Friday, May 29, 2020

Pentecost Prayers

Today is Pentecost...
...may the firstfruits of our hearts be grace and love and justice, instead of suspicion and hatred and fear.

Today is Pentecost...
...may I bring you my best, my firstfruits, instead of my leftovers, my afterthoughts.
Today is Pentecost...
...may I be more focused on what I bring to You {my all} than what I want from You.

Today is Pentecost...
...won't you please bring unity like you did that day 2000 years ago, uniting people of different languages and nations together as one beautifully blended family. Somehow, someway.

Today is Pentecost...
...may we have more reverence for your thundering justice on the mountaintop than the mortal, murmuring voices of politicians and pundits.
Today is Pentecost...
...please refine us and burn away all that is prideful, selfish and evil in me - in us - so that we can care for one another in Spirit and in Truth.

Today is Pentecost... may your Spirit have His way in me - in us - so that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control reign in me and overflow from me. In us, from us.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

I Can No Longer Lament

To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know what to do with myself right now.  If you don't know immediately what I mean, then I don't know what to say.

Growing up as a Jewish kid, I always thought it was poetic when people tore their clothing as an expression of mourning.  But I honestly never considered it to be anything other than symbolic.  

Then came Spring 2020.  

As the pandemic spread across the globe, fear and grief captured us, and then began to divide us.  And it drove me to lament.  

And by lament, I mean crying out to God against brokenness, in faith -- to borrow the teaching of our pastor, Ryan Showalter.  {See, I can still learn and grow during an online worship service while sitting on my couch wearing pajamas!}

I was sad and I was disheartened and I could put words to all of it.  And so I was lamenting.  A lot.

But then.  The news about Ahmaud Arbery {finally} surfaced, and I could no longer lament.  We watched George Floyd die under the weight of a white officer's knee, and I could no longer lament.  Human beings are being dehumanized before our very eyes, and I cannot lament.  

I cannot lament because I cannot find words.  And now I finally understand why people tear their clothing.

I feel like a child in distress who doesn't have the vocabulary to express the thoughts and emotions churning inside.  I feel a perpetual urge to tear my garments because I simply cannot express the depth of this grief and rage and bewilderment and helplessness.

If you call yourself a follower of God, then racism and violence against fellow image-bearers should absolutely rip your heart apart.  And so should hearing other people minimize it or justify it.

Jesus died to destroy the barriers between us.  Yes, between us and God, but also the "dividing wall of hostility" between races and nationalities.  Heck, if He hadn't, most people who call themselves Christians today would still be called Gentiles, and I would be shrugging my shoulders saying, "sorry, you're not part of the vine."  

But Jesus came to abolish all of that division and prejudice and hatred.  He abolished it in His torn flesh.*  And if we each don't do everything in our power to work out that ministry of reconciliation in our lives and our communities in His Name, we will be gutting the Gospel.
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.  Amos 5:24

*See Ephesians 2