The 4th of July in Durand did not disappoint. From the Fun Fair the night before and watching my kids help lead games, to preaching the DEC-sponsored 10am service first thing in the morning (there were 68 in attendance and $215 was donated to the fund!). Then the Ice Cream Social and Pork chop sandwich and pie sale – did anyone get any of that Pastoral Apple Pie??? There were people lining up before 3 with a constant flow and some still trickling right up to 7! Then the parade, and the fireworks – Kathy and company collecting donations to help keep that spectacular show going.
In 2Kings, we see the Faith of a young girl who knew true healing power when she saw it. The Faith, insight, of a young servant who saw the truth of the matter: Naaman thought he was special so he should get a dramatic healing. You might also say, wisdom of the child. Is it not when we have faith like a child that it is true faith? Authentic Boldness.
I am sensing a greater urgency to invest in our children in order to disciple them into that faith, to keep their eyes open to the Source of the healing power. Because we also need to learn from them. Prayer. Faith.
But we must consider alternatives to building those relationships because what we “have always done” or “the way they’re doing it in the next town over” is no longer working, or won’t work in our context – at least, not in the same way. And so much of how we do things is sociologically dictated, shaped by culture. (The king expected special treatment just because he is king, etc)
In fact, comparison kills well-being. From a recent episode of the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd, the discussion surrounds the stereotypically Masculinist values of capitalism. And that Comparison is “baked into capitalism . . . advertising. Joe Ehrmann said, “Comparison is the thief of all happiness.” Because when you compare, there will always be someone wealthier, more attractive, more successful. Still, the reality of our economy is one of great economic disparity due to a continued fixation on happiness that is equated to dominance, success, notoriety.
Neither major political party has the answer to a viable, more equitable system. In fact, Only 7 percent elevate from the bottom economic quintile to the top. One study describes how the zip code into which one is born is the largest determent of economic success.
But we do know that collaboration and the sharing of power precipitates the most effective leadership and creative outcomes. But those who are equipped and equally capable of leading in any given industry yet do not have privilege (the right connections, overlooked because of gender or ethnicity or attractiveness or speaking style . . .) will only have opportunity to participate in leadership when those who occupy that leadership space move aside, give up that space or share it outright. Shared leadership only happens when it is shared.
And it requires trust – that while I no longer hold all the power, I also no longer hold all the responsibility. I am also no longer the only source of creative vision. And then, I must be willing to let go of some of my brilliant ideas and consider someone else’s perhaps more brilliant idea – and even better, we collaborate, come up with something we would never have come up with on our own.
But we lead in so many ways. Recall the stats on zip code and economics. Might it mean that we consider moving not to a so-called better neighborhood, but into a worse one? I don’t mean to say we put our lives in danger (though some are called to those kinds of situations). But what if some of us move into a neighborhood that is struggling so that we can be authentic about our solidarity. It’s still a choice – better than those whose situations make it nearly impossible to escape their circumstances.
Still, at a couple of our posts, we wanted to live in a neighborhood where we could be who we are, and be positive agents in that context. I am absolutely not trying to say we had perfect perspective and motivations. But we were responding to a very real calling from God. One church in essence forbade us from doing so. They said they would not allow their students to go to our house if we lived in that neighborhood. Now, this was not Chicago. It was not even Aurora. They said, “could you really bring your baby into a place like that?” And my thought was, Why, then, is it ok for their children to live in a neighborhood like that?
But when we lived in Waukegan, we did buy a house in a neighborhood where we were the only white family for a several block radius. There were times we heard gun shots down the block, and we had to dig a discarded marijuana bud from toddler Samantha’s mouth from time to time. Still, I actually felt super safe because my neighbors were always watching, we looked out for each other and I brought them cookies, etc.
But sometimes, we have to move into the neighborhood that is not ideal in order to contribute there, collaborate there. It was not always so dichotomous. The gap is rapidly increasing – families are increasingly moving to neighborhoods where there are others like them (economically speaking). School districts, etc. which produces greater imbalances, etc.
I’m not trying to say that y’all need to move. What I am saying is that we can continue to pray and ask God to show us how to be like Jesus who did:
“The Word became flesh and blood,(John 1:14, MSG)
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
How do we move into the spaces of those to whom we are called to disciple? What might that look like? In two weeks, the guest preacher will give you some other options to pray over, consider – and I urge you to come, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you, center you on Jesus, open your hearts and minds and doors.
“We the people” are called to “form a more perfect union.”
I mentioned this at the DEC 4th of July service on the Thursday:
We know a profound freedom – free to be who we are most truly: bearers of God’s very image, each unique, uniquely expressing God’s image in a way like no one else. Together, we express God’s image more fully. Imagine the impact for goodness and generosity and righteousness and love we might make if ALL of us – each and every one of us walks out of this place in that powerful freedom? Imagine the effect we might have if we walked the streets of Durand today with a presence (filled with all confidence that we belong: we belong to God; we belong to each other; we belong to the people of Durand)!
And if we walk out today and go out to lunch, or bbq with family or friends – if we open our eyes and hearts and move in a spirit of prayer asking, “Holy Trinity, shower peace and love and joy over those teenaged boys there. Gracious God, pour your graces and presence over that young family here” – will not the gates of heaven be flung open at our call?
But not only that, I have found that when I begin to actively pray about a matter, my heart is changed, too. And usually it means God opens my eyes to see a way that I might be a part of making things right in this space. So, yeah, if you pray, God will most likely put something on your heart to actually do something about it. Do you have the courage to do that?
It absolutely requires trust. You have to believe it matters. You have to believe there is God. You must trust that the very Spirit of God dwells within you with power and mercy, and equipped you to be all that God has already created you to be. It doesn’t require faith to merely say, Yes, I know I’m made in God’s image and the Spirit gives me strength. Saying so is only a recitation. Trust happens. It isn’t a thing. It isn’t a definition. It isn’t the right answer on a multiple choice how-get-into-Heaven quiz. Trust happens, it’s an action, it is stepping out onto the water when Jesus calls you out.
And it matters.
Seth Godin recently wrote:
“Independence sometimes seems easier than the long-term, disciplined, generous work of connection.
But it’s connection that enables us to add value.
The math is simple: when people with different assets, needs and views come together, they’re able to produce more than they ever could on their own. Trading goods, skills and knowledge without friction creates a leap in productivity.
It might be easier to burn a bridge than it is to build one, but in the long one, bridges are what we need.”Seth Godin
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 (NRSV)
Jesus “sent them . . . where he himself intended to go. . . . ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; . . . 3Go . . . See, . . . into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; [don’t stop]. 5 . . . say, “Peace to this house!” . . .7Remain . . . the laborer deserves to be paid. . . . know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’
16 ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’
17 [They] returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ 18He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’”Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 (NRSV)
When we come together to commune, eat of Jesus’ body, every molecule absorbed into us is a reminder of the nourishment of the Holy Spirit, the life, the consuming fire that burns within us yet not consumed. We publicly say, “I trust God will do what God promised, I believe Jesus created the road for me and the Spirit empowers me to walk on it.” Let us remind one another, collaborate together, build each other up in that faith. And rejoice that we are citizens of heaven!