What Side Are You On?

What Side Are You On?

“Social Justice Warriors”
Millions of social justice warriors
Throughout history
Exact numbers unknown
Working to end oppression
Fighting for inclusion
Not just for some but for all
Each our own way
Our own path
Our own focus
Yet, united, we stand, stroll, or roll
Eclectic bodies
Equipped for the fight
Uniquely collected
Like a patchwork quilt
Sewn together
Combined to change the world
A protective cover
To shield in spells of darkness
Each as we come
Ongoing
Unable to be stopped
For even if some are ripped away
Others, stitched in
Become part of this grand fabric
Our aggregate coat of arms
For millions of social justice warriors.

Gandhi - 5-27-2019

Have you ever noticed that bullies who are so critical of anything remotely inclusive never really bring anything to the table besides anger and hostility?

I get so tired of these detractors, who would do nothing except tear apart, acting as critics for those of us who seek kindness and inclusion. I can hear it now, “Snowflake,” or some other bullshit-speak while they are truly the ones most sensitive about any kind of questioning.

Seriously, suggest even for a second that they ought to rethink their stance and they’ll wail like petulant children. They go on the offensive. “Snowflake! Lock her/him up!” and so on. Just a week ago, I heard somebody gleefully declare that soon we inclusives will be locked up for any kind of dissent. “What are you afraid of?” I attempted to ask but even this small questioning act of mine was quickly shouted down.

Maybe they’re right too. We live in pretty dangerous times. I have no doubt some voices will be silenced along the way. This has always been true.

Yet, as difficult and scary as this is, I have hope. Hope that Love is bigger. My voice will no doubt be stilled, either by action or natural order, but the same cannot be said of Love. They’ve tried for thousands of years. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen.

Gandhi - Love

In the words of Gandhi,

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but, in the end, they always fall – think of it – always.”

Besides, I’ll gladly enter into rest with Love rather than sit silently with oppression any day. I’m a Love proclaimer

Thank you to those who resist with me. I’m grateful to call you sisters and brothers.

For those who find comfort in complacency I ask, “What are you waiting for?” They’ll come for you tomorrow even if you’re silent today. Oppression always need an enemy. There is no safe end in silence.

To those of you who choose the path that keeps others out, what part of Love don’t you understand? Especially if, like me, you claim to follow that Jesus guy.

I look forward to your response.

Wherever you are this day, I hope you’ll join me in reflection on these words of love as we share this part of our journey together and remember, wherever you find yourself, in the realm of justice and love,

“Love accepts you, no exceptions.”

Peace Love and Acceptance

Hypocrites and the Law of Love

Hypocrites and the Law of Love

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5

A lot of self-righteous people are going around these days telling others what they should or shouldn’t be doing. In some cases, these hypocrites have legislative power which can be a very dangerous thing.

Moreover, the hypocritical legislators can be swayed by other hypocrites too. Watch out when that happens because, as much as I hate this type reasoning, it happens from both sides. I feel this keenly as a disabled person.

We witness this in many ways.

Reproductive rights, exclusion from full participation whether in church or society, healthcare, straw bans, the list seems endless. I am going to explore each of these areas in my next several posts.

(Shameless Plug: I write every Monday and Thursday.)

But, rather than dwell on any one of these topics today, I want to offer for consideration what I believe is the best way forward no matter the subject at hand. My hope is that this will provide our basis for deeper discussion in these sensitive areas.

Note: Please chime in. I already know what I think. Be open. Be respectful. Listen and I will too.

Anyway, here it is, though, if you’ve read any of my other posts this won’t come as a great shock.

(If you haven’t that’s ok. I still love you. Shameless plug #2, please start reading, comment, and share. See: I already know what I think.)

Love always expands the circle. Love is inclusive. Love seeks justice and equality. Most of all, Love meets you where you are, knows one size doesn’t fit all, and Love love’s you just as you are even when you fall short.

I think of my experience with my daughter, Hope, and each of us are far from perfect. From the moment I held her, I knew nothing could ever stop me from loving her no matter what. She could kill me and, even though whatever pain she projected onto me would bring me great sadness, I would still love her.

Love just is. Love lives beyond what can be easily understood in our humanity. When I, as a Jesus follower ask, “What would Jesus do?” I’m really trying to discern, “What would Love do?”

