Feb

23

2015

Who Are Our Esthers?

Who doesn’t love the story of Esther, the young Jewish girl who put her life on the line in order to save thousands of other Jewish lives? Who isn’t inspired by people like Corrie ten Boom who used their positions of social privilege during World War II to act in the spirit of Esther to save the lives of Jewish people?

This Wednesday evening is Purim, the holiday celebrating God’s deliverance of the Jewish people via the courage of one woman who used her voice and privilege on behalf of those facing mass extermination. Where are the Esthers of today?

I see some Esthers raising their voices on behalf of those trapped by human trafficking and at work in prayer and advocacy on behalf of those who are being persecuted for their Christian faith. I grew up in the faith hearing about the courage of people like this who’d been imprisoned for their faith behind the Iron Curtain and China. Each new generation breeds some hell-bent (in the dictionary sense of the phrase) on discovering new ways to torture, imprison, and dehumanize those who aren’t like them. The Church in the comfy, sleepy West is becoming more aware with each new horrific headline and YouTube video that the ascent and spread of Islamic fundamentalism means Christians (and other people groups, including less-radical Muslims) are an endangered species across the Middle East and in some parts of northern Africa. These are my people, these Christians. If we’re paying attention, we’re grieving and praying for those in the crosshairs. If we’re honest, we’re asking the sobering question, “What if I was the one kneeling on the shore of a Libyan beach in an orange jumpsuit with a blade at my neck? Am I ready to die for Jesus?”*

Frankly, I’m a little discouraged by the scarcity of Esthers in the Church who use their voices to advocate for a people group living in cross-hairs of ISIS and their crew of ideological clones. These are my people, too: the Jews. The old anti-Semitism that’s long held Europe in its thrall (forced expulsions and “conversions”, pogroms, ghettos, concentration camps) has been re-oxygenated by ISIS & Co. The Jewish media I follow on Facebook (Jerusalem Post, TabletJewish Daily Forward, Israel365, Step Up For Israel, and the American Jewish Committee) do a great job reporting on incidences of anti-Semitism. Once in a while, the rest of the world pays attention, like when someone with ties to ISIS, a gun and a death wish marches into a French grocery store and starts killing Jews just because they’re Jewish or takes aim outside a Danish synagogue. Here’s the thing: This isn’t just an “over there” problem. There are warning shots being fired right here, too.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pilgrimsroadtrip/2015/02/who-are-our-esthers/#ixzz3Sa5ufnif

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Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote that “the ultimate thing” is whether you yourself are conscious of that most intimate relation to yourself as an individual. This “ultimate” recognition is a necessary part of growing up. – Sue Monk Kidd

I’ve been blogging through Sue Monk Kidd’s 1990 classic about midlife spiritual transformation, When The Heart Waits. Click here to read earlier posts in the series.

Chapter 3 opens with a crash course in Carl Jung’s developmental theories, as interpreted through a Christian world view. These ideas have been fleshed out further in seminal works by James Fowler and by Hagberg and Guelich. I won’t regurgitate here except to say that the language of first few pages of the chapter may be a bit thick if you’ve never read about ego structures and false selves. Kidd herself reframes the language in terms of necessary brokenness and surrender before moving to a valuable discussion about the “they” forming our identity during the first half of our lives.

“We may like to think that we’re individuals living out our own unique truth, but more often we’re scripts written collectively by society, family, church, job, friends, and traditions…we need our roles and identities, of course, but we also need to live them authentically, in ways that are true to our unique and inner self. When we live exclusively out of the expectations thrust on us from without, rather than living them from the truth emerging within, we become caught in the collective ‘they’.” [Read more]

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Feb

23

2015

Burying My Alleluia

At church the Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday, the Rector told us that this would be the last time we’d be saying the word “Alleluia” in any form as a congregation until Easter. He explained that this was another form of Lenten fasting.
I did a little research, as this custom was unfamiliar to me. I learned many liturgical traditions “buried the alleluia” in some form during Lent.

Jamie Martin-Currie offered a concise explanation of this practice:

The omission of alleluia during Lent goes back at least to the fifth century in the western church. The association of alleluia with Easter led to the custom of intentionally omitting it from the liturgy during the season of Lent, a kind of verbal fast which has the effect of creating a sense of anticipation and even greater joy when the familiar word of praise returns. We do not use it at church. We do not use it at home. We let it rest, as it were, during Lent, so that when it reappears on Easter, we may hear it anew. (http://www.epicenter.org/all-lent/why-do-we-bury-the-alleluia/)

After more than three decades in non-denominational churches, my husband and I enjoyed the richness of liturgical tradition we’d discovered at the Anglican congregation we attended a few years ago. We appreciated the structure of the formal liturgy, the amount of unadorned Scripture proclaimed throughout the service, and the opportunity to participate in communion each week as a centerpiece of worship. My low church history was illuminated by Anglican high church practice.

However, there were some aspects of liturgical worship that made sense to my head, but not my heart. Burying the alleluia was one of them. [Read more]

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We live in an age of acceleration, in an era so seduced by the instantaneous that we’re in grave danger of losing our ability to wait. – Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd wrote these words in 1990, before smart phones and always-on accelerated our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined way back in the good old days of AOL dial-up. Yet our culture was already moving at the speed of frantic twenty-five years ago. The expectation of instant has come at a high cost. She asks, “Where is our willingness to  incubate pain and let it birth something new? What has happened to patient unfolding, to endurance?”

I’m blogging my way through her book When The Heart Waits, which offers some helpful, discussion-worthy insights for those who are jowl-deep in midlife transition. To read the first in this series, click here. In Chapter 2, she addresses what hurry-up does to our souls as we face the transition into midlife. [Read more]

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When you’re a parent terrified by the fact that your newborn didn’t come complete with an owner’s manual, you may be easy prey for a door-to-door salesman who magically appears at your house one day with one just for you. When you sign on the dotted line, desperate for a quick fix, it may take years to discover you’ve sold your family into spiritual slavery. That book of answers you bought are really some bloviator’s opinions packaged as facts. Only your holy anger can set you free.

When your life has been given over to someone who promised your parents an iron-clad Happily Ever After, only holy anger can give you the courage to make a break for it.

When I read the scorching words of regret at RecoveringGrace.org from parents and adult children who came out of Bill Gothard’s ATI home schooling sect, as well as some of the stories of home schoolers who recount tales of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of parents whose love looked a lot like fear and control, I grieve. We home schooled our three kids for twelve years. Though we were never in any of these camps of the extreme, we were surrounded by plenty of people who were. For better or for worse, these people were our community. It was the spiritual equivalent of second-hand smoke. While I don’t regret home schooling, my husband and I have had plenty of sorrow that we didn’t shut down the influence of these people on our family. We were already swimming upstream from the culture around us. My own fears about our family being even more socially isolated if the Gothardite members and fans “excommunicated us” from their circles kept us in the orbit of their bullying culture. A lot of us who home schooled in the 1990′s were, it seemed.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pilgrimsroadtrip/2015/02/ati-regrets-and-the-need-for-holy-anger/#ixzz3Qhz0FkUG

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