Loving your neighbor starts with noticing your neighbor.

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TIME

Don’t give up chocolate for Lent this year, said Pope Francis. Give up indifference to the poor.

“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”Describing this phenomenon he calls the globalization of indifference, Francis writes that “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”   – TIME magazine

Notice your neighbor. Continue reading

Black History Month

 

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It’s black history month in America, and too often that just means token quotes from Martin Luther King Jr (selectively chosen for their inoffensiveness) pop up on Facebook. So this month I’ve been educating myself about awesome black women in American history , and there’s a lot of them. There’s Katherine Johnson of Hidden Figures fame– if you haven’t seen it, go watch it—to Ella Baker, the middle-aged woman-power behind the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to Ida B. Wells’ single-handed campaign to end lynching, to the many rural Southern Women who not only changed the diapers and washed the laundry of the white people’s kids, but also housed student volunteers during the Civil Rights movement and led the Montgomery Bus boycott—it’s good that America take some time to say “thank you” to reflect on and celebrate the many black people in our history who have made America what it is today. Continue reading

On confusing Jesus with the Statue of Liberty

 “People are confusing the Statue of Liberty and Jesus…But in fact while the real historical Jesus did urge compassion for those in need, but he also said, ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ In other words, support government with your taxes because they have a legitimate function like protecting citizens. Those of us who believe in the sanctity of life believe that sanctity serves to not only to protect the unborn but to protect the born from terrorist attacks. That’s a Christian value as well.” – A certain pastor of a big church on Fox news

Once they wouldn’t let my Dad on a plane. He had to stay behind in Germany a few extra days to go to the US embassy because he didn’t have enough pages in his passport. It was inconvenient, and frustrating, but we knew it would all work out in the end. Continue reading

What worked for me in 2016

class 1991.jpgThere’s this thing that a lot of bloggers (also ) I follow do at the end of the year– reflect on “what worked” and what didn’t. It’s a great tool to reflect over the past year and integrate new things into the year ahead. Since things have been pretty serious around the blog the past few months, I’m going to be sprinkling in some more stories on our experiments with minimalism starting with my variation of the 2016 “what worked for me”: the things we did without in 2016… Continue reading

The violence of nonviolence

“Get up, boy!” the voice hissed in my right ear. I could feel the chair shake as the person stood behind me and tried to forcefully shake me out of my chair.

“He said get up, you filthy ***. This place ain’t fer your kind.” The counter to my right banged sharply in my left ear as the other man slapped his hands down on the counter, trying to disrupt my calm state.

The noise in Woolworth’s cafe was loud, and jostling, and while not everyone in the crowd was coming up to the counter to intentionally harass me, there was a continual throng of noise, of people telling me to leave, of people telling me they knew where my family lived and if I cared about them, I should leave, of people dropping plates on the counter right in front of me, the glass shattering. I kept my eyes closed as long as I could.

I opened them. The red digital clock in front of me read 59 seconds.  Continue reading

The Christmas Movie List: the most un-Hallmark version ever!

I have my favorite Christmas movies. They have to be watched, or it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Charlie Brown, The Little Matchgirl, Elf…. but aside from Santa, there’s not much that makes these movies actually Christmassy…. you know, as in real meaning of Christmas, real Jesus-coming-to-earth-incarnation stuff.

So here’s an alternative Christmas movie list. They probably won’t all fill you with warm fuzzies and holiday cheer. But probably will get you thinking about Jesus and what he was all about!  (Click the links in the titles to watch the Previews).  Continue reading

Canoes & the upside-down ways of a coming king

 

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Random kayak from wikiwand.com

I’ve been thinking about those tiny canoes, dancing in front of giant USS nitro.

 

It happened at Christmas, in 1971. The USA was bombing women, children, and hospitals in Vietnam. The Quakers wanted to do something about it. But what could one small group of Friends do in the face of an entire army, with bombs and napalm and the economic power of the state? 

They’re so small. Just a handful of people. What could they do?

Continue reading

The Table

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Depression Era Bread lines (Wikimedia commons)

We had communion at church last week. At my church we all line up, and walk down to the front to receive the bread and wine. On Camino, we did this as weary, dirty, pilgrims with the dust of the day’s hike still on our faces. On Sunday, I did it as a weary, worn-out pilgrim, with the dust of a broken America on my face. It always makes me think of depression era bread lines. All of us, poor, needy people, lining up for the bread we need to keep going through the day.

Christena Cleveland was the first reconciliation writer who highlighted to me the importance of the communion table when it comes to reconciliation. Communion- it means fellowship. We can’t claim to walk in the light and in fellowship with God if we’re not in fellowship with our neighbour. That doesn’t mean ignoring whatever is wrong. It means stepping out of line, going to find them, and making it right. It means hard, perhaps confrontational conversations. It means asking for repentance. I don’t want to minimize that. I’ve been reading Paul’s letter to the messed up church in Corinth, and his second letter, full of reconciliation, comes after his first letter, where he straight up called out all the issues he saw  going on. We can’t gloss over stuff and pretend it’s okay. Continue reading

Advent: What to do with the waiting

Advent is almost upon us. That time of the year when we Christians mourn the dark and wait for the light, thankful for the Jesus who came, and longing for him to come again and set everything that is broken to rights.

I think there will be lots of longing this year. But I hope we can find some joy as well. After all, he did come. He is here. We’re not left alone in this broken mess. He sent us the comforter to comfort us so we could comfort others.

If you’re feeling sad, depressed, or frustrated at the state of the world (or the church!) maybe Advent can be a time to process and figure some things out. Here are a few Advent resources: Continue reading