Love is true, no matter what you believe or don’t believe as a matter of faith, even when the answers aren’t so easy. Perhaps that’s why we’re told Jesus said, “Love is greater than any of the other rules.” (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28)

Love is a good starting point even for old hypocrites like me. Let’s try it.

Tell me, what do you think?

Let me know if you have other discussion topics too. As long as you’re willing to respectfully participate, I’m willing to discuss. There is no shortage of questions. Who knows? Call me an optimist but maybe the answers can be found in our sharing together.

Wherever you are this day, thanks for joining me in reflection on these words of love as we share this part of our journey together and remember, wherever you find yourself, in the realm of justice and love,

“Love accepts you, no exceptions.”

Peace Love and Acceptance

Is Your Love in Limited Supply?

Is Your Love in Limited Supply?

The following post is a reflection based on the lectionary readings from May 19, 2019 of John 13:31-35, Acts 11:1-18, and Revelation 21:1-6. (https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=137#hebrew_reading)

Calm Love

It’s been a long week.

I had a great time and I learned a lot at a church conference in Atlanta. Then, on the way back, I visited family in Tennessee which was awesome (and a cool story about connection and restoration in its own right.)

I even wrote a blog post from the car about the tragic passing of blogger, speaker, and writer, Rachel Held Evans which had me marveling at the abilities of technology even as I mourned the loss of her voice while also thinking how it is more important than ever to speak up for justice and love when you lose leaders like her. (And, feeling some pressure as I try to find a platform for my own voice right now.)

So, maybe it’s really been a long few weeks.

Travel is not easy in this broken body for one thing. I came home and just crashed. But, it’s more than physical although it certainly is that.

I came home sore, tired, and drained; both physically and emotionally. And, I went to bed for like two days. I’m still not sure I’m fully recovered.

However, as I began to awaken from my travel stupor, I was overcome with great sadness. I began to hear again the ongoing stories of division in our world, of anger, injustice, and hate…

I don’t know, maybe I just blocked them out for a time. Maybe, I had just grown numb to them and, as I woke up, instead being refreshed they just hit me. – HARD.

Do you ever feel like that? Hit hard by the world around you? It can be you personally or collectively. It can come from yourself or others. Just the weight of it all. Like it’s all collapsing onto you?

What do you do? It’s overwhelming isn’t it? It seems like the best thing to do might be just to go back to sleep.

Except, you can’t sleep forever. Life carries on. You have work to do. Bills to pay. Maybe you’re at a life stage like mine where you have kids looking to you asking, “What do I do?”

My daughter, Hope, came to me just a few days ago and opened up about some of her questions and struggles. So, I listened. We talked. It was beautiful really to be able to relate on this level even as part of me wanted to say, “I just don’t know!”

That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the struggle. Wanting answers and not always having answers. Do you feel that?!

It doesn’t have to be just with kids either. I’m sure you have someone asking you questions no matter who you are even if it’s just yourself asking them. Because, these questions aren’t coming from just one of these directions. (Kids, others, or ourselves) they are coming from ALL of these directions.

We live in a time of division. We live in a time of injustice, and we live in a time of questions.

In fact, no matter what you believe or don’t believe, I bet we can agree that life comes with no shortage of questions.

Truthfully, though, we’ve always lived life amidst questions. That’s nothing new; not now or in Jesus’ time. I think the only variable is how much you feel these questions at any given moment.

Perhaps, not surprisingly then, we hear from Jesus about what matters most when confronted by these questions we all face right here in John 13.

This passage is part of a collection of passages known as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. Jesus is preparing his disciples for life without his physical presence. More than offering comfort, though, Jesus is trying to focus them and us forward to live into our mission as his people.

 And, they need it just like we need it. Think for a moment about everything they’ve been through over the last several weeks… Palm Sunday, “Hosanna!” Savior! (Matthew 21:9)

We are going to claim our power over injustice! …And, then, they watch Jesus get killed…

“Well, somebody has to anoint the body” and, in typical male fashion, we read the women go. “Us guys, we’ll just stay safely locked up in this room.” … “Wait. What do you mean he’s not there?!” (John 20:1-2)

“Wait, Jesus is back! Savior, again!” (Thomas, “I don’t believe it…”) … then, “My Lord and my God!” …We really are saved! (John 20:25, 28)

Except, ultimately, Jesus leaves again which the disciples aren’t ready for.

