Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mary's Revolution


The Gospel is controversial

Jesus came as a baby not an adult who rose to the throne, the head of a government. His birth was told to the lowest of society: Shepherds would were shunned and to the foreigner – Wise Men. Jesus was found with the lowest of society rather than inside the synagogue preaching. Jesus did not judge either. He called out the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and did not wage war but preached and practiced grace, forgiveness, and love of both neighbor and enemy.

Today I believe Jesus would be found with the homeless, the orphaned, the immigrant, the poor, the minority, the imprisoned, the refugee, the tortured, persecuted and killed.

I am skeptical that he would be found in the church and among those with great power, those blessed with great wealth and those who pass laws to oppress and discriminate against those in the minority.

In the gospel of Luke Mary gives us a description of who the God of all creation is.

Luke 1:46 - 55

And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-- holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."

When Mary says, "...he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts," she speaks of a moral revolution. 

The proud will be made humble. 

The story of a young woman named Mikah shows us what humbleness looks like, the opposite of pride and conceit.

When Mikah's mother came down with chicken pox when she was carrying Mikah. As a result Mikah was born with multiple birth defects. Despite that her spirit and cognitive capabilities were not affected. She constantly thought about others and how she could help them have a better life. Age, gender, color, ability or disability did not matter to her. If they were in need she wanted to help. Before dying at the age of 21 she continued to pray that her grandmother would come to know the Lord.

People like Mikah remind us that we are here on earth to serve and help others, not help ourselves

When Mary says, " He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.," she speaks of a social revolution.

Hundreds of years ago a wandering scholar named Muretus lived. He was very educated but also very poor. He became very sick, and he was taken to the place where the destitute were kept. The people who cared for him did not know that he was a scholar and that he understood the scholar’s Latin. One day the doctors were discussing his case in Latin and they were saying that he was a poor creature of value to no one and that it was hopeless and unnecessary to expend care and money on attention to such a worthless human. Muretus looked up and answered in their own Latin, “Call no man worthless for whom Christ died.

In America homicide is in the top 3 causes of death among people between the ages of 10 – 24.

  • The rate for Caucasian males is 1.5 per 100,000
  • The rate for Hispanic males is  7% higher than Caucasians
  • And the rate for Black males is 30% higher than Caucasians
  • In America 1 in 5 adults has a disability according to the US 2010 census. That is 19% of the population. Adults with disabilities face discrimination all the time because of their lack of ability by those who feel superior to them and all they can do for themselves.

In America dependency tends to be seen as an evil word. 

  • Lastly, but possibly most important, 686,000 victims of abuse were documented in 2012 in America. 


All these children and adults have worth because Christ died for them and when we discard, neglect, abuse, mistreat and kill we have done these things to the Christ child.

When Mary says, "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty," she speaks of a economic revolution

Consider these statistics: 
  • Homelessness: 610,042 per night in January 2013
  • Poverty: 15.9 % unchanged from 2011-2013
  • Unemployment: 5.8% Currently – 18,517,022 without work
But for you who have been held down, held back, oppressed and mistreated I have a word of favor from your Lord and Creator: 

Isaiah 61: 1 – 3 says (NIV), 

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Because my God and Christ stand with the least of these I stand with:

  • Young males of color who fear leaving their homes for fear they will be killed because of the color of their skin.
  • I stand with all children who have been abused and lost all trust in adults
  • I stand with children who have been neglected and abandoned
  • I stand with all those who are disabled and want the respect they deserve
  • I stand with the homeless who want a roof over their head and a pillow to lay their head on.
  • I stand with those who do not know where there next meal is coming from.
  • I stand with adults who work full time and still can't make ends meet
  • I stand with the innocent who are in prison
  • I also stand with the guilty who are in prison for Christ died for them as well.
  • I stand with children who want an education around the world only to be shot and killed by grown men who are intimidated.
  • I stand with teachers in America and around the world who sacrifice their own lives to protect their students when madmen arm themselves with assault rifles.
  • I stand with those who are oppressed by laws that deny them the equal rights simply because someone doesn't like their lifestyle.

