Tag Archives: hope

from the archives: when you throw a party

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From one of the very first blog posts ever several years ago, tonight’s small group reminded me of this very conversation…

EXCERPT––

When you throw a party, invite the people you would never invite. When you do, all the rules change. Instead of it being about a who’s who, a name-dropping-affair in an effort to get an invite to the actual parties, it becomes a whole different affair. It becomes more like a dinner party in the kingdom of God. 

And it will be incredible. 

If you think you are too good to sit down at the table with the homeless man, the chronically ill woman, the woman out of prison, the man who stands just outside of downtown Jackson in the soup kitchen parking lot staring at the street as North Highland traffic drives by…if you think you are too good to have them at your party, you’ll invite all the “important people,” and they will…no doubt…stand you up. And when you invite the man from the corner to keep from embarrassing yourself when no one else shows to your party, you will actually find that you are enjoying yourself––perhaps even becoming more of yourself. You are likely to decide that the “men of standing” aren’t invited to your parties anymore.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ORIGINAL POST from over four years ago.

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Lord willing, we won’t keep growing

Our Jackson Home posted a piece I wrote reflecting on this year’s Remember Me Walk for survivor’s of homicide loss. This group is astounding to me, and I’ve copied some of the post below with a link to read it in its entirety. And if you have not yet checked out Our Jackson Home, you should probably get on the ball.

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The crowd was larger this year than any crowd the past seven. The Carl Grant Events Center at Union University was filled with tables surrounded by people of all kinds, ages, colors, and worlds held together by the sad reality that someone they loved has been murdered—some of them fifty years ago and some five months ago. The reality that no one truly understands this grief is echoed in the camaraderie across the room. “Lord-willing,” they say, “we won’t keep growing. We don’t want other people to know what this feels like.”

Grief is breathtaking. All have experienced it, and we know the deep-down grumbling in our guts that must be an echo of the deep-down grumbling in our souls.

A life is lost. A story ends. …

Click here to keep reading on Our Jackson Home

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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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waiting to see

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We can’t bare it anymore.
We are waiting to see what you do
and we are waiting to see how you move forward.
Your self-definitions based on hatred and bigotry and xenophobia
don’t resonate with us anymore
or maybe they never did, but we are telling you now.
They don’t resonate with us
because the people we live with and work with
are people harmed by your xenophobia and bigotry and hatred.
And we take that personally.
You taught us to take harm personally.

So now we are working and walking
slowly in the world,
hoping to find the place and the people
who can’t bare it anymore either.
Especially not in his name.
We are looking for the people who
just like us
find themselves captivated by a story
a little bigger,
a lot bigger
than a story of againstness
a lot bigger
than a story of notness.

We are working and walking and hoping and looking
for each other.
We are the people who are leaning into a
more kingdom-minded future.
A future where the gospel grows thick
in the soil of surprising gratitude
and hospitality
and willingness
and welcomeyness.

We don’t hate our neighbors.
We aren’t afraid of them.
We love them,
and we’re following a Christ who taught us to.

So we are waiting to see what you do.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr

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on Rachel Held Evans “Searching for Sunday”

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While finishing Rachel Held Evan’s new “Searching for Sunday” as she begins thanking different friends and people for their contributions to the work of the book, I immediately noticed that my skin was covered in goosebumps. Throughout the book, chapters begin with quotes from other authors, theologians or musicians. In passing each quote, I realized that they were authors who also had joined me on a journey from loving church, to leaving church, to finding church again. Madeleine L’Engle, Nora Gallagher, Frederick Buechner, Walter Brueggeman, Brian McLaren, Anne Lammott, Barbara Brown Taylor, Becca Stevens, and on and on and on. The way the book itself resonated with something in me apparently forgotten was registering more and more understandable as each name graced the pages. A sense of camaraderie was surfacing, like we had all been having these conversations together.

And then in hitting the acknowledgments, a section I’ve come to read in every book as to me it presents a kind of undercover autobiographical picture of the author, she thanked many of these people, referencing food, wine and tables as a common location for their work together on life and ultimately on the living behind this book.

My mind drifted to the last few months in my own life. High expectations met with a deep drop of disappointment and numbing hopelessness that permeated much of my community. It drifted to my travels across the ocean and to the coast, sitting and reading and eating and drinking with friends and family. These are the same friends and family who journeyed with me during a deep love of church. They were with me when I realized for the first of many times that church will be as out of touch and off track as any other group of normal people. They were with me when I couldn’t bare to look church in the face because it was unrecognizable as the body of healing and hope and restoration and justice that I had learned it was supposed to be. They were with me sitting on a living room floor every Sunday night managing crying babies and prayerful questions about what it means to be tiny christs in the world. They were with me when I snuck into the back row of big church for an Easter service because something in my blood wouldn’t let me stay home. And they were with me I said what I swore I would never say again as i committed to a group of people learning together what it means to live as Christ in a world clamoring for us to figure it out.

