Just a Thought…

“The Lord God’s spirit is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for captives, and liberation for prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and a day of vindication for our God, to comfort all who mourn.” -Isaiah 61:1-2

My heart is heavy. I mourn with the family of Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson, Missouri and people across this nation. The pain is real, and the God we believe in teaches us to call a thing what it is – death is death, violence is violence and injustice is injustice. And yet, calling a thing what it is – is not always easy. Our world is full of shades of gray. Stories are layered, experiences are nuanced and truths are complex.

My brother-in-law is a police officer. He is a kind and generous man, who loves my sister and my niece deeply. He genuinely cares about his work and aims to make the community safer. As he prepares for a 12-hour shift, he ritually layers Kevlar and polyester, pride and anxiety. He departs in good courage, not knowing what the day might bring. I believe that all people should treat police officers with respect, trust their integrity, and honor their role in maintaining good order.

At the same time, I hear the cries of our black brothers and sisters who bear undue, unearned suspicion. Young black men, black boys, learn to navigate the justice system not with integrity, but with submission. Race paints broad strokes of assumption and prejudice. Power reigns down on their lives not with dignity, but with discrimination. We live in a broken world where the color of ones skin still means more than the content of ones character.

We don’t know all the details that lead to the death of Michael Brown, and disputing the facts will not mend the brokenhearted. But we do know that racism still exists, that all people can make poor choices and that real lives are caught in the crossfires. We do know that our God is a God of mercy. And in this season of Advent, we anxiously await the coming of our merciful Savior. The one who mourns with those who mourn and speaks out for the oppressed. Our call as Christians is to be purveyors of Christ’s mercy in this broken world.

Heavy words from this heavy heart.

Vicar Jen

 

Just a Thought…

We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors.  We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.  2 Corinthians 6:8-10 NLT

 

bishop3
Bishop

 

So my dog died this week.  His name was Bishop.  He was 14 years old.  A beautiful cocker spaniel he was. I got him the first year of my first call as a pastor, while serving in Philadelphia.  He’s been with me through think-and-thin. He lived a very long and happy life, and he died in his sleep after spending lots of quality time with those who loved him.

It’s still sad, though, because I miss him. And it wasn’t the best week for him to die, as this is has been an extra-busy week. But that always seems to be the case. Tragedy is never convenient. But it comes nonetheless.

The week has also been filled with some great things- I had the chance to spend time with friends and colleagues at the first Youth and Family Ministry Network meeting of the Fall. I had the opportunity to see the awesome Broadway musical Book of Mormon and ran into some good friends while there. This weekend dream-leaders from Celebration will be meeting in retreat to dream together about our church’s future. And Saturday night is Lutherhill’s always-spectacular S’mores and Champagne Gala.  Sometimes, good things come, even when we don’t plan for them or expect them.

That’s the truth about life, isn’t it?  It can’t be all tragedy, all the time.  It can’t be all good stuff, all the time.  The bad helps give meaning to the good and the good helps makes the tragic bearable.

I would rather have not had to grieve the death of Bishop.  But I wouldn’t trade in the amazing 13 years we had together as companions.

As a church, we’ll have moments of joy together, and moments of sadness.  Sometimes we’ll agree and sometimes we’ll disagree.  And sometimes we’ll go through periods of excitement and periods of boredom.   But this all adds up to life.  Life in Christ.  A household of faith.  And I wouldn’t trade that in for anything, either.

So, here’s to life!

It’s just a thought.

 

+pax et bonum

pc