One More Voice: Because I Can Still Breathe.

I’m not a fan of saying things just because the political climate has suddenly shifted its level of acceptability… but no one listens when we are busy with other things. So let’s add mine to the good cause. 

Sure, it is a shame there is violence and all that goes with it. But to those who ask why would people do that? – I have the answer, because it works

I cannot think of a more respectful way than taking a knee when society comes together about as much as we ever do – the National Anthem at a football game.  If you feel privileged, like you have more money, a bigger platform, and you feel like there are people who don’t have money and no platform… who disappear (with no video trace), and singled out, treated differently, with no voice… and you know you have a voice – what was Colin Kaepernick supposed to do?  Give his money and platform away? That is how the privileged in our society would have liked it to have gone. 

I heard the response he got. Silence. Or “he’s ungrateful, a traitor,” and then the language gets a bit more colorful. 

Now hurt and frustrated people gather, and sparks fly… and the looting starts… the frustration turns violent.  I know why… because no one listened to the peaceful protests. No… they mocked them, tried to silence them. Waited them out to get back to how it was. What did you think was going to happen?

Roger Goodell has changed his tune from Colin Kaepernick days to address the current climate – he starts off saying “The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country. The protestors reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration so many of us feel…”

He’s an out of touch person only trying desperately to protect his position.  He did that with Colin Kaepernick, and he’s doing it now. Obviously “too little, way too late.” And simply demonstrates that violence and civil unrest work. 

Here’s how I see it… only when those in power feel like they might actually lose their power, do they do something. That’s all this is. The marginalized, those who are trodden, abused, neglected so that others of us can have nice decent, safe lives… only when they make it clear that that safe life will be disrupted, will those in power do something. It’s been like this throughout history. 

That’s sin. That’s abuse of power. That’s selfishness.

And yes, history shows us in many cultures (I’m thinking of my own right now) that when the unpowerful get power, they too often abuse it.  It’s seems that’s who we are. So we go tribal, and fear turns to hate. 

But there are the icons of history that used their influence for good. Their power for the benefit of others. Who according to their traditions have loved the Lord their God, with all their heart, soul and mind, and their neighbors as themselves. They are giants of our world. And oh do we need one right about now. 

If you’ve seen racism, you know how utterly ugly it is. And I suspect, for all the tragedy of the video, if we’d all just simply cried foul, and lamented the way it was, the powerful would simply wait for the internet outrage to stop, and then carry on as usual. So what you are seeing in your world today is that, despite the health pandemic we are facing, a lot of people are making sure the outrage does not stop, and that those in power do not go back to business as usual.  

They are making sure it is ok for every person who has a platform  – making it ok to use that platform to say something, without being judged as the one with the problem. 

I’ve heard that if you are silent you are the problem. That stings. Gets real close to home. But it’s true. Just because my people have nice homes, are not affected by real racism, they don’t feel like they should get involved. It’s like seeing a person who can’t swim fall into a swimming pool… you can say, “hey, I’m not drowning” and move with your day. Or… like any decent follower of Jesus, you get in the pool, and help. 

I am a man of faith. I think God will fix this, and big (cosmic) picture: All we are seeing is a demonstration of how selfishness does not work – not even for the selfish! So I keep my faith. But I am getting the point – faith without action is dead. 

Sometimes, it has to just come out!

The Bible is more than mere words… it’s a message. And right now as a pastor I’m crushed by people in my own congregation that are thinking in terms of themselves in this pandemic.

Thinking of mostly ourselves is nothing new of course. It’s just been heightened under these conditions.

I grieve when I hear comments like “I’m not sick, so this shut down should stop”.

The thing is, we don’t know the right thing to do right now, and the odds of us falling into the right thing as a society are remote. This unknowing is the biggest issue we face right now – there is just so little data, and the virus is spreading faster than we are figuring it out. But patience isn’t really our best thing in this world right now.

So my dear fellow Christians. Let me just quote a little more literally, let’s “love the Lord our God, with all our heart, our soul, our strength, our mind…” and oh, let us do our very best, living with the Spirit of God to “love our neighbor as ourself.”

The Shunning

Sometimes I read a blog post on the web… often addressing secular themes, and I can’t help but immediately apply them to the religious/spiritual world. Today, as I often do, I was reading Seth Godin:

My take… Shun the people who do not interpret the Bible as you do. And shun the people who have protected those people. Shun the people who see the problems in the church you see, but who have a different solution. Shun the people who don’t come to your programs or events. Shun the people who are not shunning the right people. Shun those who have slighted you. And shun those who did not realize that they should be shunning the people you are shunning.

Not too many people left in your church to worship with?

It’s not easy, and I can’t promise good results, but engagement is often better than shunning. Especially with those who are on ‘your team’, and preaching the same things you preach. 

See the original post here.

Self Care

We all love a good work ethic, and pastors are often judged by the quantity of what they do over its effectivness.

The result is that we people pleasers are satisifed with looking busy and showing up here, there and everywhere. But true effectiness comes by looking after our very being. By slowing down often enough to connect with God.

A work horse must eat… or it is only a matter of time before it’s msater will discard it. Kingdom workers must find time away, and recharge.

Jesus did it.

Last Halloween (And the next one too!)

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Every year, my church up in Mariposa California puts on a show – on Halloween.

The town loves this tradition and loads of kids and their parents hit the streets all dressed up – with no particular place to go. They follow a route that wanders through stores and homes… and as it turns out – right past our church.

So rather than lament the various parts of this holiday we don’t like (and many in the church will happily tell you how much they do not like Halloween), we put on a show. Usually some walk through experience of some kind.

This year we had three possible Gods. Two of them we were pretty sure were false gods, the other one might be real.

So I, as the MC, interviewed these three characters, asking them the kind of questions many people would want to ask God if he were sitting right in front of us… how do you respond to your hurting creation?  Why did you create people if you knew they could sin? All leading up to our final question… why did Jesus have to die?

This year, 400 kids and their parents visited, and on a sugar high sat completely still… guessing which god was the real God.

The gospel was preached to witches, zombies, people in various states of life and death, Cyndarella’s, Dorothy’s, people dressed up as candies, and various other things I couldn’t recognize.

On the way out some took Bibles which some showed off to their friends, others were able to share tradgedy in their life, and many told us how well we had portrayed God – which was our intent after all.

We made friends. We shared the gospel. We used our smiles, presence and our words. We felt so connected to God, our community and our calling.

Today we clean up… asking in the middle of moving make shift stages, and concrete bricks and curtains and tables etc…  was it really worth it?

Well… we’ll be doing some version of it again next year. So what do you think?