Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lord's Prayer by Frederick Buechner

Excerpt from Listening To Your Life by Frederick Buechner:

In the Episcopal order of worship, the priest sometimes introduces the Lord's Prayer with the words, "Now as our Savior Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say..." The word bold is worth thinking about. We do well not to pray the prayer lightly. It takes guts to pray it at all. We can pray it in the unthinking and perfunctory way we usually do only by disregarding what we are saying.

"Thy will be done" is what we are saying. That is the climax of the first half of the prayer. We are asking God to be God. We are asking God to do not what we want but what God wants. We are asking God to make manifest the holiness that is now mostly hidden, to set free in all its terrible splendor the devastating power that is now mostly under restraint. "Thy kingdom come..on earth" is what we are saying. And if that were suddenly to happen, what then? What would stand and what would fall? Who would be welcomed in and who would be thrown the Hell out? Which if any of our most precious visions of what God is and of what human beings are would prove to be more or less on the mark and which would turn out to be phony as three-dollar bills? Boldness indeed. To speak those words is to invite the tiger out of the cage, to unleash a power that makes atomic power look like a warm breeze.

You need to be bold in another way to speak the second half. Give us. Forgive us. Don't test us. Deliver us. If it takes guts to face the omnipotence that is God's, it takes perhaps no less to face the impotence that is ours. We can do nothing without God. We can have nothing without God. Without God we are nothing.

It is only the words "Our Father" that make the prayer bearable. If God is indeed something like a father, then as something like children maybe we can risk approaching him anyway.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Justice is a Garment

Our generation has more global exposure than any other generation before it. Daily we have images of sufferring worldwide flashed before our eyes. As a result of having so much exposure, it takes a lot to grab our attention; everything, from movies to news and groups, have had to up the ante if they're to get people to take notice. And when it comes to social causes you find people so desperate for action that they too have upped the rating on their material in hopes that it'll serve as a bucket of cold water over a sleepy ADD generation.

There is so much gore, so much darkness, so much devastation in how people talk about issues facing our world. And I do believe that the people sharing their horror stories are genuinely hoping that it will get people to act and that they are of the best intentions, however, intentions will never serve as proper justification for anything. And nor will good intentions justify the further exploitation of the exploited.

Picture this: A man is trying to get a group to act against human trafficking, particularly as it pertains to the sex industry. In an effort to get at your heart he shares his chilling experience of seeing sex-trafficking first hand. He shares the disgust he felt at the scene and goes into somewhat graphic detail describing what he saw. He then shares how it changed his life and how he hopes hearing about it will change yours. The End.

I ask you; who is honored in this story? Certainly not the soul that they are trying to solicit action on behalf of.

Exposure is a delicate thing. Any exposure you gain is really an entrusting. You have been entrusted with someone's story and being entrusted with that story does not necessarily make it yours to share; and should you ever share it it should be shared in such a way that would honor them should they ever hear you tell it.

Try to think of it like this: In Genesis 9 we read of a certain time where Noah became drunk and was naked in his tent. One son came into the tent, saw his father's nakedness and ran and told his other two brothers. The other two brothers then wrapped a garment over their shoulders and walked backwards into the tent to cover their father in such a way that they would not see their father's nakedness and expose him. Which of the three brothers do you think were honored for their approach?

Is it our responsibility to expose or is it our responsibility to honorably cover?

At the heart of every issue and every story lies a person; a person with feelings and rights, a person worthy of protection- protection even from good intentions. And at the end of every day people are motivated by hope more than they could ever be motivated by despair. So why don't we concern ourselves with how we facilitate hope rather than how we facilitate conviction? Let us truly honor the souls that have captured our hearts and our attention rather than honoring the darkness that victimizes them. Let them be honored in how we speak of them and think of them rather than being embarrased by our words exposing their nakedness. Instead, let us be like the two brothers who backed in and covered their father. Let us be like our Father Who saw our ancestor's, Adam and Eve, embarassment at their own nakedness and made them clothes.



Defiant- boldly resistant or challenging

Have you ever thought of God's love as defiant?

Do you picture a Man so bent on holding you that He boldly opposes all obstructions in His path? A Man so fixed on loving you that He challenges every rivalry that stands between you and He?

Obsessed? Perhaps, but He is the only one in this relationship that still remembers what it was like before sin came to be. He is the only one who still remembers what it looked and felt like to have pure untainted desire. He is jealous for it. He is jealous for us to return to it, to Him. And because we cannot get there ourselves He defiantly stands at our aid waging the war for us.

The Love of God by Frederick Martin Lehman

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell.

It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled

And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,

And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;

When men who here refuse to pray,

On rocks and hills and mountains call;

God’s love, so sure, shall still endure,

All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

a Little great

Hasn't it always been the awareness of little things that makes something great?

Seinfeld was famous for being the show about nothing. But it wasn't nothing was it? The show took something insignificant and overlooked and it confounded upon it until it became a part of your life. I mean can any of us look at soup the same again?

And comic legends are usually not the ones who are the most boisterous, but the ones who best got inside your head by taking the mundane everyday details of life and drawing your attention to it. I think of Bill Cosby every time I see chocolate cake thinking, "Daddy's great! He gives us chocolate cake!" Or Tim Allen every time I vacuum. Or Ellen Degeneres whenever I take the elevator.

JR Tolkien took a hobbit, the smallest and most unlikely of creatures, and made him the hero.

C.S. Lewis took children and made them kings and queens.

Ansel Adams looked at nature and deemed it worth the expense to make the land the subject and not the background.

Vincent Vangogh looked at a vase and flowers and made it a masterpiece.

And while others continue to try to imitate and reproduce genius such as these, our generation has its own little galleries calling our attention to insignificant, mundane, overlooked things and making us take notice. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Tumblr. All calling on the attention of others beckoning them take notice of what one found. And what have we found in return? That there is beauty, wisdom, and blessings to be found everywhere.

Sure there's a lot of flack to be said about our social media, but these are platforms and we the keepers- the curators, if you will. I have been most blessed by my friend's social galleries where they take an unabashed stance on what they see and boldly share it.

Remember, no man looks at life, love, the world, or faith in the exact way you do. It is an honor to look through the eyes of another and an even greater honor to have someone choose to look through yours.

So go on and take the picture of the coffee cup, the water drop, the road, the flower, and the bird. Go on and draw or paint the leaf, the tree, the ocean shore. Go on and write about love and fairy tales, redefine and restate the common revelations. Go on and find the little things and bless us with your unique and one-of-a-kind perception. And one day may you find that great was in the little.