Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Last Words

My great uncle passed away two days ago at the age of 89.  Uncle Sandy was someone who spent a lot of his time investing in the next generation.  He had a heart for teaching younger people about the importance of character, and in his golden years, following a successful career as the president of a major aerospace manufacturer, developed a nationwide program in schools that does this very thing.

Yesterday my dad forwarded a message from Uncle Sandy.  As he lay dying from pancreatic cancer, my uncle penned some parting words for his family.  They were words he wanted us to read after he had left this world.

Death and dying have a way of distilling all of life down to the things we most value.  Kierkegaard said saints are those who have learned to focus their lives around the most important thing.  Maybe there’s a sense in which we do our best living when we keep the reality of death in front of our faces- not morbidly, but in an honest, truth-telling way.  That is when all of the distractions fall away and we’re left to focus our attention on what we most desire and value from life.

Uncle Sandy’s last words were a reminder of this:

Dear Loved Ones,

 I have come to the end of the road and the sun has set for me.  Why cry for one who has been set free?  Miss me but not with your head bowed low.  Remember the love we have shared over the years and the beautiful life the Lord has blessed me with.  This is a journey we all must take and each must go it alone without our outside loves, but with the knowledge that we are going to a better place and that they will be coming along behind us.  It’s all part of the Master’s plan, one step along the road to home.  So when you are sad and sick at heart, go to our friends and relatives and do good things.  Miss me but let me go.

 Much love,

 Sandy

Then God Said “Let It Be Messy”

Church planter and professor A.J. Swoboda has a book out, and it’s worth a read.  My review of Swoboda’s book, which aired today in the Episcopal Church’s very helpful, ecumenical publication, Sermons That Work (http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com), is reprinted in full below with the permission of The Episcopal Digital Network:

I once thought that being a Christian meant having all the answers, with all of my proverbial ducks in a row, all neat and orderly-like. Then “life” happened, and it was anything but tidy. Downright “messy” would be a better description. These days I find myself looking for God in the mess, rather than asking God to wave some magic wand and, voila, make it all disappear.

Which is precisely the point, according to Portland, Oregon-based pastor and professor A.J. Swoboda, in Messy: God Likes It That Way. A mix of the free-wheeling conversationalism of a Rob Bell and the endearing candor of an Anne Lamott, Messy is Swoboda’s first book. I hope it is not his last.

Swoboda’s refreshing honesty about the Christian life comes salted with some downright funny anecdotes and a collection of truly clever one-liners. These had me giggling and pausing to think with almost every page. How is this for a one-liner, for example? “Religion is the Botox of resurrection.” Or “being a follower of Jesus and not loving the unlikeable is on par with eating a Big Mac while watching The Biggest Loser.” Or “trust is what God resurrects when our security dies.”

In an unsystematic (messy, really), post-modern way, Swoboda succeeds in hoeing some well-trodden theological territory, from church and prayer to sex and suffering – all with the result of gently and humorously opening up some new contemplative spaces for his reader.

I, in turn, am left wishing to dwell longer in these pockets of freshly tilled earth. Swoboda’s reflections on God’s intentionally unkempt act of creation, and later, on the nature of human sin, leave me asking how the “mess” that God creates differs from the mess we human beings make, and how we are to distinguish these two – or for that matter, if we are in the first place.

Then there are the implications of Swoboda’s understanding of church and community. If you are looking for a self-help manual for how to grow your church or craft a vision statement, you will be disappointed. Swoboda instead is quick to let out the poorly kept yet nonetheless sacred secret that Christians are as much of a mess as anyone else –because they are human beings. I applaud him for it.

If we “idealize” church, Swoboda writes, we also “idolize” it. In this context of “church” as a collection of deeply flawed human beings, the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ is also incredibly hard: insofar as it must be shared and tried on for size within a community of other followers of Jesus, it requires us to assume that we will be wounded by belonging to the church. Forgiveness of those who have hurt us is our witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Swoboda stops short of teasing out the implications of this ecclesiology for how we very imperfect followers of Jesus might approach the challenge of God’s mission, (laid out, for instance, in the book of Acts, when Jesus dispatches his followers into the far corners of the earth with the command to “make disciples” of the nations). The image that comes to mind is an odd mix of Keystone Kops and “Mission Impossible.” This inquiring mind wants to know more.

