Sweeter than Wine

June 27, 2009 by Camille  
Filed under Learning

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mommypleasedontcry
It’s been eight years since we said goodbye to our Elise. I still get anxious as June comes to an end. I get urpy when the starry bunting goes up for sale. I still feel wistful when we watch the fireworks in uncomfortable lawn chairs. It still feels like someone’s missing.

I still try to make her extra short life meaningful and happy. I’ve smocked some dresses for other little girls who’ve gone to Heaven before their first breath. I try to do it every year, but once my little brood on Earth doubled, I had a hard time finishing. I started one dress three years ago (!) that I’m determined to finish this summer.

But my grief has changed. I’d like to think it’s “aged.” Like wine. Sweeter.

All because of these little people around me.

When they see a little girl in a picture book, Isaac explains to his brother, “Gavin, that’s Elise!”

When he asks about Heaven, he imagines that her house “smells like grapes.”

When they look at my baby charm bracelet, they ask about each charm — the ones for themselves and for their siblings in Heaven. I explain that they for sure had an older brother in Heaven.

“What’s his name?” Isaac wonders.

“Well, we didn’t name him, honey, because we didn’t get to know him enough. What do you think his name is?”

He thinks. For a long, long time. “Sonic. Yes, Sonic!”

Awhile back I told them that when they find a penny on the ground, that’s Elise saying “hello!” This helps them and me. They feel connected to their sister and it helps me remember. And it saves me from having to lean over to pick up any change we find.

On a recent and long car ride, Isaac pensively decided, “Mommy? I think that Papa and Sonic are sending me pennies from Heaven too.”

He is planning a party for Elise’s birthday. “She’s never seen a train movie. So I think it should be trains. . . . and red. She needs a red cake!”

Celebrating is so easy for him. So joyful. I think, thanks to these little ones, my grief is growing up to be more like theirs. It’s maturing to be more like a child’s.

A foretaste of Heaven, if you ask me.

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly

June 27, 2009 by kristen  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving, Reading Circle

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Before I was married and a mother, keeping the sabbath was easy. I read Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn to remind myself why I need to press on towards making my Sundays the way they ought to be, even in the midst of all of my busyness.

I really appreciated Keeping the Sabbath Wholly. Dawn works her way through four elements of sabbath keeping: ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting. As Christians, when we cease, we don’t just run away from everyday life, we assert that the things that drive our everyday lives don’t have ultimate authority over us. We mustn’t just take a nap or avoid exerting ourselves, we have to let our rest extend from the physical to the emotional and the intellectual so that it can renew our whole beings. By our ceasing and resting, we have room to embrace the values that we ought: intentionality, the Christian community, our callings, time instead of space, people instead of things and giving instead of requiring. And then, after the ceasing, resting and embracing, our feasting is that much sweeter.

Dawn makes sabbath keeping to her readers more than just a sound theological practice, but something that is inherently necessary for them to be all that God made them to be, and remarkably, does all of that without making the book one big guilt trip. “Sabbath keeping is not a dry duty or an oppressive obligation. It is a delight, a feasting on that which is eternal rather than a scrambling after the ephemeral success, the amassed wealth, the ceaseless activities, the elegant refinement that Americans think will grant them permanent happiness. Instead of trying to create our own security, we worship the one who is our security.”

I enjoyed Keeping the Sabbath Wholly a great deal and it was a wonderful reminder of truths that I used to know for myself but have lost along the way. My only major objections to it lie in Dawn’s practical application. She puts far too much emphasis on Jewish traditions of Sabbath keeping, which are extra-biblical. I do not think that lighting candles or saying the Kiddush and Havdalah are wrong. But her emphasis on them in her own practice might make readers feel that is the right way to keep the sabbath and there is certainly freedom to take or leave those practices. Personally, we are adapting prayers from the Christian tradition that fulfill the same purposes for our family. Overall, it’s an excellent book that I have and would recommend highly.

