Tag Archives: generosity

carry on, warrior

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“People hurt the things they fear,” has become for me one of the most haunting lines of Glennon Doyle Melton’s not-so-new book.

And I’ve tried about ten times now to type out how Carry On Warrior has made me exhale so strongly and peacefully over the last week as I’ve been reading it. Her words have been a kind of subversive undertone to everything else I’m seeing and reading as the news unfolds.

Something in me is pushing hard against the rhetoric of hatefulness and fear, of greed and warmongering I hear predominantly from Christians as each day breaks across the globe. Something in me is pushing hard against this fear of neighbor, fear of other, fear of different. Since when did Jesus say kill for my sake, hate for my sake, marginalize for my sake? Something in me is pushing hard through the psuedo-christian noise for voices that speak to something altogether clear, and noble, and lovely, and gracious, and simple and beautiful. I don’t feel the need to kill the person who threatens to kill me; I feel the need for peace. I don’t feel the need to hurt the person who has hurt me; I feel the need to forgive. And I need to know other people feel that need too. And I need to know how to move into that need.

I don’t know how, though.

And Melton doesn’t claim to know how either, but somehow her words in Carry on Warrior actually begin to do it. Honoring a kind of David-like offense to face the giants of anxiety and fear and terrified christian culture, she manages to walk to the middle dropping one piece of heavy armor after the next knowing that it might be her end.

But also knowing that it might be her only chance in hell at an actual beginning.

I’m envious, really. But hopeful. I’m working to lean in to the call to be honest and hospitable when it means standing with those the church is screaming at and setting targets on. I’m working to lean in to the challenge to show up and do my best to return justice for injustice, generosity for stinginess, and even openness for rigidity and fear. It’s infuriating, and then again completely freeing. Something as if from another world altogether.

People harm the things they fear, she says. I’m doing my damnedest to stop being afraid.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

To follow her blog, visit momastery.com, and click here to find “Carry On, Warrior.”

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it begins with a baby God

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I remember well sitting on the long and curved wooden benches that creak with every move at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville several years ago. I was frantically scribbling lyrics of a song, the chorus ringing in my ears and head and heart for weeks to come. The phrases I remembered out of order I now know, of course, were these:

It’s true, kingdoms and crowns
a God who comes down to find us
and angels sing through the night
Hallelujah.
It’s true.

I’ve later memorized the lyrics from the album which later was released by Sara Groves. But I notice every Year that the album has become a part of my Christmas rhythm.

A few days ago, on a  couple-hour drive back from training, I found myself with blurry vision singing loud and raspy with teary eyes and a heavy heart. Don’t act like you’ve never done it. A lyric from the song I didn’t scribble down that night has come to bear much weight for me and all I find myself working on and with and through toward God’s kingdom come on earth as in heaven.

Heard it told, you think it’s odd
The whole thing fraught with complication
The play begins with a baby God
And all his blessed implications

I find myself in board meetings and counseling sessions, in conference rooms and churches, in arguments and gripe sessions, at parties and dinners,  I find myself noticing over and over again in multiple contexts that in following suit with the prayers we are bold to pray, Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are more often than not called to play the game by wholly other, ridiculous rules.

Let’s address systemic sin, injustice, oppression, blindness and heartbrokenness with a baby God.
Let’s address self-centered, self-righteous, power-mongering and king-complexes with humility.
Let’s address loneliness, addiction, anger, despondency and bitterness with unconditional acceptance.
Let’s address greed, materialism, xenophobia, racism and ignorance with generosity, hospitality and forgiveness.

It’s makes no sense.
It feels all wrong.
It sounds as good a plan as the whole story beginning with a baby God.
And yet, when we hold our breath and close our eyes and take our steps
in wholly other and wholly odd directions with wholly other rules
kingdom comes, just like it crashed in
when the play boldly began with a baby God.

It’s true.

djordan
Pine Tree

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an occupying generosity

occupying-generosity

“Grace is the occupying generosity of God that redefines the place.”W. Brueggeman

I find myself in multiple conversations over this wedding weekend trip. This will be the only wedding of my brother I ever get to be a part of. Our family, those by blood and those by commitment, have gathered together as we are never really able to do in a spectacular city for an important moment.

And as in almost all holy gatherings like these, as all gatherings are likely holy but we only notice some, we find ourselves telling stories together of memories that have scaffolded our shared histories up to these moments. As many perspectives as wedding guests, stories are told over rich food and drink from years upon years of moments, all reminding us of how incredibly fortunate we are.

Children in diapers looking out windows.
Promises made and promises kept.
Phrases learned from repetition that stick years later.
Shared community homes.
Shared inside jokes.
Shared holy lives.

And in moments where we make our promises out loud in fanfare and flower-lined rooms, we are reminded that we have no ability to actually keep them even when we are acting out of our best.

And it’s in these moments, also, that we look back over shared histories from varying perspectives and realize that we have been living in an occupied place, filled with the sometimes subtle and sometimes breathtaking generosity of God. And in those moments, when we have to clench our jaws together to keep from crying out with joy because it will ruin our faces or our makeup, we own up to the holiness of grace filled lives, occupied by the generosity of God.

And we are redefined.

So we celebrate in promise and in party, knowing that a family occupied like ours is a glimpse of the kingdom breaking into earth.

Congratulations, Jamey and Emily. Looking forward to this one.

djordan
Chicago

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calling out in the darkness

I sat this morning watching a video (below) that highlights the last five years of a homeless ministry that houses and feeds the homeless in churches every night of the winter months. My mind went back to one evening about six years ago spent with Jonathan Stewart and Wes Gristy; we had been making and serving sandwich dinners on Friday evenings in a parking lot downtown, and our question had become “are there homeless in our community?”

In following that question and other rumors that accompanied it, we met at the church late one evening, made a pot of decaf coffee, and headed to the amphitheater where we had heard those who were homeless stayed.

I remember conversations about exit plans, what we would talk about, how we would find them. We parked facing the main road, flashlights in hand, and started walking through the damp ground toward the amphitheater calling out in the darkness.

“Are you there?”
“We won’t hurt you.”
“We aren’t the cops.”
“We have coffee.”

There was, of course, no one there.

Six years later, with churches across the community working together to host those who are homeless in their buildings night after night, what seems most certain now is that we were, indeed, calling out in the darkness.

We are, those of us fortunate enough to have grown up in church, blessed with a great deal of treasured heritage, and at the same time plagued by a deep spiritual paternalism that we can’t see until we are staring our ignorance straight in the face.

Were I to ask “Are the homeless christians?” the answer would no doubt be, “not necessarily.”
Were I to ask “Are the homeless not christians?” the answer would no doubt be, “not necessarily.”

But were I to have asked “Why do we serve the homeless?” the answer might have likely been “to show them Jesus.”

We are still often calling out in the darkness.

Six years later, I can say that I have learned more about who Jesus is and what he has done from the Christian men who are homeless in our community. Their homelessness is not a result of their not-Christian-ness. And they were not necessarily waiting around for me to show them Jesus.

They are often showing Christ to me, as even Jesus made clear that when we interacted with them we were interacting with him.

But we say we serve to show them Jesus, so we do little looking to see him in them.

But that is changing with those who are willing to open their eyes and see that when we have experienced relationship with those in need, we have experienced relationship with Christ.

Here’s to a future of continuing to open our eyes more and more, and continuing to call out in the darkness less and less.

Theirs is the kingdom, of course.

djordan
South Church St.

 

 

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