“Sad. Ouchies. Crying. Jesus sad. Pushing him. Ochies. Sad. Broken. Sad.”
This is the litany I have listened to for the past month every morning as my almost-two-year-old son sits with me to read the Jesus Storybook Bible.
It started about two months ago. We had a book about a bear and pig who were friends, and the pig was sad and missed the bear when he left. My son was obsessed with the last page, where the pig forlornly sits alone, missing the bear. I, being the emotionally intelligent parent that I am, thought I handled it pretty well, letting him talk about the page as much as he wanted. All emotions are okay. Some things in life are sad. Plus, this is just a phase.
But then when he discovered the “Jesus dying on the cross” story in his picture Bible and every morning began flipping to that one page, I could feel my frustration mounting. Continue reading
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbra Kingsolver (source: NPR)
As we walked into Lent this year, we decided to try being locavores for 40 days- only eating food grown within an hour of where we live, preferably on small farms. There were a number of threads that came together that led to this idea:
One is that I had just read Barbra Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, where her family living in the South East of the USA on a small farm decided to grow as much of their own food as possible, and only buy the extra from a 70 mile radius. The book is a memoir about all the things they learned during that practice. Continue reading
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
US Civil Rights leader Will Campbell
We’re heading into the bloodiness of Holy Week in just a little while. Good Friday looms at the end of Lent, this horrible black, silent day where we actually contemplate the slow suffocation of a Palestinian Jew on a cross. Uh, depressing. I’d much rather skip it and get to the chocolate Easter eggs on Sunday. Continue reading
It’s Lent. It’s a time we in the church make time and space for God to uproot things in our lives, so he can plant something good.
We start out by admitting our frailness, and our propensity to be bent along the lines of a broken and sinful world around us, instead of walking in the straight and life-giving path of life in the Spirit.
We receive ashes, slashed grey on our foreheads, and we’re told “Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return.” You are fleeting. You are frail. You will fail.
One of the most difficult and most obvious truths I learned the first time I went to counseling back in college was: “It takes work to be healthy.” Continue reading
Over Christmas break, I was drinking coffee with two of my favorite people in the world (who actually had never met each other). We only had an hour, so there was zero small talk and we went straight to the good stuff like the role of women in the church and diversity and reconciliation and these pressing issues that keep us up at night. At one point we were talking about reconciliation in the church, and black lives matter, and why our white churches can’t/aren’t doing anything on this issue. And at one point I said something like,
“The white church’s problem is we see everything as individualistic, and so we think if we’re individually nice to the black people we know then we’re loving our neighbours and everything is fine. (Like this study pointed out). But if the problems are bigger than that—if they’re structural, if racism is more about a system—it’s harder for people to grasp that.”
“Easter is about the wild delight of God’s creative power–not very Anglican perhaps, but at least we ought to shout Alleluias instead of murmuring them; we should light every candle in the building instead of only some; we should give every man, woman, child, cat, dog, and mouse in the place a candle to hold; we should have a real bonfire; and we should splash water about as we renew our baptismal vows. Every step back form that is a step toward an etherial or esoteric Easter experience, and the thing about Easter is that it is neither ethereal nor esoteric. It’s about the real Jesus coming out of the real tomb and getting God’s real new creation underway...[Easter week] ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after morning prayer, or even before, with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection of we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting an gloom? …if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Champagne for breakfast again–well, of course. Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative. Of course you have to weed the garden from time to time; sometimes the found ivy may need serious digging before you can get it out. That’s Lent for you. But you don’tsimply want to turn the garden back into aneat bed of blank earth. Easter is the time to sow new seeds and to plant out a few cuttings. If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit. The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving.” –N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
This morning I read this… and wondered how I can live it. Ideas?
Nonjabs, Wendy, Me, Anna, Karabo (Sam and Gugu couldn’t make it.)
This week, the iThemba Ladies had a Valentine’s Day party (albeit a bit early!). David was away with his 8th graders on camp, so I saw it as an excuse to be as girly as possible. Anna, our Danish short-termer helped decorate and made the amazing dessert, and Karabo helped with games. We also watched part of the HBO series “The Number One Ladies Detective Agency”, about a Botswanan detective. It was fun to get to spend some time with some of the fabulous ladies I work with!
I confess, I do like Valentine’s Day (and of course any excuse to eat chocolate). But there is an odd juxtaposition of cheesy, obtrusive Valentine’s Day marketing and the mourning, fasting, and reflection that marks the start of the Lenten season for me this year. A lot of Valentine’s Day is just consumeristic fluff, using love as an excuse to sell things. But Lent is a time to reflect on real love.
February 15th is “Black Friday” in South Africa– another day that has connotations of American spending-frenzies. But Black Friday in South Africa has nothing to do with Walmart sales. It is a day created to raise awareness about rape in our country. People are encouraged to wear black to show their support for rape awareness. According to the website, a rape is said to be committed in South Africa every four minutes, and only 12 percent of reported rape cases in South Africa end in conviction.* This statistic is illustrated in the experiences of the iThemba discipleship fieldworkers, who all know children in the community who are victims of rape.
When faced with the realities of our broken world, I am glad for Lent. I am glad for a set time to reflect on Christ, who came to earth, bore our sorrows, and suffered so that we can all experience real love and freedom. Join me in praying that Mpumuza will experience the real love that comes from Christ this month-– and wear black on Friday!
(*the sociologist in me is skeptical of those exact stats, but I do know that South Africa has one of the highest rates for rape in the world).