Less Than Nothing

Service and compassion for the poor“Mom..we have NOTHING to eat in the house!”

This familiar refrain, that can be heard echoing throughout our homes, never ceases to annoy us as moms who know better. Yet, if we take a moment to consider, what we are truly bothered by is the lack of understanding of what real need looks like by our children. Need that has no instant fill, and want not for the frosting on the cake but for the cake itself and for the person caring enough to bake it. And gratitude, found in time spent with those you love and an awareness that tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.

Growing up, there wasn’t always the food I wanted but we always had food and plenty of it. And my mother had instilled in me that service wasn’t simply an activity to try on, but more of a lifestyle. So I became used to “neighbors” coming to our door, sitting at our table and passing down clothing and toys that were no longer needed. This perspective, to see others as myself, has remained despite any change in circumstance or surroundings. And yet, I have to say that God still had much to teach me during my recent mission trip to Haiti.

His tear-brimmed eyes were so striking that they seemingly took up the most of his small round face. And behind them was a haunting loneliness and hunger, the depth of which far surpassed any that I had encountered before. Unlike other huts visited, no smile came forth , rather an unknowing and apprehension of the kindness shown. Today we were there, but tomorrow well, the isolation and uncertainty would return.

Coming home from Haiti then, to the laments of my own children desiring more ample food choices, was almost too much to bear. “You have so much, and yet you only can see what you lack!”, the words spilling out almost uncontrollably. “But Mom, would you stop treating us as if we are orphans from Haiti!”, my youngest responded. This is when I realized they couldn’t fully understand what they had never seen or experienced. Instead of criticizing them, I decided that now was the perfect time to show them. With each photo a story, and behind each story a teachable moment and a commitment to foster mission in their lives.

Although there is much that is difficult to translate with just a picture, they began to ask questions about the people that I encountered. As well as, questions as to the problems that have caused the systematic poverty and unrest that have so embroiled this island nation. “Mom, how can we really help if tomorrow things will return back to where they were or worse? ” Accompanying these words, were a felt culpability and contrition along with a desire to solve a seemingly endless problem. As a mom, I want to encourage  and empower them to be part of the change wherever they are.  Instantly, I recalled the passage from Deuteronomy 15:11  and Proverbs 31:8-9 which not only acknowledges the longevity of poverty but also our responsibility to care for the poor and work for change.  Isaiah and Paul to the Romans take it a bit further stating that we must:
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow”.  Isaiah 1:17
All the while…
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:11-13

This is not an easy request and yet old and new testament alike call us to accountability on our care and compassion for those in need. So it isn’t that being in a position of authority or wealth is inherently wrong, rather it is what we choose to do with that wealth and power that is the important distinction. In fact, if we allow God to use or gifts for his good then those gifts do not end with us but are endlessly multiplied.

Pray: Lord, I come to you today, asking for a servant’s heart. Please show me the ways in which I can best serve and give to those in need, and help me to be willing become less attached to the created things of this world and more to your beautiful creation within it. And, if it pleases you Lord, let me teach my children to do the same.

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Worth Revisiting: Can I hear my Father’s Voice?

Can we even imagine a world where none of these exist? In small ways, I believe that we can, because we know the existence of good in knowing God. We have witnessed kindness and compassion, and instances whereby goodness has triumphed over evil. Yet in the kingdom of God, God’s goodness and reign is completely sovereign. I am not ready, however,  to give up the dream, and diligence toward a world where justice and goodness prevail. In fact, it is in posing this question that I am reminding myself again of that ideal that the kingdom of God reveals to us. In imagining it, it provides the vision to hope for, and the desire to work towards fulfilling it.

With the approach of Lent, I have been giving much thought to our journey of faith as a community, the lifelong invitation of dying to self and accepting a life transformed. The most striking reality is that Jesus also underwent this ongoing transformation of mind, heart, and action (metanoia) in becoming more and more who he was intended to be. We know that Jesus spent countless hours in prayer, and this was time spent in getting to know Abba more intimately, reconnecting with the Spirit, and redirecting his life towards infinite love. In doing so, he could see beyond himself to the poor, oppressed, and those in need of healing. Consciously he then answered God’s call to make a transformation not only within himself but in the world.