Cross-posted at This Classical Life

Summertime and Isaac Watts

June 27, 2009 by kristen  
Filed under Grace for Life, Theology for Moms

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Every year I see more and more my need for community, probably because we’ve never lived in the same city as our families or lots of people we’ve known forever. And little by little, community grows, even when I feel like I have so little to offer my family let alone those beyond it. It’s a beautiful thing. We sang this hymn on Sunday, that talks about the windows of God’s grace where we see the Lord, and to me, that’s often through kindness, empathy and encouragement. The manifestations of community are the goodness of God to me in a very real way. Anyhow, every time I hear this hymn, it sticks with me, so I’ll share it with you, kind reader, until I post again (sooner or later.)

windows

Windows of Thy Grace

by Isaac Watts

I love the windows of thy grace,
Through which my Lord is seen,
And long to meet my Savior’s face
Without a glass between.

Oh that the happy hour come
To change my faith to sight!
I shall behold my Lord at home
In a diviner light.

Haste, my Beloved, and remove
These interposing days;
Then shall my passions all be love,
And all my powers be praise.

Cross-posted at This Classical Life

Coping with Disappointment

June 25, 2009 by Elizabeth  
Filed under Learning, Loving

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Do you remember any of the disappointments that you experienced in childhood? I know we all had them, times when some promised treat never materialized, a parent failed to follow-through on a promise, something important to you but not so important to others was put aside or forgotten…

As a parent, I try not to promise too much, to guard against too much anticipation from my “I can’t WAIT until Christmas it is too long!” daughter. But sometimes she knows of events ahead of time, such as when an invitation arrives for her to a little friend’s “Monster Truck Birthday Party.” I dutifully note it on my calendar, and do plan to take her…

But then I get busy and forget to look at my calendar… funny how that happens, right? And plan a family gathering for family members who are shortly moving far, far away, that is where my focus is. The day goes by in a blur, another family friend arrives and invites 5 year old Charlotte for a sleep-over and Charlotte is elated and immediately packing, ready to rush home with her for a night of fun and movies that Mommy might not let her see (which I know will largely be ignored because she will be too busy playing and chatting). In the rush and excitement, the Monster Truck party is forgotten…

Until I remember the next day. “Oh NO!” I exclaim to my husband, my stomach turning over, because I know how very, very disappointed she will be. She LOVES parties, and it was for a favorite friend she doesn’t see often. I fret, not sure whether to break the news as soon as I can or keep silent, waiting for it to occur to her to ask me about it, since though sometimes her sense of time is accurate other times she seems to float along in her own world unaware of Important Days until reminded by someone. I mentally braced myself against what I anticipated would be tidal wave of disappointment when she remembered… because I too remember missing the party of my best friend when I was her age. Driving with my parents somewhere, an aimless drive to me because I didn’t know where we were going, a soft exclamation by my mother and muttered comment to my father, which I of course heard, “Oh no, Beth was supposed to go to Amy’s birthday party this afternoon!” The tears and begging on my part, couldn’t I just go late, just to say hi! The calm explanations from my parents, the lingering sadness and disappointment on my part… oh, I knew just how Charlotte would feel.

Today was the day that she remembered. “Mommy, did we miss the Monster Truck party?” My explanation, which immediately seemed to anger her. “You shouldn’t have family parties when I have my friend’s birthday parties! I didn’t want to be at that party anyway!” Tears and upset give way to insults, “I wish you weren’t my parents!” implying other parents would not have forgotten the much anticipated Monster Truck party. I quickly drew a line… “It’s OK to be mad and sad that you missed the party… I feel sad too! But it’s not OK to insult your family and say mean things about us just because we forgot. I’m very sorry, sweetie…”

Amazingly, the tidal wave of disappointment was smaller than I expected. Obviously upset, she stopped her angry words and thought for a while. “How about we have a birthday party playdate with him? Maybe with cupcakes?” It would be a good idea to do a playdate… I could pick up some grocery store cupcakes, I thought.

“Maybe I’ll talk to his mommy about it…” No promises, though I’m aware that to her that is probably as good as a yes.

I decided that a special mommy-daughter outing would be fun. Not to necessarily make up for the missed party, but sometimes I feel that I don’t get to spend enough time just with Charlotte. She’s fun to take places, generally cooperative and always chatty. I propose a breakfast at Starbucks and heading to the local Farmer’s Market together. Her eyes light up, and I’m rewarded with a big hug.

All is not forgotten, but I know that she’s coping with her disappointment… it’s Ok to feel sad, and I know that she can handle it. A hard life lesson but I know that she will be better for it. And I have a feeling that she might start keeping her own social calendar soon, too, help out her absent-minded mama!

