Monday, June 19, 2006

Whose am I? And what is Jesus doing? (Thoughts for a rainy Pittsburgh morning)

This morning, as I sat in my car, looking at the abandoned tennis court, rain pitter patting and then pouring down and then pitter patting and then pouring...I discovered that I had left my walkman at home. So I read about the eighth mark of New Monasticism: Communities of Celibates and Marrieds--that community is a family, whether it is made up of blood ties or not.

And it occurred to me that right now, the main relationships I'm in are without confusion of face, at this blessed moment. I know whose I am. I am God's child. I am Jesus' follower. I am my daddy's #1 daughter. I am friend of Babs, Joke, and Erin (among others). Emily loves me. So does Pete. I'm not anyone's girlfriend, wife, or mother. And that's okay. Although, when I wrote words to that effect in the journal I found in my bag, I wept.

And it reminded me of Gerard Manley Hopkins' words: "Margaret, are you grieving/Over Goldengrove unleaving?" and the last verse: "It is the blight man was born for,/It is Margaret you mourn for." Because I wasn't weeping for Darfur, or the lack of good leadership in our nation's high offices. I wasn't weeping for my abandoned tennis court. I wasn't weeping for anyone but ME. Me, the one that doesn't have a ring. Me, the one who doesn't have a child. Me, the one who shares her bed with Marvin, the teddy bear, who ends up on the floor every morning.

The sermon at church last night was on Mark 6 and looking deeply at our Christology. Do we believe that Jesus is here, now? Or are we looking at him as a good teacher to emulate, someone who lived 2000 years ago (What would Jesus Do?). Instead, we should be asking, what is Jesus doing, now. That Jesus is saying to us, "Get out of the way, FOLLOW MY LEAD." We are not Jesus' hands, feet, body. We are his FOLLOWERS. I know it will take probably all week for this concept to sink into my thick head...and so, yes, we need to examine what defines us as followers. But we must rely on HIM. He is the one that starts the change in us. HE chose US.

The call to worship was verses from various psalms and included this one: Lead me to a rock that is higher than myself. Oh the humanity. Because some moments I'd rather just settle in the valley with a nice man and have a few bambinos of my own. But as Lauren Winner says, "If you are single, then you're called to be single." (I might have paraphrased her words a little.)

I feel like I'm taking dance lessons, or preparing for an elaborate trip. Both work with the analogy of one step forward, two steps back.

John talked about how in Mark 6, when Jesus told the disciples to go, he told them to go unprepared. Take your shoes. Take the shirt on your back. (The words written between the lines are these: rely on the people you will be meeting and ministering to. Rely on THEIR hospitality.) I wasn't able to sit still--the chairs my friends chose were uncomfortable, so I spent the second half of the sermon pacing back and forth in the back of the Great Hall. John said, Jesus did not say, fill up your truck with 2 by 4s. Max out your account at Home Depot, because these people need what you can offer. Nope. Jesus went against the Boy and Girl Scout oaths: Be prepared.

Which speaks to me in volumes. I am a ragamuffin of the nth degree. I could write a volume on this. But here's the thing: here's what puts Christianity in a corner, away from the other thoughts of Life: We are supposed to be broken! In our brokenness, we participate in His ministry. I am very unschooled in other thoughts, but I think Buddhism talks a lot about suffering. But I don't think it has the joy in suffering that Christianity does. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (NIV) Our suffering points us back to Him, the one who made us, the one who suffered far beyond what we will ever suffer or comprehend.

It is my brokenness that allows me to be a friend, because I can participate in brokenness--I (have) experience(d) great loss, depression, bipolar disorder, etc.

Change is the life of the pilgrim.

Pray that there will be more workers for the harvest, NOT work the harvest. In returning and rest you will be saved, NOT in doing. Of course, I need to practice what I preach, nothing new there.

On my wall is something I try to attain and forever fall short: Pray More, Do less. I am not there yet.

But if I can say this to others, I can say it to myself, "Don't try to get ahead of Him. It's basically how people burn out."

I'm posting this now, because I have to go meet Babs and Terzo for coffee. And because these thoughts are as unfinished in my mind as they will appear on the screen. I welcome your thoughts.


Amy said...

so much to think on from this one.

I am in the midst of change (aren't we all, all the time?!) but one of the things that I am trying to keep sight of is the idea that we don't have to have all our ducks in a row in order to do what is right. God will lead, God will open doors, God will make it happen. I'm trying to remain confident that it will all work out DESPITE me being unprepared. Thank you for this, today!!

Sarah Louise said...

It is such a hard thing to learn that we are not our own, but HIS!

Joke said...

I like to think of it as a "bicycle built for two." Since I sit in the back, all I have to do is pedal and not try to steer.


wilsonian said...

I'm struggling with some of this, after thinking about it all day. This is what keeps coming to my mind... Jesus told us to feed the hungry, to look after the widows and the orphans... the "global christian church" (mostly western churches) hold 13 trillion dollars in wealth... and yet millions of people starve to death, many of them widows and orphans (thanks to HIV/AIDS). I think I understand the concept behind "pray more, do less" but have a hard time reconciling that to the reality that we have the ability to live out the Sermon on the Mount, and to take care of the poor, but most of us (including me) choose to pray that God would help those people. Well, He already asked us to.

So I guess what I'm saying... He asked us to look after each other, He gives us the resources to look after each other, and we stand around asking God what to do.

I don't know. I guess I'm just slower in working all this out.

BabelBabe said...

Oh SL. You ARE a wonderful friend. A thoughtful writer. A good playmate (to my boys). (And me : ))

Sarah Louise said...


Not that we shouldn't ALSO do things, but that we should do them in unity with His guiding. Some things we should just do. The 10 commandments are pretty self explantatory. But we need to infuse prayer into our action or we're just being moral and that's not the point. Tons of people are being moral already--we are called to be followers of a Living breathing God.


Babs, thanks! You're an awesome friend too! Mwah!

wilsonian said...

I don't disagree with you. I guess I should only speak for myself... there are lots of things that I should just do, but don't.

see-through faith said...

rely on THEIR hospitality. It's a lesson that so many of us (esp me) find hard to learn.

But what you write here, and the comments (amy, joke, erin) all speak volumes too. What is jesus doing? He's radically transforming us .. and ouch .. that hurts