Posts tagged celebration
The Impossible

He rode into town on a donkey to shouts of praise. Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel. Palms wave in the air and scatter the road as he clunks along. This is no powerful steed, so the entrance is slow and the praise long. "Hosanna! Save us," the crowd cries. They are desperate to be freed, desperate to become a nation unto themselves, freed -no- saved from the tyranny of the Romans. Surely this is the new David, the promised one. After all, he has already done the impossible. He raised a man from the dead. Everyone heard. Surely this is the new king. With disdain the Pharisees watch the growing fervor of the crowd. Shaking their heads, they throw shade at Jesus, "Look how the whole world has gone after him!"

Once the crowd has made way for Jesus to pass, he and the disciples enter a home and eat. Much to their dismay, Jesus washes their feet. This seems like a hard turn of events following the excitement and emotion of the crowd. But Jesus insists on loving them to the end. As if this were not confusing enough, Jesus then speaks of betrayal and denial. And none of it makes sense. Who would betray the next king? Why would anyone deny a king? Then comes another bomb, "My children, I will only be with you a little longer." What? What does that mean? Is this another parable, Jesus? Where could you possibly be going at a time like this? People are waiting for you. Expecting you. Hoping for you. You can't leave!

Jesus gives them all the wisdom, all the instruction he can muster: 

"I go to prepare a place for you." 

"I am the way and the truth and the life." 

"If you love me, keep my commands."

"Because I live, you also will live."  

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you."

Jesus just keeps going. The disciples can't figure out what he means. Is he being figurative? Is this a puzzle. Or is he saying what we think he might be saying. Is he talking about death? The disciples desperately grasp for meaning, as Jesus goes on and on and on. Revealing more about what's coming next. And then, they come to the garden. 

Kiss. Arrest. Swords flash in the light of torches. Jesus bound. Questions and answers. Questions and answers. Lies and Questions. High priest. Roman governor. Flogging. Nakedness. A purple robe. A crown.made.of.thorns. "Crucify! Crucify!" A Cross. Nails through flesh. "It is finished." Death comes heavily.

Darkness. Pain. Confusion. Frustration. Fear. Silence.

Then resurrection comes. Resurrection comes! He is alive!

We retell this Gospel Story every year. And it never ceases to sound crazy. The Divine in flesh. A King who refuses a heavenly throne and then an earthly one. Blood covered sins. Resurrection from the dead. Resurrection from the dead. But we believe the impossible. We believe in salvation through blood. We believe in heaven, in a prepared place. We believe in the Trinity. We believe in God with us. We believe that the proclamation "Hosanna!" was just too small. Salvation in the most imaginative and painful way. We believe that souls live on.

And as wild as it sounds, this is sometimes the easiest to believe. In eternity. In forever. But my faith believes in other impossible things. 

I believe in the death of injustice, in the life of hope, grace, mercy, and love. I believe in the impossible. I believe there can be healing where there is violence. I believe reconciliation is possible- hearts can be moved, minds can be changed, politics broken. I believe that justice can roll down like a river and we can all taste its sweetness. I believe in the impossible. I believe we can treat people- all people- with dignity; we can recognize their humanity; recognize the divine within. I believe we can do more. Create more jobs. Build more homes. Turn food deserts into promiseland harvests. Subvert racial and gender hierarchies. Consider others more important than ourselves. Slay preferences that lead to exclusion. Set captives free. Welcome the stranger. I believe in impossible things. I believe in death because I believe in life. I believe in the death of -isms. I believe in the life of love. I believe humanity can change because I believe in the impossible. 

I believe in life, in death, in resurrection. Not just for me. Not just for my salvation, for God so loved the world.     

Though the world often feels like Saturday- silence. death. frustration. fear. Though the earth often feels like Saturday- disease. hunger. pain. violence. Though our communities often feel like Saturday- barnabas wreaking havoc on us all. Though our hearts often feel like Saturday- heavy. embarrassed. shamed. sad. I believe in the resurrection. I believe in life, in healing, in fullness. I believe in light, in joy, in peace. I believe in mercy, in second chances, in surprises. I believe in resurrection. 

I believe the impossible. 

Happy Easter, All.

Pause for Celebration

Every now and then I realize that as much as I teach, train, and quite frankly bemoan how far we have yet to go in racial justice (let alone racial reconciliation), sometimes my pendulum swings a little far. Doing this work comes with great sacrifice, and those sacrifices are easy to name. In fact they must be named for the sake of our health. There are so many wounds that must be healed, confessions that must be released, disappointments that must be swallowed, hope that must be found. I think I do a disservice to this work when I am not honest about what it takes, what it risks, what it means. And yet. 

And yet, there are so many reasons why I find this work incredibly fulfilling.

I have some of the most amazing cross-cultural relationships a girl could ask for in this world. I have friends who come alongside me when I am hurt and wounded and tired and overwhelmed. I have friends who know intimately the experiences I describe, who give voice like prose and poetry when they say, "I understand." They validate my experiences with their own scars and let me rest in their arms. I have friends who get angry before I've even realized I've been cut. Friends who cut off the crazy at the pass when I am too tired to respond. Friends who let me take a break, not because they love me, but because they are just as passionate as I am- if I left this earth, their work would continue. Friends who use their power, their influence, their voice. Friends who would let me sleep on their couch. I have friends who make space for my own learning, growth, mistakes. I have friends with whom I don't have to hide. Don't have to leave half myself at the door. They would never allow it. If I actively tried not to talk about how it feels to colored today, the door would be locked until I talked. If I tried to avoid talking about my womanhood, they would bribe me with chocolate shakes or french fries or cheesecake until I said whats on my heart. I have friends with whom I don't have to hide or edit or sugarcoat anything.  

And I have experienced the most incredible worship. Sometimes it is hundreds of people singing in Mandarin and Spanish and English. Sometimes it is 5 women sitting in a circle giving voice to our diversity, our stories, our experience of America, of Christianity. Sometimes it is hearing the voices of "every nation and every tongue" rise in spontaneous prayer across a sanctuary. Sometimes it is one voice in Spanish, my own in English but united in the Spirit. Sometimes it is coffee dates and more cheesecake as I seek to grow in my own understanding of the experiences of other minorities. It is the grace that I receive when I am completely ignorant. It is the trust we share. 

And I have been on the front lines with the most incredible people. I have learned at their feet. Internalized their passions. Been inspired by their lives. Been challenged by their words. I have been protected in their communities, welcomed by their families, considered life-long friends. I have learned about history, given a new appreciation for politics, connected the dots around similar issues. My life has been impacted by kids and adults, students and teachers, lawyers and the incarcerated, social service workers and those experiencing homelessness, kids in foster care and directors of group homes, the hungry and the wealthy- my world is better because of them all. City or suburbs, even the rural appalachian mountains have widen my lens of my concept of justice. 

This work comes at a cost, but I experience life fully. I am not immune to pain but I appreciate healing- I display my scars proudly. I earned them. The disappointments come, but so does change- small wins, over time- lives changed. I have experienced great joy in this work. I have watched women find their voices, come alive, speak truth with grace and wisdom and depth and per-son-al-it-y! I have watched young men alter their educational careers and vocations to be fully devoted to this work. I have experienced the sacrifices of others. I have watched resistance melt into acceptance and become the fire that lights a new path. I have seen guilt and shame morph into anger and passion for making America better. I sometimes witness the ugliness of humanity, but I've also experienced its wondrous beauty.

So, today, I celebrate.