Albert Einstein said, ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’
Why are we so quick to dismiss miracles? Why do we have to ruin the joy or surprise that miracles provide in order to prove them scientifically wrong? Does proving something to be right or wrong make a miracle any less miraculous?
Look I’m as skeptical and snarky as the next person, but sometimes I like to just accept something great happened in my day for no other reason than God loves me and wants to surprise me so I can feel joy in my heart when there is so often only shit.
To make this statement true I would have to validate that God is real. I have to prove it in a calculated scientific manner that would be satisfactory to the doubter I am trying to convince. That’s just too much work. I don’t believe God is a finite mathematical problem to be solved but an infinite solution to all the world’s shit.
Why or how do miracles happen? I don’t know. I don’t pretend to know. I don’t care to know. I just enjoy the surprise. And the joy it brings to my day. That’s enough for me.
I don’t doubt that miracles happen. I see them every day…from gravity to in my personal battle with cancer, some things are just too amazing to logically explained. But I know it’s tempting to shrug off such miracle stories about Jesus. Taken at face value, they seem far fetched and unbelievable. But isn’t that why we call them miracles?
Is it even necessary for our faith to believe that Jesus really walked on water, or magically multiplied the loaves and fishes? I fear that when we focus too much on the seemingly impossible things, we might overlook the true miracle and miss what God is revealing to us in them.
Perhaps it’s not so much that a human could multiply loaves and fishes in such an astounding way. The real miracle is that one human could represent, by his words and deeds, such signs of hope and healing that people would follow him and feel their hunger satisfied.
Perhaps we shouldn’t read it as a miracle story, but see it as a parable about what we are called to do and who we are called to be.
If we are going to follow Jesus, or take his name as our religious identity, then at some point we must understand that Jesus is going to turn to us and say: You give them something to eat.
How we respond to his command will make all the difference. One little boy gave up all his family had, five barley loaves and two fish. Did his act cause others to let go of what they were secretly hoarding?
Anglican priest Jason Cox will argue this story is “not so much about magic” as it is about “how we see the world, and what we do with what we already have.” As Cox points out, “The magic has already happened: God has already given us a world out of nothing, already provided sun and earth and water and seeds—how much more magic do we need?”
If you read the story closely, you will notice Jesus doesn’t make something out of thin air. “He takes what God has already provided. He draws out the resources that are already present in the community.”
Jesus teaches us to see the “what’s there” with new eyes – his eyes – through a lens that comes with having real faith in God’s mystery. These new eyes help us to see and to understand that “Whatever God has already given us, is always enough.”
Think about what God has given you, the blessings, the gifts of hope and peace, and perhaps material things. Have you ever opened your wallet or cupboards and found exactly what you need? I have – many times! So many times now that my first instinct is to respond by saying, “Thanks, God.”
Gratitude for these gifts is great. But Jesus isn’t asking us to simply be thankful. He’s commanding us to be faithful. He’s calling us to share what we have – to let go of our fear and stop holding onto to what’s “ours” so tightly. When we are able to do that then we will discover that “we absolutely have enough bread to feed the whole world.” That alone would be a miracle, wouldn’t it?
How are you using the blessings God has given you to feed the spiritual and physical hunger of others? Look around your house or apartment, look deep into your heart and ask yourself, “What am I keeping from others that is stopping real life miracles from happening through me?”
Speaking to a massive crowd in South Africa last week, President Obama recognized how lucky he was to receive an enormous financial blessing with the new tax cuts. He knew that this windfall was on the backs of the less fortunate.
To paraphrase President Obama, “There’s only so much you can eat or have. You don’t have to take a vow of poverty to help people out a little. If there are people out there who don’t have enough to eat, then let me pay a little more in taxes...I can afford it.” He punctuated his point by reminding us “What an amazing gift it is to help people and not just yourself.” (click to watch video clip here)
When he saw the crowd that had gathered and learned that they were hungry, Jesus didn’t prayed for a miracle. He took what they had, blessed it and broke it, and began to distribute it to everyone. Jesus knows what God was capable of doing. And Jesus knows what we’re all capable of too!
The gospels tell us Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of God. And this story helps us to get a foretaste of what that kingdom is to be: a partnership between heaven and earth.