Cross-posted at In the Thicket

Restoring Gently and Carrying Burdens

At this stage in my life, so much of my reading and studying is filtered through the perspective of mothering. This includes my studying of the Bible and theology. I find the deeper I dig into God’s Word, the more light it shines on my life–and how I ought to mother.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:1-2

“Brothers. . .” This passage is written to Believers. As parents, God has given us special responsibility towards our children. But they are also our “brothers” and in the Covenant.

Kristen recently wrote,

We went to Ash Wednesday services at the beginning of Lent with Kate at the episcopal church around the corner (we missed liturgy) and when the priest put ashes on her little forehead, it really made an impact on me. As much as I am her mother, I am also her sister in Christ. This has been really helpful to me in thinking through parenting issues. Most Christians wouldn’t serve wine to a fellow Christian who was a recovering alcoholic. Why do they discipline their children and then set them up to do the same things again?

In his commentary on Galatians, Martin Luther clarifies that “caught in sin” is not speaking about doctrinal errors, “but about far lesser sins into which people fall not deliberately, but through weakness.” As our children are learning right from wrong, they will sin. As they are growing through various stages of development, they will have greater or lesser control over their impulses.

Luther goes on to say, “is caught in imply being tricked by the devil or sinful nature.” Sinful nature, temptation, weakness, developmental stages–remembering these sins of our children are part of their weakness helps me respond to them with compassion.

Luther states, “Paul therefore teaches how those who have fallen should be dealt with–namely those who are strong should raise them up and restore them gently.” I don’t always feel “strong” or “spiritual.” Often I feel weak and struggling myself. But it is my responsibility to raise my children and be strong for them. We have no trouble with the idea of parents being a “mama bear” protecting her young child. I also want to be strong spiritually to correct them gently, to be the “mama bear” to help my children when they are struggling with sin.

It’s interesting to note that this passage is immediately proceeded by the admonitions to walk in the Spirit and the list of the fruit of the Spirit– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These should be on my mind as I restore my children gently.

Luther reinforces the idea of this passage reminding us of “the fatherly and motherly affection that Paul requires of those who have charge over souls.”

What does “restoring gently” look like? Luther explains, “when they see that those persons are sorrowful for their offenses, they should begin to raise them up again, to comfort them, and to mitigate their faults as much as they can—yet through mercy only, which they must set against sin, lest those who have fallen are swallowed up with depression.” And “. . .gently, and not in the zeal of severe justice.”

To be honest, at times I’ve had Christian mothers advocate some child-training approaches that seemed to have more of the “zeal of severe justice” than how Luther describes the Holy Spirit’s correction, “mild and pitiful in forbearing.”

After restoring gently, we are told to “carry each other’s burdens.” I see this, in light of mothering, as an especial entreaty to know our particular children and their particular weaknesses.

One of my sons is insecure around lots of guests–and he has responded in the past by getting very loud, climbing on furniture, and even hitting a guest. I’ve found that to carry his burden means I prepare him beforehand for our guests, and I hold his hand when they arrive, until he is comfortable and calm. Another son is prone to lash out at his brothers when he is angry. Bearing his burden has meant praying with him and for him, helping him recognize when he feels anger rising, and giving him strategies to deal with that anger without hitting. And it has meant letting him know it’s good to come to me and say, “Mommy, I’m angry” so I can help him not sin in his anger.

Also in this encouragement to carry one another’s burdens, it strikes me how wrong it is to follow the child-training technique of placing a child in a situation of temptation–to test him and see whether he can withstand it (or be punished.) This method is encouraged by some for training toddlers and preschoolers, and seems to be very contrary to bearing the burdens of temptation.

Luther also comments on this passage that sometimes in bearing with one another, things need to just be let go–“These people are the ones who are overtaken by sin and have the burdens that Paul commands us to carry. In this case, let us not be rigorous and merciless, but follow the example of Christ, who bears and forbears these burdens. If he does not punish them, though He might do so with justice, much less ought we to do so.”

“And watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. . .” For parents, I see this as a two-fold warning. First, to be gentle, not be angry—the caution here illustrates how very easy it is to slip into being harsh.

