I don’t speak for you

I don’t speak for you.

There. I said it.

I also don’t speak for people who look like me, dress like me, work with me, worship with me, or live near me. And, most importantly, I most definitely do not speak for someone who is nothing like me!

I am just… me. A wife and mom. A hospice chaplain. A progressive Baptist. A pastor. An LGBTQ+ally (and yes — I asked and was told that I am. If that matters.)

I look like women who voted for Trump in large numbers, and that pisses me off. (White, middle class, Christian.) I supported Hillary and contributed to her campaign. I tried to influence the hearts and minds of people around me to vote for her. And apparently, I was not very good at it.

Election night, I had tears in my eyes and felt frustrated. I had no words for those closest to me who were also devastated. I heard their fears. I was distressed with them. I am deeply worried about them because of the rhetoric and abuse we all heard from Trump during the campaign. They are vulnerable because of who they are.

Here’s what I have learned in the last few days…  (Sorry it’s in bullet points. I don’t have time to create fantastic, in-depth prose.)

  • By accident of birth, education and economic status, I could fade into the Great Beyond of white suburbia. But my Calling, my conscience and my faith do not allow that.
  • Those who know me already, know that when I wear a safety pin* or a rainbow bracelet, that I am visibly trying to signal what I believe and will do. And that I want them to be treated fairly, kindly, respectfully as I want to be treated.
  • Those who don’t know me personally might think I’m posturing.
  • The dying patients I serve, as well as their families, need my focus and care. Many of them are marginalized by their race, religion or gender identity.
  • My coworkers who care for the dying with me every day are sad, stressed and discouraged.
  • My family, friends, and parishioners have real fears, hurts and anxieties because of this election season.
  • I don’t have enough money, time or energy to respond to every need around me. That means I have to pick and choose, and I try to do that wisely.
  • I am praying — fiercely — for the projected new President.** (As of this date, the Electoral College has not met.)

 

I am trying to make a difference where I am. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Next year. In my context. Wherever God takes me.

I will do this imperfectly. Incompletely. Ignorantly. But I will keep trying.

I will  continue speak up against hate speech whenever I witness it.

I will keep learning. Growing. Praying. Reading. Listening. Serving. I’ll wear a safety pin and a rainbow bracelet. And sometimes, a cross. And I’ll try to do a better job of being an example of Christ in the world.

soli deo gloria

 

*It used to be that when someone wore a cross, they were expected to act “Christianly”. But today, the cross has been co-opted by political entities within American politics. It seems that a safety pin might better express my effort to be a welcoming, affirming and listening presence, without the trappings of a particular religious group.

**[edited to add] This does not mean he has my approval or my trust. (Bless his heart.) It means I am fulfilling a Scriptural admonishment to pray for those in authority.

What shall I tell my daughters?

Oh Lord…

How did we arrive in this unholy mess? The latest kerfuffle with the presidential election makes me want to throw things. Or vomit. Or maybe throw vomit. How did things get so thoroughly mucked up? Is this really the result of an uninvested, uneducated electorate, who were distracted by the rhetoric of obstructionist Legislatures, both national and local? (…as some pundits would suggest)

img_2179What shall I tell my daughters? They are voting in their first presidential election. The big issues like our national debt and student loans matter to them. (Hello. To me, too!) So does affordable healthcare. Getting a job. A clean environment. Global warming. A safer world. Marrying the person they love.

How shall I explain what their parents’ generation has done…and not done? They know as well as I do that it is a complex world we live in, far more complex than when I snoozed my way through “Principles of Democracy” (aka “civics”) in high school. It’s more than sound bites. It’s more than tabloid-driven news (God, help us!) It’s more than he-said-she-said.

This much I do know… I believe these young women, these wonderful daughters of ours are, inherently and personally, people of value and promise. They and their friends have much to give to our nation and our world. They have drive and dreams. They are articulate and compassionate.

They are watching and waiting with me, Lord.

I know You guide the hearts and actions of the nations.
I know You are able to steer even the most stubborn autocrat.
I know that whoever is elected will be flawed human being… just like me.
May Your peace reign.
May we hear Your direction.
May we know Your heart.
May we have Your mind.
And may those of us who are tasked with spiritual leadership
guard our tongues and increase our prayers…

Amen.

