Saturday, May 26, 2012

How Do I Love Thee?

I never really knew much about Pentecost until I was a young adult.  If we talked about it when I was a kid in the Baptist Church, I don't remember it.  In reading to my children from various children's Bibles I notice that there is a real lack of attention given to the story.  It gets half a page, a footnote to the story of the resurrection, if its mentioned at all.  Theology according to my kids' Bibles would lead us to believe that Jesus came, taught, died, and rose.  End of story. It's bad theology.  It's tragic.  It misses the point.

Before Jesus died he prayed these words:

that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:21-23)

I don't cry during love movies.  I've never been a big fan of Valentine's Day.  I don't swoon over romance novels.  I don't read romantic poetry, and I have no interest in ridiculous love songs.  But I'm not a romance cynic.  Far from it.  I'm in LOVE with LOVE.  It's just that all those sonnets and ballads can't begin to compare to the love song in this passage.  "...that they may be one just as We are one."  Sends chills up my spine.  The God who loves community so much that He created Himself to live in trinity died so that we could be united.  The division of the human species which occurred at Babel comes full circle on the day of Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit enters the scene and suddenly we speak a common language.

I don't know what it's like to live halfway across the world in a different culture.  I don't know what it's like to live in a tribe in Africa where clean water is a luxury and food is scarce.  I don't know what it's like to tell your babies it's going to be okay when you know it's not going to be okay.  But I know what it's like to love your babies so fiercely that you'd do anything to make it okay.  I don't speak her language, but I understand her heart.  We are sisters.  We look different.  We live differently.  But we aren't so different.  We clean our babies faces and memorize the look they get when they figure something out for themselves and whisper to a higher power every single day our pleas for their health and happiness.  We both speak love.

And that's Pentecost.  It's not just a half-page story poorly illustrated in a cheap children's Bible.  It's THE love story which makes us one. 

We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity
May one day be restored

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love, By our love.
Yes, they’ll know that we are Christians by our love

We will walk with each other
We will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other
We will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news
That God is in our land

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, By our love.
Yes, they'll know that we are Christians by our love.
(lyrics by Jason Upton)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bare it All

I get a text every morning from my Bible app.  I call it my morning text from Jesus.  This morning's:

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  

Oh, no problem.  I'm good at this.  I'm really good at this.  I'm a little TOO good at this.  I bear my friends' burdens.  I bear my family's burdens.  It borders on unhealthy--for all of us.  Oh, let's be honest.  It crosses the line of unhealthy.  So, no problem.  Thanks for the text, Jesus.  I didn't need to hear that.  But thanks anyway.  It was a nice little pat on the back this morning.

I should have stopped there.  It's nice to think that you're doing it all right.  But I had to ponder it some more because I can't leave well enough alone.  I wondered if maybe Jesus wasn't so much trying to tell me to do the bearing as He was telling me to do the baring.  Hmm.  That's not pleasant.  I'm not good at that.  I'm not good at that at all.  It borders on unhealthy.  Heck, it crosses the line of unhealthy.  I'm pretty sure there's a reason I went into counseling.  People bring their burdens to me.  I don't return the favor.  It feels raw.  Exposed.  Makes me want to run and cover up or, more likely, distract by turning the focus on someone else.  How does that make YOU feel?

And yet, the Bible I love specifically says to bear each other's burdens.  Roles aren't assigned.  We don't have bearers and barers.  We have community--a community that mutually shares burdens.  You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.  I have been pretty busy scratching the backs of those I love and haven't noticed the itch on my own.

Not that I have a sense of direction as to how to begin being a barer.  I guess it probably starts with a little introspection.  I'm not as tough as I think I am.  I get sad.  I get lonely.  I get hungry.  I get tired.  I get overwhelmed.  But even as I write that I cringe.  Sounds like weakness.  Vulnerability.  No thanks. 

How does that make YOU feel?