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Judgement is easy. Take the time to love.

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After his visit, my father-in-law doesn’t say goodbye. “Be here when I get back,” he tells each of us. This thought encompasses so much more than “farewell.” It says, “take care of yourself,” “I want to see you again,” “I intend to return because I will miss you”…so much more than “goodbye” ever could.

I like to think that Jesus, in his death and resurrection, said much of the same thing, but on a different level — bigger pool, bigger rock, bigger ripples. Christ wants us to be here for him when he gets back in a human way, but also on a spiritual level.

First of all, he wants us to literally be here. He wants the earth to exist, for people to exist, for the world and her occupants to flourish. This intention serves up a silent command to care for earth’s resources, as well as to care for one another. Killing and war are not ways to keep ourselves around. Wastefulness will not extend our lifetimes. Economic disparity, while good for a small percentage, will not cause the other 99% to endure.

Next, Jesus wants us to show up for him. That is, he wants us to do what he asked us to do: to forgive one another, to help the poor and sick, to love not just as we wish to be loved, but as God loves. (I’m reminded of the show “Square Pegs” — yes, I’m dating myself — wherein the New Wave character distinguishes himself from punkers by pointing to his hair-do: “Totally different head. Totally.” To love as we want to be loved is all well and good; to love as God loves…that’s a totally different head.)

Lastly, Jesus want us to be in a state of grace when he returns at the end of the world. No, we don’t know when that will be (some fringe group predicted it would be the day I wrote this). But whenever it is, for one of us or all of us, we need to be ready. That necessitates working on ourselves constantly, striving to know ourselves better, to understand our motivations and emotions better and improve the ways we represent God in the world. Because hopefully, we do. Or, rather, we do — whether we realize it or not. God is a God of love. That’s how God wants to be known and shown. If we are believers, it is our responsibility to portray that love in all we do. If we are not believers…well, why not do good anyway? Those who do evil are remembered for a while. But those who do great good are remembered for far, far longer. And isn’t immortality — in some way, shape or form — what we all want?

I am certain of few things, but I know God loves us. Let us respond in kind. Let us care for the gifts we’ve been given, which includes one another, show compassion in our day-to-day living, and stand strong in the face of evil for the right of love to persevere. Let’s be here when God gets back. Okay?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

An email from my son’s school last week informed me that, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act, all students’ names would be supplied to military recruiters unless we specifically requested to opt-out.

I sat with this email for a good, long time, pondering.  It just poked at the Mama Bear in me.

Please! I thought, before I cooled my jets. Please do leave my child behind, if you’re including him in being solicited to serve on a battlefield. Heck, what-say you just put us on your “do not call list.”

Instead, let me offer these options. Perhaps he could:

  • Play Twister with a rabid porcupine.
  • Hang glide off of the roof of our house into a pile of bubble wrap.
  • Show up at Donald Trump’s news conference and offer him some hair gel.

(Pausing for deep breathing exercises…)

Okay. I’m back now.

It’s amazing how the intent of an idea can translate into something completely unintended. It reminds me of the way people of faith sometimes use scripture for their own purposes.

Just because you found a passage in the Bible doesn’t mean God intended you to use his words against anybody. You don’t have the right to ostracize, exclude or judge and say you’re speaking for the Maker of All Things. That’s not faith; that’s negativity. It’s bad manners, dressed up in their Sunday best.

People can try to sell you a bill of goods, wrap it up with a bow and call it a present, but you know the truth.

There’s only one way to pray: from the heart.

And only one path to peace.

In a word: grace.

Or, to put it another way… No Child of God Left Behind.

Sometimes God puts a big dream in your heart, and you survey the breadth and depth of it… and promptly talk yourself out of it.

For years, I’ve had a vision of starting what (in my mind, at least) I’m calling the “Block Project.” I’ve thought of naming it “Here to Help” or H2H.

So many people on my block are unemployed or on a fixed income. Many mouths to feed/bills to pay/never enough. Struggling to get by.

What if, instead of having a Neighborhood Watch, all of the neighbors watched out for each other?  

What if the carpenter across the street used his skills to fix the fence of the widow down the road?  What if she, in turn, gave the carpenter’s daughter piano lessons in a kind of barter/honor system?

What if, instead of talking about Mrs. Jones’ overgrown weeds, someone stopped by her house to make sure she was okay?  And maybe even offered to mow the lawn for her?

What if the guy with the green thumb helped every neighbor plant a tidy little garden, so they could eat well in the summer, and can for the winter? What if people having a hard time paying the heating bill could receive help from a general emergency fund?

But even though I’ve thought about this for years – even going so far as to discuss it with my teen-age son and ask if he’ll be the Computer Tech for the database (what people need help with/the skill set of each neighbor/resources available) – I have yet to do a single thing to put this idea into motion.

I did a little math in my mind and decided that having a disability and no resources meant that this was just a pipedream, but still.  The idea keeps coming back to me. 

It just seems that even though I can see putting my heart into it, how do I put my back into it? After all, I’m limping around from the effects of MS and spend many an hour sick in bed.  How do I even begin?  Where would the money come from? How would you get people to “buy in” and help out?  I guess the naysaying-critic in my mind is asking: Who am I to claim this scale of dream, anyway?

So I thought I’d write a post about this and see what you dear readers think. Any thoughts?  Even if you don’t have an idea about logistics, would you kindly do me a solid (as we say in Jersey) and like this post? Sure, it’s a big dream, but a little encouragement would go a long way. Thanks, dear people!

I knew exactly what I was going to blog about this week, but before I finished writing my post I decided to read my e-mail. I clicked open the Daily Lectionary, five Bible passages that I get each day from the Presbyterian Church USA. It amazes me how often these passages dovetail with my life and this blog.

Among the readings was 1 Corinthians 13. Most often, you hear this passage at weddings. This time I read it with our discussion about God’s Love and being Communities of Love in mind.

Here is 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a.

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

There are so many debates going on in the church right now. What role should women have? Is it possible for gay marriage to be a sacrament? What about birth control? So often these debates contain no love. None. Instead, the Bible is used to slam people.

Think about that and read the above selection from Corinthians again.

You can claim to speak for God, but if you don’t have love, you’re just making noise.

You can have incredible Faith, but if you don’t have love, it doesn’t matter.

You can give all in the name of God, but if you do it with pride in your heart, pride that you are above someone else, you have failed.

Some people will argue that this passage refers to love for God but if you truly love God, can you justify treating others badly? (Hint: See Matthew 25:40. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”)

Get it?

Got it.

Good.

–SueBE

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