help us accept each other

Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us;
teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace.
Be present, Lord, among us and bring us to believe
we are ourselves accepted and meant to love and live.

I struggled with going to church yesterday.  It was snowy and cold and I was so very tired.  It seemed like it was SO MUCH work getting everyone in the car with all the whining and meltdowns and just…BLAH.  Charlie was going to miss his morning nap and Eddie was going to be, well, Eddie.

We had to go though because we were scheduled to usher.  It’s not like no one would notice if we didn’t come.  I mean, I am sure everyone is smart enough, they could have found their own seat, but our names were in the bulletin, it was our responsibility.

We went, of course, and I am so very glad.

We have a very traditional service.  We have things like “The Prayer of Confession” and “The Assurance of Forgiveness” and “The Anthem”.  We have “liturgists” and we are “commissioned” at the end of the service.

Our church is currently between pastors and so we are in a “transition” phase.  I haven’t been part of the team that meets, but I know this: we are divided on how we want our worship to be, traditional (like it always has been) or contemporary.  The service today was to bring to light and to make the congregation think about this polarizing that is happening.

And while I knew in my head this was the reason it was being presented to us, I couldn’t help my heart from hearing another message.

Teach us, O Lord, your lessons, as in our daily life
we struggle to be human and search for hope and faith.
Teach us to care for people, for all not just for some,
to love them as we find them or as they may be come.

Recently I have started to dip my toe back into the faith of my childhood.

I have always had some level of faith. Even at the height of my questioning, I somehow always believe there was something bigger than me…bigger than all of us. I can’t explain it…which is weird because I am very much a science and facts kind of person.  I can only say I believe it.

I am still very young in this new me.  I would say I have always been a Christian, but recently–within the last year–I have decided (due to a lot of prodding, I believe, by God) that I need to do more than just say I am, but not attend church, not explore the MILLIONS of questions I have, not talk about it.

I have some serious questions and doubts.  There is no question about that.  Such doubts, that I am sure it would make my mom sad and some of my family very angry that I dare to question certain things.  But I can’t help it.  And I don’t think God is mad about it, either.

With all this new thirst for answers…or at least peace that the questions can’t be answered…people have really felt the need to “minister” to me.  I find it so strange that as someone who knows more Bible stories than the average person, who can pick up more Biblical allusions than most in literature and culture, and who can cite historical facts about Biblical times, people still feel like I need “saving”…even though I have said I am saved.

The truth is, they want me to be saved “correctly”, meaning they want me to be saved the way the believe is right.  Their way.

Let your acceptance change us, so that we may be moved
in living situations to do the truth in love;
to practice your acceptance until we know by heart
the table of forgiveness and laughter’s healing art.

The reading today that our pastor used for the launching pad of her sermon was 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11. The passage is about the spiritual gifts God gives everyone.  I have heard this thousands of times (and it always confirms that God gave me the gift of teaching), but today, I picked up something different.

Today she read and focused on the part that goes like this: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit” (4) and the rest of the verses around it that talk about how all praise and gifts come for the Lord.  The diversity of all is God-made.  She was using it to show us that however we worship is from God and it’s not wrong if it’s from God.

I took it a step further. I heard her say this, “The only sin Jesus mentions as being unforgivable is that of blasphemy.  Blasphemy is when you say something from God is wrong.  We come dangerously close to this all the time.”

Again, she was speaking of how we worship.  But I thought broader.  ALL PEOPLE are of God.  To pick and choose who you deem “acceptable” then is blasphemy.

Jesus did not just hang out with the rich, “righteous” people.  Quite the opposite.   He put himself among the “least of these,” the people society wanted to pretend didn’t exist.  He didn’t care about political views or race or ethnicity.  He didn’t care about gender or social status.  All people are God’s children.  ALL OF THEM.

He didn’t just tolerate people who were different than him; he accepted them.

We are told not to just tolerate, but to accept.  Otherwise? We are dancing on the verge of blasphemy.

Just because someone does something differently than you do, doesn’t make it wrong as long as it comes from a place of love and light.

Think about that. I did.  It’s not just how we are “saved” or how we worship. It’s not just about “church stuff”.

It’s about how we choose to parent.  What lifestyle we have.  Where we choose to live.  Who we support politically.  What views and beliefs we hold. Who we call our family. How we spend our money.  How we run our business. Who we choose as friends. How we spend our free time.

