Relating, Creating, Transforming

Archive for February, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect in Every Way

Matthew 5:38-48

Question for the audience:

How do you define perfection?

If you are a student, think back to a time when you prepared that bit of homework so carefully. You worked very hard, you spent lots of time on it—you felt good about it. When you turned in your work to the teacher, you felt a surge of confidence because…

It was perfect.

Surely you would be rewarded for what you did.

But when the teacher returned your homework, shock fell over you. Apparently, the teacher thought that what you did what anything but perfect! You just couldn’t understand why your teacher didn’t see the perfection in all the time, creativity, and effort you put into that project. But the lower-than-perfect grade, marked clearly in red on your paper, left a permanent, bad taste in your mouth and in your experience.

Just like poor Ralphie from a Christmas Story.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect…

Right. This word perfect rubs me the wrong way.

But the word in the original language of this New Testament passage is telos [Greek], and perhaps perfect is not an adequate English translation. Because telos is not about being morally perfect but more about being mature, reaching an end in one’s humanity.

That is, telos is like a tree that after many years grows tall and then can bear fruit.
Telos is a goal or purpose reflected in the growth.

In fact, let’s take this notion of perfection further. Let’s say that be perfect is like saying be like nature in its perfection.

Have you ever stopped to notice nature’s perfection recently? It’s amazing. There is harmony there. Nature is balanced. Just when you think nature is unbalanced, it recuperates and reminds you of its…perfection.

CR1You see, it’s not about doing things the “right” way all the time [whatever that means]; or following a bunch of rules; or even trying to make New Year’s resolutions or religious promises that you obviously won’t be able to keep.

What if, instead, we thought about our identity differently. Like nature–like that tree–God purposes for all of us to grow up , to mature, in our love, compassion, our joy, our peacefulness, and our wholeness.

What if we thought about the whole journey of life as walking towards that tall tree that eventually bears delicious fruit?

It’s not checking things off on a list or striving for the kind of perfection that garners applause or scores of 10 by judges.

If I were to ask you:

How can you love perfectly?

What would you say?

Well, Jesus would say:
Love your enemy.
Love when it’s not convenient.
Love people as they need to be loved—not how YOU want to love them.
Love people in different ways and with different actions according to where they are in life.

Love isn’t abstract in this sense.
Love is a concrete act of compassion, understanding, and empathy with no borders, limits, rules, or formulas. Love just is.

Sometimes love will hurt, and that’s the point.
Love that is easy and comfortable and always wonderful is not really love.
Love requires us to grow up when we don’t want to—leaving resentment behind.
Love asks us to bear fruit for others—no matter who they are or where they are from.

Love is perfect as nature is.
Love has seasons and rainy and snowy times, and sunny and blue-sky times.

But here’s the challenge—many times a sermon on a mount or a sermon in a church means very little once it’s over. I can talk and talk, but what will we all DO?

So I have to ask myself and you have to ask yourself:
What gets in the way of you being a tree that keeps growing?
What keeps you from identifying as someone who is loved by God?
What keeps you from loving people as they need to be loved?

Answer this.

Because these words:
Don’t take revenge on another.
Be generous without expecting a pat on the back.
Love your enemies.
Love those who don’t love you.
Love those outside of your tribe and social circles.
Just love people.

The words ought to inspire us to be telos: complete.

Imperfectly perfect in every way.

Accept how you are made. You are not perfect and you never will be.
But you can love someone as they need to be loved.
You can be compassionate with someone who has been left on the curb.
You can choose to reject the evil idea that some people count and some people don’t.
And you can choose to let your life grow and move and fill up with opportunities to love.

That can be a decision you make.

And look—nobody is saying that this is easy. Jesus himself never painted this whole love your neighbor and your enemy thing as easy. It is hard, hard work. And you will encounter disappointments and times when your tree will lose its leaves and need more water and feel that its branches cannot support any more.

But it’s like Jose Luis Sampedro, humanist, writer, and economist from Spain once said:

sanpedroTree

We should live as much as possible like trees
That after passing through a bad year
Grow new leaves and
Begin again.

 So may you begin again to discover how you are loved and can love.

May the sermon be nothing other than a memory.

May your day to day actions of love and compassion be the road you travel on.

 Stop focusing on being perfect; focus on being whole.

Grow up, spread your branches, provide shelter for other living beings.

Mature, walk towards wholeness, embrace the life that is in you.