(Though, remember, they are waiting for the Holy Spirit. We already have the Holy Spirit, wait not required.)

Still, whether it’s the original disciples back fishing in John 21 or later retreating into the upper room in the beginning of Acts 1 or it’s us today, Jesus has already offered these words from John 13 to remember in our questioning times.

Jesus says, “Listen, I’m gonna go…” (John 13:33) And, they say just like we sometimes do, “What do we do now?” …Because, that’s the point. What are we, followers of Jesus, going to do in our world of uncertainty?

But, Jesus’ answer is simple… Even if not always easy to live out – Love

When uncertainty comes – And, it will come – Love

When you don’t know what to do… Love

That’s what we see in Acts 11 today. Some disciples weren’t so sure what to do about the non-Jewish believers…So, of course, they were fighting about it because that’s our human brokenness. We’d rather fight to keep people out rather than let everyone in. That’s not Love.

They said to Peter, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” (Acts 11:13)

But, Peter had a vision …A word from God…which told him just as it tells us, “Don’t worry about what you think the rules are. Love meets you where you are, no matter who you are just as I did because I am Love. Go do the same.

Remember, the disciples didn’t come to Jesus and ask to follow him.

That’s how it was done in those days. You’d go follow a rabbi for a time until you’d generally be sent home. (or you’d go become a rabbi yourself.)

But, Jesus did something different. He went and told these people (who would have been already told by another rabbi they weren’t good enough) “Come follow me.” (Matthew 4:19)

He says the same thing to us. “Come follow me” because Love accepts you no exceptions”

That’s what Peter’s actions in Acts 11 demonstrate as well.

It’s also what so many people who profess Christian faith seem to get wrong so often today.

The Good News is you can begin again today even if you’ve always gotten it wrong. It’s never a bad time to Love.

When you have questions, when you doubt, when you’re scared and uncertain as you look around at a world filled with injustice, unfairness, hate… and everything else…or even if you, yourself, are just not sure what to do, Love.

Just as I have loved you, love one another. (John 13:34)

Because, in doing so, in being loving in a world so often characterized by not Love, people will know who you are and whose you are.  “Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” They’ll know you belong to Love. (John 13:35)

And, you’ll change hearts.

 Ultimately, love will win too so have courage to keep going. That’s the true significance of the vision in Revelation no matter what some folks try and turn it into. (Rev. 21:2-6) It’s love over injustice.

My home will be among you. I’ll dwell with you and wipe the tears from your eyes. “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more. The rest will be stripped away”

All things will be new. And, you can remember my words.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will provide the water of life.

In the meantime, Jesus says, hold onto love even amidst the questions, the hurts, and everything else and others will know Love because of me.

We are unified by Love, whenever we Love, and in case you need to hear it again so you remember it in your most difficult times, Love Accepts You No Exceptions. – Love always expands its circle. Anything else, isn’t Love.

Love is NEVER in limited supply. So, speak out for Love. Embrace it. That’s true discipleship; 2,000 years ago or today. 

Imagine if we lived this way? You can live this way. It even multiplies as you do it, and another, and another… That’s the power of love!

That’s Jesus message. Love. Wherever you are or whatever you’re going through, remember Love. Live Love out. Again and again, one action at a time. One person at a time. Until Everyone is included. That’s True Love. Amen.

Wherever you are this day, I hope you’ll join me in reflection on these words of love as we share this part of our journey together and remember, wherever you find yourself, in the realm of justice and love,

“Love accepts you, no exceptions.”

Peace Love and Acceptance

Transformation on a Damascus Road

“Transformation on a Damascus Road”
Transformation on a Damascus Road
I’ve heard anecdotes it’s true
Some might say that’s long ago
Except, it could happen to me or you
I hope I’m on the side that gives
Blessings so that others live
Make it more than allegory
Arrival, is the point to take
Lord, hear these heartfelt words I pray
Transform me in your glory
Demascus

I’m always fascinated the story of the Apostle Paul’s transformation on the Damascus road. (Acts 9:1-20)

He was out persecuting people for believing differently than him. This feels all too real to me today. Love calls us to do better. A lot better. But, before I look at the actions of others, I feel compelled to look at myself. I have shut the door of love on others more times than I care to admit.