If we were willing to share what God has gifted each one of us, then perhaps there would be no hungry people in our neighborhoods, maybe no one in the world would thirst, or be without shelter and peace. We would all have hope; no one would be left behind.
This story is a reminder that we all have something to share. There’s plenty for everyone. And left overs to boot! This is the abundance of God’s love and grace, poured out for us and for the world. Through Jesus our cup overflows; transforming hearts with so much love that we have to share and giveaway in order to merely contain it.
What might this church be like if we took all our different talents and resources, and deliberately pointed to Christ’s abundance in response to human hunger, suffering, and pain? Jesus taught us how to multiply our resources. He taught us how to use them not merely as a handout, but to be a true revelation of God’s amazing grace.
Many people followed Jesus with the hope of seeing a miracle happen. But they would come to discover that they themselves are called to be the miracle, and do miraculous things for others.
Through this set of lenses, we notice what is truly miraculous is not that someone could walk on water without sinking. But that one person’s presence among ordinary, insecure, and timid people could calm our anxieties so much so that we can walk where we once feared to go before.
The miraculous story of Jesus’ resurrection is not so much that a dead body could come to life again. But through our journey with Jesus, we find hope on the far side of despair; faith that could overcome our doubts; and the courage to live as Jesus lived, well beyond the sting of death.
More than merely miracles, Jesus gives us a compelling and tangible picture of what the Kingdom of God is like, here and now. And in the world to come. Unbelievable? Miraculous? Look through the eyes and heart of the one closest to God, and see for yourself.
Bartlett, David L.; Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. Feasting on the Word, Year B, Vol. C (Westminster John Knox: Louisville) 2009. pp 284-88.
Cox, Jason. Take, Bless, Break, Give. episcopaldigitalnetwork.com. (07/26/18)
To help take my mind off the intense heat searing the back of my neck, I begin drift in my head. Typical of me, I sought to find a way to see God in this moment - in the dirt and in the dust. In between sneezing and clearing my eyes of salty sweat, I would come to realize that God isn't part of creation, God's the creator!
I'm the dust and dirt, the dried up and trampled up, stained by dog pee and littered with weeds and poop. And then there's God, pushing the mower and cursing the relentless inferno temperature.
I can't tell you how many times I've been called 'dirt,' or all the ways life has made me feel as meaningless as dust. Yet here's God, showing up to care for me in whatever God-forsaken place I have found myself in.
The good thing about being as old as dirt (which is pretty old) is I have discovered that God doesn’t treat me any differently then when I was once fresh, green grass. God shows up every time to work on me, to clean me up and hose me down. And no matter how hot or cold is might be, God never gives up or stops caring.
It's no surprise then that Jesus often tells stories about the landscape. And my own interpretation of those stories and parables would argue that being called a dirt-bag by the world isn’t such a bad thing, for it’s in dirt that God plants seeds that grow to be mighty trees. It's in the soil that we get all the nutrients that feed and strengthen the world. Dirt is also used to make so many other things like pottery and mud pies!
Heck, even the most desolate and worn out parts of creation have a place in God’s heart because that's where they were made! So from dust we were made and it will be where we will eventually return and be transformed into something new and amazing.
Like dirt, each one of us plays a major role in growing the Kingdom of God! Thus we are all called to spread the Good News like little individual particles of dust kicked up by my leaf blower.
Many years ago I spent a month working in Seoul, South Korea. The company who I was working for owned one of the best hotels in the world. And I got to stay there all by myself. No wife. No kids. No one but me.
I'll admit, this was fun and relaxing for the first day or two. But after that, it kinda sucked coming home to no one and waking up alone. Most surprisingly, the part that sucked the most was having my breakfasts and dinners alone in the grand hotel restaurant.
Have you ever sat for a meal in a restaurant alone? It's not fun. There’s something about it that doesn’t feel natural. Beyond the basic loneliness of it, there’s an overwhelming sense of "not belonging." It’s as if you’ve been exiled, or abandoned, or marginalized for some reason.
Namsam Park, Seoul South Korea
That big, beautiful room, with an amazing view of the Namsan Park and all the fall foliage on grand display, slowly began to feel like a prison cell or tomb.
