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deserted places friendship Gospel of Mark Jesus John 15 service vacation

Rest A Little While…

Mark 6
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.
31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.
34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

REST A LITTLE WHILE

I have to admit this is an area where I am greatly challenged in my life. (Actually, a few areas, but this is the one I’m talking about right now!). It is so hard to “turn it off.” Those who are also challenged in this way know exactly what I mean….I struggle with relaxation.

I might get a failing grade in ‘just chillin’…after all, there are children to be mothered, powers to be challenged, young warriors who need encouragement, colleagues who need…

It just goes on and on.

But, this is my life. I don’t live a “to-do” list. This is how I express my discipleship. I take my friendship with Jesus seriously. I go hard because He went hard for me.

No, I don’t have a “super” or “messiah” complex – that would be too easy. I’m so aware that I’m not super. Really. I’m so aware that all I have to offer is the kind of brokenness that bears witness to “all things work together for the good.”

Rather, it’s so hard to turn off the “cry out for social justice spigots/mother all the children in my presence behavior” because I really am sold out. Totally. I believe the “stuff” I’m walking and talking about…I’m convinced of the power of the friendship we share, the efficacy of the path I’m walking and Who I am following….I just think this stuff is right.

Ah, but Jesus says that everybody needs to “rest a little while.”

In Mark’s Gospel, the disciples shared with Jesus everything they had been doing and Jesus’ response was, “Whew, y’all take a break, hear?!” No protesting, no campaigns – “go away to a deserted place…”

Deserted places are good for us, especially when deserted in this case means places where we can rest, put “it” down, chill, take a break. Maybe take a moment to pick up something else that has nothing to do with anything.

What I also like about this account is that when the disciples take a break – Jesus steps up, meeting needs with compassion….

Jesus steps up. He’s got “it” and us, too – all in his hands.

I am so humbled to be called his friend, so I’ve got no complaints about how he uses me for his purposes (that’s actually kind of amazing and still renders me speechless.) But what’s more humbling is to hear him say, “Hey, thanks friends, go get something to eat, take a break, I’ve got this.” John’s Gospel says it this way: “I no longer call you servants…I call you friends…”(John 15)

I’m planning a trip where I will be able to drink in the new scenery of God’s majesty; walk hand in hand with my husband and just “be” out on the town; and, to put myself in someone else’s hands for care and hospitality. I don’t plan to blog, write, call, conference, check emails, preach, teach, present, give interviews or anything….cause, I hear Jesus loud and clear…take a break, Sis.

But when I come back, watch out ’cause I’m coming back hard for my Friend.

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Child sexual abuse darkness to light psalm 55

We Can Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

12 It is not enemies who taunt me— I could bear that; it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me— I could hide from them.
13 But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend,
14 with whom I kept pleasant company; we walked in the house of God with the throng. (Psalm 55:12-14)

One of the saddest of all Psalms (Psalm 55) sings the pain of one who was betrayed by a beloved close one. The psalmist writes that the betrayer was one who shared his journey of faith and the intimacy of worship. That’s what makes the betrayal, in the mind of the psalmist, so hard to bear. A stranger is hard…but you? My beloved close one? I trusted you….

Children who are sexually abused most often know their abusers. In fact, 90% of abusers are known to the victim. (I trusted you…) The “stranger in the trench coat lurking in the park” might be dangerous, but maybe not nearly as dangerous as Mom’s boyfriend, Uncle Junior, Cousin Willie or….Daddy or StepDad. Our children are encouraged to trust beloved godparents, aunts, neighbors — and they should be able to. We cannot imagine that these beloved members of our families and communities would ever harm our children.

But it happens.

“20 My companion laid hands on a friend and violated a covenant with me 21 with speech smoother than butter, but with a heart set on war; with words that were softer than oil, but in fact were drawn swords.”

Speech smoother than butter, but violent hearts….soft words delivered with sharp swords…

Screaming headlines bespeak the need for urgency in our communities to embrace public education and to call for common sense child protection practices and policies. No need for paranoia — paranoia does not prevent harm.

Instead, we need to be awake, conscious….not afraid to ask questions, proactive in establishing norms and willing to learn what it means to protect the children in our midst. When we are proactive, we can also protect the adults – the many well-intentioned mentors, youth pastors, relatives, community members we depend on to stand in the gap for our children who need relationships with caring adults.

A few months ago, I went through training conducted by a national organization called Darkness to Light to become a certified facilitator for the Stewards of Children program. This workshop endeavors to teach adults that preventing child sexual abuse is our adult responsibility – and it is doable. I’m preparing myself to lead workshops to help people understand that we really can stop child sexual abuse; and I anticipate that the hardest thing for people to grasp will be understanding just how prevalent but preventable child sexual abuse is.

I want to do my part to raise awareness and to help equip the adults in my community with the tools they need to protect children.

Let us all pursue opportunities to bring healing to families. Let us all do what we can to deliver conscious adults to the next generation of children. Let us work to prevent child sexual abuse.

Categories
juvenile justice peace circles positive behavior refuge restorative justice youth

Remember Me!

What in the world would we do if God decided that the path for our entire lives would be determined solely by the stupid, wrong, hurtful and immature things we did before we were 16 years old?

