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Posts Tagged ‘Broken’

I remember the first time I was introduced to Christian Pacifism. It made literally, no sense to me whatsoever. As an eighteen year old kid (saying that as a twenty-six year old kid), the thought of Christian Pacifism was anathema. The very idea made me sick to my stomach. Pacifism wasn’t Christian in my eyes, it stood in direct contrast to everything I had been taught to believe by my culture.

My parents didn’t raise someone who was so easily turned away from differing viewpoints, however. The more the idea of pacifism disgusted me, the greater I wanted to delve into it and see why someone would commit to such lunacy. It also required me to confront head-on passages of Scripture that not only went against my worldview, but against the very god I believed in.

Having a crisis of faith is never fun. People don’t do this for kicks and giggles. The very bedrock of your faith is shaken to its core, because it was built on something that you’re not sure will withstand the test of time. Jesus gives a parable about this in the Scriptures. Everyone who builds the foundation of their faith upon the teachings and actions of Jesus will be able to withstand all the winds and rains and storms that may come. But those who do not build their faith upon the example of Jesus, will be like a man who builds his house on sand, and the first storm that comes will knock it down. And great will be its fall. (Matthew 7 & Luke 6)

The more I dug into Scripture, and the more I read the words of Jesus, the more my foundation began to crumble. My faith, my house, was built on sand. And the fall was great indeed. I became confronted with the very same question that plagued C.S. Lewis during his own crisis of faith. Either Jesus was a madman, or he was the Son of God.

Fortunately beneath my sand, was a bit of bedrock. That happens sometimes. My house fell, but I was able to clear away the sand, and begin building anew. It took some time, but I knew the foundation was firm (although I do still find granules here and there). My neighbors and friends and family laughed at me. I probably felt a bit like Noah, my faith being mocked. Yet I knew that somehow everything would be alright, because my new faith was built upon a Gospel that was solid. A Gospel of Love.

There have been some bumps along the way. Faith journeys are never easy. And there have been storms, Lord have there been storms. I’ve had hurricane winds blow against my heart and soul, and there have been times when it was all I could do to not give in. But our God is a mighty fortress, and happy are those who put their trust in Him.

The journey isn’t over yet. I still have a long road ahead of me. I’m still learning this path of love and peace, trying to show mercy and grace. (It’s been eight years since I started on this road, and you’d be surprised how little you actually learn in that time). A little something that helps me along in this regard is a quote by Stanley Hauerwas: “I say I’m a pacifist because I am a violent son of a bitch. I’m a Texan. I can feel it in every bone I’ve got. And I hate the language of pacifism because it’s too passive. But by avowing it, I create expectations in others that hopefully will help me live faithfully to what is true. But that I have no confidence in my own ability to live it at all.”

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With the Texas elections, there was an overwhelming victory by Republicans across the board. Many view the officials who have been elected to be valiant defenders of life. And perhaps these men are valiant protectors of the unborn (though I may disagree with their methods). I believe abortion to be a difficult decision, but one that is bereft of any moral or spiritual goodness.

That being said – being a champion of life extends to far more than simply ensuring fewer abortions. With fewer abortions come children who are born into unwanted and possibly dangerous situations. These children have an increased risk to grow up in a situation of generational poverty, and become victims of societal ills. With an alarming population of Texas’ children already going to bed hungry, and with Republicans fighting tooth and nail to cut funding for schools and welfare programs, are these officials really defenders of life?

Children who grow up in these scenarios have a higher likelihood to become juvenile offenders, and many end up in a cyclical pattern – repeating mistake after mistake because society did not offer them the same privilege given to children with better resources at hand. These juveniles grow into adults who cycle in and out of prison, many of those die on the streets, or are sentenced to death in the prisons that many of them have called home for the majority of their adult (and possibly adolescent) lives.

Does a champion of life only care about ensuring that a fetus is born into a human being? Does a champion of life care about ensuring that everyone has enough food to eat, clean water to drink, a roof over their head, and adequate medical care? Does a champion of life seize every possible chance to execute someone whom they deem to be past redemption?

No, a champion of life is a champion for all those who live. A champion of life fights not only for those who have yet to be born – but also those that have been born already. Especially those who have been outcast by society and have either by circumstance or by choice been relegated to lives lead in the dark. A champion of life champions not only his friends, and those who think as he does – but also his enemies.

A champion of life recognizes that all are made in the image of God. That all life is sacred. That all of us are broken – and that all of us are in need of redemption.

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Litany of the Broken

Officiant: Let us approach the throne of God with humility and solemnity, asking Him to grant us our petitions by His grace and love.

O Great God of Heaven, have mercy upon us;
And hear our pleas.

We are but sinners approaching a Holy God;
Have mercy upon us.

Yet here we intercede for the broken among us;
For those who are in distress.

We ask that your Holy Spirit give comfort to those who are grieving;
For blessed are those who mourn.

We pray for those who suffer from loneliness;
For you are with us always.

We pray for those who have been alienated from your Church;
For you would leave the ninety-nine for the one.

We pray for those whose marriages have ended with divorce or annulment;
For your love knows no bounds.

We pray for those who have been victims of abuse and persecution;
For justice flows from your throne like streams of living water.