Except, I think that’s the point.

God can use me whether I’m the one being called away from the error my ways, like Paul, or being used as the vessel through which restoration happens like Ananias. I just have to be willing.

Look at the story. Paul is admonished and healed. (Yes, I know admonished is an understatement!) Ananias is called to go forward even with fear. Both men are transformed.

This is good news!

So, where do you need transformation today?

Do you need to move beyond fear to go forward?

Do you need to make changes?

Either is possible with love.

Ultimately, the question becomes, “Are you willing?”

Let me know what you think about all this. I look forward to your comments.

Wherever you are this day, I hope you’ll join me in reflection as we share this part of our journey together and remember, in the realm of justice and love,

“Love accepts you, no exceptions.”
Peace Love and Acceptance

Notes:
Link to Acts 9:1-20
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+9%3A1-20&version=NIV

Jean Vanier’s Jelly Beans

Jean Vanier’s Jelly Beans

Update: Jean Vanier passed away on May 7, 2019, in the early morning in Paris. I am reposting in his memory.

https://www.larche.org/en/web/guest/news/-/asset_publisher/mQsRZspJMdBy/content/passing-away-of-jean-vanier.

Crip Pastor

Today, I am cross-posting a blog from my friend, Tim Vermande, about Jean Vanier who is the founder of L’Arche Communities. I encourage you to learn more about Vanier and his work if you don’t know it. Tim’s original post, which includes my poem, can be seen here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On Holy Saturday, the world heard that Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, had moved to palliative care at the age of 90. My friend Chris Wylie wrote this poem in response, which in turn led me to write the essay that follows the poem. We are publishing our thoughts together.

You created a place for people like me
A caring and loving community 
You called it The Ark
L’Arche in your tongue 
Living together
Together as one
To learn and to grow was your grand vision
Fulfilling in unison love’s great mission
Grow we did like flowers in bloom
Ushering Heaven into…

View original post 341 more words

Love Remains: My Eulogy for Rachel Held Evans

Love Remains: My Eulogy for Rachel Held Evans

I just read news that Rachel Held Evans passed from this world. I am overcome with grief even as I write this.

There is a reason I’m so drawn to people still figuring it out. I’m one of them. Though I never had the opportunity to know her personally, Rachel Held Evans was one of these people too.

There’s something beautiful about sitting amidst the messiness of life. It can be painful and difficult, absolutely. Now, is one of those times. But, it can also be freeing. This was Racel Held Evans’ testimony. I hope it’s mine too.

Please know, if you have doubts, questions, pain, or brokenness, you are not alone. If you sit in sadness this day, I’m right there with you. I’m literally wiping tears from my eyes as I write this. Sobbing at times, my sorrow will not be unattended.

Yet, even as I face these struggling times, when all I want is to cry out with my voice quivering and quaking unable to adequately express the depth of my anguish, I have hope. Hope for something beyond this broken world which seems unyielding in this moment.

My hope is that love is bigger.

Don’t worry. I’ll still have questions. It’s natural to have questions in a world where such wonderful spirits are gone from among us all too quickly. We just don’t mourn without hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

That’s something I’m trying to hold onto even in this moment. That when all the brokenness, suffering, pain, and everything else passes away, three things remain. Faith, Hope, and Love. Love is the greatest of these. (1 Corinthians 13)

As you read this, please let me know where you find hope today. Perhaps in our sharing we can find strength together. Right now, your words of comfort, compassion, and community would mean a great deal to me.

That’s what it’s about, right? Sitting together?

RIP good servant. Wherever you are may you know your time and witness here made a difference. You were a bringer of love, the kind of love that lives on beyond all that we see or the questions we have.

You may never have known the full impact you made but you made it with me. I’m grateful

Wherever you are this day, thank you for sharing this part of your journey with me. Remember always, in the realm of love,

Love accepts you no exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Are You a Doubting Thomas?

Are You a Doubting Thomas?

Doubting Thomas

The rest saw Jesus

Thomas did not

He had just wandered into the scene

It all left him at a great disadvantage

Like a fish against current midstream

The women saw first

In itself quite an outrage

Then the others as the day just began

Not so poor Thomas

Who gets such a bad rap

He wasn’t in on the plan.