We are not meant to be alone. We are community creatures. In fact our human survival depends on others. Numerous tests and studies have been published on prisoners who are kept in solidarity confinement. It is now being argued that such treatment of humans is a cruel and unusual punishment; one that doesn’t often fits the crime.
As we continue to walk the path that divides people into small groups, what will we eventually be reduced to?
Isolationism, going it alone, is no different than living in captivity. By that I suggest that it‘s like being trapped in you own ideas, thoughts, and limited knowledge. When you only hear your own voice you forget how to hear the still small voice within you. And when you only learn from yourself, or do not expand or evolve your worldview, what might you become?
We need others to help balance out what we lack. We need others to acknowledge our own existence and being and dare I say our worth. So we build bridges and cross road and invite people to the table to share our time, story, and wisdom.
Even as Jesus left his group to be alone in prayer and mediation, we never see him eat alone. He understands the importance of gathering at the table, as a community, to celebrate life in the meal.
Richard Rohr teaches, “Our spirituality is inseparable from the way we live in the world.” If we isolate ourselves from others then our spiritually flatlines. He goes on to speak of the Eucharist, communion, as a place where our human self and spiritual self come together with others.
He writes, “the realm of embodiment through the Christian sacrament of Eucharist is more than a theological statement... It is an invitation to socially experience the shared presence of God, and to be present in an embodied way.”
Rohr holds a pretty standard Christian or Trinitarian worldview, everything comes down to relationship. I believe he might say the same about the biological world as well. “Jesus is always going in and out of houses. What happened around the tables in those houses shaped and named the social order.”
We are not meant to eat alone anymore than we are to be pushed away, marginalized or excommunicated. When we sit at the table, sharing what we have (including our time and story) we begin to redefine the way we see friendship in general.
When Jesus is asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He responds with this story to help us see the other through four separate lenses: a beaten man, a priest, a Levite, and a stranger (their enemy) who is willing to risk all that he has to help a person left for dead.
Jesus teaches us how one person can make a difference in another person’s life. But only if are we willing to take the risk to be that good neighbor?
I’d like you to think about someone who has influenced on your life. Perhaps someone who was there to help you make an important life changing decision. Next, imagine where you might be had you never met that person. What might your life look like? How might that effect who you are today?
I don’t know if I’d be here, writing this blog or raising this family, had I not met Jesus. For it was my faith in him that allowed me to trust enough (and to fear less) to keep living s despite the many ways I was killing myself. Jesus invited me to the table. He did not push me away or judge me by my past. He welcomed me with an open heart; sharing his time and story with me.
Rohr adds, “Jesus’ most consistent social action was eating in new ways and with new people, encountering those who were oppressed or excluded from the system...In the process he redefines power and the kingdom of God...and shows us that spiritual power is primarily exercised outside the structures [we create].”
We are not meant to be isolated or alone. Yet today, somebody is. How might you change that from happening again tomorrow?
An Invitation to the Table
(Iona Abby Worship Book)
The table of bread and wine is now to be made ready. It is the table of company of Jesus, and all who love him. It is the table of sharing with the poor of the world, with whom Jesus identified himself. It is the table of communion with the earth, in which Christ became incarnate. So come to this table, you who have much faith and you who would like to have more; you who have been here often and you who have not been for a long time; you who have tried to follow Jesus, and you who have failed; come. It is Christ who invites us to meet him here.
Separation is a form of segregation. And segregation is an intersection that humans have been trying to cross my entire lifetime.
But when one side walks north to south while the other side is crossing east to west, we continue to move away from one another, and our goal of being a united state or community. The way I see it, this new kind of street crossing removes us from the four corners and places us in the middle where we can meet one another and see each other close up.
There is still a lot of crossing the streets that needs to be done. But suffice it to say, "X" marks the spot where it can all begin.
Instead of coming together, building human bridges of peace, Nouwen writes, “We give them names, make jokes about them, cover them with our prejudices, and avoid direct contact. We think of them as enemies. We forget that they love as we love, care for their children as we care for ours, become sick and die as we do.”
How quickly have we forgotten that we all belong to one universe, one DNA, one love. We are all brothers and sisters. We can either “treat them as objects that can be destroyed at will.” Or we can begin to build human bridges.
