Bunnies and Coloring and Hymns of the Heart

 

Last Sunday, I preached from the book of Amos, and talked about the unlikely messengers who bring us hard words from God. I reminded the congregation that if we only dwelled in the message bearer, we could miss God’s Words to us.

In a fit of honestly, I admitted I often look at the appearance of someone first… and then I decide if I will listen to them. And that if we are all honest, we all do this. I challenged my church to look for God’s unexpected messengers this week…

And this week, I heard God speak to me through knitted toy bunnies, coloring, and singing the same hymn over and over and over. It wasn’t what could or couldn’t be said to me. It was seeing the faithful, caregivers, the kind responses to the same questions, the calm words of reassurance, all to bring comfort to a patient.

That’s God talking. I pray that I listened well.

The world is not a safe place

Gun violence makes the world feel  unsafe. Gun violence in a house of worship, even more so.

But the world is not a safe place. 

That seems obvious. But we cling to this ideal of peace, love and happiness. All you need is Love. Give peace a chance. We are the world. Let there be peace on earth.

I can sorta-kinda cope with violence in random public places, on public transportation, in shopping malls. Workplace shootings are rampant. Sadly, I have an expectation that it just might happen in some corner of my little world. It boggles my mind that I have to be vigilant for my personal safety in a public place, but this is the world we live in now.

I’ll be honest… I don’t get it. My mind can’t process this kind of hate. I see what evil has done. And I am numb.

Shootings in the public square are bad enough, but what about the attacks in churches? It seems ages ago since the attack in Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston. How do we ever process the seemingly random violence of a shooter, assasinating the very folk who welcomed the stranger into their midst? Then to discover that, according to investigators, he plotted this for weeks?

Then I think about the violence at other places of worship. What about the mass shootings at a Sikh temple in 2012 in Oak Creek, Wisconsin? Or the six  people shot in a mosque in Quebec?

The churches in California, Tennessee, and now, Texas?

I don’t have answers for this kind of blind hate and prejudice. Lord knows I have enough unkind thoughts for some specific politicians today… but then I realize…

I am no better than the perpetrator of a mass killing if I let hate fester in my heart. 

Let me be clear: Am I looking for justice for the Charleston 9? Absolutely! But responding with violence? May it never be!

The stories will trickle in over the next weeks from the Sutherland Springs tragedy. We will read about families and shocked townspeople. We will get the pablum of “thoughts and prayers.” And we will hear the horrible theology of God needing another angel (ugh!!) and a diversion to a diatribe about mental illness instead of finally addressing gun control.

It has happened yet again.

The rhetoric swirls yet again.

And the world will continue to be unsafe.

And I will continue to wonder why any private citizen should own an assault rifle.

Friday Prayer: Spent

Cross-posted over at RevGalBlogPals:

JMaple1

 

Divine One,
I sing an “Alleluia!”
to the frailty
the glory
the richness of color
in a gasp of glory.
O Holy One,
in these leaves we see
your Divine creative spark,
and a reminder that we are frail and failing.

In seasons of drabness,
in moments of weakness,
in longing for warmth
and hope
and peace,
may we see you,
may we know you,
may we renew our hearts and minds
and prepare to bud forth
with an “Alleluia!”
again and again.

Amen.

Friday Prayer: We are here (cross-posted)

Published over at RevGals this morning:


We are here, Holy One.

We are here as witnesses
To those who hurt
Who cry
Who rage
Who have been abused
Who have died
Who have been treated unjustly…

We are here, Holy One.
We lift up to You
Our Maker and Redeemer
The silent tears
The raging fears
The pain of years…

We are here, Holy One.

How much we need
Your soothing balm
Your winds of change
Your waves of justice
Your powerful grace
Your love encircling us and our weary world…

Amen
and Amen. 

Holding in the brokenness

By request: Trigger warnings for sexual assault and harassment.

2013-09-09 12.46.13

It happens in an instant. The moment gets replayed, again and again. You learn to shut off the cycle, to get help to process the anger and embarrassment, to feel safe.

But the bottom line is that it never should have happened. Never. You did not deserve it. You did not cause it to happen. 

There are ways to re-glue your brokenness. There are ways to disguise the cracks, the signs of repair. But you will always know they are there. You will forget them for longer and longer periods of time. You will still have a kick in the gut when you remember.

It’s OK. It will be OK. 

You tell people you trust. Really trust. It’s hard. And you learn you can trust people to support you.

But then… You tell people you shouldn’t have trusted. And they accuse or shift blame to you. Sometimes, without your permission, they tell other people. And you feel the cracks again. And you grit your teeth and pursue healing. Again.

Sexual assault is real.

Sexual harassment is real.

Sexual microagressions are real. 

If you are reading this and have a burden of brokenness too big to carry on your own, please find support, get an ally, or look for help. You are worth it. You are loved. You are lovable always, forever, completely, as you are, as you will be.

There are many pastors, counselors and friends who will stand with you. They will listen. They will believe you. They will provide tissues (when you need them) and a strong shoulder (when you need that, too). I am one of them, or I will try to be. But there are many, many more…

It’s OK to be broken, by the way. It’s OK to have “a history” that makes others sad or uncomfortable. It’s more than OK to not have things all figured out (the “why me” moments are raw and real.) It’s also OK to have that brokenness out there, untended, wild and raw. It’s OK not to have your hurt “fixed” or “held in.” I’m not suggesting that’s your goal. And people will try to shush you. Don’t. Speak up. 

One last thing. You do not have to tell your story to everyone who asks. You can simply say #MeToo (full stop).

Please take care of you. You’re the only You we’ve got.

LINKS and HELPS

There are many, MANY links out there. Too many. Here’s four sites that I trust, and I think that you can, too.

 

Ashes Again

Reposted from RevGalBlogPals Friday Prayer:

ashes

I saw the wildfires, Lord.
The flames licking at houses, scorching trees.
The stuff of homes and families and memories…
GONE.
I am undone.
The raging power of the flames scared me,
their passion was so all-consuming.
but unlike the fires,
You are not capricious.
You are not destructive.

I searched my heart…

In the haze of my busy-ness, do I sense You?
Do I know the heat of Your love?
Do I feel Your unbridled power?
Do I feel at all?
What is burning? What is glowing?
What inspiration burns inside me?

In the past,
I have longed, burned for You…
But now,
I am tired and distracted,
Brittle with anger
instead of supple with your Grace.

Rekindle my joy
Rebuild my heart
Remind me of the transforming power
of Your love
again and again.

Amen.
and Amen.