And also I see the warning not to be tempted to pride. When we become concerned about appearing to be “good parents” it is easy to slip into correcting harshly, minutely. This is one of the areas in which I struggled a lot, especially when my children were smaller. And especially when we were guests in churches and people’s homes. I felt pressure (from myself even more than others) for my kids to be perfect and “prove” we were worthy to be missionaries. That pressure tempted me both into pride in my children’s good behaviour, as well being overly picky and correcting unnecessarily.

The end of these verses is “in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” As Martin Luther said,

“After Christ had redeemed us, renewed us, and made us his church, he gave us no other law but that of mutual love. To love is not to wish one another well, but to carry one another’s burdens–that is, things that are grievous to us, and that we would not willingly bear. Therefore, Christians (parents!) must have strong shoulders and mighty bones, so they can carry their brother’s weaknesses. . . Love, therefore, is mild, courteous, and patient, not in receiving, but in giving, for it is constrained to wink at many things and to bear them.

Footnote: Quotations are from the Crossway Commentary series, Martin Luther on Galatians. Luther’s commentary is also available online, in a variant translation.

(Originally posted 3/21/05)

bearing-burdens

thanks to mollie for the pic

The Avowal

June 21, 2009 by ponderer  
Filed under Grace for Life, Theology for Moms

Royal Buffet

The Avowal
by Denise Levertov

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

A Father Shares

June 20, 2009 by MommyGirl  
Filed under Grace for Life, Positive Parenting

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A father I know and respect shares some personal thoughts. . . and they are just too moving to stay hidden away on a small message board. May his journey be encouraging to us and our children’s fathers.

“. . .he was a lot like I was as a child — precocious, hyperactive, and loud — and he was also extremely stubborn and defiant. As hard as I was to discipline, I had never been defiant.

My behavior toward my son exacerbated all these traits. I tried to provide sound discipline, but I would often lose my temper and shout at him abusively. And occasionally, I slapped him upside the head. I did not beat him as my father had beaten me, and I never slapped his face, but I did spank him WAY too hard, WAY too often, and I did smack him in fierce anger occasionally.

I tried and tried to control it, but it continued for fourteen years. Then I started reading Dr. Sears. And the more I read, the more I saw what I had been doing wrong, and what I could do to make it right. I wept for weeks over what I saw. Then I tried to talk to my fourteen-year-old son, and to ask his forgiveness. He was by then extremely angry and resentful. I really thought our relationship was entirely broken. My wife told me he once asked her, “How can you tell me to respect someone I hate?” I also remember how he would glare at me in defiance, no matter how hard or how much I “spanked” him.

When I tried to talk to him to ask his forgiveness, all I could do was weep. He forgave me readily, but he probably didn’t quite believe me. But I believe he has seen a big change. He is now 22, a senior in college — ambitious and with a strong moral code. He and I are now quite close, although I believe it will never be as it could have been.

As I said, this is causing more bitter tears as I relate it. But I hope there is one person reading this who may be helped.

. . .

I have a late last child — eleven years younger than my daughter. He is now eight years old. I am “Mr. Mom” now, because of my disability, and that means I am his “homeschool” teacher. And we are having the time of our lives. My wife was the main teacher for our first two, while they were young; I took over when they were teens. But now I get to teach my little guy from the beginning!

I confess I have spanked him maybe three times in eight years — and every time I have regretted it. I am strict with him, but I am no longer abusive. I guess it helps that, while he is also precocious and hyperactive, he is much more compliant than his older brother. He and I are so close it’s amazing — and it shows me what it could have been like with my first son, if I had been different.

Yancey and Yadah

June 20, 2009 by Camille  
Filed under Reading Circle

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Awhile back I read Phil Yancey’s first chapter in Soul Survivor. I was floored. The world he described was so alien to me. I grew up in Detroit, and he grew up in Atlanta. Racism in Detroit is more unspoken — an undertow of white fear and flight keeps the civic tension just below a simmer. Racism in Atlanta in the middle of the last century was unashamedly overt and outspoken. Yancey was raised hearing that the “dark races” were the result of God’s curse. In his native Georgia the gas stations all had three bathrooms for white men, white women, and colored. The museums set aside one day a week for “coloreds” to attend. Yancey remembers buying a Lester Maddox “Junior” size souvenir pickax handle similar to the ones that policemen used on demonstrators. He witnessed the KKK parades.