We pray for those who have been afflicted with illnesses of the body;
For you are the Great Physician.

We pray for those who suffer from addiction;
For you are the God who has delivered us out of Egypt.

We pray for those who suffer from mental diseases;
For you O Lord, are our peace.

We pray for the poor and the oppressed;
For the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

We pray for those who struggle with belief;
For blessed are the poor in spirit.

We pray for ourselves, and all others;
For we have strayed away from You, and the road is dark.

Allow that we may partake in your Divine Nature;
For you have granted us fruit from the Tree of Life.

Grant these petitions O Lord as you see fit, in accordance with your Holy Word. We ask these things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.

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I cry out to you O Lord, in the depths of my despair. My cries for help have fallen on deaf ears, and those who could help cannot be found. My God the fear that wells up within my soul! Shall Hades continue to reap his wealth from my Tartarean sorrow? Only you can save me, my God! Are you not my shepherd? Hear me O God of Job; He who has crafted the universe! Release me of this I beg of you! You are the Father who gives only good gifts; the God who hands not over death to His child who asks for bread. Grant your Holy Spirit to comfort me! By the power and the passion of the Cross, free me from these chains!

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My dear friend,
So often I fail with words.
Therefore let this,
Serve as a suitable replacement.

My heart aches for you,
Whom I cherish sincerely.
Your hurt,
Is my hurt.
Believe me when I say,
I know your pain.
For I have been
There before.

But please my dear,
Do not harden your heart.
Let your emotions run
Free.

When they told you that holding them
Would make you strong –
They lied.

For just like every
Other muscle,
The heart must be torn,
Before it can become strong.
Often many times in a row.

Life has dealt you a cruel hand,
But just as a phoenix rises
From the ashes,
So too shall you.

I see the innocence,
In your eyes.
And the pain that
You use to mask
It.

But the pain is
Temporary.

And behind them both,
I see your
Strength.

But as you suffer,
Through this pain,
Do not lose hope.
Do not believe the lies
You have been told.

You are worth more than words.
Do not forget that.
You are more beautiful
Than the stars.

Our Father in heaven,
Has made you in His image.
He has bestowed upon you,
His likeness,
O daughter of Eve!

As tears from my cheek,
Stain this pad
Where I write
These words,
Know you are loved.

Loved
For just being who,
God has made you.

He has crafted the heavens,
And the stars.
Yet you are more important
Than all else in creation.

Let that fill you.
For it is felt
In the embrace of a friend.
Or in the laughter
Of a joke.
Or in a rambling
Line of prose.

Someday perhaps
You shall find someone.
Perhaps not.
Either is fully acceptable,
And up to you.

But never settle
For a life without love.

Embrace the day,
And keep your heart open.
Because people will fail you,
All of us.

But there is One
Who does not fail.
And how great
Is His love for us.

And His love for you.

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Why should we pray to God?

The prevailing viewpoint in America is that we should not pray to God, at all. This viewpoint stems from the period of Enlightenment, and questions whether God even exists. It also posits: that if God does exist, then praying to Him is pointless because He does not answer our prayers. Supposed proof of this statement is backed with something akin to, “if God was real or all-powerful, He would abolish all evil”.

However, I would put forth that expecting God to solve all of humanity’s problems would be more the work of a magician or lesser deity, rather than the God who is described in the Scriptures. Regardless of whether or not one believes the book of Genesis to be historically factual, we have a pretty good idea about what kind of happened. Somewhere along the way, humanity rebelled against God and His perfect plan for the world. Our ancestors screwed up, and we lost the utopia known as Eden. The rest of the Hebrew Scriptures spend tremendous effort trying to convince us of where we went wrong, and how to get back to Paradise. They tell of a God who is constantly trying to get humanity back on the right track, back to perfect harmony.

But they also tell a different story – the story of a human race that though not intrinsically evil, often turns toward evil. God created mankind, and He called us good. But we fell, and we became broken. The ideal vision of humanity was now corrupted. So, not unlike a file that has been corrupted on a computer, we don’t act exactly how we are supposed to all of the time. We need to be restored back to how we were meant to be.

How does that happen?

The short answer, is through prayer. Paul gives us a little advice about this in 1 Thessalonians, where he exhorts us to pray without ceasing. This is a call back to the Gospel exhortation of Jesus himself. In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, Jesus tells a story about a widow who had been wronged, and a judge who was unjust. The judge did not want to help the widow find justice, but the widow would not let the matter rest. She begged and pleaded persistently, until finally, the judge relented. The unjust judge sought justice for the widow out of pure weariness. He was tired of her nagging.

One could probably take away a negative: that if God is like the unjust judge, then God Himself is unjust. The alternative, and more appropriate take-away, is that if even an unjust judge will find justice after persistent nagging, how much more likely is God to answer the prayers of people whom He loves dearly? Jesus insisted that God will give justice to those who cry out to Him day and night – persistent prayers will be answered.

Why then, should we pray to God? Because He cares for the sparrows and for the lilies; how much more then does He care for us? And if such love is magnified, then how much more quick will He be to answer our prayers and petitions out of love. What father would give his child poison, when he asks for bread?

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