Friday, April 14, 2017

Grieve, Dear Friends

"Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last." (Matthew 27:50)

Grieve today, dear friends. Grieve today and tomorrow. Grieve in the midst of sunny skies and packing Easter baskets. Grieve in the midst of soccer games and ballet lessons. Grieve while walking the dog or feeding the cat. Grieve as you eat dinner and wait on your morning coffee.


These two days hold within them so much grief. As deep as the pain caused by the unjust death of a savior is, there is so much more to grieve for.

Grieve for the children in Syria, the combatants in Syria, the people whose lives are being shredded day by day. Grieve for the use of chemical weapons and bombs. Grieve for the ancient cities destroyed day by day.


Grieve for Karen Smith and Cedric Anderson and Jonathan Martinez. Grieve for childhoods ripped away from the kids at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino.


Grieve for the men in Chechnya being forced into concentration camps. Grieve for violence on Palm Sunday, leaving churches covered in blood.

Grieve. Of course, you should sign petitions and go to rallies and send letters and do anything else that might possibly slow down the madness. In doing so, do not forsake the act of grieving.

Grieve. Mourn. Sit in dirt if that helps. Dress in black if that feels right. Shout at the heavens. Weep in the shower. But grieve, dear friends. Let your heart be broken into a million pieces, then a million more.

Grieve, for this is resistance. Resist the normalization of reckless abandon for human life. Resist the normalization of sweeping destruction under the rug. Resist the "again" of school shootings, as if it will surely happen again and again. Resist the "history of violence" as if that makes everything ok and you're going to be just fine. Resist. Resist every unholy, violent, destructive thing, for that does not come from God.

Grieve today. Grieve tomorrow. Grieve as if it is God-breathed, kingdom-building work. For it is.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pride's Lessons on Bodies

I'd never go to Pride Festival if my church didn't table there. Actually, the chances of me choosing to go to any festival are slim. Paying to be in crowds of people with overpriced food and drink ranks very, very low on my list of things to do.

Still, in this case, I go. Jesus has a way of sending us to places we'd never go on our own.

Pride is always an interesting experience. There were no protestors this year and one of the men walking beside me as we approached the entrance said, "Is it even Pride if there aren't protestors?" I laughed, all the while self-conscious in my church t-shirt. Inside the gates, we're not the only church present by any means. Pride does, indeed, cause a massive collision of values for me. I guarantee the values aren't any that anyone immediately thinks of. You see, at Pride Festival, bodies are good.

Bodies are good.

It's amazingly, wonderfully, unbelievably radical. It breathes life into the dusty places of my soul.

American Christianity has widely embraced Gnosticism, a dualistic view of body and soul. The body, of course, isn't as good as the soul, which must be cared for in spite of the body. Pretty much every church that talks about your eternal soul is guilty of some form of Gnosticism. Theology aside, we're also really uncomfortable with bodies.

I cannot count the number of conversations I've had regarding what kids wear to camp, school, and pretty much every place else. We've worried about midriffs and bra straps and too much thigh and pants falling off and no shirts and visible underwear on absolutely anyone. The robe I wore before moving to Arizona (where the heat wins every fight) was in many ways a deference to policing bodies. Sitting on a dais in a knee-length skirt is nightmare. Couple that with the sexist fact that women's clothing isn't made for microphones and a robe made everything easier. That doesn't even begin to hit the conversation on weight and how comfortable we are with judging people because of their weight.

My culture and my faith have managed to tell me bodies are evil or tempting or only acceptable if they look a certain way. Pride upends that in all the most wonderful ways.

Anyone can wear booty shorts if it suits them. Pasties are welcome. Big, little, and everything in between is just fine. Your body is your body. No shame. No one gives an interesting ensemble a second look. No one gawks at bodies. It's downright revolutionary.

And it's better. The dusty parts of my soul say it's better like this. It's much better than how we live day to day when even a woman feeding a child is scandalous. Breasts, you know. We started a Bible 101 class just a few days before Pride, and reading through the creation story, I'm reminded of the claim, "And they were naked and unashamed." Somehow, bodies just being bodies really is better.

On the way home from Pride, I was on the train with a woman and her four granddaughters. They were having a marvelous time. They'd been somewhere for lots of fun, including making coffee filter butterflies. I'd guess the oldest was around 8 years old. The light rail was basically an amusement park for them, and they squealed with delight at every stop and start. I heard a mention of "the candy bag." Near my stop, she asked about the sign I was holding, which led to a conversation about Pride. We didn't have any additional conversation after that.

As I looked at her granddaughters, full of energy, confident that their bodies were meant for bending and holding on to things and helping them have fun, I became even sadder. She had no idea how much they need Pride.