I have a terrible habit of pre-judging people off of my first observations and subsequent assumptions. It is a genuinely terrible and undeniably sinful habit, and in my flesh, I enjoy it a lot. But, here is the thing. People are always more interesting that you presume them to be. Always.
I felt it before I saw it. I can't describe how or why, but I felt it. As I opened my front door the hair on my neck and arms stood on end, my heart rate spiked, my breath was sapped from my lungs. Right there, a few feet from our front door, in the middle of the otherwise untouched snow of our front yard, someone had carved a 12-foot by 12-foot swastika. I wasn't prepped to see that symbol. I knew something was off, but I wasn't prepped for the depth of that. I closed the door, prayed, asked the Lord for courage and clarity, and then stepped out into the cold night, fairly certain that whoever had wanted to leave that message was probably still around.
Do they need admonishment? May I give it humbly, lovingly and boldly. Do they need encouragement? May I give it faithfully, fervently and fearlessly. Do they need help? May I give it gently, helpfully and empathetically
Like most of you (I presume) I sat aghast yesterday as I saw the scenes unfolding in Washington DC, and in particular, the scenes of rioters overtaking the US Capitol. As someone who is strangely as steeped in decades of US exceptionalism as the rest of you even though I didn’t grow up here, it was stark and troubling. We expect to see scenes like this on our screens from far flung places that don’t have the experience and “sophistication" of generations of democratic experience. It felt like a movie, a far-fetched one with really bad acting. And yet, it wasn’t a movie. It was a mirror.
We don't like to live with tension. We don't like ambiguity. We don't know how to embrace the word ... AND. What the spread of this virus has been helpful in exposing is that we don't know what we don't know. It has revealed the limitations of our creatureliness in a pretty stark fashion. It is new to everyone and so we are all learning together. You would think that would eliminate our hubris, but it might be making it worse.
Beauty protests in a way like nothing else can. The ability to make beautiful things is a divine imprint on humanity that isn't eroded by even the most heinous of schemes to dehumanize people.
I am an exhausted Evangelical, but I am hopeful that God will use this particularly bumpy cultural moment to rouse a sleepy church from its prolonged nap of cultural Christianity, and that what might emerge from this all would be a vibrant Kingdom community of faith prepared to live as sojourners and exiles until we arrive on the shores of the land that we are actually all longing for.
It explained why I would come home after multiple church services on a Sunday with a level of exhaustion that I couldn’t even begin to describe. Not just tired, soul level exhausted. It explained why my true friendships were few in numbers and were all with people I had known for decades. I have always been a guy with hundreds of genuinely fond acquaintance relationships and very few friendships. It explained my anxiety around situations and scenarios with lots of strangers where I had to mingle and not where I got to have the relative position of safety of being the pastor guy on stage. It explained a lot of my self-loathing that I put myself through because I wasn’t more fun as a hang, or why I couldn’t be more winsome and charming in conversation. It explained … my life.
Maybe Halloween gives us a true a glimpse of the spiritual death that lingers behind immaculate lawns and electric door min-vans? It isn’t just in October that my neighborhood is filled with skeletons. It’s year round. Oh God, please breathe. What I need, and what my neighbors need is the breath of the Spirit.