And were I to be writing a book about loving, leaving, and finding church, I would write in the acknowledgements about all of these people and their tables. Dinner on Greencastle and Harper Cove. Breakfast and mimosas on Mimosa Drive. Happy hour at Picasso’s and Flat Iron and the Fat Cactus. Cheese and whiskey on Smith Dr. and sundowners at Camps Bay. Coke zeros and weird cookies under the rustling thatch looking out toward the Nicaraguan volcanos. These meals and drinks have been peppered with the words of Buechner, L’Engle, Brueggeman, Stevenson, Alexander, Meyers, McLaren. They have been soundtracked with the music of Sara Groves and Josh Garrells and Bono and the Indigo Girls. They have been hemmed in by the wise words of good friends.

And if any of us look carefully enough, there are small stones somewhere in each these places, whether restaurants or rancheros or vineyards, that mark something important. They mark tiny moments of thin space where God was real for just a moment, whether in hopelessness or surprising hope. They mark signs of the kingdom with other people who have been both lost and found. Rachel Held Evans and her people. Me and my people. There are lots of us out there looking for each other in hopes that we can find ourselves. The book was a reminder to keep searching for Sunday.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

To find Searching for Sunday, click here. 

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a faint sound of something

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I could hear it
our shoes making a shoddy moon
on the fifteenth floor looking out over the city.

I can always hear the other
the sound of killing
shooting, the ringing of it
the sound of racism
silence, the subtlety of it
the sound of oppression
cash registers, the shininess of it
the sound of isolation
weeping, the breath-stealing nature of it

I can always hear the paranoia in the shadows of the other
I can always hear the anger in the panicky crisis
I can always hear the hopelessness in the news banner
flashing across the bottom of the screen

but there
moon-shaped shoes filled with
women and men now family and friend
the best and true of both
standing up and holding hands in prayer
as if holding hands kept us from blowing down
or blowing apart
or blowing away

thy kingdom come
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven

thy kingdom come
to the ringing
to the subtlety
to the shininess
to the breath-stealing

and make things whole
we asked.

And it was in that moment
over and above and beyond and inside and all around
I could hear the faint sound of something
a symphony of some kind
a little more melodious
a little more beautiful
a little more free

I could hear a faint sound of something
–a symphony of some kind–
and it sounded like hope.

djordan
Rosemary Beach

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crossing the street to find your way home | thoughts on “the hundred-foot journey”

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Our greatest fear, of course, is that we might be viewed as in some way similar to the “them” to our “us”. We’ve worked desperately for centuries now at defining clearly and bloodily who we are with and with whom we are not. Who we are like and who we are not like. And when the “us” and “them” becomes less theoretical and more the new next-door neighbor, less conversation and more colleague, less hypothetical and more here-and-now, we find our heart-pounding pulse and back-of-the-neck skin overrun with the fast-beating terror that there is no longer enough space between us and them.

In terror and anxiety, thus in our most not-yet moments, we move on anxieties and insist certain actions that involve thinking, moving and working in ways which keep the lines clear, humans separated, and enemies inhumane are needed. We have to keep the peace by keeping the road as clear barrier between our home and theirs, and the hundred-foot journey in between.  

But once in a while, perhaps because we have a kind of holy blood in us because we are human, we can’t help ourselves. We cross the street, take one-hundred steps, (counted in fury and scheming at one point and now counted in calm humility and prayerfulness), and appear at the front door of the other, the non-separate, the human beings across the street. The front door of his home, bearing witness to his family and their dreams, their hopes, their stories, their legacies, their fears, their burdens and their dirty spots. We appear at the front door, newly-terrified and deeply-anxious, but already too far across the street, already there, already one-hundred steps too many in to turn around.

So we meet our neighbors. We learn their names. We hear their stories. We sing their songs. We sit at their tables and we eat their meals. 

And absent-minded of our terror and anxiety, we realize that in traveling the distance we have found our neighbors, in making the journey we have found our place, and in crossing the street we have made our way home. 

We pray that our new neighbors would move in, and that we would cross the street to find ourselves. As we are bold to pray for terrifying things because we’ve been taught to do it, teach us what it means to come home in your kingdom. 

djordan
Pine Tree

Don’t miss The Hundred-Foot Journey on the big screen. If you miss it, you’ll regret it…and so will your neighborhood. 

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the chime of the bells

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I heard the sound of the dog lapping water from the kiddie pool in my back yard.
The kiddie pool I get in when I get home from work on the days I actually get home from work.
I heard the sound of the dog lapping water from the kiddie pool in my back yard,
and then I heard the chime of the bells across the street from the Presbyterian bell tower,
the one I imagine when reading Buechner’s sermon, “The Clown in the Belfry,”
and then I clinked the ice cubes against the edges of my glass and returned to the book
to read the academy’s take of disaster and trauma in communities,
and the promise of resilience and growth and hope
in the face of destruction and death and doom.

