Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Preserving the Union

October 31, 2018
ehrenamt-fachdozent-pixabay Pixabay, Fachtdozent

There are conversations that are not happening. So many of them that I don’t know where to start. These need to be long and thoughtful conversations where there is goal of understanding one another. These cannot social media bytes or monologues aimed at criticizing, but they should be conversations that are intended to preserve a union. In fact, in regards to preserving our Union, there are strategies for dealing with our current conflicts (ex: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/implement/provide-information-enhance-skills/conflict-resolution/main or https://medium.com/@dbhurley/conflict-resolution-in-a-community-1fc1f1150296 ) it would also be appropriate to use fair-fighting rules already established for married couples (http://www.foryourmarriage.org/25-ways-to-fight-fair/ ). These kind of conversations are particularly important at a time when we have conflicts even on what it truth.

In our national conversations, we all see some things that we think need changing. In our impulse to make those changes we currently are gravitating towards legal solutions. The reason we are inclined to reach for legal solutions is that there has been a loss of trust. The problem with trying to mandate change with legal solutions is that mandates by themselves do not change culture as seen in the past by alcohol prohibition or in current times by forced desegregation. Laws by themselves do not change hearts or create new cultures. Change comes by the long hard work of changing community values. It has taken decades of challenging the value of smoking tobacco, replacing the value of smoking with the value of health, to reduce the popularity of smoking.

The situation we face is that within our country, we have multiple communities with different cultural values. Over time we have seen the isolation of those communities from one another which has brought us to this moment of conflict. Because the isolation has bred lack of trust, the impetus has been to enforce values through legislation rather than by building community. The problem is, if we simply try to force everyone to conform to our values by legislation without having the right conversations beforehand, we end up losing more trust and only build resentment, making any further changes even more difficult.

There is a place for laws as they can create a minimal framework for society to exist and, within some limits, to flourish. However, laws do not make a caring, committed community, laws do not encourage kindness and thoughtfulness, laws cannot create love. That said, our constitution helps create the framework for our society, but it does not create the values held by the members of our Union. The constitution can create the context for our conversations. but it cannot create those conversations. The constitution can provide the basis for our communities, but it cannot build those communities.

Our technologies provide a similar conundrum. Our technological developments have exponentially provided means for communicating with each other anywhere in the world, allowing us the opportunity to build community by communicating with many different people and learning many different things. But the same technology has also allowed us to isolate ourselves: 1) We can isolate ourselves into affinity groups, hearing only what we want to hear, not dealing with what makes us uncomfortable, self-limiting our ability to gain wisdom by only listening to only people who think like we do. 2) We can isolate ourselves from face-to-face contact, losing our sensitivity to a more robust human contact which makes us susceptible to violating others by disregarding their humanity and anonymously attacking them.

I think we can all agree that the state of our Union is broken. Our divisive politics reflects our divisive culture and our political and technological tools can amplify that divisiveness by playing on our fears. Our house may be on fire, but we can find a solution if can replace the calls for alarm and panic with a countervailing voice of unity and reason. We need to be smart about using the tools we have to counteract the panicked voices, to amplify the good and not just the bad. We need to become aware of the good that exists not just in our own communities but in the communities that we don’t know and don’t understand.

We also need to be willing to acknowledge our own weaknesses, to admit that we are broken just like everyone else. That will allow us to look beyond the brokenness that we are more prone to look for in other communities and also look for the good in those communities as well.  This is not easy work. We cannot do this work in sound bites and tweets nor by pontificating on the faults of others. We need to admit that we have faults as much as others find faults. We don’t need to find faults, we need to find solutions.

To find those solutions we need to look beyond ourselves and our own communities where we are prone to think we know all we need to know. We also must engender a sense of humility and be willing to admit that neither we nor our isolated communities have the solution to our conflict, that the solutions to end divisiveness in our Union will require the wisdom of the entire Union. We will need to be intentional: allow ourselves to be inconvenienced and made uncomfortable, be willing to go out of our way to listen to people who are not like us, listen to points of view we disagree with, spend enough time and thought trying to understand other viewpoints. All this so that common ground can be found, that the values of this greater community we call our Union, our country, can be defined and shared.

No one person or one community owns the Union. We all need to share in its definition.

 

Thanksgiving for the Social Order

October 29, 2018
hands-truthseeker08-pixabay Pixabay. Truthseeker08.