It would seem, too, that the mess that God blesses and deems good is a function of being in the middle of the gospel story, in the in-betweenness of the “now and not yet” of the in-breaking kingdom of God. In other words, the mess is to a certain degree only provisionally good, because of an ending that we can be assured gives meaning and order to the preceding mess.

This has me wondering about just how much God really does in fact like messiness in the first place.


 

Existential Schizophrenia

Maybe the universal human dilemma can be summed up in the following question: how do I live between the two poles of, on the one hand, my own insignificance and the transitory nature of my finest achievements, and, on the other, my potential for greatness and capacity for eternity?

If you’ve been able to answer this question for yourself, I’m all ears. Seriously. Because being a Christian has only complicated this question for me to the degree that it seems to widen the distance between these two poles.

What do we do with stories like those of David and Goliath, for example?  A pimply, scrappy adolescent manages to take down an enemy that a whole army of testosterone-filled men could not.  And he does so all with a pebble and a sling and the faith that God is on his side.

Or, a carpenter and his twelve disciples overturn the world, leaving it never the same again.  Not by wielding force.  Not by introducing some new Utopian ideology and lobbying for adherents.  Not by developing a network on Facebook and going viral.  Just by believing in God’s power to make all things new and really living like it, to the point that they even give up their lives for it.

But if truth be told, some days I feel about as small as a cog in a great, big, unfriendly machine, with little power to help the world around me- not to mention just keep it together.   Other days, I feel big enough to live as if the world really revolves around me and my self-perceived greatness.  On those days, I try to remind myself that I’m only a few short steps away from embracing a kind of triumphalist, self-aggrandizing “Manifest Destiny” that we Christians are often guilty of: thinking that we are so great and so special that we, the church, really will change the world in some grandiose way, with the implication that even God depends on us.  Just spend a little time at a Catalyst conference and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Here’s the thing that I’m trying to wrap my mind around:  when God enters the picture, we are, as my Quaker friend Lily likes to say, “challenged to believe in things that we thought would never be possible.”  Like true love and resurrection and forgiveness and community that lasts.  And, the paradox of the Gospel is that we are simultaneously utterly helpless to save ourselves from our condition of being turned in on ourselves and missing the mark, even as we are clothed with the splendor of God’s love and purpose and are in this sense “royalty” as “children of God.”

And while this can be, at times, a recipe for existential schizophrenia, I’ve not been able to find a better distillation of reality and the human condition anywhere else.  The question is, how then shall we live “in the middle”?  What does it look like to live between these two poles?  And is it possible to stay there?

 

Clubbing with Jesus

If Christianity were a dance club, then it would seem to have a lot of bouncers lately.  First it was Franklin Graham, questioning the authenticity of President Obama’s Christian faith and implying that he could be a closet Muslim after all.  Then just the other day, there was that Catholic priest in Washington, D.C. who denied Communion to a lesbian- no matter that the woman happened to be at her own mother’s funeral.

And the pronouncements aren’t just a monopoly of the so-called “Religious Right,” either.  Think Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert, for example, as Margaret Aymer notes in her recent reflections on The Huffington Post.  (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-margaret-aymer-ph-d/john-3-14-21-bouncers-and-the-in-crowd_b_1343187.html.) Aymer suggests that these conjectures about “who is in” and “who is out”   typically belong to communities under siege.  She may be right.  But I also have to think they are part and parcel of the human condition.  We’re all in some sense awkward teenagers on the dance floor, secretly hoping that we won’t be left out while taking measure of our own “coolness” based on the person next to us.

And this sort of thing has been going on since the very beginning of Christian history, when a carpenter named Jesus picked out a few imperfect men and women to follow Him.

The funny thing is that it doesn’t take a lot of time hanging out in the Word of God to recognize that there really aren’t multiple bouncers.  There may be bouncer wannabes, but they’re just that.  Nothing more.  As Ayres, reflecting on the testimony of Scripture, puts it, “when it comes to admission to Christianity, the ultimate bouncer, and indeed the only valid bouncer, is Jesus.”