But, Jesus did love him

Even did show him

Said, touch right here and you’ll see

And, that’s how it works

Love meets you where you are

Even when it’s hard to believe.

Doubting Thomas

(Scripture References: Acts 5:27-32, Revelation 1:4-8, John 20:19-31)

Do you ever have doubts?

Doubts about faith? Doubts about life? Doubts about yourself?

I’m not sure most people admit much to doubt.

We like to be in control. We certainly like to appear that way.

But, there are often times when life feels out of control. Maybe that’s even most times.

So, we doubt, right?

Here’s some good news. We come from a long line of doubters.

Think about it. We see many examples of this just in the Easter story alone.

The crowds shouting, “Hosanna!” doubted enough to go from seeing Jesus as their savior to seeing him crucified in less than a week. A week!

The disciples all doubted they could go on without the physical presence of Jesus.

They didn’t trust God’s plan. 

They were scared when he told them he was going away even though he told them the Holy Spirit wouldn’t really have them be alone at all.  The Holy Sprit would enable God’s presence to be with them everywhere.

Then, they were scared and locked away in a room after Jesus was crucified.

Peter, “I’ll never let them take you Jesus!” quickly doubted all the way to becoming,”Jesus who?” just as Jesus told him he would do.

Judas Iscariot, another bible bad guy, wasn’t really much worse than many others.

As noted in my post Judas is Me he just wanted to live. He doubted the savior label of Jesus but he did believe Jesus was a good moral teacher. He’s hardly alone there.

So, if you doubt too, no matter where you are on the “Doubt Scale,” you aren’t alone. Welcome to the club. I’m a long time member. 

…And, so is Thomas.

He didn’t see Jesus like the others had.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Blessed are those who haven’t seen and still believe. (John 20:29)

That wasn’t the other disciples Jesus was talking about. I mean, they literally tell him, “We have seen the Lord.” Thomas just says, “I want to see for myself.” (John 20:25) 

And, before anyone grabs the “I’ll cast the first stone” seat thinking they’ve always believed even in the difficult times, stop. I don’t think we can be human and never doubt.

Besides, that’s not the point.

The point is that Love loves you wherever you are even with your doubts. 

Just as Jesus met those locked away disciples in the upper room, Jesus met Thomas, and he meets me, and you. Why?

Because, Love meets you where you are. 

So, Jesus says, “Go ahead, Thomas. Touch me and see for yourself. Do not doubt, believe.” (John 20:27) 

Love does the same for you.

Maybe, you haven’t seen the physical Jesus. I haven’t either.

But, the times I have seen love, especially in my darkest times, are countless.

Look around. Sure, you might see all kinds of reasons to doubt but look for the reasons to believe in love too.

Because, Love believes in you. So, do I. 

Look to all the people fighting for love and justice. Look at smiles from strangers. Look into the eyes of a child. Love is there. Love just is.

No matter where you are, love is there with you. Even if it’s sometimes difficult to see.

Believe in yourself.

Believe in Love.

Love is the one unstoppable force.

Delayed, maybe. Never stopped. We’re still here and so is Love.

Here’s the other good news. Love is transformational. 

You can grow in the ways of Love and you don’t do it alone. Just as we have love, we have each other. Another gift of Love. As you live into it, you are called to share it!

Yes, the forces of darkness will want to stop you (Acts 5:28) because love is that powerful but your life is a witness to the Power of Love. (Acts 5:32)

Try as they might, they can’t stop love.

Likewise, you can let go of doubt too.

Doubt is no more than the enemy telling you to give up on the Power of Love.

Don’t give up on yourself or Love. 

Love will always be here and you are connected to it. From beginning to end. (Revelation 1:8)

So, try living it out.

Look for Love, and to Love, the next time doubt creeps in and then find ways to share it.

Ask yourself, what does Love say about me? 

If you need a reminder, I’ll repeat, “Love says, you are loved right where you are even with your doubts.”

Go and repeat it too.

Wherever you are this day, I hope you’ll join me in reflection as we share this part of our journey together and remember, in the realm of justice and love,

“Love accepts you, no exceptions.”

Peace Love and Acceptance