A Few New Beatitudes For Today

Leonard Sweet shared the following…

While in Sweden for an All Saints Day mass, Pope Francis proposed Six New Beatitudes for the 21st century church.

These were meant not to replace the biblical ones, which he called the “identity card” of the saint, but to point to how the original beatitudes might be expanded and understood in light of our world today:

Blessed are those who remain… Read More

Where Is The Pause? Where Is The Reflection?

My friend Moses Masitha was with us on Sunday—speaking at NWLife. He continued in our “Rhythm is Gonna Get Ya” series (which is about how our repeated practices/rhythms shape and form our lives) with a sermon on “Practicing the Rhythm of Sabbath Rest.”

I loved what he shared—and I’d like to share some of the notes that I took from his message…

In the Old Testament, we read how God’s people cried out because of the great burden they were under: they were slaves in Egypt, forced into continual, non-stop production.

Their worth was inherently tied to their productivity.

And God sent Moses to liberate them.

“I want them to be free.”

Moses leads them out. God gives them instructions, commands… because after 400 years of living in Egypt, they needed to be de-programmed.

Their worth had been measured by their ability to produce. They lived among people who worshiped things made by their own hands. And the ways of this culture had crept in… God’s own people followed these same practices.

So, in order to deprogram them, God gives… Read More

Thinking About That Time When I Was Enough

Recently some friends of ours showed up at church. It was a happy surprise—I wasn’t expecting to see them. They don’t exactly live in the Renton/Kent area, and I haven’t seen them in years… decades.

Who are they? Pastor Lou and Sandra—the ones who took a chance on me. My very first ministry position was at their church. I was young, inexperienced, and not yet finished with college. But they believed in me, loved me, and wanted me to be their youth pastor.

After their surprise visit at our church (where we had a few minutes to say hi, Pastor Lou gave me a “Pentecostal handshake,” and we posed together for a picture), Shari said something about them that left me reflecting for days…… Read More

Sunday Shout-Outs

Two beautifully challenging pieces to share today—the first one is new, the other is a few years old…

shannon dingle for post

I Want To Help You Understand My Lament by Shannon Dingle.

I’m hurting, friend. I’m hurting deeply. And I’m being told to suck it up and put away my pain and move on. Rather than call those responses insensitive, I want to help you understand my lament, if I can.

My heart is so tender, and I’m praying with each word that they will be received in the matter in which I intend. I know a lot of voices are shouting right now. I hope to be a voice that pulls up a chair to chat over coffee and share my heart.

I occupy a unique space. I’m white, but four of my children aren’t.

I was born here into a family that dates back to the pilgrim days, but four of my children are immigrants from Asia and Africa. I have ancestors who fought under the Confederate flag, but I’ve been targeted online as a “race traitor” for adopting outside of our ethnicity. I easily pass as having no disabilities (though I live with chronic conditions that are invisible yet can be disabiling), but I’m raising children who live with autism and cerebral palsy and HIV and visual impairments, including one who uses a wheelchair. My husband and I are straight and fit into accepted gender norms, but we have dear friends and neighbors who aren’t or don’t. I’m a Christian, but last year a Muslim friend of mine and her son waited at the preschool until we arrived to walk in with me and Zoe because she was afraid to walk in by herself after the Paris terrorism attacks.

And I occupy one common space: I am a woman who, like 1 in 6, has been raped. I am a woman who was sexually harassed in my workspace and whispered about when I filed a grievance against the man in power who objectified me. I am a woman raised by a father who doesn’t “read books by women because they aren’t any good.” (And I’m a writer, so the hurt is doubled there.)

I am grieving. Many are reading this as being a sore loser. But that’s not how I’m feeling. I have… Read More

The Final Word Is Love

*pictured above: my friend Reggie who was over-the-moon happy to come help get the church ready for our Sunday services.

Some powerful thoughts from Dorothy Day…

The final word is love.

The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves, to grow in grace.