Think about all the things you did – and you didn’t get caught! Well, you think you didn’t!

The psalmist says, “Don’t remember the sins and transgressions of my youth — remember me…”

God knows us. And, God knows that we are all more than the worst thing we have ever done.

The Psalmist says, “Don’t just remember what I’ve done, remember me!!”

Take some time to see the young people in your life for who they are – young people, children….youths. Enough already about how foolish they can be. In fact, I have it on good authority that you (whoever you are now) were once foolish, too.

Here are some concepts you should make it your business to learn more about:

1. Restorative Justice
2. Peace Circles
3. Positive Behavior supports

There is a whole lot we can do to steer young people toward good. And the truth is – we all have to be intentionally “steered” toward good. We are all human, wrong, broken, sinful, stubborn and in need of mercy and grace. And yet, God sees beyond all of that and remembers who we are – God’s children.

We will never outgrow the need for God’s protection — and so it’s a good thing that God still reaches out the hand of mercy and forgiveness and provides us a place of “refuge.”

********

Psalm 25

1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
6 Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O LORD!

8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the LORD? He will teach them the way that they should choose.
13 They will abide in prosperity, and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 O guard my life, and deliver me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all its troubles.

Categories
alternative narratives Christmas carols David Jesus' Way subversive The Way

Christmas Still and Not Embarrassed….

It’s July but my soul has been thirsty for the Christmas story. My children tease me and are prone to fits of embarrassment and anguish right now —“OMG, really Mom?! Really?! Blasting Christmas carols in the car! In July?! Dad, get your wife, please!!” (Don’t worry, I’m not intimidated. I remind them that they can control their own soundtrack on the B49 bus and are welcome to hop that baby at anytime!”) But I digress…

I need a story to counter the heat of the world. I really like the one that begins with “Once, in Royal David’s city stood a lowly cattle shed…” It then goes on to introduce us to a poor baby.

Those of us who know the backstory also know that he loved his mom; that Joseph gave him protection and cover and life skills…and that this poor child probably struggled against rumors of illegitimacy within his faith community. (Ah, the back stories….!)

The last three verses of the carol arrest my heart every time I hear the words, and by the last word I am in tears. Not because of sentiment or melody, but because I can see the amazing arc of a human life that has made all the difference in the world.

We can be like him:

“For he is our childhood’s pattern
Day by day, like us he grew.
He was little, weak and helpless
Tears and smiles like us he knew.
And he feeleth for our sadness,
And he shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see him
Through his own redeeming love
For that child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above.
And he leads his children on
To that place where he has gone —
Not in that poor lowly stable
With the oxen standing by
We shall see him, but in heaven
Set at God’s right hand on high,
Where like stars his children crowned
All in white shall wait around.”
(last three verses of Once in Royal David’s City)

I’m hungry for this narrative because I feel broken by the world’s story. It tells us over and over again that children and poor people are not worthy of our best work – they have nothing to offer us. Of course, we don’t come right out and say that. The title of the world’s story may say one thing – but the chapters are filled with policy decisions, budget decisions, community actions and legislation that tell other stories.

Here’s a counter to that.

This One broke into the world small, poor and helpless. He grew just like us and knew tears and smiles. His life was hard but meaningful, not because of what he earned but who he touched. He chose to associate with the vulnerable. He set children in the middle of one of his greatest lessons to adults. The “little things” he focused on were his generation’s greatest issues. In fact, those little things still matter to us now a few thousand years later.

His death and the new Life he offers to us – rich or poor – says “no more” to the ways human beings hurt each other.

Our work in giving witness to this poor child’s Way is not “destiny” — it’s laying claim to destination.

Let’s not just be on a merry-go-round of work-madness. Our lives are headed toward a crowning. We need to be reminded to live our lives like they matter – as if the obstacles, hardships, joys, troubles, fights, battles and victories….children…people…along the journey shape us for the coming ceremony where we will exchange the stained clothes of struggle for a new garment; one fitting that celebration that is taking place around the Throne. (Another digression – about that crown thing: I’ve not worn hats, believe it or not. Not that kind of first lady! But I will get my big head fitted for this crown I’ve been hearing about…sounds like you need it for the celebration!)

I need – we all need to be reminded, even in the dog days of summer, that this child has given us an amazing gift of redeeming love. Who would have thought that could be the outcome of that stinky stable story?

Christmas carols will be on blast. I don’t think these young people are going to be hopping the city bus. I am, however, hoping the story gets stuck in their heads and works it’s way into their hearts.

Yeah, Mom’s a little subversive….hehehehe…….

Categories
Amos 5:8 Child sexual abuse darkness movies survivor wounded survivors

Not Alone in the Dark

I don’t remember the last time I sat in a movie theater. I love movies. I hate the darkness. Let me rephrase that – I’ve been afraid to sit in darkness. Ridiculous. I’m a grown woman.

But I’m also a deeply wounded grown woman. A survivor, yes. But yet a wounded survivor.

The movie is pretty good. And as my eyes adjust to the darkness I am reminding myself — I’m sitting in the darkness but not alone in the dark.

The one who made
the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness
into the morning,
and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea,
and pours them out
on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is his name…

Amos 5:8