“Only when we have the courage to cross the street and look in one another's eyes can we see there that we are children of the same God and members of the same human family.”
How Jesus Defines “Neighbor” in the Gospel of Luke 10:25-37 (The Message)
Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” illustrates this brilliantly. The authorities are looking for a stolen letter in the apartment of the supposed thief. They tear through everything, going as far as taking apart his furniture believing it’s been hidden in there. But the police never looked “in plain sight” - in the middle of his desk where a normal letter would likely be.
Perhaps we can’t see what God looks like because we’re not looking in the most obvious of places.
This begs the question, “Why isn’t God more obvious?” If God was revealed through many wondrous signs and miracles throughout the Bible, why doesn’t God act that way today? When atheist Bertrand Russell was asked what he would say if after death he discovered God was real. Russell replied that he would say: “God, you gave us insufficient evidence.” Really? It seems easier to blame God than to accept the notion that perhaps God is real and all around us.
So has God made us blind? Or are we merely looking for God in all the wrong places?
Bookending two more famous passages in Mark, today’s readings seems nothing more than a transition from one miracle story to another. They are almost so small and insignificant, that we could be tempted to overlook the deep meaning within them. I’ve read these passages many times over, and never saw the big theme within it: People recognized Jesus everywhere he went. Why is that? Did they Google him? Was he trending on Instagram? Through our 21st Century lens, this might not be too far off the mark.
You see, up until this point in Mark’s gospel, Jesus had been on an image building campaign. He was doing pretty well with name recognition, and building up a respectable following. He is gaining some notoriety for his miracles, exorcisms, and teachings. And he was even raising a few eyebrows! He was like a rock-star Rabbi.
Word about him was spreading fast. Wherever he went, his reputation preceded him. He and his disciples couldn’t even sneak off for a little rest without someone tweeting his location. People would chase him down, doing whatever it took to be close to him. Imagine how filled our churches could be if the world was only able to see Jesus in our midst today!
So how did people recognize Jesus without Google or 24 hour news? I would argue it was by his words and deeds. Whether or not you believe in his divinity, the way he spoke and acted defined his human character.
People are drawn to leaders who practice what they preach. And this group flocked to Jesus like sheep without a shepherd. Moreover, Jesus was more than just a good leader, he was also a mirror of God – reflecting God’s love and grace to anyone and everyone.
Now, I’m not a big fan of mirrors. In fact, I believe the mirrors in our house are haunted. Every time I look in one, there’s this crazy old man standing in front of it blocking my reflection.
Jesus reflected God’s will and it showed. No matter where he went, he had compassion for those around him – healing the sick, feeding the hungry with what little food he had. He served others first. Jesus didn’t sit around wondering how to do something – he just did it.
By practicing what he preached, Jesus could confidently say, “Whenever you see me, you see my Father” (John 14:9). In other words, Jesus is saying everything I do is a reflection of God’s love that is in me. If you want to see God, just look at what Jesus does...and do it.
We have a church member who likes to say hello and smile at strangers. Just the other day she told a woman who was having a very difficult time that God loved her. And then left it at that. Darlene has taught us that ministry doesn’t have to be difficult or a massive undertaking – it just has to come from the heart.
Wherever your talents lie or your comfort zone is, there is someone who is in need of the good news of God’s grace and love. As Christ followers, we’re called to be the visible presence of that love. The Bible tells us that by our faith we have not only been redeemed but have also been baptized with the Holy Spirit of God – the same spirit that empowered Jesus now empowers you and me!
Jesus said, “if you believe, you’ll do the same works I have done...” Then he added, “you’ll do even greater works better than me” (John 14:12). Imagine doing what Jesus did, only better. Wouldn’t that be a great way to be recognized by others? Or to be seen by God?
Nicky Gumble said, “Faith is a muscle that grows by stretching. One way to increase your faith is by doing something God asks you to do.”
We've got work to do. God knows people are still hurting and walking away from what we know in our hearts to be true. We are still killing one another; shutting people out of our lives; retreating into our unhealthy addictions. Yet, even in the darkest of places, or in the most hopeless situations, God is there…right there in plain sight…in the hearts of you and me.