The list goes on.

If the choices are made for the right reasons? They are not wrong. Even if they are different than your choices.

Lord, for today’s encounters with all who are in need,
who hunger for acceptance, for righteousness and bread,
we need new eyes for seeing, new hands for holding on:
renew us with your Spirit; Lord, free us, make us one!

I almost stood up and yelled out, “AMEN, SISTA!” when she was done. But instead I smiled because it was exactly what I needed to hear.

It was exactly what has been on my heart.

I know I fail at this, if not out loud, in my head and heart.  I am working on it, and my prayer is that the rest of the world will work on it too.

*************

*Lyrics from “Help Us Accept Each Other”. which we sang at the close of church. emphasis added by me.

heart toxins

I have been on a happy high for a while now.

Yes, anxiety has crept in about things that seemed to come at me to quickly: my maternity leave being over and having to immediately get in my classroom and pack it up for a big move (I’ll blog more on that later), organizing childcare/daycare for both boys this month while I am busy in meetings that are required for work, a certain almost-three-year-old’s birthday party coming up in 19 days, deadlines for writing, and more.

But with Cort’s help (and the encouragement and offers of family and friends), I have gotten through those things fairly unscathed.

For the most part the past almost three months has been glorious.

That’s right.  I said, glorious.

Eddie can be trying–I mean he is at that age (more about that tomorrow)–but he has been so helpful and cute and just an awesome kid.  My heart has smiled so much with pride lately.

And Charlie?  Oh how that boy has healed all the depression and black clouds in my soul.  His smile, his smell, even his angry man cry that turns into a bit of a womanly scream when I am not quick enough with his next meal make me grin a big stupid mushy mom grin.

I can’t forget Cort in all of this.  That guy has done everything he can to help and encourage. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a goofy school-girl grin every time he calls me “pretty lady.”

Yup, my heart has been in a place it has not been in a very, VERY long time.

A happy place.

Yet there is the part of me that wishes for more of the churchin’ to fill up my soul too.  Because it does not escape me that I am blessed.  So very blessed.

So I have started lurking joining in with a community called #SheReadsTruth. It started as a couple gals I know reading the Bible together using the YouVersion Soul Detox program.  It’s a passage a day with a big small question or thinking point for your day.  I try to read it over my coffee first thing when I get up, but because a mad hungry baby is how I generally get waken up, it’s hard to be the FIRST thing I do.*

Tonight it was one of the last things I did for the day.

As I was reading tonight, I found myself nodding along with the parts about being who God created you to be.

Then I got to this:

“Bless your enemies; don’t curse them under your breath…Don’t hit back; discover the beauty in everyone…Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do.”  ~Romans 12: 14-19 from The Message

I know these things.  And I try to remember them when I am personally wronged.

Anyway, I closed out when I was done and popped over to facebook.

And that is when I saw something that made my heart hurt and my hands want to fly in rage over my keyboard.

“Friends” on facebook (doesn’t matter who they are, family or friends or acquaintances) who are VERY adamant about their Christianity posting ignorant, uninformed hate-filled political propaganda.

My gut reaction was to spew a diatribe about everything that was wrong with the post.  To pick apart each overly simplistic “claim” and announce why it is wrong…especially for people who claim to be living for Jesus, a man of LOVE…to post.  I wanted to rant about voter education and thinking about people as PEOPLE, not as statistics.

I wanted to tell them they were WRONG and HYPOCRITICAL.

But I didn’t.

I just stated that it made me sad. I did not let my hate for their hate compound what was already there.

But I was “curs[ing] them under [my] breath.”

Yes. I was.

It’s hard to give up the toxic thoughts.

Even when you feel like they are right.

My heart is full of love.

It bleeds for those who do not have the blessings I have.

I ache to be a light to people in their darkness.

And yet, even out of these good intentions, toxicity lingers.

I want love for this world so badly, that sometimes it takes the form of hate for that which is not love.

And that is sort of confusing.

This is what I know for sure:

I want my words to be positive.  I want them to be affirming. I don’t want to spread hate.

*************

*Yes, this is about my need for some Jesus in my life.  No, I am not going to post about Jesus exclusively from now on.  This isn’t a “Christianity Blog” just like it isn’t a “Miscarriage Blog” or a “PPD Blog”.  It’s a blog about me and my family.  And the Jesus stuff happens in our family.

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