I, of course, had read those descriptions before. My parents had even mentioned to me how startled they were by the segregation when they drove through Georgia on their honeymoon in the 50s. White Northerners really have no idea. We’re kind of dumb like that. And we can move easily between our white world in Detroit and South Carolina–even if we do have a ’ski’ at the end of our names–and the only culture shock we feel is the sweetness of the tea we’re served or the quaintness of the drawl we hear.

But that was a long time ago, I always reasoned. That kind of racism is for old people or stupid people, right? That’s for people who are absolutely not like me, right? . . . RIGHT??

That’s why Yancey’s account still sends chills down my spine. He grew up a “New Testament, Blood-bought, Born-again, Premillenial, Dispensational, fundamental” Protestant just like me. He attended some unnamed Bible college in South Carolina that forbid interracial dating and marriage. Scratching my head, I searched my employer’s records for Yancey’s name–without success. Was he talking about BJU?

Connecting the dots wasn’t that hard. Whether or not Yancey attended BJU wasn’t the point. This was the South and the so-called religion that created BJU. I couldn’t distance myself from it any further. This was the ideology that bore the system in which I lived, worked, ministered, and was raising my family.

Read Yancey for yourself.

When I visited Mendenhall in 1974, a sign welcomed me to town: “White people unite, defeat Jew/Communist race mixers.” I asked John Perkins [Yancey's African-American friend] to show me an example of racism in action. “When I write your story, people are going to tell me everything has changed,” I said. “The civil rights bill was ten years ago. Is there still overt discrimination?”

Perkins thought for a minute and suddenly his face brightened: “I know — let’s integrate the Revolving Table restaurant!” We drove to an elegant restaurant famous for its mechanized Lazy Susan, which slowly revolves in the center of a huge table, bearing platters of blackeyed peas, squash, cabbage, sweet potatoes, chicken and dumplings, and other Southern favorites. When we sat down, the white diners all glared at us and then, as if at a prearranged signal, got up and moved away to smaller tables. Except for Perkins and me, no one in the restaurant spoke for the next hour. I ate uneasily, glancing over my shoulder, expecting a nightstick. When I paid the bill and commented on the delicious food, the hostess took my money without responding or even looking me in the eye. I had the tiniest glimpse of the hostility Perkins had lived with all his life.

Two months later, when I published my article on John Perkins, the Mississippi branch of the Christian organization I worked for passed a resolution demanding that I be fired for stirring up bad memories. “Things have changed now,” they said. “Why dig up the past?”

Why indeed? Almost three decades have passed since my Missisisippi visit, and the great civil rights victories are nearing the half¬century milestone. We live in a new century now, a new millennium even, and much has indeed changed. Nowadays, black patrons in Mississippi can eat wherever they want, drink from any water fountain, sleep in any motel. The victories that Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evans, Bob Moses, John Perkins, and many others fought for were won — legally, at least — although they waited a full century after the Emancipation Proclamation. Progressive Southerners from Georgia, Arkansas, and Texas have served as president. Black visitors can attend white churches at will, though they seldom want to. All these dreams seemed unattainable to Martin Luther King, Jr., just four decades ago. As a token of the momentous changes, the nation now pauses each year to honor King himself, object of so much controversy during his lifetime, on a national holiday. He is the only African-American, the only minister, and indeed the only individual American so honored.

The victories did not come easily, and most did not come at all during his lifetime. Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, an uneasy rival of Dr. King, kidded him in 1963 that his methods had not achieved a single victory for integration in Albany or Birmingham. “In fact, Martin, if you have desegregated anything by your efforts, kindly enlighten me.”

“Well,” King replied, “I guess about the only thing I’ve desegregated so far is a few human hearts.” He knew that the ultimate victory must be won there. Laws could prevent white people from lynching blacks, but no law could require races to forgive or love one another. The human heart, not the courtroom, was his supreme battleground. As one of those changed hearts, I would have to agree.

King had developed a sophisticated strategy of war fought with grace, not guns. He countered violence with nonviolence and hatred with love. King’s associate Andrew Young remembers those turbulent days as a time when they sought to save “black men’s bodies and white men’s souls.” Their real goal, King said, was not to defeat the white man but “to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and challenge his false sense of superiority…. The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.” And that is what Martin Luther King, Jr., finally set into motion, even in born racists like me.