And it was silent for a moment.

I was struck with the promise of life
as I was struck again today,
holding a child in my lap as the words of the New Testament were read aloud
by people believing and
people wanting to believe and
people who are furious they ever believed at all.

But I was struck with the promise of life today
holding a child in my lap as the words of the Lord were read aloud
prayed aloud
sung aloud
questioned aloud

And I remembered the lapping of the water in the kiddie pool,
And I remembered the workday filled with stories of life and loss and love and heartache
And I remembered the child in my lap who was waited on and prayed for
And I remembered the dinner with a new friend asking the same questions
And I remembered the old friend reminding me of my answers
And I remembered the everyday nature of the moments when
all promise and reminder of the kingdom crashes in unannounced

And I heard the chime of the bells across the street from the Presbyterian bell tower,
and the lapping of the dog from the kiddie pool,
and the promise and the boldness of the prayer on
mornings when I believe it and
mornings when I d0n’t
was echoed louder than all the hymns I’ve heard this month:

As our Father taught us, we are bold to pray:

Your kingdom come
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

djordan
Pine Tree

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the funeral laugh

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You know it.

And please.
Don’t act like you don’t know it.

Don’t act like you don’t know what the funeral laugh is. If you pretend that you don’t know it, I’ll know you’re lying and that’s an entirely different thing to address. We’re together here, you and me.

We all know what the funeral laugh is.
And we’re all guilty.

That inappropriate laugh in the moment where we are faced with the reality that the clock stops ticking one day. The clock stops ticking and the reality rushes in that we are more time-limited than we are prepared to admit. And we don’t know why things happen the way they do, why pain and progress get shaped and honored and forgotten the way they do; why pain lasts and hope lasts; why the possibility of something different for the future can operate with larger and stronger and broader strength than the reality of the way things have been in the past.

That completely inappropriate laugh that surprised us as much as anyone who heard it before we muffled it with a cough or choke or some other lame cover.

We can pretend as though we are wired for money or wired for sex or wired for love or wired for prestige.
But we can’t pretend for long.
Because once we catch anything we chase,
it sheds its skin
and we realize that we are naked and selfish,
insecure,
hopeful,
and powerless in more ways we care to consider.

And that’s when in stings.
It’s gonna be the funeral laugh or the funeral wail. One is coming out and we can’t help it.
We are at the funeral. We know that the person in the casket is highlighted by a story that now has defined lines of what was and wasn’t accomplished.
And we are terrified.
And rightly so, because we are afraid of what the present reality means for us when we shove it up against the reality of the future.

But, it’s that laugh that comes out. And in the same way it’s poorly timed and poorly placed, it’s also unexpected and sends a surge to the abdomen which sends a surge to the brain. And the surges remind us that we are, today, in this moment, alive. And we are alive in a place that is filled with people on the edge of laughter or tears, people ourselves included, who are still making the little choices one after another because our clock is still ticking. Our story still has options.

So we remember our inside jokes and laughs.
So we send cards to the mailbox with stamps and seals that say thanks again for everything.
So we let the other person in front of us in traffic, in line, in thought.
So we pause and raise a glass to make a toast that’s more a prayer than the blessing would have been.
So we make a decision to risk admitting we are powerless and hope that something rises to catch us.
So we wear party hats when making grown-up decisions that aren’t fun because we are alive and here to make them.

So we decide to choose the laugh at that inappropriate time that’s marked by real and gritty silence and seriousness. We know that we will wail again in a moment, and we know that both are actually fine.

But right this second, we choose the laugh. And then it won’t stop. We can’t stop it.

At this funeral, in this thin space where we are asked again that huge question about what it means to move forward in the world we will stop moving in, for a time, one day, we choose the funeral laugh. Because we can. And because we must.

djordan
Pine Tree

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moving forward. always.

It’s all a mess, of course.
We run into it knowing that we have a plan
We run into it knowing that we have the knowledge
to fix it
to solve it
to make it better
We burn to fix it, to solve it, to make it better
So the fact the we have the change to
put the plan into action
and use our knowledge to make it better
must mean that all will be well
because
we are ready
to make it well.

But then,
we wake up to the news of
all gone wrong.
all unexpected.
all that is against all we’d hoped for
worked for
longed for
waited for
prayed for.

It’s in that moment
of course,
that we realize it’s all a mess
and we begin to wonder if plans and knowledge
and we begin to wonder if the burn to solve it, to fix it
are an existential mocking of sorts.

And yet
even waking up to the news of
loss
death
murder
backward
pointlessness

we can’t help but rub our eyes and
do our best to face forward
and look upward
and work to put our plans and knowledge
back to work
knowing that we may not actually ever get what we hope for
but knowing even more that
we are not willing to hope for less.
Even in the mess.
So we move
forward.

always.

and so we are bold to pray.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

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