are, but help us to become what we can be. That requires us to expand our understanding of what it means to love our neighbor. Christ shows us that the only way to learn the greatest commandment is to have people in our lives who we personally find so difficult to love that we have to get up every morning and pray to our Creator for a love we could not produce on our own. The first disciples had to ask God to expand their hearts so they could overlook the past sins of the tax collector, put up with the ideological torpedo the zealot launched at breakfast, ignore the angry brothers’ latest argument, or figure out if it was time to confront the group treasurer they were beginning to think was embezzling funds.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 43

Photo: Green heron, South Riding, Virginia, April 25, 2020

Exclusion Excluded

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

The truly one, holy, catholic and undivided church has not existed for a thousand years now, with many tragic results. We are ready to reclaim it again, but this time around we must concentrate on including — as Jesus clearly did — instead of excluding — which he never did. The only people that Jesus seemed to exclude were precisely those who refused to know they were ordinary sinners like everyone else. The only thing he excluded was exclusion itself. Do check me out on that, and you might see that I am correct.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 34

Photo: Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, Virginia, April 6, 2020

Rich Diversity

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Our distinctions of race, gender, orientation, and place of origin all shape how easy or difficult it has been for us to claim the same inherent needs we have to be seen and heard and respected, and they craft the specific lens through which we filter the world. The very specific intersection of our various differences alters how we individually have experienced life, and so we need to bring these all to bear as we build community, each being informed by one another. The color of someone’s skin, their inclination to love, their gender identity, the culture of their upbringing, and every other facet of their humanity matter, because these all work in concert to compose the once-in-history expression of life they manifest. These things are the unique lines of their original stories.

And as a person of faith, these distinctions all reveal the unlimited beauty of One who is the source of each of us, so this rich diversity is the very holy ground where God speaks. Bigotry doesn’t happen when we notice other people’s differences. It happens when we believe or act as if those differences make another less worthy of love or opportunity or compassion or respect. We need to learn to dance together.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 94

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 7, 2020

Community and Kinship

Friday, September 6th, 2019

If we choose to stand in the right place, God, through us, creates a community of resistance without our even realizing it. To embrace the strategy of Jesus is to be engaged in what Dean Brackley calls “downward mobility.” Our locating ourselves with those who have been endlessly excluded becomes an act of visible protest. For no amount of our screaming at the people in charge to change things can change them. The margins don’t get erased by simply insisting that the powers-that-be erase them. The trickle-down theory doesn’t really work here. The powers bent on waging war against the poor and the young and the “other” will only be moved to kinship when they observe it. Only when we can see a community where the outcast is valued and appreciated will we abandon the values that seek to exclude.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 177-178

Photo: Gilbert’s Corner Regional Park, Virginia, August 31, 2019

All Are Worthy.

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Jesus feeds people. That’s what he does. And as striking as what he does is, equally revelatory is what he doesn’t do here. There’s no altar call, no spiritual gifts assessment, no membership class, no moral screening, no litmus test to verify everyone’s theology and to identify those worthy enough to earn a seat at the table. Their hunger and Jesus’ love for them alone, nothing else, make them worthy. This is a serious gut check for us.

John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 61-62

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 28, 2019

Catching Up With Who We Are

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

Thankfully, the true Christian life is not a test, it’s a rest. Spiritual growth isn’t about becoming someone tomorrow who you aren’t today through one’s spiritual performance, but rather it’s the journey of our actions and attitudes catching up with who we already fully are in Christ — complete, whole, holy, pure, righteous, saved, and lacking no spiritual blessing. This is the foundation of Grace that enables in us and through us all good things, effortlessly — any other foundation is a sinking sand-spiral of death.

— Christ Kratzer, Leatherbound Terrorism, p. 115-116

Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 30, 2011

Letting Go in Love

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Letting go is essential in love – it is the opposite of clinging to expectations about how things should be and allows us to accept others (and ourselves!) as they are.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 293

Embracing the Excluded

Monday, 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

Love’s the Loudest Thing

Thursday, 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

Be Beautiful, Be Yourself

Friday, 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