Whenever we see compassion towards another human being or animal or this great creation… we see God. Whenever we see someone standing up to injustice, especially for the weak and the most vulnerable...we see God righting wrongs. Whenever a hand is offered to help another, whenever a smile is shared or a blessing paid forward... God is present. Despite what Bertrand Russell thinks or says, God has been here all along…in both good and bad times.
God is not hiding. We are. God is not silent. We are. God is not refusing to help someone, or causing bad things happen for some greater purpose. That’s what we are doing. We can’t pass the blame on to God without God holding a mirror up to our face.
Jesus entrusted us to complete his mission. It’s up to us to show the world what God looks like, and to put God’s love in their hearts. It’s up to us to tell and re-tell the gospel of Jesus Christ, and live out this good news in all that we do. And as a church, it’s up to us to create community where God may be encountered in the faces of each one of us.
By our faith we become God’s children. But by words and deeds, we become God’s voice, God’s hands and feet going into the broken places of the world to bring healing, help, and comfort. This is how others will come to recognize us as sons and daughters of the God who comes to us, who heals us and feeds us, and loves us no matter where we are and refuses to leave us there.
We are the Good News, just as Jesus was and still is.
So as you go out into the world with an open heart and open eyes, remember if you long to see God, it may not be in the dramatic or the victorious, the miraculous or the stupendous. Instead, it may just be in the ordinary or in the mundane, in the kindest word or simplest deed we can muster. Whenever we show love and grace, we know God is always present and visible…right here…in our hearts and in plain sight.
The Clash were a seminal punk rock band that shaped my youth and influenced who I am today. Their raw songs not only had the punch of Mohammed Ali, but their musical style bobbed and weaved like him too.
On what I believe to be one of the greatest records of all time, London Calling, the band recorded a somewhat odd song called “Lost In the Supermarket” with the lyrics:
I’m all lost in the Supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
i came in here for that special offer
Who hasn’t entered this world market place searching for something better than what you already have? It’s a part of our everyday consumer driven economy.
In an earlier life I was a copywriter in various advertising agencies, spinning words and creating visuals that would entice you to abandon your old life (or car, or favorite cat food) for something new and better (my client’s product). Eventually I simply couldn’t do it anymore because what I was noticing is that people were no longer shopping happily, but more fearfully about being left behind, our dated, or old. In essence I had become lost in the world that I helped create.
Today, while studying Luke 15 with a friend, I was reminded that sometimes being lost isn’t such a bad thing because it forces us to shift our thinking (what got us lost in the first place) which can actually lead us to someplace new (being found or rescued). In a consumer driven economy this would require investing more money in something that has a limited life span. But in an economy of grace, the price has already been paid and the benefits are everlasting.
Richard Rohr writes about it like this:
”God’s inclusion of us reveals God’s humility, graciousness, and love. Only inside an economy of grace can we see that God wants free and willing partners. An economy of merit cannot process free love or free anything. “Not servants, but friends” (John 15:15) is God’s plan.”
The economy of grace ace is based on God’s love for us. And it offers forgiveness, total acceptance, and dare I say a guaranteed personality. For no other reason but great love for us, God came to be with us...to be our shepherd that seeks out the lost sheep. And when one lost sheep is found and brought back, a joyous celebration of love explodes.
Here’s what I wrote to my friend to begin our discussion of the Luke 15 passage we read this morning:
“Have you ever felt lost in life? Aimlessly wandering around wondering where to go or what to do?
Physically lost is one thing. And spiritually lost is another; consequences seem to be much more grave. When we are spiritually lost we seem to be without God (or grace), we are blind, we are sick, we are tortured will aimless and seem without purpose or need. More often than not, sense of wandering can makes us also feel unwanted; alone and hollow.
The good news is God comes after the lost. Through Christ, God seeks us out, looks for us all over the place, and celebrates like never before when we are found.
What other god do you know of that would do that? Money? Fame? Consumerism? Nation? These all pale to give what our God can give us: freedom to roam, but never alone. To be filled with hope and peace and love...and when empty that cup, it gets filled again...overflowing with abundance!
Our God is a God who gives, and does not take. This is a God who loves, and does not hate. This is a God who desires to be with us for no other reason but pure love.
Jesus is that love. We are his sheep. And he is our shepherd.”