In understanding the dynamic, ongoing, and transformative conversion of life, we too need to make the necessary connection to one’s lived experience of faith- as a project of life integration.  Simply stated, as Christians our lived experience of faith in the Spirit calls us to continually redirect our hearts, minds and steps towards the values and actions necessary in being followers of Christ and in building the kingdom of God. Beautifully, I do believe we see metanoia in community in partaking in the Eucharist. For, here we are invited to bring our brokenness, recommit ourselves to God and the community, and are sent forth to be Eucharist to the world.

Even so, Lent gives us a period of time to reflect on our own desires, to surrender ourselves, and better discern where and who God is calling us to be. Do you feel a spiritual dryness in prayer? Is your day consumed with a laundry list of essential to-do’s with your energy and time in short supply? Like Jesus, we need this time with God to hear and become familiar with the voice of our loving Father.

So, in this way, I invite you to consider carving out quiet time and space this Lent to do just that. It needn’t be vast, but a committed time each day just to sit, “be still and know that He is God”. Pay attention to the stillness, to the absence of your voice, and the freedom found in just being present with God. Feel the Holy Spirit’s constant reminder of life in every breath you take.

Thank you God for the gift in rediscovering You. Here in your presence, I know that your love, truth and guidance both for me and for the world are always there to be found..if we truly seek to hear your voice!

Peace,

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This Lent: Can I hear my Father’s Voice?

Can we even imagine a world where none of these exist? In small ways, I believe that we can, because we know the existence of good in knowing God. We have witnessed kindness and compassion, and instances whereby goodness has triumphed over evil. Yet in the kingdom of God, God’s goodness and reign is completely sovereign. I am not ready, however,  to give up the dream, and diligence toward a world where justice and goodness prevail. In fact, it is in posing this question that I am reminding myself again of that ideal that the kingdom of God reveals to us. In imagining it, it provides the vision to hope for, and the desire to work towards fulfilling it.

With the approach of Lent, I have been giving much thought to our journey of faith as a community, the lifelong invitation of dying to self and accepting a life transformed. The most striking reality is that Jesus also underwent this ongoing transformation of mind, heart, and action (metanoia) in becoming more and more who he was intended to be. We know that Jesus spent countless hours in prayer, and this was time spent in getting to know Abba more intimately, reconnecting with the Spirit, and redirecting his life towards infinite love. In doing so, he could see beyond himself to the poor, oppressed, and those in need of healing. Consciously he then answered God’s call to make a transformation not only within himself but in the world.

In understanding the dynamic, ongoing, and transformative conversion of life, we too need to make the necessary connection to one’s lived experience of faith- as a project of life integration.  Simply stated, as Christians our lived experience of faith in the Spirit calls us to continually redirect our hearts, minds and steps towards the values and actions necessary in being followers of Christ and in building the kingdom of God. Beautifully, I do believe we see metanoia in community in partaking in the Eucharist. For, here we are invited to bring our brokenness, recommit ourselves to God and the community, and are sent forth to be Eucharist to the world.

Even so, Lent gives us a period of time to reflect on our own desires, to surrender ourselves, and better discern where and who God is calling us to be. Do you feel a spiritual dryness in prayer? Is your day consumed with a laundry list of essential to-do’s with your energy and time in short supply? Like Jesus, we need this time with God to hear and become familiar with the voice of our loving Father.

So, in this way, I invite you to consider carving out quiet time and space this Lent to do just that. It needn’t be vast, but a committed time each day just to sit, “be still and know that He is God”. Pay attention to the stillness, to the absence of your voice, and the freedom found in just being present with God. Feel the Holy Spirit’s constant reminder of life in every breath you take.

Thank you God for the gift in rediscovering You. Here in your presence, I know that your love, truth and guidance both for me and for the world are always there to be found..if we truly seek to hear your voice!