Community Category


Love

Love

I was dismayed by a recent Facebook video posting of a hockey coach giving his (high school/college age) players a locker room pep talk, by saying “If anybody is going to disrespect the flag, get the f*** out.” After another minute of his rallying cry, the video cuts to President Trump speaking about his views on respecting the flag and our nation, at which point I scrolled forward through the newsfeed praying in the Spirit.

Having been a sixth grade Social Studies teacher for five of my 17-year-career, I know first-hand that teaching patriotism and nationalism can be a sticky wicket, especially when students espoused understandings and beliefs that differed from my own.

As the hockey coach’s statement ruminated in my heart, I began to wonder about the origins of the phrase “America, love it or leave it” and the corresponding brand of divisive thinking.

This pro-war slogan of the Vietnam War era appears to have its beginnings with Walter Winchell, who supported Senator Joseph McCarthy during the 1950’s when the fear of communism swept across the United States.

What purpose does such unimaginative thinking serve? Can that kind of polarized rationale really solve anything, much less the myriad of complex and serious issues currently facing the United States? What causes someone to so vehemently support such linear and dimensionless reasoning?

I can only imagine the intense and profound pain one must feel in one’s heart to hold such oppositional and unrelenting beliefs.

In light of this, how do we minister to our fellow man?

Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when he said,

“You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to stand up against someone who does you wrong. On the contrary, if someone hits you on the right cheek, let him hit you on the left cheek too! If someone wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well! And if a soldier forces you to carry his pack for one mile, carry it for two!” Matthew 5:38-41

Israel, under Roman domination, was faced with this exact, same oppressive mentality and Jesus called them to a supernatural, sacrificial, non-resistant Love . . . much like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. called in their time and place.

This kind of Love empowers the giver to a greater spiritual awareness while also inviting healing (or at least planting the seed of that possibility) within the receiver.

I have only an inkling of what this would look like in today’s world.

Perhaps it looks like a football player with one hand on his heart and the other hand on the shoulder of a kneeling player during the playing of the national anthem.

Or . . .

. . . maybe it looks a hockey player courageously rising out of his seat, approaching his coach with humility, giving him a gentle bear hug, telling him thanks with genuine sincerity, and walking out of the locker room . . .

     . . . while trusting in a more spacious and spiritual purpose.

Whatever it looks like, and however difficult or challenging it may be to do, it is an action filled with the fullness of Truth, Beauty and Love.

Dill

Dill

Late 20’s maybe early 30’s, ginger hair, 5’ 6”, slender and sinewy build, multiple tattoos on his face and arms, numerous piercings with earplugs (the ones that stretch ear lobes, not the ones that dampen sound)—he was my cashier at W-Mart.

While I waited, I marveled at the strategy . . . ingenuity . . . thought process (unsure of the right word) regarding the designs and placements of all his colorful and creative tats. I thought about the cultural acceptance of tattoos now versus when I was growing up. To be honest, I was surprised to see someone as covered with tats as he was at a register and wondered about store policy concerning the visibility of an employee’s ink art.

What do I have in common with this young man? What can I say to him to make a meaningful connection? Will he even respond?

When it was finally my turn, he rang up my purchases very quickly and double bagged some of the heavier items. I commented on how fast he scanned and bagged my items and thanked him for his swift professionalism.

“I learned how to do this in three days,” he exclaimed proudly. “I worked in the back for five years and learned this in three days.”

“Wow, that’s a big change. You’re doing a really great job.”

He smiled and wished me a good night as he handed me my receipt. I wished him the same—an exchange that didn’t last more than a few minutes at best, but left me feeling joyful and grateful. I hope it did the same for him.

“Get Together” by the Youngbloods best expresses how my heart felt as I placed my purchases in my truck and headed home.

Love is but a song to sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen!)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

I said, come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Right now
Right now

Come on people . . . let’s do this . . . now is the time.

See the Divine

See the Divine

“People that are difficult, rude, etc., are that way because they are coming from a place of pain. If you can see the divine in everybody, it will help soften the blow of his or words or attitude.” Madisyn Taylor

Joy

Joy

I don’t think there is anything that gives God more joy than when His children work together for each other’s benefit.

I felt His good pleasure today at the food bank where I volunteer one morning a week.

I thoroughly enjoy this opportunity to serve. There is always plenty to do—weighing donations as they arrive; checking expiration dates; pulling out-of-date items; stocking shelves; preparing USDA grocery bags; pre-packing items such as flour, sugar, and salt; filling orders for clients; breaking down boxes or organizing plastic bags.

Today we had a flurry of activity all at once: a local organization donated over 500 pounds of food that all needed to be shelved, eight clients seemed to arrive at once for supplies, and one of the volunteers had just returned from the grocery store with several carts full of bulk toiletry and pantry items that also needed shelving.

Pure delight overwhelmed me as the ten of us—all from very diverse ethnic, financial, spiritual, and educational backgrounds—worked as one to get everything completed.

In the 2016 book The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “. . . ultimately our greatest joy is when we seek to do good for others.” The Dalai Lama agrees and adds, “we are in fact one group—humanity.”

Paul expresses this similarly in 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27–

For just as the body is one but has many parts; and all the parts of the body, though many, constitute one body; so it is with the Messiah. For it was by one Spirit that we were all immersed into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free; and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

For indeed the body is not one part but many. If the foot says, “I’m not a hand, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body. And if the ear says, “I’m not an eye, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If it were all hearing, how could it smell? But as it is, God arranged each of the parts in the body exactly as he wanted them. Now if they were all just one part, where would the body be?

But as it is, there are indeed many parts, yet just one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you”; or the head to the feet, “I don’t need you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be less important turn out to be all the more necessary; and upon body parts which we consider less dignified we bestow greater dignity; and the parts that aren’t attractive are the ones we make as attractive as we can, while our attractive parts have no need for such treatment. Indeed, God has put the body together in such a way that he gives greater dignity to the parts that lack it, so that there will be no disagreements within the body, but rather all the parts will be equally concerned for all the others. Thus, if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; and if one part is honored, all the parts share its happiness.

Now you together constitute the body of the Messiah, and individually you are parts of it.

Unified diversity . . . there is nothing more delightful!