Because my God and Christ stand with the least of these I stand AGAINST:


  • Modern day Herods who have no conscience and will kill any and all children who are a threat to their power.
  • I stand against governments who continue to oppress the poor and praise the wealthy and powerful, for they are oppressing the Christ child and supporting the government that wanted him dead.
Do you the church believe in God and your Savior Jesus Christ? If you do you must stand with the least of these and work to bring down all those with power who seek to oppress the voiceless. Will you be a voice to the voiceless and stand with the least of these?


Monday, October 27, 2014

Adaptation

          Two weeks ago I was on vacation on the North Carolina coast. On one of those days my friend and I took a ferry ride from Harkers Island to Cape Lookout on the Core Banks. On our ride over the ferry captain slowed down so we could see one of the many wild horses that roam and graze on Shackleford Banks.



          He shared with us that prior to 1954 Core Banks and Shackleford Banks were one island. No water separated them. But in October of 1954 Hurricane Hazel came barreling into North Carolina and changed the one island, among other things. It pushed water from the Atlantic Ocean so far in the one island became two. The wild horses home was split into two islands. What the captain said next was very fascinating. The wild horses can be found every night on Core Banks, home of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Yet that picture above and below is of a horse on Shackleford Bank.


          Since Hurricane Hazel the horses began, and still do swim across the water from Core Banks; in the am, to Shackleford Banks to graze, and return every evening to sleep on Core Banks. Despite a very devastating hurricane they adapted to their environment and continue to thrive.



          It got me thinking that if wild horses can adapt to a new environment after a storm then we, human beings, can too. The question is will we? In my 42 years of living I have observed two types of personalities when it comes to change. There are those who go with the flow and others who dig their heels in and refuse to change/adjust. I find that the latter group is angry, bitter and down right miserable. We face storms, big and small everyday of our lives, and if we allow ourselves to be flexible and nimble then we will survive the storm and THRIVE just as the Wild horses do today.

Things to remember when deciding how you will let storms shape you:

1 - Happiness and Joy never killed anyone but anger and bitterness surely can.

2 - God can't do anything with you if you are not willing to move and bend to his will.





Monday, September 29, 2014

Making a choice: Life or Death

              As I have begun Brian McLaren's latest book, We Make the Road by Walking, each chapter so far has focused on how we have a choice to make. The choice is whether we will eat from the tree of life or from the tree of good and evil, knowledge. We all know what happened after Adam and Eve eat from the tree of good and evil but do we consider daily what tree we will eat from. If we choose the tree of good and evil then the result will be death but if we eat from the tree of life then we have life. We are alive in this world and in line with the Will of God.

When we eat from the tree of good and evil we position ourselves in the place of God, judge of all things good and bad, and if we look at the world closely it can and does lead to us killing those we deem to be evil and bad.

Is this the world we really want to live in? Do you like what has become of humanity today?

We can do better! We can! Philippians 2:1 - 11 says:

            Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!
 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father

Allow me to leave you some words of wisdom from Kid President.



May we LIVE and not be lame.






Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Discovered Gem

Moving is a chore, a burdensome chore but you can find little gems you have collected along they way as you clean out and pack up. I want share with you a gem I found. I left two bibles unpacked to bring to my work to use while several other bibles and books are packed up till I move November 1. In college I learned a new song at a United Methodist retreat. I must have really liked it because I wrote the words to it in a bible. The words are below along with a YouTube video of a young lady singing the song. I hope this little gem I found blesses you this day.

Bread for the Journey

Give us bread for the journey, give us bread.
Give us bread for the journey, give us bread.
When our legs are getting heavy,
and we're hanging down our heads.
give us bread for the journey, give us bread.

Guide our way as we travel, guide our way.
Guide our way as we travel, guide our way.
There's so many roads before us,
where to go is hard to say,
guide out way as we travel, guide our way.

Make us one with each other, make us one.
Make us one with each other, make us one.
All the walls we built around us,
may we learn to tear them down,
make us one with each other, make us one.

Lead us home to the garden, lead us home.
Lead us home to the garden, lead us home.
Where we'll live with all creation,
find our place and never roam,
lead us home to the garden, lead us home.

