Saturday, October 24, 2015

When Turkeys Fly

“may my heart be always open to little
birds who are the secret of living…” e. e. cummings (source: “may my heart always be open”,

In the early fall days, before the government changes the sunrise, my morning walk happens just as the sun is rising. Then the earth is pregnant with promise. It is the time that even turkeys fly.

Turkeys, another of God’s curious creations, which must bring a smile to the heavenly host, are not fleet of foot, or claw, or whatever you call that appendage. They are not aerodynamically fit for fast. And, while turkeys wouldn’t seem to have much of a brain, they have figured out that they will live longer sleeping in trees than on the ground. Foxes may be faster, but they cannot climb trees.  So, each night, after a day of walking around their territory, pecking away at the ground in search of food, they have to summon up the strength to fly up a tree. I have not seen this in person, but I imagine it to be a hard task, getting the wings going sufficiently fast to lift their rotund bodies up into a gravity-defying flight.  It must be like me trying to get out of my reading chair before bed, a time full of creaks and groans.

But then, just after sunrise, they see the day has begun. (I wonder if they are surprised?)  What awaits them today is the same as awaited them all their yesterdays and all their tomorrows: the opportunity to work at finding food and shelter, raising their family of tiny turkeys, and, if the season is right, making new turkeys.  But before they can begin their day on the ground they have the once-a-day opportunity to soar like an eagle. I saw them, one after the other, eight all together, soaring from above the tree line, gliding on the air, floating with the greatest of ease down to their stomping ground.

When turkeys fly like that it must be exhilarating for them. Once a day they soar, they seize the day. And they know, tomorrow they get do it again.  God is good.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Where's Trevor?

“Henri Nouwen was a priest and a brilliant teacher at places like Harvard and Yale. Feeling led by God, he spent the last decade of his life living in a community of people with severe emotional, mental, and physical disabilities. Henri tells a story about Trevor, a man with severe mental and emotional challenges who was sent by Henri's community to a psychiatric facility for evaluation. Henri wanted to see him, so he called the hospital to arrange a visit. When those in authority found out that Henri Nouwen was coming, they asked if they could have a lunch with him, When Henri arrived for lunch Trevor was nowhere to be seen. Troubled, Henri asked about Trevor's whereabouts. "Trevor cannot come to lunch," he was told. "Patients and staff are not allowed to have lunch together."

By nature, Henri was not a confrontational person. He was a meek man. But being guided by the Spirit, here is the thought that came to Henri's mind: Include Trevor. Knowing that community is about inclusion, Henri thought, Trevor ought to be here. So Henri turned to the person in authority and said, "But the whole purpose of my coming was to have lunch with Trevor. If Trevor is not allowed to attend the lunch, I will not attend either." The thought of missing an opportunity for lunch with Henri Nouwen was too much. They soon found a way for Trevor to attend.” (adapted from John Ortberg, in the sermon "Guide,"

Can the work of the God’s people be any simpler than this? We examine our faith community and ask, “Who is missing? Who should be here but is not?”  Then we come to a crisis of faith: the outcome of our actions can create a positive or negative result. Do we can give in to the “rules” of the folks in charge, the gatekeepers, the majority? Or, do we have sufficient faith to, like Henri, refuse to sit down at the table until Trevor is allowed to join us? Is our faith sufficient to summon up the courage which witnesses to the gospel truth that God values inclusion over custom, over comfort, over convenience.

Examine your faith community this weekend. Who is missing that really should be there? Are people of other cultures or races; are people with disabilities excluded by choice, by design, by a lack of commitment to inclusion and accessibility in your community?  Are you willing to be the one who will insistently ask, “Where’s Trevor?” 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

"Nine Missing From the Table"

Millions and millions will be there, but nine brothers and sisters will be missing from the Table.

Tomorrow millions upon millions of people who share little in common but their belief that they are made in God’s image will gather round the Lord’s Table to eat some form of bread and to drink from some form of cup.  On a day set aside for the world of Christian churches to celebrate their commonly held belief that Jesus cares enough about this re-enactment of the Last Supper to be there too, millions and millions will be there, but nine brothers and sisters will be missing from the Table.

Tomorrow Lucero, Treven, Rebecka, Quinn, Kim, Lucas, Jason, Lawrence and Sarena will not be at the Lord’s Table. Not by their own choice.  But because of yet another campus terrorist act, this time in a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.  I wonder how the pastors of these victims’ families will find the words to celebrate the presence of Jesus at the Table when these nine are missing from it.  “God is good.” Of course. “God is sovereign.” No doubt. “Evil exists.” We have seen it. Are these words enough?

What can the churches say in response to this latest in a string of unexplainable crimes against the innocents who are now missing from the Table? “They now are able to share in the Bread and the Cup in the very real presence of Jesus Christ in Paradise.”  True enough.  That is our Hope. We share the belief that the company of angels, the hosts of heaven join their voices with our voices in praise and thanksgiving for the Life-giving Bread and Blood.  We share the belief that these nine victims,  while missing from the Table at the churches in Roseburg, are not missing from the Table in Heaven.  But is it enough for the churches to just say all of this on yet another tragedy-remembered day? How is the Church to be the presence of Christ?

Would Jesus just shrug his shoulders, shake his head and say “we should do something?”  Or would Jesus throw over tables in the public square until someone realizes that these are his brothers and sisters now missing from the Table? Would Jesus not shout, “Do something, for God’s sake!”?