transformation.

You can make all sorts of arguments about whether or not the world is getting worse. When you look back at events like the Holocaust and periods of history like slavery and segregation you could make the case that we are not more violent and worse off than in the past.  And then, Charlottesville.  It’s tragic and shameful.  It’s almost hard to believe it really happens.  Almost.  Except, it happens every day. This might be the worst we’ve seen, but every day people would rather take for themselves than give to someone else. People chose to fear the other and decide that a message of hate is going to save them.

First, may we all condemn white supremacy and the events from Saturday.  Secondly, let’s admit that violence and hatred and suppression happens every day.  It happens in big huge giant ways and in the smallest of small ways. It happens every time there is an incident of domestic violence. It happens every time we refuse to condemn amisogynistic statement or a racist joke. It happens every time we tolerate a gender pay gap and a minimum wage that leaves families below the poverty line.  It happens every time we give in to the fear that someone will come and take away the life we have ‘built’ or our security. In both big and small ways we are guilty of putting our own well being above all else and deciding that someone else’s life matters less than our own.

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What then, must we do?

Open our mouths.  Dare to say something when your friend, your neighbor, your fellow church member or even someone in your family privately or publicly says something that is oppressive, racist, supports gender bias or invites hatred. We must say something. It won’t be easy, it probably won’t be popular, but it will be right.  But it must go beyond just our voices.  If we really want to be agents of change in our society we can’t just use our voices but must embody justice, equality and peace with our whole selves.

For those in my tribe called Christian and especially Nazarene, IMG_0635it means putting your money where your mouth is and then making sure your hands and feet follow your money.  That’s right.  It’s not enough just to send your money to the after school program or the food pantry or the non-profit.  Giving your money is necessary and sacrificial but not necessarily transformational. To be transformed means you take an afternoon off from the comfort of your office where you are paid more than you probably ever need and find yourself  sitting next to a child that looks remarkably different than your own and help them learn to read or finish their homework.  To be transformed means to bring your kids with you to serve a meal to someone for whom life has not given many opportunities and forge a friendship.  Not only will it transform you but your kids will grow to understand they aren’t the only people who matter. Transformation is to remove the “us” and “them,” to eliminate the fear of someone who believes differently or looks differently or behaves differently than you.

Today, if you find yourself saying “I haven’t done anything terrible” think about those first 4 words.  Have you done anything at all? Be generous.  With your time, your money, your life. Put the needs of someone else above your own. Condemn anything that represents hate of the other, fear of those who look differently than you or closing doors and windows to the poor, the widow and the orphan. Instead, may our lives reflect a God who would rather arm his people with food, with health and with life than with weapons. A God who looked beyond gender, race, age or anything else when He came to offer healing and hope.

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this day.

Seventeen years ago today I got engaged. 17! It was the Pastor’s birthday so of course I had no suspicion because who does something besides bask in the celebration of themselves on their birthday? We were in the mountains of Idaho on vacation.  He proposed on the beach.  There were lots of tears.  Finally, we went to the local gas station and used a pay phone to call my parents.

Seriously!  A pay phone…at a gas station. My kids don’t even know what a pay phone is!

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Less than a year later we were married. I was in medical school and the Pastor was finishing his undergrad degree.  We lived off 99cent frozen pizza and 49cent cornbread from a box. We took almost all of our cash from wedding gifts and went out and purchased the most amazing piece of technology known to us at the time.  A DVD player.  We are talking HUNDREDS of dollars. It was enough that we had to save up again to rent DVDs to watch on it.  Well, within the last year we needed to purchase a new DVD player. So, of course, I went to my best buddy Amazon.com.

Guys…you can buy a DVD player on Amazon.com for $25 and get it at your house in 2 days.  2 days!

Fast forward 12 more years and it’s the Pastor’s birthday again.  I’m 38 plus weeks pregnant with baby #2.  The baby spent 3 years in the making and the one who seems larger than life when just a week earlier our state had the hottest day since 1936.  ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN degrees, people.  So, I send him off to have a great day with friends while I take big sister to school and then am off to work.  Only baby BK decides it’s her day to come. Despite my insistence at my coworkers (read: screaming) that I was not going into labor, it was happening.  When my first child was born I didn’t even have a Facebook account! 6 months after my second child was born she was the subject of my first Instagram post.

Imagine a world with no FB and no Insta…that same world had pay phones at gas stations and $250 DVD players.

In the last 17 years we have seen many changes. Most of them for the better.  But some

IMG_6535.JPG.jpegthings stay the same.  Kids still love their birthdays and daddy is a five and ten year old’s best friend.  For 17 years the Pastor has put our family and his church above his own interests.  For 17 years the Pastor has created space for friendship and hospitality better than anyone I know. So, on this day, we celebrate the Pastor and my favorite 5 year old. This day we reflect on what it means to live in a rapidly changing world while finding time to celebrate the things that never change.

 

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