 

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Yes, No, and…Whoa! Bizarro Jesus

Matthew 5:21-26; 33-37  

We-must-learn-to-live-together-as-brothers-or-we-will-perish-together-as-fools-Martin-Luther-King-leadership-picture-quote1

-Martin Luther King, Jr., speech at St. Louis, 1964

quote-patience-is-bitter-but-its-fruit-is-sweet-jean-jacques-rousseau

Money is the root of all evils: poverty is the fruit of all goodness.

 quote-to-err-is-human-to-forgive-divine-alexander-pope

  There-is-a-voice-that    Rumi, 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic

Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.

I am showering you with antitheses.
But if you think my antithesis examples are not great…

Let’s agree to disagree.

Yet another antithesis.
Maybe you can come up with some of your own?

We are talking about antithesis for a reason. It literally means opposite, though antithesis is a bit more nuanced than that. It is a literary device in which two opposite ideas are put together in a sentence to create a contrasting effect. In other words, an antithesis emphasizes a point you want to make by telling you what something is not.

It is very effective and Matthew’s Gospel uses it.
In fact, Matthew is the only Gospel to use antithesis.
Jesus of Nazareth, in the famous “sermon on the plain/mount” uses six concepts from Moses’ Law [Torah] and starts each six sentences with:

You have heard it said…

And then contrasted with:

But I tell you…

Remember something—Matthew’s audience is mainly Jewish. So it makes sense that Jesus’ speech assumes that people know something about the Law of Moses. So keep that in mind when you think about this passage. We are not living in the 1st or 2nd Century, neither are we in Israel or Palestine, and we drive cars and use cell phones.

A little perspective is needed here.

But these Jesus antithesis quotes can have meaning for us if we allow them to apply to our contexts.

Consider that Jesus is not introducing a new set of rules, but rather the intention or spirit of Mosaic Law. Jesus of Nazareth is actually asking his followers to do more than just follow the rules.
So forget about trying to say that Jesus tells us how we should marry or divorce or how women should dress or which governments are the best.

This is not about rules or cultural norms.

This is about going beyond such things and living a question:
What does an authentic, loving, and just community look like?

The antithesis statements are meant to encourage us to live honestly and to not rely on religiosity or status to prove that we are living well.
We are challenged to stop swearing religious oaths in order to prove our integrity.
The antithesis statements ask:

What if we were just plain honest?
What if people saw what we did and how we treated people, and we didn’t hide behind religious phrases, creeds, or traditions when we behaved badly?

In short, living according to the Law as Jesus sees it and teaches it, is not following rules just because they are rules or because society or peer groups or religions tell you to follow them.
I could say the same thing about Christmas and Easter traditions as well. Are we participating in those traditions simply because someone told us to, or do those traditions actually inspire us to be better people, inside and out?

Yes, I know. This antithesis thing is bizarre.
Well, the Jesus of the Bible is really Bizarro Jesus.

BizarroIf you’re not familiar with the term bizarro, we’re talking comic books. Most of you have heard of Superman, I’m sure. Well, Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor came up with a sinister idea to create his own Superman clone. Luthor got a Doctor to do it, but Luthor forgot that Superman was an alien and not a human being, so the cloning process didn’t quite work. Instead of a Superman clone, Luthor created a monstrous creature. Later on, another villain called the Joker created a Superman [Bizarro] clone. This version was clearly the opposite of Superman, having cold vision instead of heat vision, and getting stronger when close to Kryptonite.

I think the typical Jesus we learn about in Sunday School or hear about in the media is nowhere near authentic. This is why I think that when we actually explore what this Jesus said or did—he starts looking like Bizarro Jesus.

For example, in spite of what many Hallmark cards say, the Jesus of Matthew’s Gospel isn’t exactly selling you roses for Valentine’s Day or fitting into cultural stereotypes.
jesus.ValentineI mean, imagine—a Jesus who says that following the rules is not so important—unless the rules improve your relationships with others!

Bizarro Jesus says you shouldn’t murder or engage in such violence against another person, but neither should you stay ticked off at someone for years and hold a grudge. Either way, the resentment you hold inside will consume you and keep you from having good relationships with people. No religious offering or time spent in a church or prayers said or scriptures read will make up for the hate in the heart or the grudge set in stone. That’s the point. So what if you follow the rule of not killing someone. But what about all that resentment you hold? You have to deal with that.

Does someone have something against you? You know that they do if you are thinking about it. So rather than go through the motions and put on a good face, what if you actually confront that person? What if you try to figure out why she/he has something against you? What if you seek some sort of reconciliation with that person, if possible?

