When I Can’t Get Anything Done


I’m suppose to be writing a post for a friend’s blog about my experience with patriarchy and the church.  Yes, I’ve experienced it. Yes, I have things to say. But I have to confess, it is not at the forefront of my mind lately.

My mind and heart are weighed down by news around the world. I find myself avoiding the internet, yet simultaneously being compelled to constantly scroll through.  I’m grasping for order in my home because the world feels so chaotic. Now that my kids’ dresser drawers are sorted and all the lego in put away I sit down to write but still feel overwhelmed.

The words and phrases flash through my twitter feed, blare through kitchen radio, pop up in prayer requests at church.  Syrian refugees…ISIS…Mike Brown… Sudan… Ebola… Gaza…. hostages…suicide…a missing plane…a shot down plane  It is not letting up, like rain in February – constant flooding – overwhelming waters.

I know the world is never completely at peace but some weeks feel heavier than others. I seem to have cracked with the story of a stranger.  The news of Mike Brown’s death sounded like a horrible story from 1961.  But no. Unarmed, young African-American men are being gunned down by police in 2014.   I could not feel more helpless. It is one thing to feel helpless about something like a missing plane but it is another to see events unfold like those in Ferguson, Missouri.  I’m speechless.

I’m usually someone who tackles things head on but this makes me want to hide.  I’m known for being a direct communicator and as someone who deals with things right away. But last night after a quick read through my twitter feed, I found myself wanting to hide.  

I didn’t want to “feel” and I definitely didn’t want talk about anything. My husband was awake and at home but I couldn’t even bring myself to find him. I just wanted to hide from all that was going on in the world. I wanted to curl up on the couch and watch countless episodes of my new netflix discovery, The Good Wife and eat bowls full of honey-nut cheerios.

This all happened in the wake of Robin William’s suicide and the outpouring of writing/tweets on mental health. I am feeling overwhelmed this week but many people live like this everyday. Lord have mercy.

For brief moments, seconds really, throughout the day, I would go back to the communion table.  This week, our pastor used a liturgy for communion – joining with people around the world who eat and drink together. He prefaced our liturgy with something like, “You of great faith or you of little faith are welcome to the table. For it is not me who invites you, but Christ himself.”  The liturgy, read in unison, reminded me of the global Church. I thought about my brothers and sisters around the world, many suffering greatly, but all of us trying to hold on to the hope at the table.

Slowly I began to eat, drink, remember and believe.  

Although hiding with Julianna Margulies and cereal has been helpful, one day soon I hope to come to the surface of this flood. I want to stay a little longer at table and face the overwhelming waters from there.



Hopeful Allegiance


One of my first posts I wrote on this blog (well on my old, ugly blog) was inspired by a article about the rise of the Christian left.  The Christian left has been close to my heart since I first heard the word Jesus (I’m totally serious).  I know, it’s odd. I grew up in a lovely family that was basically non-religious.  Christmas trees-yes, Church-no; Easter baskets-yes, Jesus-no; Good morals-yes, Bible reading, no.  You get the picture. How I came to faith is a story I’ll have to tell another day but I will tell you it involves my parents honouring my desire to be like my friends and go to “church” but them knowing that the church my friends were going to would not appreciate the wine with dinner. Being smart parents, they found a different church for me to try.

Since I didn’t grow up in the church or a “Christian home” (whatever that means) I’ve always been passionate about the face of Christianity. In other words, I care about what the rest of the world thinks of us.  You see, because I’ve always felt slightly like an outsider, I’ve been forced to look at the church from that perspective. What do they think of us? Unfortunately I dwelled on this too much for too long. For years I didn’t even want to say what I believed because I knew the sad truth of what I would be lumped into (anti-gay, close minded, and in my American context, the dreaded “R” word…Republican).  Trust me, I was sure I wasn’t the R-word from a very young age.

Both photos credit to:  Jennifer Upton

Both photo credits to: Jennifer Upton

Then one day I was feeling my uncomfortable self at a giant Christian conference and I stumbled on a rather ugly book called How to Rescue the Earth without Worshipping Nature by none other than Tony Campolo. For any of you who have read this out-of-print wonder, you probably forgot about it by now.  It really wasn’t much of a book and there have been dozens of thoughtful and inspiring books since on the Christians call to care for the earth. However, that is not the point. The point is that I realized was that there were Christians out there who thought like me! Remember this is close to 20 years ago and I was a new Christian. I…had….no…idea.

This sub-par book led me down a beautiful rabbit trail toward Sojourners magazine (another life changer) and eventually the interwebs happened and I could find out everything about everyone (and more). When I landed in seminary I really found more of my peeps.  Nevertheless, even with these Despite finding like-minded folks, I still struggled with the face of Christianity.

Fast forward to yesterday when I read a hopeful piece by Michael Wear in the Atlantic, entitled The Changing Face of Christian Politics. He argues that 2013 was a signficant year for Christian progressives:

Rather than discarding old ideas, Christians returned to the basics, shedding some of the political baggage and layers of allegiances gained in the previous century to return to their most fundamental allegiance: to Jesus and to people. They are reaching for a new equilibrium between the prophetic and the pastoral, between mercy and justice, the aspiration of holiness and the free gift of grace.

Wow! I encourage you to read the entire article but let’s note this fabulous point with fireworks and streamers: “Christians returned to the basics…to their most fundamental allegiance: to Jesus and to people.”

This, my friends will take the face of Christianity to a place we are not ashamed. I know, I know, we should not be ashamed of the gospel.  And I’m not. I’m really not.

But I am ashamed of the ugly, messed up pile of rubbish the gospel is presented as sometimes.

What if Christians became known for our fundamental allegiance to Jesus and to people.  What hope that brings. What if we aligned ourselves not to our church buildings, denominations, budgets and Bible study guides but to Christ the King and thus to our neighbours?  I am deeply encouraged by and can put my hope in an allegiance to Jesus and people because THAT  is who we are truly called to be.