And Jesus, I’m discovering, has remarkably low standards for admission.  Just consider, for one thing, whom he chooses to follow him.  Judas, who would have been carrying a license with the words, “Traitor,” underneath his name.  Peter, the guy who always sticks his foot in his mouth, gets violent and then lies about his associations.  Mary Magdalene, who would have been wearing something promiscuous and pole dancing or hitting on all the male customers- or at the very least using birth control, which apparently makes her a “slut,” anyway, according to Rush Limbaugh.

If it’s true that “anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [Jesus] will be saved,” as Scripture tells us, then Jesus is letting in a whole lot of people we don’t want to hang out with.  They’re there on the dance floor under the strobe lights grooving to the beat.  And, I can’t help but laugh when I think about what that picture might look like.  Franklin Graham doing the macarena with Barack Obama.  Marcel Guarnizo (the homophobic Catholic priest in Washington, D.C.) surrounded by not one but two lesbians moving to the beat of “Dancing Queen” while playing with his clerical collar.  Maybe even an avowed atheist like Christopher Hitchens getting down with Billy Graham.

You and I might be there, too, surrounded by all those we would most prefer not to see.

 

 

Indecent Exposure: “Jesus the Light,” Epithets Continued

The Light of the World, by William Holman Hunt

“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.  But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” – John 3:19-21

“I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

It is often hard to see the light.  In others.  In our world.  In ourselves maybe most of all.  Maybe that’s because our eyes grow accustomed to the dark.

Yet the light is there.

The other day I took Sam to her speech therapy appointment.  A woman stepped onto the elevator pushing a little girl in a very high-tech wheel chair with all of the bells and whistles.  The little girl sat all crumpled up in it, with her neck lodged between the two upper claws of the chair for stability.

I smiled and said, “hello,” first to the girl and then to the woman pushing the girl in her wheel chair.

The girl couldn’t talk.  She couldn’t move.  She couldn’t even form an expression of greeting.  She just looked blankly back at me.  It was hard to know if anything had registered.

And if truth be told, I felt in that moment a sense of both pity and revulsion, like I didn’t want to have to see this little girl.  I didn’t want to have to take in her suffering or the deformity of her condition.

And as we stood in that elevator, I momentarily wondered about the girl’s mother.  I wondered where she was.  The woman smiling back at me seemed happy to be caring for this little girl- almost like she was getting paid for it.

That’s when I saw the woman lovingly stroke the little girl’s hair and proudly introduce her as her daughter.  The girl’s mother had been right in front of my nose, only I hadn’t cared to notice.

The light of life.

I don’t know about you but sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is acknowledge and still love the dark parts of myself.  They are the places that I would prefer others not see.  I want to draw away in revulsion or pretend they are simply not there.  Praying them away can be a form of this same fear and disgust.

Yet in the light of Jesus God looks at these parts of ourselves and a world crumpled up and deformed by sin and brokenness and like a proud mother says, “This is my son,” or “This is my daughter.”  Only in the light of Jesus.

Where is the judgment here? The judgment comes when we see plainly for ourselves the light who is Jesus and turn away from it and go back into hiding.  Because we would prefer not to acknowledge the mess that we make of our lives when left to our own devices.  Apart from God’s in-breaking kingdom.

The cynic in me finds it hard to believe the promise that “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”  Maybe that’s because I am often unable to appreciate how my own self-complacence and comfort are themselves a great darkness. Darker than Gethsemane.  Even darker than the foot of a cross.

Because when we follow Jesus, we do follow Him through “dark” places.  We will have to behold the darkness of falling away from Him, like Peter and Judas did.  Great sacrifices in the name of Love will be asked of us, many of them painful to bear, much like a cross.  These little “deaths” are all preparation for that day when each of us will follow Jesus through the literal valley of the shadow of death.

Have you ever walked down a trail in the woods in pitch black darkness with only a flash light illuminating the path in front of you?  I remember hoping the batteries to my flash light would last long enough for me to find my way back to our tent, because otherwise I would be “toast.”  The next meal for a grizzly bear.  Or, the latest addition to the “missing person” list at the local Wawa.

Have you ever turned on the lights after being fast asleep in the dark and had to blink and rub your eyes to brace yourself for the light?  This happens to me just about every morning when our alarm clock sounds its jarring, 5am wake-up call.

So long as we are walking behind Jesus, we have the light of life.  