Jesus came for the lost sheep, you and me. He saw the sheep and had pity on them and showed compassion to them. When one would stray, he would leave the others to find the one, knowing those in his flock were being cared for and protected.
I often feel lost, especially when I get dragged into Costco! But there seems to be some kind of Divine GPS system in me that clicks on every time I feel the fear and anxiety rush over me. Something in my heart turns on and I feel peace and calm knowing that God is watching over me, leading me to where I need to go.
Click here to read Richard Rohr’s An Economy of Grace
“The genius of the biblical revelation is that it refuses to deny the dark side of things, but forgives failure and integrates falling to achieve wholeness.”
“Jesus is never upset at ‘sinners’; he is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners!”
“Jesus was fully at home with a tragic sense of life. He lived, died, and rose inside it. Jesus’ ability to find a higher order inside constant disorder is the very heart of his message—and why true Gospel, as rare as it might be, still heals and renews all that it touches.”
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 53, 58-59;
The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009), 106;
If I were to sum up the greatest theme of the Bible, I might say it’s the story of God’s love for God’s beloved children. There are also a lot of minor themes throughout the Bible as well - many of which Jesus taught throughout his ministry. These smaller themes are often found in the books of the Torah, which make up the first five books of the Old Testament part of the Bible.
Most of the themes include caring for the poor, the widow and orphan; protecting people from injustices like being cheated, or being falsely accused; protect the sojourners on your land, the visitors and the ones who are wandering (with or without your permission); caring for those in your family and community whether or not you like them. These minor themes add up to the “Golden Rule” that can be summed up as “do to others as you would like it to be done to you.” This is how we “love our neighbors as ourself,” as Jesus taught.
When you combine these minor themes we begin to see how the big theme of God’s love for us becomes intertwined into the fabric of every day life. Moreover, Jesus tells us this is how we will be judged (both by God and by others). He says in essence that your faith will only get you so far. You have to put that faith to work, believing in your heart that God’s love is real and God’s command to share it with others is not to be rejected or denied to someone.
Thus Jesus said, in so many words, that it matters how you care for the widow and the orphan (the most vulnerable), the naked, hungry, and thirsty (the neediest), the sick and the dying (those who can’t help themselves), and of course the captives and the prisoners (those whose sole survival is in your hands). He teaches us that the way we care for the “least of these, our brothers and sisters” who rely on the generosity and charity of others is the way you and I will be judged or recognized by God.
I’ll admit, these are hard words to hear from Jesus. But when I give them some thought I realize many of us do this without really knowing that we are doing God’s work. We donate clothes to Goodwill and local homeless shelters, we give money a couple of times a year to groups that feed the poor, we call Grandma every week to make sure she is cared for, and we are there to listen to a neighbor who is all alone. And bring chicken soup to her when she’s not feeling well.
But what about the prisoner or the one who is a captive? What about the person trapped in an addiction? Or someone who has been locked up for a crime he might or might not have committed? There are plenty of “not so friendly” people we don’t want to be around or think about simply because they scare us.
While I pray for them every Sunday in church, do I really think about them beyond that? I know there are many great ministries in prisons across America that are transforming lives through the love of God that has been given to us all through Jesus Christ. But do I get involved? No. I’m not that interested in jeopardizing my family or risking my safety. These are criminals after all. But that’s not what God called me to do. And it bothers me.
This morning, as I was walking my dog, I watched a ditch digger look up from his work as a prison bus was driving by. While holding his shovel in one hand he raised his other and waved. As the bus passed, he did the sign of the cross (I’ll safely assume he is catholic). This one simple gesture said it all.
I can only imagine what it must feel like to be sitting on that bus heading to the courthouse. The emptiness in your soul being filled with fear of what is to come. But then, you see Jesus standing in a trench, sweaty and dirty, stopping to acknowledge you as a human, and offering you a prayer and a blessing to make you right with God. A taste of heaven, a small seed of hope planted, before facing judgment and the hell one’s made.
Sometimes we don't need to do much to share the love of God that has been so generosly shared with us. A simple wave hello, a quick prayer, an acknowledgment of another’s humanity...this is how we feed, clothe, and care for the least of these. And how we testify to the love of God as Jesus taught us to do. The question then becomes, are you willing to weave such actions into the fabric of your life?
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”