Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Honey And Molasses And The Things Jesus Said

My kids were raised going to church; it was, for them, a normal part of our lives. We never fought about it. I didn't force them to go to every church event. But Sunday mornings, it was simply what we did. Sometimes we were late getting out the door, but everybody was expected to go, and - mostly - they did.

I admit to being fairly awful at doing "family devotionals" or any sort of structured Biblical teaching at home. I leaned hard on the church, on small groups, on their youth pastor and other adults (who worked hard to show them how to be thoughtful followers of Christ). I counted on the authentic, genuine people in our faith community to demonstrate what it means to be transparent and vulnerable and imperfect - and to be okay with that. At home, I tried to deal with the reality of daily living from a Jesus perspective. Seemed to me it was important to be somewhat pragmatic and rational about my kids' faith, their relationship with God and their understanding of who Jesus was and is. We talked, a lot, about things that mattered. But, truth be told, we probably didn't talk enough.

I did the best I could. Now three of those kids are living relatively independent lives, with number four close on their heels, headed out the door to college. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of their faith journey after they left home: Rebellion? Apathy? Deeper growth?

All three of them chose to walk on. They found new faith communities and different expressions of worship and discipleship, but they continue to value spiritual health and a very real pursuit of truth.

I am pleased with their choices.

One of my daughters, in particular, has found herself at home in a more charismatic style of worship and interpretation. I see it in her choices, her values, her very life - and I hear it in the words she uses, the way she shares her thoughts and ideas, the way she speaks of the Holy and Sacred. Her manner and her words demonstrate a deep familiarity with God and His closeness, His impending action in her word, for her good, in her community.

It's a little different for me, honestly. But it's beautiful, mostly so because it's obviously so deeply rooted in who she is and how she sees herself and her Creator in this season of life. I watch from afar, sometimes; she is in places I have not been, experiencing the ebb and flow of spiritual tides that do not at present wash over me. But it is beautiful, graceful and grace-filled, and authentic.

Sometimes I am around people whose faith in Jesus seems more like a bonding agent for something akin to the cool kids' table in the lunch room. Right language and proper attitudes and an appropriate level of holiness guarantee identification and inclusion. But sometimes, in spite of all the right words and postures and catch phrases, there's something a bit sour in the room.

I'm around this girl, whose matter-of-fact tether to her Savior pretty much drips off of her skin like molasses, and I hear and see and sense something different - but it intrigues. It draws me closer, it pulls me toward a great Mystery that is at once unknown to me and yet completely familiar.

I'm around a group of others saying and doing all the right things and I feel uncomfortable and awkward, questioning my standing and wondering if there is enough air for the spirit to live and move and breath and have its being.

Not much of a point, other than to be pleased with the direction of life my daughter has chosen, because doesn't this story make her out to be a heroine of sorts? What a good girl! What a fine Christian woman! 

You should be so proud!


What I really think of is this story.
...Levi invited his many friends and associates, including many tax collectors, to his home for a large feast in Jesus’ honor. Everyone sat at a table together. The Pharisees and their associates, the religious scholars, got the attention of some of Jesus’ disciples. 

Pharisees (in low voices): What’s wrong with you? Why are you eating and drinking with tax collectors and other immoral people?  

Jesus: Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I haven’t come for the pure and upstanding; I’ve come to call notorious sinners to rethink their lives and turn to God. Luke 5.29-32
I just can't help but think that Jesus shines brightest, that Jesus drips like honey off of chapped lips and torn skin, that Jesus fills and fulfills most powerfully, with resounding resonance; that He moves most gracefully among the ones rethinking their lives.

The notorious sinners.

The broken.

/ /

This theme, it keeps recurring. It is the heartbeat of my vocation, it is currently the focus of my creative work in the series we currently run on Sundays. It is true, of course; but there is something new and loud and clawing in me, declaring THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE TRUTH. 


The light, it shines in the darkness.

And the darkness doesn't overcome it.

That is good, good news.