 

 

 

The Biblical DO’s (vs. don’ts) of Sex

What does a positive, life affirming, biblically inspired approach to sex look like?

Is it possible that the Bible is actually not consistently clear about the “do’s and don’ts” of sex and sexuality?  Is the expression, “biblical sex,” a bit of a misnomer?  Baptist minister Jennifer Wright Knust thinks so, and she has recently written a book on the subject.  Unprotected Texts:  The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire- which is on my list of books to read- has apparently caused a stir in certain circles.

For the time being, author of Sexless in the City Anna Broadway has written a helpful review in the latest issue of Books and Culture, in which Broadway offers a constructive response to the controversy surrounding “biblical sex.”  Broadway makes the case that the church and Christian culture have over-emphasized boundaries, the “don’ts,” so to speak, at the expense of crafting a more positive, life-giving ethic that embraces the “do’s” that go along with loving one’s neighbor.

Here is Broadway: “…what if we recovered the more positive aspects of the biblical sexual ethic, paying attention to the God who says, ‘Do this, not that’?  When Jesus told his disciples that they should be known for the quality of their love, he did not give them a pass on how they showed love in sexual relations.  If we are called to strive for self-giving, self-denying, other-serving love in general, then this must surely apply as much to sexuality as to hospitality and friendship.”

Self-giving, self-denying, other-serving…in bed.  How’s that for a fortune cookie message?  You will be self-giving, self-denying, other-serving…in bed.  (I must confess that ever since my husband taught me to insert the words, “in bed,” at the end of each mysterious declaration on those tiny, white strips of paper all bunched up and buried in our post-dinner munchies, I’ve never again looked the same at a fortune cookie; the ritual makes the Chinese take-out experience that much more entertaining.)

But seriously, I think Broadway has a point. We Christians waste too much hot air talking about all of the things we shouldn’t be doing in bed, as if we might just as well put a great, big red “X” in front of the topic of sex and sexuality and then wear that “X” on our foreheads, so that no one else will want to talk to us about sex, either.  Because they’ll only get judgment or a fear-laden picture, rather than a vision that exudes the beauty of intimacy within a covenantal relationship.  (Incidentally, A.J. Swoboda, a pastor in Portland, Oregon, has written a great chapter on “messy sex” in his newly released book, Messy: God Likes It That Way, which I’ll be reviewing in the next week.  I hope you’ll tune in again.)

And we Christians have managed to thrust our hang-ups about sex on the rest of the world for centuries.  Augustine in the fourth century actually believed that it was in the act of intercourse itself that the plague of original sin was transmitted from generation to generation.  (How’s that for pressure in the bedroom? At which point I say, “Get thee to a nunnery.”)  And if you find some of today’s prevailing rhetoric against the “evils” of homosexuality a bit tiresome in certain circles of the church, consider this: in the Middle Ages there were whole confession manuals that articulated in fine print which sex positions would land you in the confessional with a priest, or worse, the fiery flames of hell.

Broadway goes on to offer up some embodied practices that might encourage greater obedience to God in the realm of our sexuality, towards this more positive biblical ethic.  Fasting (especially for those wrestling with sexual self-control and restraint), living in community and even cooking are some of the tips.  In the meantime, Broadway’s corrective- an emphasis on the biblical “do’s”- is one I hope to implement in my own conversations as a wife, mother and minister.

 

Cyber Evangelism

I’ve missed you all!

If you’ve missed me, it’s because I’ve been playing single mom on the home front to two young children who have decided that they would prefer not to sleep at night when Daddy is away.

Until my brain adjusts to this week’s new “normal,” here is a helpful post from friend and Episcopal priest Jake Dell on three ways the mainline church can be reaching out at this very minute to a world hungry for Good News:

“Three things mainline Protestant denominations should be doing right now”

The Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes 2012 conference is chock full of ideas and take-aways. Here are a few that I came up with on my own.
Number 1: Start buying Google search traffic. People go to Google before they go to their therapist or minister. They Google “Does anyone care?” or “God, do you exist?” or “I need peace” or “Is Jesus real?”
We should be buying this search traffic and routing it to custom landing pages, based on location, so our local churches can start answering these cries for help.
Marketers call this “lead generation and conversion.” I think Saint Paul called it that too.
Our outreach and evangelism committees are going to be quite busy.
(Not surprisingly, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is already doing this. Check out SearchForJesus.net.)
Number 2: Publish a mainline trade magazine. One estimate I’ve heard states that the Episcopal Church alone (and taken as a whole) generates 2 billion dollars in annual revenue. Assuming that figure is roughly the same for the United Methodist, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America then we mainline Protestants are an 8 to 12 billion dollar a year industry. Maybe even more.
Any multi-billion dollar industry I know of makes common cause. They start a trade association. They publish a magazine. They share best practices.
Oh, and there are these people called advertisers with lots of money to spend to reach that 8 to 12 billion dollar market. Maybe it’s time (once again) to let the Procters and the Gambles of the world underwrite some of our mission and ministry.
Outreach magazine is a great example of a church “trade” magazine, but it targets the evangelical Christian audience. In the spirit of the new journalism, we should aggregate this content and add to it so it reflects our own experiences as America’s historic churches.
Number 3: Develop a common calendar of marketing opportunities. Let’s face it, real news doesn’t happen very often. Instead, the media we consume and most of the events we attend or care about from March Madness to the Academy Awards to church on Sunday happen according to a calendar that’s been planned out months, sometimes years in advance.
(In fact here it is: http://www.zapaday.com/home/.)
Do the mainline churches have a prophetic word or a word of comfort to say to mainstream culture? If so, let’s put our heads together and think about how we’re going to engage God’s world and God’s people, where they already are, from Coachella to Cannes.

How I First Met the Invisible Children

Joseph Kony poses with his invisible children. (Credit: Kony 2012 Campaign)

The “invisible children” performed a praise song for us on the day we visited their makeshift home.  We had pulled in to this cluster of refugee huts at Uganda’s border with Sudan for an afternoon of worship together, while the National Geographic photographer accompanying us conducted a string of back-to-back interviews of some of the children in the settlement, most of them Sudanese refugees.

I remember now, almost ten years later, that very few of the children wore smiles.  The smiles were themselves a miracle.  Because with nightfall, most of these boys and girls would go into hiding in the bush, bearing the lesser evil of venomous snakes and other nighttime predators in order to elude a far greater threat: a shadowy group of men led by Joseph Kony known as the “Lord’s Resistance Army,” or LRA, who under the cover of night would raid and loot the villages, forcibly conscripting the boys as child soldiers and the girls as sex slaves, and in one fell swoop, robbing these children of their families and future.

I remember thinking as the day wore on that we, this team of five Westerners, were royalty precisely because we could leave this place.  Those who stayed behind when our old, rickety pick-up truck pulled away- I remember never being more nervous about whether a vehicle would start than in that moment- were tied there.  They really had no where else to go, thanks to a war back home in south Sudan and a second-class identity as refugees in a neighboring country.

That was nearly ten years ago.

Nowadays, when my five-year-old child has a bad dream in the middle of the night and asks to snuggle with mommy and daddy in bed, I also wonder about the parents of those children and the hell they have to endure.  I try to wrap my mind around the fact that the things that keep these children awake at night are real.  That their worst nightmares are grounded in reality, and that the very best comfort a mother might give- to hold her child in her arms- she must often forsake in order to protect her child from these real-life monsters.  I try to imagine what it feels like to send your child into the bush each night knowing full well that the next morning you might never see them again.

That is when I think of the woman in the settlement who told me that she had simply stopped sleeping.  When she tried to go to sleep now, she couldn’t.  I wonder where she is today.  Or if she is.  All I could do that day was pray for her.  Desperate words catapulted from the abyss.

Which is why I am thankful that these children who have played years of a lethal game of hide-and-seek, often hidden from the world’s view, are now finally emerging from the dark.  Maybe now for the first time in a long while they have names and stories and are no longer invisible.  And maybe one day this side of paradise God’s justice will really roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, for them and their families (Amos 5:24).  I pray so, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The following video, produced by “KONY 2012,” the campaign to capture Joseph Kony and bring him to justice, tells the story better than I can.  It is well worth your time:

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

 

Disorganized Religion

We preachers have our most embarrassing moments.  I imagine it’s true for musicians, too.  The other night I witnessed one.

