The Glass Darkly

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Simple Living America

Some really great posts at this blogspot. Both provocative and encouraging:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What America Can Do!

I can’t help but stand in awe of what happened on election day. Each day since, I look at news reports or commentary on the TV and need to remind myself that Obama REALLY did win. I feel like I have to keep pinching myself to make sure this is really true . . . a change has happened.

Yet I also heard Obama say in his acceptance speech that while election day will stand as a significant marker in history, the test for change is yet to come. We just opened the door of possibility.

So many things happened in this election year that seem significant, that indicate changes in American society. Just the fact that the electorate voted in an African-American, just the fact that after 2 elections in which I couldn’t believe the politics that existed continued to be supported and now we have a different party in the oval office, just the fact that we voted for someone with lots of international connections after all the fear and false allegations about that leading up to the election . . . just those facts alone make me hopeful! Those are indicators of change.

Maybe, on a deeper level, the change is that, as a people, we are becoming more self-aware and willing to make greater leaps toward “justice for all.” Maybe we are more willing to stand up against rhetoric that demonizes, excludes and incites fear.

And I was happy to hear McCain's concession speech step past the "opponent" language to call Americans to unity. I hear Obama longing for bi-partisan cooperation rather than Democratic dominance. I found a Republican Party website that had the following to say about Obama:

Let Us Hope and Pray the Change He Spoke of Will Be For The Good of All America. We are Living in an Historic Time - Martin Luther King Would Be Proud. America Should Be Proud That We Have Come To This Moment.

Although We Do Not Agree With Obama on Many Issues We Will Fight the Fight on Future Issues but for now, Let Us Remember - We Are American's - First and Foremost.

May God Bless Barack Obama!
May God Bless Our Elected Officials!
May God Bless Our Troops!
May God Bless America!

I can only feel hopefulness that, in light of the changes that have happened already, deeper, more sustainable change can begin to transform our nation. Yes, it is amazing what America can do!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Miracle of Simplicity

I’ve always been inspired by the pictures of Jesus I see portrayed in the Bible. He was not a King born to a busy palace or even in a busy hospital. His parents were not preoccupied with meetings or national policies or work-related travel one would expect of a king’s family. No, his was a simple carpenter family, no pretenses to uphold or expensive tastes to sustain. He was born into simplicity. A simple, quiet barn, something I can relate to.

For as social as I can be at times, I treasured the quietness of our barn when I was a child. Sitting in human solitude, with the quiet munching of animals all around me brought peace to my soul when I was distressed. As I performed my chores in the darkness of the evening, my senses were keenly attuned to the sounds around me, of animals moving in their pens, of crickets and frogs and birds and other animals outside the barn. It was if time stood still and all that mattered was my existence in that moment in time. The busy-ness of life in my home felt so distant. I could focus on the simple rhythms of stable life: eating and breathing, and resting, and eating again. So uncomplicated, so simple, stripped to the basic functions of life. I wish all of life could be as simple as the stable picture of Jesus.

But even as Jesus entered ministry, somehow he was able to expose the things of life that humans so skillfully complicate. He told his parents they should not worry about him when they thought he was lost in Jerusalem. He told his disciples not to worry when they were thrashing around in a boat in a storm. He simply handed out bread and fish when there was obviously only enough for one small boy. He didn’t even debate when he was accused by authorities trying to pin him with religious malpractice. He simply asked questions or told stories of everyday life to redirect the accusations back to simple truths. Somehow Jesus brought simplicity to life situations in which humans felt despair or confusion.

Perhaps a simple approach to life does not evoke images of dignity and importance that a King should represent. Yet Jesus’ simple touch or simple questions pierced right through the complicated mess people felt they were in and brought peace greater than a thousand armies could provide at a king’s command. His schedule was not so packed that he couldn’t stop to notice a woman who touched his cloak for healing. And it was not beneath him to hold children on his lap or go fishing with the disciples. Who could imagine a King fashioned as such a simple man, yet commanding even the winds and storms to bring peace.

Jesus’ unconditional love and simple approach to life moved hearts in such a way that masses of people chose to follow him. There was something attractive about this carpenter in contrast to the religious leaders of the time. Jesus made the Gospel accessible. He didn’t package it in theological rhetoric or the list of do's/dont's prescribed by the Temple. The Gospel was incarnated, something living and breathing, something that took on the simple rhythms of everyday life.

God became flesh in the quietness and simplicity of a stable, surrounded by the sounds of animals chewing their cuds and stirring in the hay. It was not a palace, by any means. In fact, had Jesus been born in a palace, his birth would have been only one of a dozen of other important things that his family would have handled that day, recorded in public record. No, instead he was born in the stable, the dirty place behind the inn. The people at the inn didn’t care about the stable. But those whom the angels had invited to visit realized the significance of the event and bowed in worship. This simple place was one of peace, where the love of God could be outpoured, unhampered by the hustle and bustle of human agenda and chaos.

Simplicity . . . ridding our lives of the hustle and bustle of complicated things. It’s not just a choice, it’s a miracle that happens when the Gospel becomes incarnate within us. Simplicity is living proof that it is possible to hold faith, love and hope in a world that is churning in fear, hopelessness and hate. People want solutions to the complicated mess we call humanity. The answer lies in learning to know the living and breathing God we see in Jesus and to whom we give testimony.

As we step out of the din of the busy-ness around us and step into the quietness of the stable, we open ourselves anew to hear and see the people longing for and welcoming the Gospel incarnate. May our lives reflect that simple reality of love, hope and peace so that others may receive Christ’s touch through us.