As God is prone to do, God was teaching me something in the midst of an ordinary, human moment… When we grieve the news of war and famine, of families being torn apart, of people losing their lives, of injustice, poverty, sickness, and death, God grieves with us. God enters into the weight of darkness with us. God does not shy away, or point a finger, or scold, or blame. God comes near to us, presses in with us, bears the weight of sadness with us. Thanks be to God.
I received my first prescription for anxiety and depression ten years ago. It was Lexapro. I had been to therapy, and it helped. But the tape still kept playing in my head. When I was growing up, I knew mental illness was a thing, but no one called it that. Touched. A little off. Crazy. Loony. These are the words I heard. The adults in my life inferred that the right amount of faith would cure it, if you were looking for a cure. But mostly, some people were crazy… and others weren’t.
This is the look we should have whenever we think about how much God loves us and invites us to the ultimate Royal Wedding!
I wasn’t sure how the story would be received. But isn’t that the whole idea behind risking our true selves with the world around us? We never know how we’ll be received by onlookers, and often, that keeps us silent when we should speak up. Sometimes, our concern about how our true thoughts, our true beliefs, our true mistakes, our true selves will be received by others keeps us living behind masks that conceal who we really are and how we really feel.
This is what it means to hear someone else’s story and honor it, value it, and treasure it. This is what it means to enter into relationship with another person, another group of people. Of course, Jesus was our best example of this. He moved into our neighborhood (as Eugene Peterson has paraphrased it), and did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Instead, Jesus made himself nothing so that he could draw near to us, and heal us.
Brave spaces are transformational. Brave spaces draw a person out and give them the opportunity to be transformed. Alternatively, safe spaces often make it safe for me to stay the way I am. Brave spaces invite vulnerability, while safe spaces often keep me shielded from growth. David’s brothers and the rest of Saul’s army chose safety when facing Goliath. But God calls us out of hiding and into the light, where we are invited to partner with God in miraculous acts that bring a new way of living.
It’s easy to get used to being put on a pedestal. We may say we don’t want to be on a pedestal, but the benefits of pedestal living are hard to resist once we start to experience them. I’ve heard it said that we weren’t made for fame. I think that’s true. Only a few of us can truly handle position and power well. In fact, Jesus was our best example.
I teeter through life as if on the edge of a windowsill, my progress often slow, my thoughts occasionally sluggish. I sometimes follow the crowd and end up where I shouldn’t be. I try very hard to be a pleasing aroma in the world, but sometimes, if I feel threatened, I may lash out or overreact, leaving a less than desirable impression on others. Despite all of this, Christ has given to me and to you, the promise of resurrection.
[Church camp is] where I first heard the song, “They’ll Know We Are Christians.” The hymn was written in the 60s, by Peter R. Scholtes. A parish priest in Chicago, Scholtes was leading a youth choir and “was looking for an appropriate song for a series of ecumenical, interracial events.” Unable to find a song that worked, Scholtes wrote his own, and it has stood the test of time.
Jesus wanted to be sure the disciples knew the most important message of all: Love. No matter how many miracles they might perform, or how big the church might grow, or how many people they might baptize or visit in prison, none of that would mark them as disciples of Jesus. These things weren’t radical to the mind of Christ… What would be astounding to a watching world would be the love that Christ’s disciples displayed for each other.