Our recent trip to Guatemala exposed us to another group of small coffee growers that suffer a system that disadvantages their work and advantages those with a network to bring the beans to market. In other words, while our price for coffee rises, the net income for those who grow the product remains negligible at best. Read More
Some ongoing rattling around my head from Sunday’s texts from Matthew 5.
When we talk about our motivation for love we reveal a bit of our own transformation, or lack thereof. We Christians often talk of the command to love our neighbor. I wonder what it means that we continue to repeat that as command long after we have declared that we have been gripped by the love of God? Put another way, if the Story of Jesus is transformational, then why must we talk of love as command rather than response? When we tell another that we must love then what does it mean about our volition or want to love?
This from yesterday’s Daily Dig kept me thinking on these things.
Daily Dig for February 24
As long as we do not pray for our enemies, we continue to see only our own point of view – our own righteousness – and to ignore their perspective. Prayer breaks down the distinctions between us and them. To do violence to others, you must make them enemies. Prayer, on the other hand, makes enemies into friends.
When we have brought our enemies into our hearts in prayer, it becomes difficult to maintain the hostility necessary for violence. In bringing them close to us, prayer even serves to protect our enemies. Thus prayer undermines the propaganda and policies designed to make us hate and fear our enemies. By softening our hearts towards our adversaries, prayer can even become treasonous. Fervent prayer for our enemies is a great obstacle to war and the feelings that lead to war.
Source: Seeking Peace
A young single father hustles for work. His long story packed into a relatively young life betrays his optimistic demeanor. Hear him describe some of his experiences and it is not hard to admire his determination.
Recently the hustle slowed. The normal avenues through which he was accustomed to paying the bills diminished. Rather than blame an economy or the weather, he got creative. I do not know what trekked thorough his mind as he was assessing his options. One thing is certain he intended to take care of himself and his young daughter, a sweet little girl who seems unaware of the precarious nature of her own existence.
The chosen means to pay bills came rather by surprise. An old hobby of sorts has proven a workable remedy to the slow season for his other sources of income.
We talked before the New Year. He told me how he had decided to give his new venture a try. To his surprise he said, “I sold enough to pay the bills.” Yes, it is legal. Once we discovered what it was we opened up something of a new “market.” Eagerly he aims both to please by assessing customer satisfaction and creatively diversifying his product. I confess to admiration.
This morning I was reading a linked to piece that was posted with a certain air of criticism. As if the systems in which we participate and blinding support are not in some way culpable. Those in the piece found life’s difficulties on a different level but shared a common thread. The way the world is working at present illustrates that desperation is the mother of invention. Rather than critique the details of the posted story I compared the content with the story of the young single father with a young girl. The two groups, if you allow the single father to represent a group, which he does, face the uncertainties of life with an interest to accomplish an internal aim. One group wants to get a college degree that is increasingly difficult to pay for and the other wants to provide the sorts of things young girls long for and see others enjoy while possessing very limited resources.
Common to both groups is their appearance in an era where it is nearly universally agreed that the number of those with less and less is on the increase while at the same time those with more and more grows. Often our means to address the issue is to appeal to individuality. Work harder. Work better. Maybe one day you too may catch a break. But, what if we stopped long enough to pay attention to those who shout that we are interconnected – and not simply by virtue of inhabiting planet earth in 2014? What if we reconfigured how important others are? Not just talk about it but advocate for it.
The obstacle is our own comfort. Our own satisfaction. It is here I think those who claim Jesus should also claim his way. I read where a high profile former pastor suggested that Christians need to spend more time pointing people to individual experiences of salvation rather than be too involved in chafing the world. The logic is often used that if you want to see change in the world, change people. However, what often happens is that those saved people simply alter their individual perspective. Sanctify selfishness.
When we opt for a high individualism we inadvertently choose low community. The consequence is a loss of interconnectedness. We lose the war agains the very systems, structures, and practices that cheapen humanity in favor of what maintains our individual preferences. There is no dying to self. Or, as was described in today’s Daily Dig,
If the telling of the story of Jesus includes similarities and distinctions of the way gods and caesars claimed special privilege and status, what does it mean that Jesus was born? What does it mean now that God fully reveals that he is all in? Here is a quote from Leonardo Boff from a Daily Dig earlier this week,
How does one understand that this man, with his individual and datable history, is at one and the same time God? What greatness, sovereignty, and profundity must he not have revealed and lived in order to be called God? What does “God” mean now? What sort of human being is he, that we can make such an assertion about him? What does the unity of the two – God and man – concretely signify in a historical being, one of our brothers, Jesus of Nazareth?
This is one of the central facts of our faith that sets Christianity apart from other religions. Once Christianity affirms that a man is at the same time God, it stands alone in the world. We are obliged to say it: This is a scandal to the Jews and to all the religions and pious peoples of yesterday and today who venerate and adore a transcendent God: one that is totally other, who cannot be objectified, a God beyond this world, infinite, eternal, incomprehensible, and above everything that human beings can be and know.
Source: Watch for the Light
I am sure at some point he may have built another house, or two. But, he was looking forward to planting trees and being outdoors. That he would get to work with his Dad was surely a plus.
I ran across a post on the lack of “wonder” in our lives. Lyle refers to a quote by Jewish Philosopher Abraham Heschel he found in the Daily Dig, an online devotional some of us read before it became unavailable. He quoted Heschel,
What we lack is not a will to believe, but a will to wonder.
Lyle and Evette gave us a tree one year. Read More