A reflection for Maundy Thursday ecumenical neighborhood worship.
(Read: John 13:1-17, 31b-35)
Have love for one another.
If you have love for one another.
They will know.
That you are with me.
That you are a part of me.
Because I’m going on. To do something new. Oh, I’ll still love you to the end, but it’s going to look different for a bit.
All these days. All this time. I’ve been loving you.
In the beginning as a source of life, as a presence in trouble, as the good that could not be overcome.
In a time, made of flesh and bone, of blood and tears, of life like yours, made to dwell and with you abide, to walk in glory, glory in sandals, in a manager, in town, down the road, on the sea, into the city, in the homes of the dirty, at tables with the improper, on the path of justice, filled with healing and truth, to share with you and with them and with all those folks who you’ve been taught to reject.
My love looked different.
Because it was different.
And soon it will be different, still.
So go ahead.
Talk with folks you’re supposed to ignore. Eat with those who you’re supposed to despise. Break the rules which were designed to protect you from the things you were taught to fear. Stand in love. Work for justice. Promote a new peace. Forgive and love some more. Let me help you. And heal you. And then go out again. Tell them our story. Help and heal others. Yes. Really. Go.
And if you make mistakes, oh, you will make mistakes, but look, I know.
I mean, I washed Judas’ feet tonight, right?
And I washed yours, too.
I love you still.
And I’ll love you to the end. I will fill you. I will feed you. I will see you. I will listen for you. I will help you. I will heal you. I will journey with you.
I will love you.
I will love you.
I will love you.
I will love you to the end.
So don’t be afraid.
Love. And love. And love.
Go ahead, now…
So, I read the news each morning on my phone, under the covers, before I even think about getting out of bed. That makes mornings like this one, reading about the massacre in Aleppo and another frightening appointment to the “administration” being built in our names, well, it makes it so on these mornings I can’t imagine any good will come from me leaving the safety and joy of my bed cocoon.
I really need to start getting out of bed before checking my phone.
Because today, just so I could will myself to sit up, I had to remind myself, out loud, that I worship a God who shows up in unexpected places and who does not give up on us. I had to remind myself that I live in a community where people go out and literally put their bodies on the line for justice for their neighbors. I had to remind myself that I live with a kid, who while fully living into her total teenagernes, also still bakes cookies as presents for the teachers at her city public school.
Today I did manage to get up and out of bed. And I got out of bed knowing the world is a hot, dangerous mess. Worried about problems that seem too big to begin to address. But remembering there are flashes and flickers of hope, justice, and joy all around. I got up in the confidence that smart passionate people I know and love and trust are working on projects and programs and issues to help one another. I got up because if they’re going to get to work, I’m gonna have their back. I got up because I need my kid to see me get up and face this hate and ugliness and evil and to fight with joy and passion and laughter and hard, slow methodical work. I got up because I know we will keep getting up. I got up because Mary got up, and Elizabeth, too. Because the Woman at the Well got up. And so did Hagar. She got back up a lot. I got up because mamas in Aleppo had to get up today, too. I got up because mamas in my neighborhood got up too. And I got up because I believe Jesus keeps getting up. I got up because I hope that God is birthing a new love into this world all over again this Christmas. I swear, in my better moments I can feel that happening. (I need to remember that feeling on my worser moments.) I got up because of all the new understandings and passions God has given me over the past couple of years. I got up because I believe we are being giving new and newer understandings of what that born-brand-new-again Jesus love means. I got up because I am counting on a God to give me strength and hope and courage and commitment and faith to keep getting up.
I got up. With God. To get to work. Despite what the news on my phone says. Because of what the news on my phone says. And I got to work.
(Well, I got a huge hot chocolate and a pumpkin muffin first, because, you need strength for this work, duh. But then, you know, after that, I got at the work.)
God help us keep getting up and getting at it.
Okay, so that whole writing a thing every day just didn’t work for me.
Also, the election totally and completely messed me up.
For a good long while.
But I am getting back at it. Slowly.
But still, a little feel like Lego, my sister’s dog.
More soon. Maybe….
I sent this letter to Hillary Clinton tonight.
I can’t wait for tomorrow.
It started about a week ago. Well, it’s been happening in bits and spurts all year, but it started happening all the time about a week ago.
Every time I read an article. Or watched your closing week videos. Or saw your special, local fleur de lis signs throughout my neighborhood. Or read the stories on #pantsuitnation. I held it in when my kid told me she voted for you in school today, so casually, like it was no big thing and I should have assumed it all along, and don’t be all emotional about it anyway, gosh! And tonight, as I planned out what I would wear to go to the polls tomorrow, where I would go to watch the returns, and how I’d manage to get a hold of my internationally jet-setting, 78-yr-old, early-voting mom once the returns come in…
I’m crying. All the time. And I’m not ashamed. Because these are bad-ass tears of joy. For a barrier broken. For ceiling shattered. For our first woman president. And I’ll be crying all the way to the polls. Big, bad-ass tears of joy.
When I was a little girl, I told my dad I was going to be the first woman president. It was 1980-something, and my dad told me I’d never be the first woman president. Because surely a woman would be president before I grew up.