Bizarro Jesus says you shouldn’t venerate the institution of marriage and therefore abhor divorce just because it’s a cultural norm. You should think about people. If someone gets divorced, who is left out or left behind? Who is cared for and who is not? Likewise, society’s marriage laws do not coincide with God’s laws. Many religious people are so quick to reject same-sex marriage claiming that the Bible told me so. But Bizarro Jesus says it’s not about the actual rule, but about the actual relationships.

Chances are if we focus on relationship more and less on religious traditions or rules—chances are we will accomplish a lot more good in the world.

And let’s finish this out with some swearing.

*&$!@#!

You see, saying swears or curse words in the modern sense is not what is prohibited here. In fact, I would argue that Bizarro Jesus might even encourage us to swear a bit more.

Why?

Because it’s honest.

Now I’m not saying you should swear AT someone, because that goes back to destructive relationships thing and so contradicts all that Jesus taught anyway.

And of course, I’m not encouraging people young and old to try to offend people with swear words.

Instead, I’m talking about removing the filter and saying what you feel and what you think. Some cultures and societies do this better than others. I don’t know what you’re used to, but I’d venture a guess that at some point in your life, you have struggled to remove this filter of vulnerability. You bite your tongue or hold your thought for later. You stay silent. Or maybe you say something you don’t mean; or believe; or think at all. You say something just to appease or to avoid conflict. Your yes isn’t a yes and your no isn’t a no.

It’s probably more like a….maybe?    

Jesus was not saying that the whole world is linear and black-and-white with no grey areas. Not at all. But a yes is yes and a no is no, meaning that we’re not playing games here on this planet.

Not as far as relationships go. It’s unhealthy to do that. We hurt each other more when we play those passive-aggressive games. Being honest makes such a huge difference in relationships. It truly does.

So friends, I challenge you to think about what the antithesis will inspire you to do. What has been said to you in the past that you now need to let go of and so heal from? What rules do you hold on to that keep you from healthy relationships with others? How can you take small steps today so that your living is more authentic and compassionate?

You have heard it said that unless you are amazingly religious or unless you fit into someone else’s category, you are not capable of doing good.

But I say to you: your life is your offering so go and offer it to the world, walking toward reconciliation and making peace with others. Let love bend your rules.

Amen.

Mmmm…Salty…

Matthew 5:13-20   

We’re about to talk about NaCl. But before we dig into salt, some things to think about: Prior to this, Jesus of Nazareth gave his famous speech called the beatitudes and here we find the Jesus of Matthew’s Gospel continuing with some words you can also find in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, though their versions are shorter:[1] Mark 8:49: For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” And Luke 14:34-35: Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored [or used for seasoning?] It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Matthew’s take is a bit different, isn’t it? In Matthew’s story, Jesus actually compares humans to salt. You are the salt of the earth. So let’s talk NaCl. Salt is important, is it not? saltcrystalsMost historical records say that the use of salt dates back to 6000 B.C.E. Egyptians used salt for a variety of things, including religious ceremonies and even money.[2] That’s right, salt was money. We get the word salary from the word salt, actually.   When something is not worth its salt that means of course that it is not fulfilling your expectations. Salt is worthy of its lofty, historical status. Consider that we are talking about Dead Sea salt from Galilee. deadseaSaltYes, that wonderful salt that comes in rock crystal form and can be used for such things as a muscle-relaxing, skin reviving warm bath, a non-corrosive cleaner, or an incredibly delicious hummus. In fact, there are more than 14,000 uses for salt.

So that’s pretty useful, wouldn’t you say?

But does salt actually lose flavor? You may think that it doesn’t, but sure it does. Salt from the Dead Sea or any other body of water is mixed with sand and other things. It is not entirely “pure” salt [NaCl]. The chemical impurities can decompose. When mixed with water or when exposed to a lot of sunlight, this salt mixture can indeed lose its saltiness. So it was true that in the time of Jesus, merchants in Galilee would sometimes encounter a salt mixture that was not useful because it had lost its flavor. It was trampled underfoot because, logically, people walked on the shores and therefore walked on the salt. So back to the metaphor.

How are humans like salt?

Matthew’s story has Jesus talking in the present and not the future tense. He says: You ARE the salt of the earth. So the followers of Jesus of Nazareth were already grounded in the identity of coming from the earth [and the sea], and having flavor, and also being incredibly useful for a thousand different things. This is important to note, because in the sad history [and present day] of human existence, we continue to say that some people are more important than others, more useful, more full of flavor, etc. But Jesus, in this case, says you all [plural] are the salt of the earth. Everyone is useful and has flavor and is uniquely salty. Even Homer J. Simpson. 24820BPThe-Simpsons-Homer-Mmm-SaltyBut Jesus [and Matthew] are not finished.

