Thursday, December 10, 2015
Nothing feels quite right, and that's probably okay.
I hear people talking about slowing down to enjoy the season and honestly, I don't understand what that means. Life doesn't slow down for anything, and I'm not sure it's supposed to. We'll bake our cookies and wrap our gifts and do all of those things because we want to and we can, but arriving at a place where we avoid interruption or inconvenience because we're trying so hard to savor Christmas is not the Jesus way.
My heart this morning is heavy for my neighbors.
It's heavier still for you and me.
We can buy gifts for "the needy", hang mittens on the tree at church, pack a shoebox, choose an angel, write the check for an extra twenty bucks for our sponsored child across the ocean, but we resist opening our door to the heaviness of fractured lives. We avoid it year-round, but especially in December.
Earlier this week, Cory's friend Tom arrived back at jail. It was a pretty short turn-around. They talked about what circled him back to incarceration and here's what he said, "I went back to the drug game because the drug game takes anyone."
Are we listening?
Can you hear the hearts breaking all across our cities while we stand in our Sunday best and sing carols, swearing Christmas makes our weary hearts rejoice, failing to acknowledge that we are not the weariest? We hate the thought of that. We wish it away. We congregate together and pretend there is peace on earth.
But we don't prepare Him room just by contemplating His birth or reading our Bible more. And we sure don't prepare him room by being festive.
We prepare Him room by preparing room for His beloveds - literal, tangible room. We rearrange our schedule and push the furniture to the edges of our heart. We clear a path, make a bed, pick up the phone, simmer the soup.
A couple months ago I wrote this post about our friends living exiled in poverty and got an email that took the wind out of me. With her permission, I'm sharing it here, because I can't shake it (emphasis is mine):
I live this everyday. From both sides. I've bee a nurse for 32 years but we live paycheck to paycheck. We live in a rental house and you can see the landfill from my house. I worry over spending $5 on myself and go without dental care because I can't afford the co-pay. I long for Christ but each time I reach out to Christians I'm ignored because I'm not in the in crowd.
I feel like your neighbors, like God's stepchild forgotten and unloved.
This from a woman who used to have faith.
The church I once loved has become so judge mental that it would condemn to hell those who don't fit the mold. I work in a job where I see the worst in people. Some of the rudest people I care for are good Christians. Yet I blindly stumble around trying to find my way back to a father who I wonder ever loved me.
Blessing praised by others as God's providence become arrows to my heart as I struggle. Does God really only love white middle class women who live in upscale homes and have etsy business and are stay at home moms who have disposable income to spend on $90.00 hoodies and $50.00 necklaces and Hawaiian vacations? It seems that way on social media.
This is my question Like so many of those you speak of. I feel this is who to church needs to seek out and love! What I wouldn't give to be invited to a conference but sadly, people like me and your neighbors don't get to attend things like that. Just my thoughts from the other side of the fence.
It has gotten to the point where kindness to me and my neighborhood is shocking and that's sad that for most of us on the other side, church has become more like an exclusive club and not a hospital for hurting people!
Are we listening, church?
Jesus appreciates a good party. He doesn't mind gifts, and I believe in my heart that he is pro-cookie.
But let's not kid ourselves. He's waiting for us to notice the hurting hearts around us. He's waiting for us to care, and then to act. He's waiting for us to honor him by loving our neighbor, no matter how messy it might get or what it might cost us.
He came to ransom the captives.
Every last one of us.