Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Heroes!   1 comment

I saw a striking post on face book posing the question if our professional sports stars are not essential why are they our heroes and why do they get paid so much? Interesting thought, but surely a more interesting one is about those largely unknown people who have suddenly become our heroes. The grocery clerks, healthcare aids, teacher/Moms and so many others. These people and many others like them have been plummeted into the front line where there is real danger and the need to work harder than ever.

One of our church family posted this wonderful prayer for these unsung heroes and in case you missed it I wanted to share it with you. The question is how can we make sure that these people each of whom has a name, who were serving us faithfully before this crisis are not taken for granted in the future?

 

Bless the merciful
A Sunday Blessing

By: Sarah Bessey
March 29, 2020

Oh, God. Bless the merciful. Bless them.

Bless the hospital chaplains who are crying and praying in trauma rooms with the scared and the hurting. Bless the doctors and the nurses, the janitors and the lunch ladies, the front-line workers and behind the scenes faithful ones during this terrible time. Bless the ones in the nursing homes with lonely seniors, putting themselves at risk to keep caring for the vulnerable. Bless the families on the other side of the window glass with phones, smiling and waving and holding up signs of love to their elders. Bless the vulnerable and at-risk and those who open their doors to them even in the midst of a pandemic. Bless the scared kids and the adults who notice them.

Bless the ones who cry too much and feel too much. Bless the wounded healers.

Bless the kind ones, who speak words of life and gentleness. Bless the benefit-of-the-doubt givers, the one-more-chance lavishers. Bless the comforters and the kleenex-passers. Bless the walkers-in-another’s-shoes. Bless the wheelchair pushers. Bless the ones there waiting after the chips fall, and the edifice crumbles, and the truth comes out. Bless them for their grace for both the flyers and the thud-ers, for the fury and the glory. Bless the ones baking bread and leaving it on doorsteps for the parents they can’t risk seeing. Bless the ones who serve without fanfare or book deals or media attention. Bless the ones who love vulnerable children, day after day after day. Bless the ones who are lonely and alone, who are isolated and vulnerable, who are struggling to breathe.

Bless the ones who lavish grace and bandage wounds and figure out how to make ventilators in factories. Bless the ones who intubate and the ones who are crying in the stairwell, overwhelmed by caring. Bless them for they give dignity to the rest of us. Bless them because they see us and they love us anyway.

Bless them for standing in our thin places between too-much and not-enough, the places where our hearts are breaking and our fears are manifesting and we are so scared and so alone. Bless them for being the ones that show up in the fault lines to hold our hands and pray and weep with those who weep.

Bless them for their patience, for their uncanny ability to just keep going, for their ability to be present instead of checking out for something less demanding. Bless them for long days on their feet in uncomfortable PPE gear, sweaty and exhausted and filled with mercy for us anyway. Bless them for their determination in the face of suffering, for the patience in the teeth of our it’s-going-to-get-worse predictions, and their faith in our story.

Bless them for their heart to ease the suffering, to smooth the edges, widen the roads. Bless them for their cups of cold water, and their plates of food, for their prison visiting, for their preemie-baby hat knitting, for the signs in the windows saying “thank you, essential workers!” decorated with stickers and glitter. Bless them for the healing work of their gifts. Bless them when they smell of salt tears and someone else’s sh** and our unwashed bodies. Bless the funeral workers and the priests who have run out of words. Bless the journalists and politicians who are wise and merciful, the public health officials and the sign language interpreters. Bless the site preppers and the cleaners. Bless the merciful because they are so often the only glimpse of goodness.

Bless the merciful as they carry our own burdens with us; we cannot know how low they are bowed with the grief of the whole world groaning for healing and hope even as they keep moving forward. Bless them in their anger. Bless them in their frustrations. Bless them in their fears. Bless them in their exhaustion. Bless them when they are overwhelmed and want to quit. Bless their sleep and their rising.

Bless the ones who care for the ageing and the dying, for those making the way a bit smoother for the families left behind. Bless the ones who hold the hands of the poor and broken and you and me. Bless the ones running right towards the hurting with their hands outstretched.

At the end of all this may we bless them with rest and gratitude, with compassionate and generous policies and pay, with just systems and actions. At the end of all this, may they know they were our heroes not in spite of their weakness and humanity and moments of breaking but because of them. At the end of this, may we value love and mercy.