In light of recent events, this entry from the Common Book of Prayer seems appropriate …

O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Problem Isn’t Politics

October 12, 2018

boy-prince-pixabay-victoria_borodinova

Photo: Pixabay, Victoria Borodinova

1 Samuel 8:4-7 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

 John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

In the times of the prophet Samuel, the nation of Israel looked at the problems they saw and they thought the problem was political – they thought that the answer was to get a king, like everyone else. In the times of Jesus of Nazareth, the Jews looked at the problems they saw and they thought that the problem was political – they thought that the answer was a king, a Messiah, to overthrow the Roman government. In both cases, the real solution was much more personal. The enemy is not “the other” – the enemy as so pithily stated by Pogo is “us.”

Our national political scene is fraught with fear of “the other.” Our major political parties have deep concerns about what will happen if the other side gets their way and both sides have engaged in the politics of fear of what will happen if the other side gets more power. Again, the problem is not “the other,” the problem is us.

For several decades, the combination of politics and technology have combined to increasingly polarize our national and personal discussions. Our increasingly precision political gerrymandering has combined with our social media technology to create a toxic mix. Physically we can isolate our political communities with precision gerrymandering. Electronically we can both isolate ourselves in like-minded online communities while at the same time hide ourselves in online personas where it is safer to criticize “the other” because we don’t have to meet “the other” face-to-face in community and spend the time getting to know “the other” as a neighbor long enough to understand and appreciate “the other” as a person.

As with the problems stated in the first paragraph, we are seeking a solution in the wrong place. Our problem has more to do with our increasingly isolated lives in combination with our human preference to find fault in someone else other than ourselves. If we try to solve the problem through political power, we will find ourselves constantly battling to force our way of thinking onto others who will respond in kind. There will be no peace.

The soluton to our current turmoil is not to be found in politics or power.  The solution is goodness … To Make America Good … without quibbling over whether it has ever been or not. We each must seek the common good, the good of all people, to treat each other, even those with whom we disagree, with respect and dignity.  We must learn to listen respectfully, to seek out the common interest, to make sure that we hear each other and build trust. Once we build trust than we can take actions that transcend politics and power and instead build trust and community. Societies built on community, trust, respect and goodness will not need as many laws.

Politics and power by themselves, not built on a foundation of goodness, decency, respect, and trust is building a house on a sand foundation that will not withstand a storm. If we do not stand together, if we do not mutually support one another, if we do not trust one another, if we cannot be decent with one another, if we do not seek each other’s good then we will ensure the continued destruction of community, creating problems that no government, no laws can fix. If we build walls within our country it matters not what walls are on the border. But a country united by the common good and willing to regard the common good of other nations will be stronger than a divided country with the strongest border walls because we will destroy each other first. Politics and power cannot build community, cannot build trust, cannot build respect, cannot build goodness.

A president once said that we should ask “not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country.” If t’s time to revisit that idea. It may be foolish of me, but I would rather be known to be good if not great, than to be great and not good.

 

 

The heart of the Sabbath

February 17, 2016

Are we really ready to trust in God and rest in His provision for us. (John 5: 1-30, also Mark 2)

church-JesusHealing

How God longs for us to come to Him, to be healed from our sin and to rest in His provision for us. In this encounter with the invalid man, Jesus probes not only the heart of that man but also the hearts of the Pharisees and through this passage preserved for us to read – our hearts as well.

To the invalid man, he asks what could seem to be an unnecessary question, “Do you want to be healed?” We are apt to think, of course the man wants to be healed, isn’t that why he is there at the pool? But after all these years of waiting, is it still in his heart to desire healing, or after all this time, has he resigned his heart to never being healed or perhaps he has gotten to the point where he is used to being taken care of and may not want a real change in his life, would he rather be in a place where he would complain about his situation or would he rather be able to take responsibility for his life?

And there is also the question for us: are we ready for God to change us? If God were to heal us of a sickness in our body or our spirit: What vulnerabilities would we feel if the sickness or bitterness or whatever is troubling us is taken away? What changes would have to happen in our lives or what changes would have to happen in our attitudes if we no longer could hide behind our disability? What self-righteousness would we have to let go of to let other people see a change in me? Are we ready to trust Jesus to change us?