Not only are people salt of the earth, but also light of the world.

Just like with the salt, we need some context here if we are to get the light reference. Jesus was not talking to rich dudes; or political rulers; or even religious leaders. Jesus was talking to people who would be called poor by many and certainly would be considered poor in the material sense today. They were called salt and now they were called light. In their context, a house often had just one room. Therefore, anyone who enters such a house will immediately see the lamp on top of a stand. Remember, they did not have electricity—like many people in the Philly area this past week! So in Jesus’ time, many people would have an oil lamp on a stand, and the way they would put out the fire of the lamp was to put a bushel basket over the lamp. This is practical and necessary to do before going to bed so smoke and fumes stay inside the basket.[3] Keep in mind also that in this era, there were not hundreds of neon signs flashing, street lights, car headlights, or anything like that. When it was night, it was really, really dark. You could see the stars. So when the lamps were snuffed out, it was dark and hard to see. an-ancient-style-oil-lamp1 So, says Jesus, it is important that in calling these humans light, they should not put their light under a bushel basket. They should instead shine like a light on top of a hill. They should be bright. They should not be afraid to shine. They should be illuminating light—regardless of what others try to tell them they are or are not. And like the salt metaphor, people of light are connected to other people, and useful, and open. So there are two things that jump out at me here.

First of all, in Matthew’s story, Jesus is not calling religious people salt and light.

He’s not saying that if you believe this specific thing or if you go to this specific church—you are definitely salty and bright. Jesus is saying, to a group of often-marginalized and overlooked people, that they are already salty and bright. They don’t have to convert; they don’t have to follow certain moral codes; they don’t even have to join a certain religious club. They are already salt. They are already light.

As they are.

It’s just natural.

Secondly, the salty and bright people should not get discouraged or afraid.

Salt can lose its uniqueness and flavor. As people, we can, too. Enter stage left: assimilation and the pressure to fit in. Someone tells you that you need to change who you are because you do not fit their definition of a human being. You’re gay or lesbian…change your preference. You’re transgender…make up your mind. You’re poor…get a job. You’re sad a lot…take medication. You’re full of doubt…have more faith. You speak another language…learn English.

You don’t fit my definition of human…so change already!

We can be pressured to change who we are. But we shouldn’t. We don’t need to change the essence of who we are, because we are all unique. We are all salty. We all have flavor. We’re naturally ourselves. Actually, we can add a lot of good in the world if we are fully ourselves—honest and candid and real. In that way, we will also accept others as they are. So listen, don’t give power to others, allowing them to take away your saltiness or to cover up your light. You are already salty and bright. Don’t let others tell you that you can’t sing that way, or paint a picture like that, or that you should be just like them or that you’re not worthy to shine or to be salty. And don’t try to copy everyone else. Your light is uniquely bright because it comes from inside you. Likewise, don’t ever tell someone else that she/he cannot be salty or bright. Don’t force others to be just like you. Let their uniqueness shine through. And remember how Jesus closed this part of his Matthew speech. He talked about the Law, or in other words, the Torah commandments, which were summed up in: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.[4] Being salty is being loving and compassionate. Being a light is shining love and compassion for all people. This does not mean that you save the world or make yourself famously salty and bright. It means that in your little, seemingly insignificant life, you have the salt and light already in you.

You have the capacity to love.

Because your so-called religiousness won’t do the trick; your holiness will never be enough; everybody breaks religious rules and fails to uphold religious doctrines and disciplines. Everyone. You will inevitably fall asleep praying; you will get tired of worship; you will sometimes not want to do the work of meetings and administration; you will get annoyed with church people; you will be sad and apathetic sometimes; your doubts about God will not fade away; and you may struggle with your spirituality every day of your life. You will have days and maybe months when you will struggle to get up in the morning and you may feel that you don’t have much of a purpose. You will sit in class at school and wonder if you matter. You will go to work only because you have to and not because you love what you do. You will stay in relationships because of obligation and not because of compassion. You will have moments when your light will dim and your saltiness will fade. Yes, you are human. But you can love. You can encourage someone who has been pushed down. You can welcome someone who has been left out. You can show compassion to someone who is barely hanging on. You can add flavor to someone’s day with laughter or a fresh perspective. You can treat people well—no matter where they are from or how they look. You can get up each day, and go to bed at night, with the realization that you were born salty and born with light. So be salty. Be bright. Recognize the beautiful flavor and light in all others. Be fully yourself and embrace the fullness of others. Amen.