Despite the moral and social fallout from racism, somehow the nation did stay together, and people of all colors eventually joined the democratic process in America, even in the South. For some years now, Atlanta has elected African-American mayors, including civil rights leader Andrew Young. Even Selma, Alabama, has a black mayor, who in the year 2000 defeated the mayor who had held office since the notorious march. And old “Segregation forever!” George Wallace appeared in his wheelchair before the black leadership of Alabama to apologize for his past behavior, an apology he repeated on statewide television. When Wallace went on to apologize to the Baptist church in Montgomery where King had launched the movement, the leaders who came to offer him forgiveness included Coretta Scott King, Jesse Jackson, and the brother of the murdered Medgar Evers.

In 1995 the Southern Baptist Convention, 150 years after forming over the issue of slavery, formally repented of their long-term support of racism. (A pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church responded, “Finally we have a response to Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham City jail’ in 1963. Too bad it’s thirty-two years too late.”)

Even the large Baptist church I attended in my childhood learned to repent. When I attended a service several years ago, I was shocked to find only a few hundred worshipers scattered in the large sanctuary that, in my childhood, used to be packed with 1,500. The church seemed cursed. Finally the pastor, a classmate of mine from childhood, took the unusual step of scheduling a service of repentance. In advance of the service he wrote to Tony Evans and to the shunned Bible professor, asking their forgiveness. Then publicly, painfully, with African-American leaders present. he recounted the sin of racism as it had been practiced by the church in the past. He repented, and received their forgiveness. Although a burden seemed to lift from the congregation after that service, it was not sufficient to save the church. A few years later the white congregation moved out to the suburbs, and today a rousing African-American Congregation, the Wings of Faith, fills the building and rattles its windows once more.

Observers of the South sometimes speak of it as “Christ-haunted.’ Perhaps they should speak of it as “race-haunted” as well. All of us, white or black, who grew up in those days bear scars. Some black people, like John Perkins and Bob Moses, bear physical scars. We whites bear spiritual scars. Although I have not lived in the South for thirty years, I live with its memories, like the medieval murderers who were forced to wear the corpses of their victims strapped to their backs. The entire nation bears scars. Who would suggest that we have achieved anything like “the beloved community” King longed for?

I have visited King’s old church in Atlanta, Ebenezer Baptist, and sat in tears as I saw through new eyes the moral center of the black community that gave them strength to fight against bigots like me. I was on the outside in those days, cracking jokes, spreading rumors, helping sustain a system of evil. Inside the church, and for a time only inside the church, the black Community stood tall. My eyes, blinded by bigotry, could not see the Kingdom of God at work.

A few years before his death, King was asked about mistakes he had made. He replied, “Well, the most pervasive mistake I have made was in believing that because our cause was just, we could be sure that the white ministers of the South, once their Christian consciences were challenged, would rise to our aid. I felt that white ministers would take our Cause to the white power structures. I ended up, of course, chastened and disillusioned. As our movement unfolded, and direct appeals were made to white ministers, most folded their hands–and some even took stands against us. . . .

Only one thing haunts me more than the sins of my past: What sins am I blind to today? It took the greatness of Martin Luther King, Jr., to awaken the conscience of a nation in the last century. What keeps us in this new century from realizing the beloved community of justice, peace, and love for which King fought and died? On the wrong side of what issues does the church stubbornly plant its feet today? As King used to say, the presence of injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Occasionally, grace and power descend on great and flawed leaders to convict and lead us on. In the end, it was not King’s humanitarianism that got through to me, nor his Ghandian example of nonviolent resistance, nor his personal sacrifices, inspiring as those may be. It was his grounding in the Christian gospel that finally made me conscious of the beam in my eye and forced me to attend to the message he was proclaiming. Because he kept quoting Jesus, eventually I had to listen. The church may not always get it right–and it may take centuries or even millennia for its eyes to open–but when it does, God’s own love and forgiveness flow down like a stream of living water.

Cross-posted at A Time To Laugh

His Grace He Showeth

June 3, 2009 by Camille  
Filed under Grace for Life, Theology for Moms, Worship

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Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.