Give us bread for the journey, give us bread.
Give us bread for the journey, give us bread.
When our legs are getting heavy,
and we're hanging down our heads,
give us bread for the journey, give us bread.


                              



Sunday, September 7, 2014

10 Things Sophie Taught Me



#10 - The Need for Companionship
See, I don't trust people (rarely if I do) and if I have your trust it can be broken easily. Sophie changed that by teaching me what companionship means and why it is necessary to have to live in this world. Thank you Sophie. I love you.

#9 - How to relax
Prior to getting her I did not know how to relax. My life always revolved around drama, I didn't know how to live without drama. But when she wanted to rest rather than play I rested with her. Thank you Sophie for teaching me how to relax.

#8 - Taking Responsibility
I am a single woman with no children, and I am fine with that. I never saw myself with children because I did not want to take on that responsibility. The curious thing is dog's need their owners to take responsibility for their well-being. Sophie made that really easy. I loved to take care of her. In her last 2 and a half months of life she really needed me to be responsible. By me ensuring she had her medicine at the right time she remained pain free as the tumor continued to grow within her nose.

#7 - Facing your Fears
Sophie taught me that you are never to old to overcome your fears. Sophie hated water when I adopted her and in 2012 I learned she hated any type of bridge that went over or was near water. When we took our trip to Martha's Vineyard I had to carry her onto the Ferry and off of it. In 2013 me and her were walking on the Roanoke green way which runs beside the Roanoke river. That day she crossed not only 1 bridge over the water but 2 for a total of 4 when you count going and coming back. She overcame her fear. I can too. Thank you Sophie.

#6 - How to play
No matter how old Sophie got she loved to play. When ever I was doing things on the computer, work related or more recently school assignments, she would nudge her head up against the computer. That was her way of saying, "Mom, it's play time"

 




#5 - Live life Now
I always hear people say they are working hard now so they can play hard when they retire. I have always thought that was strange because I had friends who would never make it to retirement, they were dead. While I had Sophie we traveled and moved a lot. Here is a list of the places we have been:

Beaufort, NC

Atlantic Beach, NC

Pennsylvania

Newark, Delaware

Wickford, Rhode Island

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Peaks of Otter, VA

Salem, VA

Roanoke, VA

Greenville, NC

Tarboro, NC


Martha's Vineyard


Salem, VA


Peaks of Otter


Beaufort, NC

#4 - The Importance of Trust
When I first adopted Sophie she would not let my father come near her. He fed her and gave her water everyday for two weeks before she would allow him to pet her. She had trust issues, no doubt. Over the years she was on this earth she would come to befriend 4 men. That may not seem a lot but it is a lot further along from where she came from. While I am still learning I have found people that are worthy of trust.

#3 - Be flexible
Since I adopted Sophie in 2007 we have moved 5 times. Every place we moved she made it home. Moving can typically create turmoil within a family pet but Sophie always went with the flow. All these moves represent change in my life and if anyone knows me I HATE change. This is a valuable lesson she has taught me. When you are flexible things seem to be a lot easier.

#2 - Loyalty
I think because she knew I loved her she was always loyal, always protecting me from unknown people who came to our homes. Our world lacks in this area. We all need to know we have a loyal friend so that is what I strive to be to all who I know. Loyal.

The #1 thing Sophie taught me is:

ENDURANCE

The picture below was taken the day before she died.


At this point she could no longer breath through her nose and her sleep was constantly being interrupted because dog's are not designed to breath through their mouth, though that is what she did. What this picture does not show you is the locksmith who is replacing a deadbolt on my door. Here she is in the midst of struggling to breath watching this man and her normal stance of protection over me. All I can deduce from this is that she not only knew I loved her but she felt it. My love is what compelled her to protect and remain loyal to me, resulting in her to endure what I can only imagine was a difficult and unbearable decline thanks to cancer. 

What I realize is that I can endure anything because I not only know that God loves me but I feel the love of God.






Thursday, July 31, 2014

R.I.P.



Sophie Henderson

April 1, 2004 - July 30, 2014

My Best Friend