[1] New Revised Standard Version. For side-by-side Gospel comparing, check out: http://www.utoronto.ca/religion/synopsis/meta-4g.htm
[3] Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, Bruce J. Malina,
[4] Matthew 22:37-40, NRSV.

Re-framing Blessedness

Matthew 5:1-12

different-greetings3How do you greet people? How do people greet you?

It depends on where you live, of course.

In Hawai’i, someone might approach you and say:

How’s it?

In Philly and South Jersey, I hear this a lot:

How YOU doin’?

Or, this:

Whazzup?

or

What’s up, yo?

Or the really short version:

“Zup?”

But I’m originally from the Midwest where people often say:

How are ya?

or

Howdy!

And in Canada, I’ve heard:

How’s it going, eh?

In Java or the Philippines you might be asked “where are you going?”
This is a formulaic greeting and the expected answer is “over there.”

Burmese or Cambodian people may ask “have you eaten yet?” (literally, “have you eaten rice?”).
But don’t get too excited—it’s not an invitation to lunch, just a simple hello.[1]

Many cultures use important gestures as well as words. In China, you might receive a nod or bow; older generations in Hong Kong may clasp hands together at the throat level and nod; In India, people place palms together as though praying and bend or nod, Namaste; in Indonesia some say selamat, which means peace; Japanese may bow from the waist, palms on thighs, heels together; and Koreans may offer you a slight bow and handshake (right hand in one or both hands); in Malaysia, some touch the other person’s hands with both of their hands, and then they bring their hands back to the chest, a salame gesture.

There are so many ways to greet other human beings.

What surprises many people from other countries is how people in the U.S. greet one another. For example, even when people greet you with how’s life? or how are you doing? they are not wanting to hear your whole life story. People tend to expect a very short answer like “fine” or “I’m good” or “Fine, thanks for asking.”

Of course, we say fine or good even if we are having a terrible day or even if our life is in shambles. How are you? We are like trained Pavlov’s dogs:

I’m fine.

Which really means:

0120OPEDanderson-masterBut there’s a new phenomenon I have noticed.
How are you? I’m blessed.
I’m blessed.

And then, when you leave someone, they may say to you:
Be blessed!

And now trending on Twitter, the overused, incredibly confusing:

#BLESSED

I’m on my yacht near the Cayman Islands.

#BLESSED

I got the job at McDonald’s and here’s my selfie of me in my new uniform.

#BLESSED

I just had a peppermint milkshake and so far no lactose intolerance.

#BLESSED

My team is playing in the Super Bowl and I love commercials, too.

#BLESSED

My stocks just went up and I’m making it rain.

#BLESSED

Blessed? What does that mean?

The dictionary says that as an adjective, blessed means: made holy; consecrated. This of course can be used as a title for a dead person who we think was somehow holy, i.e. “the Convent of the Blessed Gertrude” or “the blessed saint Tim Tebow.”

But blessed can also mean favored, fortunate, lucky, privileged, enviable, happy. See #BLESSED

Similarly, blessed can mean having a particular quality or attribute, i.e. Warminster is a nice suburb, blessed with an abundance of strip malls.

Ironically, blessed can also mean an annoyance or exasperation. There wasn’t a blessed thing anybody could have done!

Yes, we have explore this word blessed if we are to get anything out of these famous words of Jesus [so-called sermon on the mount], found in Luke and in Matthew’s Gospel. Often called the Beatitudes, they are not just famous for Christians. People of many traditions are familiar with these words–Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. What we are looking at today is of course in Matthew’s Gospel, but you can also find a shorter version in Luke. Most people who study the Bible believe that Jesus did not say all this in one moment from a hill overlooking the Lake of Galilee. Most scholars think that this sermon is actually a collection of Jesus’ words throughout his ministry, kind of like a greatest hits album.

Tour with the Rolling Stones to follow.

I have backstage passes.

#BLESSED

Now a lot of people think that Jesus invented the beatitudes but he didn’t. The beatitudes are part of a wisdom literature that dates back to the writings of what we call the OT and the Psalms and Proverbs. In Israel’s culture, poets and sages used beatitudes to encourage admirable behavior and traditional attitudes towards life. These ancient writings affirmed that blessedness was not about material fortune or prosperity. People were blessed when they were filled with and surrounded by a spiritual sense of well-being—both as an individual and as a community.

