Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Room With a View

Today we remember the waiting of the truly dead Jesus. The waiting for the spark of new life to be delivered at some point before the tomorrow’s dawn.  I am imagining the moment right after Jesus arose, still in the tomb, and the first ray of light breaks through the just-beginning-to-roll-away stone. Perhaps this is what the view from this borrowed room gave Jesus upon waking from the one night he was dead and waiting for the light. Perhaps this was his thought about the blessed duty which awaited him:

“The birds are singing their feathers off,

the grass is on its way to being

greener, so green it’s almost blinding,

and the sun has lit the top of the hill

in front of the hill where the sun is rising.

You see, I live in an underworld,

It’s beautiful and strange…

One of my duties is to speak

of joy-in the face of everything

against it. I’m speaking of it now.” (Excerpt from Sunrise in the Underworld by Maurice Manning, Christian Century, January 6, 2016)

God, bless the rest of the saints whose graves Jesus sanctified with his death; give certain hope to the living that all of your saints, even I, will one day receive that spark of new life right before the dawn, when, as we awaken to the sound of the trumpet, we shall hear such birds and see such grass and hear such joy from His still speaking voice. Amen.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Journey of Discovering God's Plan

Marco Rubio, a United States Senator from Florida, was in the eyes of most political experts destined to become the next great Republican President. He had all of the attributes: young, handsome, good family, clean past, compelling “bootstraps” story, eloquent. How could he fail? But then he did. And what he said the primary election night when he got walloped in his own state of Florida reveals the depth of faith one needs to pursue any worthwhile goal.  Senator Rubio believed, up until that night, that it was God’s will that Marco Rubio should be the next President of the United States of America.  And in this I am sure he is not alone. Several, but not all, of the other candidates for the highest elected office in the world, I am sure, also believe it is God’s will that they will be the chosen one. Faith that we are doing God’s will keeps us focused in the face of the most daunting of the challenges and personal attacks that comes with pursuing anything worth accomplishing in life and for God.

Which leads me to the question of the day: what do we do when we find out we misunderstood God’s will?  Senator Rubio’s remarks, offered as he suspended his campaign, offer a lesson in understanding the will of God for our lives. He said: “…it is not God's plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever….” Then he goes on to offer this mini-sermon: “"He has a plan for every one of our lives. Everything that comes from God is good. God is perfect. God makes no mistakes. And He has things planned for all of us."

When I watched Sen. Rubio give this speech, my mind went to how it would be for him going to bed that night. Would he be angry with God? Would he cry the tears that come with the realization that God’s will and his own will were not one and the same? The lesson is that sometimes we think we are doing God’s good and perfect will and then, one night, we get the news: we were wrong. God has a different plan. Not a Plan B, because God only has Plan A. We need Plan B (or C) because God reveals his will in his own time and sometimes in startling ways, only after we have spent most of our lives pursuing our Plan A because we thought it was God’s Plan A as well.

God does have a plan for Sen. Rubio’s life.  He will now engage in the struggle of aligning his will with God’s will. When you are disappointed and frustrated with your life, wondering how you could have so misunderstood God, you will do well to recall Marco’s maxim:  “God is good. God is perfect. God makes no mistakes. God has a plan.”

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Seeing the Real Boo"

Remember “To Kill a Mockingbird”? You probably read it (or were supposed to read it) in high school. I know I read it, and I remembered it was about a lawyer who defended a wrongly-accused African-American man in the Deep South. What I had forgotten was the real point of the story: seeing the real Boo. The last page had for me a “take-your-breath” away moment. The last paragraphs provide a stunning summary  of why human beings are so bad at making peace and so good at creating strife. It explains why successful political speech still begins by painting others as a Boo we need to fear. It offers a formula for peace among nations and neighborhoods.

Boo was the reclusive neighbor of Jem and his little sister, Scout. Jem, Scout and their friend, Dill, spend their summers trying to get Boo to come out of his house. They are so afraid of Boo that they fear just walking by the place, and to go up to his door is seen as walking into the doorway of death.  In the end, of course, we discover the truth about Boo, that he was the protector of the children, saving them from death. Boo is spared from the reach of the law because, after all, “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Scout view of Boo changes when she walks Boo home after he saves her, and as she turns to leave, she sees the world (their neighborhood) from Boo’s point of view. Now she begins to understand who Boo really is.

The novel concludes as Atticus is putting young Scout to bed the night of the violent attack upon her, and he reads her a story to help her sleep.  It’s a story about a “three-fingered boy” who his friends accused of “messin’ up their clubhouse and throwin’ ink all over it an’…” Scout explains the meaning of the story to her father: “An’ they chased him ‘n’ never could catch him ‘cause they didn’t know what he looked like, an’ Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things…Atticus, he was real nice….”  To which Atticus replies, “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

We all have a “Boo” we fear, as neighbors and nations. What will it take for us to see the world from our “Boo’s” point of view?  Why do we insist on killing mockingbirds?