Bless them because it takes more courage and strength to be merciful, compassionate, and kind than we could have ever imagined. May they find love and strength, courage and compassion at their rock bottom.

Outrage and Hope   1 comment

Recently I was scrolling through Facebook (often dangerous) and came upon an article that shocked me to the core. Actually I was so outraged that I had to at least try to investigate if the information was  an example of the notorious”fake news”. So for reasons that I trust will become apparent I am resisting the urge to provide you with a link to the article so you can be outraged as well. Suffice it to say that article recounted how one of our news stations broadcast an investigative report on how Iceland has succeeded in almost completely eliminating Downs Syndrome from their population.On the face of it an interesting story until as the story unfolds it becomes apparent that the report is celebrates and praises an achievement that has been brought about by aborting any pregnancies that have the slightest chance of being Down Syndrome children.

Now I confess that to a limited extent this is personal to me. I have friends who have Downs Syndrome children and without exception they are wonderful human beings and the world would unquestionably be poorer without them. While making unique and productive contributions to their communities, they spread  joy and love in ways few others are able to parallel. However as I thought about this further I became dissatisfied with the idea that I could merely join the chorus of protest and outrage. As a follower of Jesus I have so often regretted that all we seem able to do is join the chorus when, if we really believe that Jesus is the hope for the world we should be able to find away to proclaim hope with an equally loud and passionate voice.

By God’s grace in this particular situation I believe I found a way to do just that. One of the most compelling podcasts I listen to comes from an organization simply named Q*  Its founder, Gabe Lyons, and his wife Rebekah have a Downs syndrome child themselves, and in a recent edition interviewed an wonderful lady, Heather Avis. Heather has adopted two of these amazing children. She tells a story of joy and hope that provides a powerful repost to anyone who considers  the elimination of such people is anything to be celebrated. So I enthusiastically provide links both to this conversation and to her book ” The Lucky Ones.”

One final thought, I am wondering if the sharing of hope should not be a priority in my thinking whenever I consider responding to the vast range of tragedies and outrages that litter our news media from home and abroad. If, as a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the answer and that He is enough then it is that hope which is the unique and powerful contribution we can offer, in humility, to these conversations. Otherwise we simply join the rhetoric that fuels the anger that so often brings yet more tragedy… What do you think?

*Q is an organization that facilitates wide-ranging conversations about the most challenging issues of our day. It is probably the most stimulating podcast I listen to and is guaranteed to challenge you to think differently!

Its over…well almost!   Leave a comment

The Chicago Cubs have won the world series, the British , or at least the English, have decided to leave the European Union and by the time you read this the United Staes will have a new president (or almost have one!). Each of these events was preceded by endless  analysis, discussion, prediction and persuasive rhetoric. In some cases the conversation was excited and enthusiastic, and in others harsh and vitriolic, but in every case the current state of technology rendered the quantity unprecedented. In each case the results were unknown until those last few decisive hours and in some cases the result totally unexpected, but they are over!

Almost everywhere except perhaps Chicago, the sporting event that was billed as “changing the face of baseball” is long gone and we are lost in the customary deluge of current sporting analysis. The UK is slowly but surely working out the way forward and out of Europe without destroying any more relationships than necessary and The US will learn to deal with a new president, who ever receives the requisite number of votes. The world both locally and nationally will move on and learn to live with the consequences large and small.

At New Life we have been ” Imagining Heaven” together for the past few weeks and it struck me how different a reality this presents us with as followers of Jesus. The plan of God is still the same and has never changed . We know the result! Revelation 21 excites me more every time I read it . The choice is clear and everyone of us gets to make that choice for ourselves. We do not need to decide whose opinion or analysis is the most persuasive, or wait for the declaration of the majority decision . Our part in God’s unchanging plan is crucial, eternally crucial, simply to decide if we will choose to love and follow our Creator and then take every opportunity He gives to encourage everyone we know to understand what is at stake, make their own choice.

When God declares the plan concluded, our choices will become eternal. We will not simply learn to live with a result, we will either experience the unspeakable joy of love, light and  life in the world God created in the way He intended or experience what it really means to choose a life without God.  I have never felt the urgency of finding ways to share the certainty of that”result” more than I do now. How about you?