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Recently, a friend sent me a message. She had heard about an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Unlike the BSA, this new group is inclusive. Maybe we would be interested.
Maybe we will be involved in this organization one day, but for now we are going to continue to take part in the BSA. Why? Because there are boys and their parents in Scouting who need us.
Why? Because my family supports inclusion in marriage, in scouting and in society in general. Yes, we can and do read the Bible. We can even point out the verses that are used to discriminate against gays.
That said, we can also point out the verses that were used historically to support slavery and deny women civil rights. Eventually, the policies supporting these injustices were reversed, because of people like the Persistent Widow. The Persistent Widow brought her case before the Unjust Judge time and time again. She brought it to him so often that he finally made sure that she had the justice she had so long demanded.
We will stay in Scouting and we will make our demands again and again because there are boys in Scouting who are gay. There are boys in Scouting with gay parents. With so much hate speech in this world, there are boys in Scouting who need the support of people who recognize that they are a part of God’s creation and that He loves them as they are.
This is the message that we will repeat persistently.
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Sometimes moving in any direction is better than standing still.
You get there by going.
Wherever “there” is.
What does it mean to represent You?
Is it possible, in a state of confusion
to reach a state of grace?
“God’s leading” is sometimes
Look up. Get up. Step up.
Move until the past is behind you.
Walk till you find your way home.
One of my favorite old shows is the Mary Tyler Moore Show. In one episode, Mary had to work alone on Christmas Eve, and there was nothing for her to do, so my first thought was, “why doesn’t she surf the net?” Then it occurred to me: there was no internet during the era of Mary Richards and the gang at the WJM newsroom. It seems so primitive to be without the web! I wondered if “BC” stood for “before computers.”
Life is like that too. Anyone old enough to remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show is old enough to have had a Defining Moment, aka an Epiphany, and it can seem as if life is divided into two eras: pre- and post-this event.
For some, it’s a divorce, or a death in the family. For others, the beginning of a marriage or the birth of a child. We’ve all experienced post-traumatic stress over earth-shifting events such as 9/11, and more recently, Aurora, as Lori wrote about in her post this week.
An epiphany isn’t always a warm and fuzzy thing. It can change the way you perceive yourself and the world. It can knock the wind out of your sails.
It can make you lose faith.
So how do you find a way to move forward when a singular event can change everything?
Re-group: Allow yourself time to sit with your thoughts (including doubt) and accept life in its new configuration, knowing that the tincture of time will bring you to a “new normal.”
Re-invent: The person you were prior to the epiphany may no longer exist, so adapt as circumstances change. Let go of the past and trust in the One who holds the future.
Re-commit: Decide that life must go on even if you don’t have the answers you need. Hold fast to the things you can count on, like prayer and the people you love.
So when you find yourself at the crossroads, remember: with the compass of faith and the power of prayer, you’ll always find your way home.
Everyone knows who James Holmes is by now. The horror and devastation he left in his wake in Aurora, CO, marks one of the worst mass murders in our history. Most of us are righteously (and rightfully) angry. Many would like to see him executed; some would like this to happen before Holmes is afforded a trial.
It has taken years of soul-searching to come to this decision: I oppose the death penalty. Yes, when I think of something as heinous as what happened in Aurora, I get mad. If someone did something like that to someone I cared about, you’d have to hold me back to keep me from clawing his eyes out. I feel deeply. But I also feel deeply about trying to be better than I am.
I am not opposed to the death penalty because only God should decide who lives and who dies, although that is certainly an appropriate consideration. No, it’s because I think we should at least attempt to be better than those we seek to punish. They are the death-dealers, not us. It should be our job as a people to show them that what they have done is wrong, and that we will not indulge in it. Because none of us should kill, even if one of us appears to deserve it.
There are those who would say that prison is too good for someone like Holmes, or any of his gory predecessors or antecedents. Perhaps they have a point. But we can only punish so much before we start treading on dangerous territory. We must not allow the evil of others to suck us in. If there is a true punishment to be had, I have to believe it will come, if not in this life, than in the next. And if there is no next life? If justice never happens? Well, I’ll take solace in knowing that I didn’t participate in harm toward another human being. That, at least, will give me a peaceful death. And if there’s nothing after this life (although I believe quite firmly that there is), a peaceful death is the best thing I can hope for.
This is not a test.
That innocent blood and giddy midsummer
can exist in the same breath
is not an oxymoron.
There will be no exam
on the living of a life,
and God must not be blamed
for what a man has done.
Look at the pictures.
Now turn away
and decide to do the opposite.
Like so many across the US, my heart has gone out to the people of Aurora, CO. The photo I saw showed a group of teens praying together outside the theater. I just wanted to take them in my arms and hold them up.
Any time something like this impacts a community, parents have to help their children cope. Here is what has worked for us as a family.
- Talk to your children. They need to find out what is going on from you. Yes, we want to protect our children, but we also need to be a reliable source of world events. Give your children an age appropriate run down of the events. Then listen to what they have to say. They are going to feel more empowered if they feel heard.
- Turn off the media. Whether its news streaming online or the local TV news, media plays up the danger and the uncertainty because that’s what sells. It keeps people tuning in to hear the latest update even if there is nothing new to say. Shut it off. Don’t let this be what constantly fills your children’s ears, their minds and their hearts instead . . .
- Fill their minds and hearts with serenity. Go beyond unplugging and seek out someplace that you feel near to God. You might expect me to say “go to church,” and for many people this is the right answer. Personally, I sometimes need to get outside. I feel closest to God in the desert of West Texas, but there’s also a local river bend that can do the trick. A friend of mine seeks out the beach at dawn. Forest. Field. Whatever works for you. Take your children there with you.
- Help your children speak to God. Just as your children bring their concerns to you, encourage them to speak to God. They don’t have to use a formal prayer, they can simply say how they feel and ask for the help that they need to deal with it. Dear God, I’m really scared that someone will hurt me and my friends. Help me to be brave every day. Amen.
- Help your children hear God. You might choose scripture, but for me music is often the key. I’m not recommending against scripture, but nothing sticks in my head like music. After we sing an anthem in church, I catch myself humming bits and pieces throughout the week. Often, this is what I need when I’m troubled. Here are a few pieces I’ve previously posted here on PrayPower – Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this Place, Open My Eyes that I May See, and Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart.
None of these things will magically fix what is wrong in this world, but these are all things that will bring your children closer to their families and to God. This will give them a source of strength to draw on when bad times come or when someone else needs to be held up in prayer.
We’ve said good-bye to so many.
God grant safe passage to those crossing the river
and comfort to those on the shore.
Solace to loved ones left behind.
Faith as a stopgap for the “whys.”
For those we’ve lost,
And those who hurt,
We’ve said good-bye too many times.
Let us come together as a family and come back to our senses.
May we all sleep tonight in peace
and find strength to go on tomorrow.