So, it’s kind of shalom-like, if you will.

Be at peace with yourself and be at peace with others.

#TRUEBLESSING

But then Jesus enters the mix with his twist of the beatitudes. That’s right, Jesus twists it. His beatitudes are paradoxical. They don’t fit our typical idea of blessedness. In fact, Jesus turns our idea of what blessed means upside down. Jesus says, in nine different ways, that being blessed means being:

Poor, mournful, humble, hungry, merciful, honest-hearted, peaceful, persecuted, and hated.

Uh….#BLESSED?

More like #ANNOYEDBYJESUS

Suddenly, I’m not feeling so blessed because Jesus’ beatitudes really seem to have an attitude!

But hey, let’s give it another look and see what blessed really means in another language. You see, Matthew’s Gospel was written in Koine Greek and the word for blessed is makarios. From that to the Latin word beatus. And then, to the English word blessed.

But did Jesus speak Greek as his first language? Uh, no. that would be Aramaic. And there are two Aramaic words that become makarios in Greek. They are ashrei and tovahoun. Unlike makarios, which is passive, the two Aramaic words are active. In English, their translation is wake up or get up.[2]

So all of a sudden, we are hearing this:
Wake up to be poor, mournful, humble, hungry, merciful, honest-hearted, and peaceful.

And get up even when you’re persecuted and hated.

I’m starting to get it, are you?

The beatitudes are more than feelings. They are not promoting any kind of self-help or get rich with Jesus scheme.
Instead, the beatitudes contradict what society says we should be about:

Make the most money; don’t worry about who you step over.
Think about yourself and your own closed circle and disconnect from others.
Be the strongest and mightiest and make war if you have to.
Don’t cry—don’t be weak.
When you give to someone, definitely ask for something in return.
Manipulate others or the earth as needed.
Give up on justice if it’s too hard or inconvenient.
If others talk bad about you, pay more attention to them than to those who know you and actually care about you.

Yes, Jesus’ beatitudes challenge our perspective and our behaviors. And they remind us that being blessed isn’t about having more things or even feeling happy all the time. In fact, Jesus’ beatitudes embrace the negative experiences we all have in life. In other words, we don’t have to answer “I’m fine” when someone asks how we are doing. We can answer honestly if we so choose. I personally like what one individual did when I asked How are you? He paused, looked up at the sky, looked over his body, pinched himself and then said: The sun is out and I’m alive.

I wonder if we were more honest with ourselves, our God, and each other, if those moments of disappointment and despair and even depression would become opportunities to find growth, healing, and wisdom. I think so. Everyone gets down, has difficult times in life, and doesn’t feel blessed at all. But if we’re honest in those moments, we can discover that all the things we chase after too much like superficial happiness, wealth, fame, and power—they don’t bless us.

#DISAPPOINTING

Instead, friends, recognize that being poor isn’t just about having less material things. It’s about being wise. It’s about detaching yourself from things and finding freedom, joy, and gratefulness in all that is simple and beautiful.

And Mourn openly and honestly when you are sad and don’t resist it; find comfort and healing.

Be humble with the animals, trees, land, and sky, and so cooperate with and enjoy Mother Earth.

Seek justice, but not just for yourself or for those who are close to you; seek justice for anyone anywhere.
This brings wholeness.

Be merciful to everyone, and mercy will find you.

Be honest on the inside, and this will show up on the outside.

Work for peace and never war, and then end your hate and start your love.

Stand up for others who are pushed down even when it will cost you something. This continues the circle of your interconnectedness to all living beings.

Accept that people won’t like you and will sometimes say bad things about you when you try to do good things. Don’t let that stop you. Instead, find joy in the fact that you even have an opportunity to do good.

Friends, don’t just be blessed. Wake up to live compassionately; stand up to live for justice.

#Amen


[1] The ‘How Are You?’ Culture Clash By ALINA SIMONE, NY Times, JAN. 19, 2014

[2] Abuna Chacour

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Produced by Akbar Ahmed

Interfaith Crossing

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Prussel's Pearls

An Actor's Spiritual Journey

The Theological Commission's Grand, Long-Awaited Experiment

Modeling Civility Amidst Theological Diversity

a different order of time

the work of a pastor

learn2practice

mood is followed by action

Imago Scriptura

Images & Thoughts from a Christian, Husband, Father, Pastor

the living room.

117 5th Street, Valley Junction__HOURS: M 9-5, TW 7-7, TH 7-9, F 7-7, S 8-5, S 9-4

the view from 2040

theological education for the 21st century