Love & Life 

Love. I don’t know anything more important than love. It binds together. Heals wounds. Bears burdens. Opens pathways. These are fruit of the Spirit. By them you will know the children of righteousness, the ancestors of Abraham, as it were. 

Love reminds us who we are. We all come from somewhere not of our choosing. That which breathes life into unearned lungs, by its singularity denotes our unity. Love re-members us.

There is much to grieve. There is loss, I believe. Moments of disconnecting from suffering provide respite but they do not create peace. Life and relationship matter, and though we did not own them, an experience and way of being has left us. A bone is out of joint, perhaps even fractured if not dismembered. Grief is an expression of love to that which is no more and a balm for what remains. If seen through, grief will enable what is becoming to be full of love.

Today, like in days past, wars rage and are waged. Blood is spilt upon the land. Eyes and hands are closed shut. Instead, may we make love and peace. May each life flourish on the earth. And may we behold one another long enough to see a new day together.

Inhale. Exhale.

I’m finding it hard to breathe.

There is so much to grieve. People of darker shades and dimmer family histories reporting they cannot go anywhere without being suspect; people like myself hearing a clanging noise telling me to judge, if not ignore and keep away at arms length.

I’m finding it hard to breathe.

The willingness to not be like Christ to others; the willingness to not see Christ in others. Am I like Peter sitting around the warm fire, saying I don’t know of this Jesus you speak?

I’m finding it hard to breathe.

Maybe if I stop breathing I can find new Breath to inhale.

I cannot let cries for mercy go unanswered. I cannot. No more. There is so much to grieve. It’s time to exhale.

Good Grief

Last week I posted this on Facebook and Twitter:

My Photo-1

What ensued was a bigger, and largely different, response than I imagined. I wanted to push grief to the forefront. Not in a spastic, irresponsible attempt to get attention. Although… perhaps anxious teenager (or talk-it-out, process-oriented person) now has another means to express their anguish thanks to social media? Which may actually be a good thing, but I digress. Shoot, I was attempting to normalize mourning, to make our culture and the community we keep a safe place to grieve. At first I thought, “No, you don’t get it!” But maybe I was the one who didn’t understand…

Our society grieves, regardless.

For instance, a lot of popular music (even “pop music”) is about breakups, missed opportunities, harmful actions and dreadful situations. One could make a strong case that songs expressing brokenness are the ones people most gravitate towards. People connect with these types of songs because they can relate. We feel some measure of relief and joy… even experiencing a supernatural connection, a moment of healing or even reconciliation. Maybe we experience God in these songs and meet the Holy Spirit through the movement of these songs which reach our heart?

But back to my “expressing grief on social media post”… A few liked the comment – a display of solidarity (hopefully) – someone shared it as if it expressed their own feelings, and several others commented with thoughts of sadness and offering of prayer for me and the awful situation I was experiencing. One invited me to commiserate over good beer. Another called to say hello and see how I was doing.

So maybe all we have to do is openly grieve and people will grieve with us?

I am struck by the cultural act of mourning described in the scriptures of ancient Middle-Eastern Jewish ways of dealing with grief, particularly as described in the Gospels. When someone was dying or had just died, women were noted as openly wailing. John even describes Jesus as deeply moved – “Jesus wept” – when his friend dies and others openly mourn their loss. This is important.

Will we openly grieve? Will we feel for others when they express themselves instead of hoping they would shut up and deal with their situation “appropriately”? For all the grief that does take place in our culture(s), can we, as a Community and communities offer places and space to grieve more openly, to make finding solace, peace and rest more readily available through grieving with others? I hope so.

Perhaps all one needs to do is write a mournful post on Facebook and listen to music? 😉

Sermon: Deeply Moved

Deeply Moved

This is a sermon I preached about Jesus’ remarkably touching response to Mary and Martha over their brother Lazarus’ death and Jesus’ delayed visit in John 11.  Jesus’ expression of his own feelings about Lazarus’ death (and subsequent resurrection) bring me to my knees and tears to my eyes.

Further context: This was preached at my home church and shared shortly after my grandmother had died after a long bout with illness, the cancer-causing death of a middle-aged woman from my church, and a young man who committed suicide. This sermon came out of a lot of death.