A Prayer in a Song: WORN

I heard this song on my way home from my chaplain duty hours this morning. It touched me and reminded me that I can always pour out what is on my heart and mind and God hears and comforts me.

I pray tonight for someone who hurts deeper than you and I can ever imagine, for people who love this person and wonder how this much hurt can come into one life. And I pray, especially, for those who are working as  doctors and nurses and chaplains this night, that they will bring healing, on the Spirit’s Wings.

Be blessed…

WORN

Tenth Avenue North

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

From the Desk blotter: Disappointment

I came across this clipping of song lyrics and decided it needed to be shared…

I don’t always agree with every aspect of a song lyric, but I have read this poem from time to time to help with an inner “attitude adjustment” when I’m struggling to be at peace. For the record, I don’t think that belief in God means that you are constantly under the Thumb, or some kind of Holy Whip. In fact, God gives us much grace and latitude to work through our questions (with or without seeking God’s help!)

Disappointment is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s because we humans are simply flawed and hurt each other. We let each other down. When I become disappointed or disillusioned, I wonder, “Where’s God in all of this?”

I accept the assumption that my life, fully and completely in God’s control, will face disappointment. Sometimes of my choosing. And sometimes not. I have learned that other’s disappointments may or may not be my “fault.” I’m getting better at releasing myself from disappointment to move on, pray, heal and try again.

It’s a Grace Thing.

Disappointment
Phil Keaggy

Disappointment – His appointment, change one letter, then I see
That the thwarting of my purpose is God’s better choice for me.
His appointment must be blessing though it may come in disguise
For the end from the beginning, open to His wisdom lies.

Disappointment – His appointment Whose? The Lord’s who loves best.
Understands and knows me fully, Who my faith and love would test.
For like loving, earthy parent He rejoices when He knows
That His child accepts unquestioned all that from His wisdom flows.

Disappointment – His appointment, no good thing will he withhold
From denials oft we gather treasures from His love untold.
Well He knows each broken purpose leads to fuller deeper trust
And the end of all His dealings proves our God is wise and just.

Disappointment – His appointment, Lord I take it then as such,
Like the clay in hands of potter yielding wholly to Thy touch.
All my life’s plan is Thy molding, not one single choice be mine
Let me answer unrepining, “Father, not my will but Thine.”

Advent 2C: Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the rule of the emperor Tiberius—when Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea and Herod was ruler over Galilee, his brother Philip was rulerover Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was ruler over Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—God’s word came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. John went throughout the region of the Jordan River, calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. This is just as it was written in the scroll of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
A voice crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled,
and every mountain and hill will be leveled.
The crooked will be made straight
and the rough places made smooth.
All humanity will see God’s salvation.”
Luke 3:1-6 [CEB]

With clarity, Luke pinpoints the time into which John the Baptist and Jesus were born. For the Jews, it was not a great time. Under forced occupation. Worshipping in a temple built by an egomaniac, they allowed power and dollars to take over the renovations of the Temple. It was about prestige. Not about holiness. It was about leaving behind a legacy with one’s permanent stamp of prestige over personal growth. (That’s not a commentary on church building programs and those with deep pockets and generous spirits! I swear!)

The point is that this Temple, built with pomp and flair was not “the” place to be. Those who thought they were powerful in politics (Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip and Lysanias) and even the Jewish religious leaders (Annas and Caiaphas) were not so important after all. Instead, God showed the Holy Spirit’s power in the desert. God used a simple man named John, a man calling for repentance, as he wandered the Jordan River valley. People were baptized as a demonstration of their desire to be changed, to be renewed and to be forgiven.

A mere prophet, giving words from God? Demanding they turn from their well-established paths of power? That made no sense! It could be as incomprehensible to people in our government today — federal, state or local — it would not matter. Could they listen and hear the words of John, inviting them to move past their tightly held fiefdoms and to lay themselves out before God’s judgment, mercy and forgiveness? To lay aside comfort and dominance and self-aggrandizement?

In our fractured society, with a “fiscal cliff” just beyond the horizon, it seems unlikely. Yet God can and does do anything to change our hearts and minds.

So may it be…