Category Archives: Devotion

Letting down our defenses

This morning, I led a conversation on the fights that form us as Christians– red versus blue carpet, choir versus praise team, contemporary music versus hymns, offering plate versus Apple pay, suits versus skinny jeans and a t- shirt, 8 a.m. versus 11 a.m. service.  You know, deeply transformative wars for righteousness.  And these fights seemingly go on forever, handed down to each generation because we will surrender NEVER!

But, I think these fights begin within, that they are not fighting words we hear but something more difficult to discern.  Consequently, I invited the group to pray and then to silently read a section of Walter Wangerin’s “In Mirrors,” where he focuses on what shows up of ourselves in the faces of others and especially in the face of Christ.  Afterwards, I invited them to journal about what they were fighting for, fighting about, who they were really fighting with and then to surrender.  I closed this part of our time together with words that I hope will help us discern the fight within and help us let down our defenses:

All that I am striving for, climbing up the ladder and back up the ladder again after getting kicked, shoved, tripped and tricked to go back down the ladder, all that I think I want to have and know I need, all that I should have done and could have done, all that I wanted to be and never was,

I release.

All that I am fighting for, all that I have and want to keep, all that I am afraid to lose, all that I fear is slipping through my fingers,

I surrender.

All that I think I am, all that I want to be, all that I am expected to become and do and say, all of me that gets in the way of God’s will,

I give up.

All that I have a grip on and need to get a grip on, that I hold tightly while it strangely squeezes the life out of me, all that I am afraid to give up, won’t give up on, won’t give an inch on, won’t budge, won’t move,

I let go.

Today, I let down my defenses.  I choose faith and to surrender, to give up, to let go of the fight.  And before I am tempted to reach for it again, take the fight out of me.  This is my prayer.  Amen.

First and foremost

It’s about priorities, about who has the right to take precedence, about what is more important, about the most pressing matter.  It’s about who will hold our attention and what will hold our tongues.  It’s about who will hold us back and what we will hold back no longer.  It’s about speaking up, giving voice to the lofty purposes.  It’s about stepping up, which will require us to a take a step back to see what is required.

W.E.B. DuBois prayed,

Give us the grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done.  Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men’s mouths, or our own lives.  Mighty causes are calling us—the freeing of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty—all these and more.  But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifice and death. …”[I]

To be sure, it’s about life and death, what will live on or through us and what we will eulogize, who we will let go of and what we will hold on to.  It’s about no longer feeling our way through life, hitting a brick wall or being backed into a corner.  Instead, it’s about turning the corner.  It’s about moving on so that purpose can move over, so that the Spirit can scoot closer.

It’s about open and closed doors.  It’s about the ones we walk through and the ones that are slammed in our faces.  It’s about the God who whispers through the cracks and who has a knack for tight spaces, who wiggles into a womb just to make room for us.  It’s about taking up space and claiming our rightful place in life, about trying and trying and trying again.  It’s about resilience and perseverance, strength and the endurance to keep going.  One foot in front of the other, it’s about first and last steps, going in circles and coming full circle.

It’s about time.  Time’s up for excuses, for sentences that include should of, would of and could of.  It’s about getting it done and getting over it, about cutting our losses and cutting the cord.

It’s about coming home to ourselves, about stopping the search to find ourselves, about no longer looking for love in the wrong faces but seeing love in the mirror.  This year is not like any other night and yet it is exactly the same as the one before.  Because it is another opportunity to change, to change course and to do a new thing, to break with tradition, to break generational curses, to be freed of the snares of sin, to not keep doing the same thing over and over again.

It’s about me and you and us and them.  It’s about everything we have every dreamed of and the nightmares we hope to never see again.  It’s about living with our eyes wide open and being fully aware, fully present, fully invested in this moment in time.

________________________

[i] W.E.B Du Bois, Prayers for Dark People, (Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1980), 21.

The doors of the church are open

“The doors of the church are open.”  This reminder needs to scroll below news reports of border walls constructed to protect against the “alien invasion” of our neighbor.  Because there are no illegal human beings, no one smuggled from the mind of God to earth and  our humanity requires no paperwork.  Because “the earth is the Lord’s”—not America’s (Psalm 24.1).

“The doors of the church are open.”  This is the invitation that Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and others must be given when the hurricane leaves and “the storms of life keep raging,” when there is no clean water or electricity weeks after and the current president gives himself a ten out of ten on recovery efforts.  But, this is not a beauty pageant and incompetence is not attractive.

“The doors of the church are open.”  This is the good news that needs to break in, that needs to interrupt our regularly scheduled animosities and divisions, our prejudices that parade as nationalistic pride, our competing expressions of patriotism.

“The doors of the church are open”—not for business but to be a blessing.  Because the Church does not offer paid programming, weekly infomercials for the kingdom of heaven: “Get your manna today!”  Because despite our proclamations, God is not privately owned by one culture, country or continent.  The kingdom of God is not for sale or on a ballot, for that matter.

“The doors of the church are open.”  But, is anyone home?  Who is answering for the church in North America?  This is the question being asked of many persons who stand outside of its doors.  Seeking a buffer from the social ills of our society, a counter- narrative and alternative community, who will answer their appeal?

While the world seems to be collapsing in on itself and every day we pick up pieces of a fallen sky, “the doors of the church are open.”  And people don’t need to run into another wall or be told how good we are or what we are proud of or offered the latest God gimmick.  They want to know if anyone is home, if God is home.  Can you be of service?  Amen.