As a teenager, my mother told me, and I can only assume my four sisters too, “Honey, you can be absolutely anything you want to be. You’re just going to have to work harder at it because you’re a girl.”
When I was 18, I cast my very first vote for a presidential candidate for your husband, and at the time, I told my friends, “I wish I could vote for Hillary instead.”
Twenty years later, on the eve of the day when I will get to vote for you for the third time, even though I live in a state that will not turn your way, I will take my kid with me, so she can see me check that box and be a part of electing the first woman president. So she can be a part of electing the first woman president.
Big, bad ass tears of joy.
This election cycle has been brutal. And for a while now, I’ve just been praying for it to end. But now, it’s the night before the day, THE DAY WHEN WE ELECT THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and I almost don’t want it to end. Almost.
I hope, in the middle of all of this, all the hype and the press, the events and the polls, those horrible debates, the rallies and meetings, and the fundraisers, oh my word the fundraisers, I hope that here and there, in tiny moments and ways, in the middle of all of this, you’ve been able to make space to hear all of us little girls and grown women, shouting THANK YOU! And I hope you’ve been able to sneak in just a few big, bad-ass tears of joy of your own.
Go get ’em, Hillary.
We are with you.
I am with you. With my bad-ass tears of joy. And my pantsuit, too.
Today, because more than 500 of my colleagues were standing with the many, many water protectors who have been standing for justice and life along the Missouri River, I decided to be bold like them make my own stand for justice.
So, at dinner, I sat my kid down and tried to explain to her what’s happening with Standing Rock and #NoDAPL.
Now, we’ve moved a lot over the years. And she lived two different lives before she came to live with me. So I had no idea what she had been taught about our country’s history and the violence toward and oppression of native peoples.
Usually when I start to talk about these things, she rolls her eyes and grunts and makes some rather forceful suggestions that we maybe, might could change the conversation topic. (At least, that’s how I interpret, “Oh, shut up!”)
But today she listened. She heard the whole (well, actually very short version of the whole) story. Of hurting and stealing and taking over and shoving out and killing and making promises and breaking them and doing that over and over again and treaty lines and water access and holy grounds and spiritual space and discrimination and law breaking and sovereign nation violation and greed and hurt and injustice.
And she listened.
And for me, today, for us, that was a huge step toward justice. Because it happens that way too.
So we keep on…
Crap. I forgot.
All the things happen in November and people make more plans and daily disciplines than they do at New Years and I grew worried that I might miss out on the fun so I decided to do NaBloMoPoCeeLoElEmEnOPeeYo. Or whatever. I’m gonna try to write a lot and blog a lot and share a bit get back into the habit.
So here it is.
Today was my first day back after taking 10 days off to be with family after the death of my dear aunt Melissa. Well, it was kind of my first day back. After we flew in yesterday, and I got the kid to school, and I got the dog from the doggie hotel, and I got pulled over by a cop, and I cleaned up the dog puke when we got back home, then I worked 7 hours. But today was my first FULL day back.
I had grand plans of course. I was going to return all the emails, organize all the upcoming things, visit all the home visits, prepare all the worships, order all the advent materials, and read a whole book for this week’s book club. Oh, and don’t forget that meeting with the Chief of Police and the church neighborhood outreach event tonight. Good thing I’m not too ambitious or anything.
But as I attacked that list, my heart was still a bit broken. And my ministry muscles were sore. And the right words wouldn’t come. And I just simply couldn’t face the Chief today.
So instead, I let myself sit in the office all alone. I worked on one thing for worship on Sunday. Just one thing. One creative piece. One moment for reflection. One opportunity for engagement in prayer and tradition and loved ones and God’s love. If I’m honest, I think I spent a little too long on that one thing. But also, it helped me return. To this space. To my job. To my community.
It’s only been a bit more than two years for me, doing this ministry stuff full time. I can’t seem to figure out how to pace it. How do you get it all done and also rest in God? How do you make space for all the spaces and stuff and visits and study and getting out and being present and writing the stinking newsletter articles? And how do you do all that when your own heart is broken or your own faith is tested?
Well, I’m working on that. And I’m surrounding myself with solid mentors who’ve been doing just that, or who are striving to do that, and keep filling me up with tips. When I get it all down, I’ll let you know.
Until then, you may occasionally find me alone in the building, locked behind my office door, shoving aside a massive and ambitious to-do list, coloring pictures of the saints in my life.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Four years ago today, our little family was created. I didn’t have words to share what was happening publicly at the time, and over the years I haven’t gotten much better at explaining how I went from aunt to “parent-like-thingy” and she dropped niece to become “my kid.” People don’t throw showers and photo shoots when families are created by tragedy, loss, or conflict. It’s not really something to celebrate. It’s complicated and messy and painful for everyone involved. But it was also our beginning. Together. So Tegan and I do celebrate this day. (Usually with ice cream.) We celebrate because we know there is love and hope and beauty and fun even in the most complicated mess of life. Even on really hard and painful days. Even when scars and wounds are still healing. Even when relationships remain broken. Even when you don’t know how you’re gonna get through tomorrow. Or today.
So, we sneak a moment to celebrate. And we hope that you, wherever and however you are doing right now, find your own moments to celebrate, too.