The only thing we can do about people is to love them.

I only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.

We cannot love God unless we… Read More

Schools of the Heart

*pictured above: some of my favorite ladies at church hanging out and catching up with each other

Today’s word from Jean Vanier…

True unity cannot be achieved in a family or community which denies difference, and behaves as if everyone should be the same and think in the same way.

Unity is achieved when each member of the body is different and contributes a different gift, but all are united around the same goal by mutual love.

There are schools and institutions which develop our minds, but communities and families are the schools of… Read More

A Different Kind Of Success

picture above: Ashah, myself, and my dad – with my grandmother who has dementia.

From Jean Vanier…

A leader of one of our communities told me about his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. But the person this man wanted to talk to me about was not his mother but his father. He had been a strong, efficient, hard working man, more concerned with success than with people. But when his wife fell ill, he did not want to put her in hospital. He kept her at home and it was he who cared for her. It was he who helped her to eat and who brushed her teeth.

“And now,” the man told me, “my father is completely transformed. He has become a man of… Read More

A Tiny Sign That Love Is Possible

When the world seems particularly chaotic, crazy, paranoid, hateful, fearful, or just too noisy, I need the gentle voice of a great-great-grandfather-type. My go-to in these times is Jean Vanier.

In his book Community & Growth, Vanier says…

We have to remind ourselves constantly that we are not saviors.

We are simply a tiny sign, among thousands of others, that love is possible, that the world is not condemned to a struggle between oppressors and oppressed, that class and racial warfare is not inevitable.

We are a sign that there is hope, because we… Read More

And What Do We Have Here?

I remember years ago hearing leadership guru John Maxwell talking about “Putting a ’10′ on everyone’s head.” He was encouraging us to see people as valuable, worthy of our time and attention.

Then yesterday, I watched the first episode of the newly released Black Mirror (season 3) on Netflix. Black Mirror is often described as a modern day Twilight Zone – giving us creepy glimpses of how technology might lead us down a wrong path. This new episode features Lacie—who appears to be a nice, but too sugary-sweet, fake, an annoyingly earnest woman who seems to be doing everything she can to climb the social-standing ladder.

Quickly, you notice Lacie giving and receiving star-ratings on her smart phone with every in-person human interaction. At first, you assume it’s an app that everyone is using… like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. But then you begin to realize it’s the actual person who is receiving a score: 0 to 5 based on observation or interaction.

Then you discover the power of these ratings. The lease is up on Lacie’s apartment – so she is looking for a new place to stay. When she finds the perfect place, it is just beyond her reach financially… but the agent tells her there is a discount for people with a 4.5 rating. She asks Lacie what her rating is. Lacie is a 4.2, which is respectable, but not quite upper level. The agent encourages Lacie to work on increasing her rating.

Lacie is focused. She’s handing out 5-star ratings left-and-right to everyone she encounters – hoping they will return the favor. But not everyone does, and her score still hoovers below the upper level. Then, when her flight is cancelled and she can’t make it to an important event (with a bunch of 4.5′s and higher), Lacie cracks. She swears at the desk clerk at the airport. Security comes and docks her rating a full point as punishment for her behavior.

Her world is spiraling down along with her score… her worth, value, opportunity, and social standing.

For a more complete review of this Black Mirror episode, check out this article from The Verge.

lacie from black mirror for post

 

With Halloween right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about all the little characters who will show up on our doorsteps. We open our doors, and survey the group of trick-or-treaters… “And what do we have here?” we ask. “Oh, I see the Hulk. And a scary monster! Is that a police man? And the princess from Frozen… what’s her name?”

We pay attention. We recognize the costumes and affirm the children. “Beautiful. I love it! Wow.” And then we bless them (give them candy).

This kind of attentiveness, or beholding, is powerful.

We are taking the time to see the image they are projecting, the costume they are wearing, and we accept them—as they are. I believe this shouldn’t happen only on October 31. And I believe it shouldn’t only happen with… Read More