Mumford & Sons’ lead singer Marcus Mumford, performing for a full house at Ryman Theater, in Nashville, Tennessee, first forgot the lyrics to one of the band’s more popular songs, and then later in the evening, mid-song, had a full-fledged coughing fit that required him to walk off stage, eventually sending the other band members off to look for him with an awkward, “give us five minutes, guys.”

Throughout the concert, but especially in these moments, the audience was nothing less than enthusiastic and supportive.  They applauded, shouted words of encouragement like, “I love you!,” and sang along with Mumford.

After Marcus and company had returned to the stage to finish up with a few more songs, the band chose as its final parting the well-known hit, “The Cave.”  As he began to strum the familiar tune, Marcus in a moment of vulnerability looked out rather tentatively upon the audience and asked, “If I forget my lines or throw up, will you sing along for me?”

Everyone cheered wildly by way of affirmation, so that soon Marcus was stepping away from the microphone in order to listen to the audience sing along.

And they did.  Loudly.  A bit out of tune.  But enthusiastically, with the lyrics down pat.  To which Marcus at one moment could only exclaim, maybe a bit like God would have been entitled to do after setting creation in motion and stepping back to see that it was grand, “That’s f&*king awesome!”

Everyone cheered again, and in the exchange, “grace” happened.  A kind of freeing synergy.  A creative exhalation of sorts.

And I suppose that what it means to be “church” is really this: that when I or any other of God’s children forgets their lines (the refrain of the Good News that God loves them), there is a community to remind them; that on the days when I find it hard to believe the creeds we say every week, I’m able to know that there are others there who do believe, who in a sense, are believing in that moment for me.  They’re singing the lyrics for me when I can’t do it for myself.

And this kind of exchange is a beautiful thing.  I suspect it is a bit of what the apostle Paul has in mind when he urges the church in Galatia to share life together and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6).  Maybe more pastors need to “forget their lines” every so often- or at least step away from the mic-  so that those in the pews can pick up the slack.

Mumford & Sons’ Free to Love and Love to Free

The British folk rock band, Mumford & Sons, sings tonight at the Ryman.

Tonight Mumford & Sons is playing at the Ryman, in Nashville, Tennessee, and I’ll be there.  In addition to some really enticing blends in sound- a mandolin, accordion and banjo often infuse the tunes of keyboard and guitar- the band’s lyrics, while not explicitly “Christian,” are both poetic and philosophical, raising themes such as human nature and divine love, grace, and justice.

Take, for instance, this refrain from “Sigh No More,” the cover song for the band’s recent album: Love will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, It will set you free. Be more like the man you were made to be. There is a design, An alignment to cry, At my heart you see, The beauty of love as it was made to be.

Or, consider these lyrics from my favorite of their songs, “The Cave,” which I think is really about learning to see oneself and the world through the lens of God’s grace and truth.  This requires journeying, in a very Platonic sense, from “the cave” out into the light, where we are able to distinguish the shadows and illusions that can enslave us from the light of Truth, which will set us free to be the people we were meant to be:

It’s empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you’ve left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I’ll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker’s land

So make your siren’s call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

Here is Mumford & Sons in an acoustic performance of “The Cave”: YouTube Preview Image

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Are You Opposed to People Owning Guns? Via John Piper
[caption id="attachment_5235" align="alignleft" width="339"] Jim Eliot and 4 other missionaries were killed in Ecuador by Auca Indians. The missionaries had guns but chose to fire them in the air rather than at their attackers who had spears. The Aucas have since embraced Christ in great number.[/ca

posted 11:40:36am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Mental Health Break— "Sea Song" and Lisa Hannigan
This week the theme of the sea put to music especially touched me as our family grieves the loss of my granddad.  My granddad was a lifelong sailor and lover of the sea, and we will scatter some of his ashes on the sea where he used to command our family's annual regatta from Shelter Island, New Yo

posted 11:16:49am Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »

"Admiral John": A Granddaughter's Remembrances
It feels a bit like Groundhog Day: wasn't it just a couple months ago that I was sharing a granddaughter's reflections upon the death of a grandparent?  This past Saturday, my granddad John slipped away suddenly to join his late wife Peggy of 68 years who had been his companion until two months ago

posted 11:58:22am Jul. 15, 2014 | read full post »


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