It seems that Jesus was also thinking of the Pharisees reactions when He instructed the invalid man to not just “get up and walk”, but to “get up, pick up his pallet and walk”. He knew that when the man would be seen carrying his pallet that the Pharisees would notice and would verbally protest about “working on Sabbath” but in their hearts they would also protest Jesus’ authority which would be validated by the healing. Taking the offense, Jesus further challenged them by not only clarifying His relationship with the Father but by also outrightly accusing them of not believing in Him.

That leaves questions for us: Are we putting our trust more in Scriptures than in the one who gave us the Scriptures? Are we seeking more to know about God or to know God Himself? Are we ready to trust Him, rest in Him and  accept His authority over us?

Grief in the midst of hope

February 11, 2016

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endure; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow Psalm 90:1-10

graves

We are foreigners in a fallen, broken world. It is with faith and hope that we look forward to the time that we go home and are fully healed and unencumbered by our bodies of sin and free of the need of daily penitence. But it is a great privilege we have in this world to not only be a witness of the love and the work of God but to be able to participate with Him in bringing His kingdom into this one. This privilege comes with a burden, though. The great love we receive from our Heavenly Father overflows in our lives as we share that love with all those around us – and that love experiences the pain of loss as our loved ones suffer the inevitable death that awaits all of us. Even though that death is a necessary precursor to our eventual healing and restoration to the God who loves us, it still hurts. It should hurt. It hurts in the same way that God was hurt by our rejection of Him beginning from the time of Adam and Eve and by the rejection experienced when the Son suffered and died and was separated for a time from the Father.

This is the pain we feel when we are separated from our loved ones, whether they leave prematurely or after a long life in this world. And though we look forward to the time when we can be reunited once again, in this world we experience the real loss and the real pain of separation. Even in the midst of hope there is grief. As we wait – we grieve and hope all at the same time.

Sometimes it’s a friend who leaves before us

On Glory’s shore

One more day of wondering of what the day will bring
Will it be a day with crying, some laughter or a song

Will it be a day with grief or sorrow, or overflowing joy
But we cannot worry for there’s never a way to know

And then maybe some tomorrow, I’ll wake on Glory’s shore
With no more tears of sorrow and no more cries of pain

And then one day in Glory, with joy I’ll shake your hand
For precious are the memories of the journeys that we shared

No more beers of sorrow will pour across our lips
No more furrows of worry will crease across our brow

No more silent worries, no more burdens we can’t bear
No more secret heartaches, no more fears we cannot share

For the one who’s shared our journey, shared our sorrows, laughs and joys
Is the one who’s shared His life with us and the one who’s brought us here

Sometimes our children are taken, sometimes very young, sometimes before they are born.

This Child of Ours

This child of ours we give to you
This little one we surrender
This tiny child we offer you
This helpless one so tender
This helpless one so tender

For ours is not to give and take
But merely hold awhile
It’s from your hand that we bring forth
Then return into your hands
Then return into your hands

What we conceive we dearly love
With bitter tears we grieve and lose
But we remember you also grieved
When from your Son you turned away
When from your Son you turned away

And it was yours to give and take
But you let go awhile
And from your Son you turned away
Then returned him to your hands
Then returned him to your hands

And we await the final day
When we shall finally see
The ones we lost beside you
And we shall cease our sorrowing
And we shall cease our sorrowing

It’s only for a little while
That we must bear our pain
The hands that brought us all forth
Shall restore us then in peace
Shall restore us then in peace

Sometimes our spouses are taken from us.

All in eternity

We wait for troubled waters to be finally stilled
We wait for dreams and wishes to be finally filled
We wait for some tomorrow when we shall finally be
All together, all is better in eternity

We had some fun and good times, with laughter as we’d fall
We had some small and big plans, our life was very full
We had our precious moments and memories so warm
Life together is life better, life in eternity

Side by side we labored, shouldered all we could bear
Side by side we wrestled, rested only in our prayer
Side by side encouraging each other as we’d go
Worked together, walked together towards eternity

I’ll miss your lilting smile that brightened up my day
I’ll miss your calming touches that kept me from going astray
I’ll miss your warm embraces, the joy you raised in me
Love together, love is better, love in eternity

Until I go to meet you on that eternal shore
Until I lay my burdens and my labors are no more
Until I greet you once again, my heart will ache for you
All together, all is better, all in eternity

Deeper

The shadows in the valley are deeper
The light of life
Who walked by my side
Is gone

