We can’t be everything to everyone. But we will be something to everyone. We can choose to live in the generosity of God’s love or in the poverty of our limitations, and it matters what we choose.
So what if you can’t go out to coffee with her every week?
Go once. Listen. Ask questions.
Maybe you won’t end up sharing your deepest, darkest secrets with that couple in the lobby, but ask them about their kids. Remember their names. Write them down if you have to.
Look at the prom photos of her grandkids that she carries in her purse. Ask about his job and really listen when he talks about it. These small moments matter too.
In the end, there is a difference between nice and kind, and more and more I am convinced that “community” is not formed by telling everything to everybody but by these simple, strong threads of love.
And it’s both: we are limited, and we are not.
We are not Lego blocks, plastic and immovable. We give the last crust we have and trust God to make it enough.
We grow. We expand. We choose to take each other in.
how much you loved, how gently you lived,
and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.
A gift from a congregation member. She doesn’t even know it’s my birthday week. #grace
She would give me that look when I sang that said everything: You can make everyone else think you’re a good Christian, but I know better.And I began to believe that unless I was perfect, I couldn’t pray, couldn’t go to church, couldn’t approach the Divine.Friends? That’s really screwed up.Jesus, the rabbi who walked among us, the one who is Love incarnate, came to the most broken people, the sinners, the outcast.He railed against the religious elite of the day who were bound by legalistic rules.Can I say this? You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to keep it together.Come. Just as you, broken or healing, sinner and saint. Come with your baggage and your hang-ups, your addictions and your scars.Our God is waiting with open arms.- wren, “come and rest”
Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering
“He said this thing that really freaked me out, he said ‘You know my heart for peace and social justice is really rooted in my Christian faith.’ And I looked at him and I was like ‘Oh my God, what are you, like, a unicorn? Like, some mythical combination of creatures that doesn’t exist in reality?’ Y’know? I had never heard of this. And then soon I realized that there’s this whole group of people who take that scripture from Matthew 25 seriously, that says when we clothe the naked and when we feed the hungry we do so to Jesus’ own self, and it ends up they’re not mythical creatures, they’re Lutherans.”
“Here’s what I learned: God’s grace is a gift freely given. We don’t earn it, we just try to live in response to it. He taught me that nobody’s climbing the spiritual ladder, right? We aren’t continually self-improving. God always comes to us and makes us new, and makes us new again, and makes us new again, and it’s called death and resurrection. God’s always coming to us; we don’t make our way to God. And then he said, ‘We’re entirely saint and sinner, 100% of both,’ and I thought to myself ‘Oh my God, I have an enormous capacity for destruction of myself and others, but I have an enormous capacity for kindness too; finally someone explained that to me.”
“Here’s what you need to know about what you have, this Lutheran liturgy and this Lutheran theology and this Lutheran tradition: it is a feast. And it is a feast to be shared. And I’m here to tell you, people are hungry. People are hungry, and you have a feast entrusted to you, and they are ready for it.”
Jesus doesn’t look at us and say, “You need to give exactly 10% of your income today in order for the church to work.” He doesn’t say that. Our stewardship has nothing to do with our salvation. It has to do with already having received salvation. It has to do with Jesus looking at Jairus and saying, “I am enough. It is going to be enough.” And Jesus goes with this man. I can imagine him, just biting back tears, not really believing Jesus but not really having a choice. But he goes.
His daughter isn’t raised 10%. Jesus didn’t raise her halfway. Jesus doesn’t work like that. He says, “Get up, getup and go play, you’re alive - get up and play.” It was 100%. I think that’s’ why I don’t like to talk to talk about stewardship because I’m really good at doing the math of 10%. But I’m not so good at doing the math of 100%. Because the truth is, most of the time, I think I am only saved about 10%. Because I feel like I have to be good and do it right to get the other 90% of my salvation.
Jesus doesn’t look at us and say, “I save you 10%; good luck with the other 90.” Jesus goes to the cross and says, “One hundred percent, all of the time.” And that’s’ what’s hard about stewardship: when it’s about money, we can do the math, but when it’s about our lives and how we live, there’s no math about it. It’s daily, continually, always there, and it’s part of how we live. It has nothing, really, in the end, to do with our pocketbooks. It has everything to do with our hearts, and everything to do with our souls. So as we look at our lives and our lives of faith and our church and our church finances, let’s remember: we aren’t a church of 10%, and the church was never meant to be 10%. It was meant to be 100%. One hundred percent of your faith, in this Christ, who has given us 100% of who he is. Amen.
|—||Mandy Brobst-Renaud, “100% Loved”|
Anonymous asked: A little over a year ago, I was raped by a good friend who I thought was a Godly man. Now I’m not sure how to tell a future boyfriend about the loss of my purity, or how it will affect our relationship. How would I go about talking to him? Sexual purity has always been a big deal to me, and I don’t want to disappoint my future husband.
Unka Glen answered: That does it. [blowing loud whistle] Alright, everyone out of the pool. It’s over. This “purity” thing? That’s over. We’re done. No mas. Has anybody out there had an impure thought, an impure sexual desire, or wandered over to a website you shouldn’t have? Okay, I see everyone’s hand. NONE of us is pure. None. So, WE ARE NOT USING THIS WORD ANY MORE.
Tell me, my sister, who it was that told you that you would “disappoint” your husband because of something that SOMEONE ELSE did that somehow makes YOU impure? Give me the name, give me the address, because me and a vanload of the brothers from my day job are going to “lay hands” on somebody.
Don’t ever let anyone talk to you like that. And don’t let the enemy even finish his sentence when he tries to put that thought in your head. Find your pastor and tell him, we don’t need to hear about protecting a perfection or a purity that none of us has (Romans 3:23), we need to hear from you about boundaries, and about healing from mistakes we’ve made, and especially (in this case) about healing from mistakes that others have made towards us.
This is the thing with bad doctrine, it starts out with an idea that you wouldn’t think to reject, like purity. Purity is good, you should be pure. And you say, “right on, sounds good.” But purity is the unattainable goal of perfection we strive for, to think of purity as something that anyone (other than Jesus) is actually walking around with, that’s just bad doctrine, plain and simple.
At best, this “purity” talk inspires pride in people for doing nothing, and at worst, it condemns people in a way Jesus NEVER would.
Ministry isn’t about merely telling people: here is the ideal, live up to that (Luke 11:46). It’s about saying: we’re all imperfect and impure, and we’re all dealing with problems… some problems we created, and some were handed to us, but let me show you the road back to good spiritual health. Your future husband, I promise you, will be dealing with his own past. And of all the things that might make you impure my sister, you being raped is NOT one of them. Period. The End.
Any man who would reject you because of something like this, is someone you shouldn’t associate with, let alone date. Sexual assault is part of my wife’s public testimony, and I can tell you without ANY hesitation that I NEVER felt anything but love and sympathy for her past, and nothing but admiration and respect for the courageous woman she is today.
She deserves nothing less.
(paraphrased from class today)
Grace is less a gift than a beautiful work of art. It’s like a concert, a dance, a painting. It’s offered to you, wordlessly, without need from you; you can’t give anything back to make it more than what it is.
And yet you want to — you give yourself to it, without even knowing. You’re drawn into it. You feel yourself moving with the music, the colors, the performers. You become a part of it, and it moves in you.
The experience of grace is the experience of art.
(van Gogh’s “Starry Night Over the Rhone”; “White Swan” ballerina stock photo; Alison’s shot of Paul Meany, lead singer of Mutemath.)