Monday, August 31, 2009

Open Seas in Stormy Weather

I'm here. Paddling, staying afloat. But there are some pretty stiff waves.

With Jesus in the boat...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Racial Profiling, Ethnic Cleansing, Hate Crimes: The Answer

International students of different tongue, color, and culture congregate on nearby campuses. They bring the world to our doorstep. Opportunities abound to befriend them. I regularly interact with varying paradigms and backgrounds as I become acquainted with them, discussing family relationships, hopes and dreams, struggles and accomplishments.

They are a reflection of the worlds from which they come, their home cultures. I encounter mindsets which have been shaped in ways foreign to my own. It has been enlarging as I grasp these vital differences and watch them come to terms with ways unknown to them; not only American ways, but the Ugandan talking with the Turk, the student from Hong Kong sharing ideas with a friend from Zimbabwe, all discover they are steeped in ancient notions of priorities and truths. They cling to what is comfortable and find their prejudices influence in deeper ways than they thought possible.

Like it or not, we are all affected by generations of hatred and bigotry; impulses are automatic and programmed. Emotional responses are not based in reason. This stuff goes deep.

Ephesians 2 has the answer:

11 Don't forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders by birth. You were called "the uncircumcised ones" by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from God's people, Israel, and you did not know the promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you belong to Christ Jesus. Though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought near to him because of the blood of Christ.

14 For Christ himself has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. 15 By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. 17 He has brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and to us Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us, both Jews and Gentiles, may come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. 19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family. 20 We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also joined together as part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. (NLT)

So I say this: political boundaries and maneuvering, education and programs, laws and legislation are all just band-aids. The wounds will remain for countless generations apart from Christ and His redemptive power.

Let's preach the gospel, the Good News, to every nation, tongue, and tribe - to all people everywhere. It is the only real truth, the only genuine answer, the only honest and healing balm.

He is our peace, He has broken down every wall.
It is a transformation from within. And it works. Nothing else will.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Theater Phenomenon

There is something that happens at the end of every theater production that all participants will attest to: withdrawal.

Is it because the concerted effort is suddenly completed? The relationships forged after hours of intense rehearsal together are no longer essential? The adrenalin rush of performance in front of an audience is past? An intimacy developed with the actual characters you are playing must be packed away? (I know, that sounds so "artsy" -- but it's true. They become real people to you, and you miss them.)

I've been at this for some years now, this theater stuff. I've tried to short circuit this let down effect. But as of yet, it appears inevitable.

This time around, I left town first thing the next morning for vacation with family. It has been wonderful, but I still have moments of melancholy. Weird. I am wanting to talk about the show, to relive the joy -- after all, it filled my world for several weeks, it and the people with whom I worked so closely.

But, it's time to move on. The real world beckons. Children need loving. Gardens await weeding and mulching. The fall season requires planning and forethought. It is time.

So, slowly I crawl back from my world of make-believe to this place of reality. And that is totally good and I choose to be ready. But as of yet, I have no solution regarding this phenomenon. After all, those weeks of make-believe were packed with intense energy and fun. Really.