I long for the arms that once held me
That made me feel warm
That comforted me
At night

The pain of my journey o’erwhelms me
Away and at home
I’m feeling alone
Right now

But the one who called you home
One day will call for me
And we’ll all meet beyond the vale
And we’ll walk on the mountain of joy

The death of my beloved goes deeper
It rips through my soul
It causes my heart
To weep

I long to hear the voice that once called me
That made me feel home
That filled my heart
With peace

I’m missing your love and your friendship
The joy of my life
That anchored me through
The storms

But the one who called you home
Will one day call for me
And we’ll all meet beyond the vale
And we’ll walk on the mountain of joy

The light in my life goes deeper
Through pain and death
I shall find my rest
And peace

I look to the day I will hold you
Forever again
Life with you again
In heaven

There’ll be joy to displace all the sadness
The pain and the hurt
The loneliness will
Be gone

But the one who called you home
Will one day call for me
And we’ll all meet beyond the vale
And we’ll walk on the mountain of joy

As our loved ones are at the brink of passing from this life to the next, what do they experience as they draw near to heaven?

The Sweetness of Death

The sweetness of death all around me
The sweet taste of death in the air
Is the sweet breath of Jesus who’s taking me home
And the pain that surrounds me is the pain he will bear

Through the pain of the sorrows around me
The incense of heaven comes near
And reminds me of home and that I’m not alone
And the soft hand of Jesus is drying my tears

As the shadows of heaven enfold me
And the mercy of Jesus draws near
The pains and cares of this world start to fade
While the comfort of heaven overwhelms all my tears

In our room full of shadows we see dark and light
Some things that pain us and some things delight
But as we pass through the portal and out of the night
We’ll see shadows of heaven transform into light

All the people I regarded so lightly
And the friends I have clung to so tightly
I must let them all go but I’ll pray that they’ll know
The God of all Comfort who calls through the night

What would our loved ones say, now that they in the unrestricted presence of Glory.

My Eyes Have Seen the Morning Star

I ran as to win the race of life
I ran to win those who were lost
I ran with patience to the Lord of Lords, the King
I ran, but now I rest my weary bones

My eyes have seen the Morning Star
My ears have heard the Living Word
My hands have touched the nail pierced palms
My soul’s found rest within His arms

The treasure that was in the earthen jar
Is now released from chains of grief and pain
My soul has found Jesus at the journey’s final end
I wait for you to join me with my Friend

My eyes have seen the Morning Star
My ears have heard the Living Word
My hands have touched the nail pierced palms
My soul’s found rest within His arms

The life we shared together did not end
But in a while more we’ll meet my friend
And while you wait gain wisdom and you’ll shine like heaven above
So run, until you rest your weary bones

My eyes have seen the Morning Star
My ears have heard the Living Word
My hands have touched the nail pierced palms
My soul’s found rest within His arms

In the meantime, in this broken, foreign land, let us keep focused on Him who sustains us.

The Flame

When the fortunes and the heartaches that befall us
Burn away and the Lord shall reappear
The real work of our lives will rise triumphant
And the work of the Lord will be complete

When the Flame has burned all things around us
And the fortunes and the heartaches disappear
When the testing of our lives has been completed
Will our flames still be burning bright and clear

As the seasons of this life fly by our window
And the toils of our lives seem but a waste
When discouragement mounts high outside our doorway
We still can have the Hope that gives us peace

When the Flame has burned all things around us
And the fortunes and the heartaches disappear
When the testing of our lives has been completed
Will our flames still be burning bright and clear

When our lives are filled with wealth that falls around us
And the things in our lives are working well
When the blessings in this world come to our doorstep
Let us hold onto the peace that can endure.

When the Flame has burned all things around us
And the fortunes and the heartaches disappear
When the testing of our lives has been completed
Will our flames still be burning bright and clear

The Unborn Cries

January 26, 2009

I’ll never hold my mother
I’ll never have the chance
I’ll never live to see the light of day

Why did you end my journey?
Why did you take my life?
Why did you choose to end my chance to love?

Only by God’s forgiveness
Only by God’s grace
Only by God’s power we’ll be healed

We’ll wait to meet in heaven
We’ll wait for our first hug
We’ll wait to share our stories and our lives

God will cover painful choices
God will heal the painful wounds
God will bind our hearts in overflowing love


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