Fourth Advent Wednesday

advent-candles

So there’s no real agenda for these posts, but they have had a definite social justice bent. I’m a huge believer in both individual choices creating change as well as groups and communities working together to confront systemic issues, we need both.

Currently I’m reading a fascinating book: Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelism. I don’t agree with everything in the book. What is really sitting with me isn’t that the Church should be the safest place for Queer people and Queer Christians, how People of Color tend to look at sin systemically and individually, or even how feminism and Christianity should go hand in hand.

More than all that I’m just understanding that it’s so important for each of us to share our voice in the Church. It’s so important for us all to be the parts of the body we were created to be and to realize fundamentally none of us have it completely right, which makes it ever more imperative that there is room in the Church room in the World for each of us to be our true selves. Outside of sin God created us to be our unique selves. When we suffocate that under the guise of biblical living or right theology we do a great disservice to God.

 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

We don’t all look at the world the same. We don’t all have the same experiences.

We need voices that know personally the burden of systemic sin and why racism is much more than name calling and one off racial slurs. We need to hear women’s voices especially in regards to family planning, violence, and leadership. We need to see Queer people as people, not as stereotyped militants out to “destroy the family”. We need to be part of communities that are diverse. Diverse in general population and absolutely in leadership. It doesn’t help if women have a unique perspective to share, but men are the only ones included in conversations or groups that create change.

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all..For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. I Corinthians 12: 4-7; 12-14

I think about how in some circles I’m still nervous to share what I truly believe. That I fear others rejection or condemnation. I don’t feel I always have safe spaces to share my thoughts. I don’t think my thoughts would be seriously considered by some people, I think there first reaction would be correction without any serious consideration.

Part of why I love my husband and chose to marry him is because he’s someone who has fully accepted me for who I am. He loves and values that I’m a Jesus lover, writer, feminist, and people embracer (don’t confuse that with me being a hugger, I’m too moody and bony to always appreciate hugs). He never tries to change me. He’s accepted that I’m perpetually messy and will always choose comfort over aesthetics. He embraces my introspection, obsessions, and concern over emotions. I do my best to do the same for him, but I also have a terrible desire to make him more like me, but it’s okay I’m working on it.

I also think of the community of women who were part of the Women’s Bible Play I was a part of (not it’s real name). We still have a facebook group that we communicate through and while we absolutely did not agree with everything we always listened to each other. We shared our stories, our hearts, our lives and it was a truly safe place. So many tears, laughter, joy, and pain was shared and it came together to create a show that impacted people.

I hope I can foster more safe places in my life and the lives of people I know and love. I hope we all have people who fully embrace who we are. I hope we can all be true to ourselves and our stories. We were each created uniquely. We must each embrace our neighbor fully for who they are and, what is sometimes even harder, fully embrace ourselves.

Love and glitter,

Juanita

 

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Advent Wednesday the 2nd

advent-candles

So unless you’ve been living under a rock as the expression goes, there is a lot of heavy stuff going on in the world. Donald Trump is calling for an immediate ban on all Muslims entering the country, there was a shooting in California, natural disasters, shootings, bomb threats, both domestic and abroad. So much chaos in the world and Donald Trump isn’t the only voice calling on fear and violence as our biggest allies. Yet this time of year is in anticipation of Emmanuel. God with us. He came into the world as a baby, wrapped in innocence, yet he shook our world to it’s very core. Throughout his life he flipped people’s worlds upside down. He said that the last would be first, that it was most honorable to be a slave to all, and that blessed are: the meek, the mourners, the poor in spirit, the hungry. 

I have been really reflecting on who Jesus was and is. Our Savior, God in the flesh. And you know how he changed the world, by two very simple things: conversation and friendship. I am convinced more than anything right now, that is what our world needs.

We often desire bold answers and overwhelming miracles, but what if the miracle we need is simply to look at our neighbor the way Jesus does? To see a full human being. To look on them with great love and companionship. To see them with eyes filled with grace and forgiveness. Love like this is revolutionary.

When we can look at our neighbor not as a potential threat, but with a heart of compassion we have a better chance at healing this world’s brokenness. 

Jesus over and over again chose love and expected us to do the same. Our response to those who hate and persecute us who call us their enemies: pray for them. When they attack us and call us names: offer them our other cheek. When they demand from us: we walk another mile and offer them even more than they asked for. Jesus offered us the greatest example of sacrificial love, he died for us overcoming both sin and death.

So while we may not all be able to first hand support the Syrian refugees seeking shelter here in America, we can help to create a more loving and understanding world. We can befriend our Muslim neighbors, we can talk to the new kid at school, instead of demonizing gay people we can listen to their stories, we can get to know someone who sees the world differently from us whether it’s politically, religiously, or something else.

“Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of at least two lives. Listening as far as I’m concerned, is certainly a prerequisite of love. One of the most essential ways of saying ‘I love you’ is by being a receptive listener.” Mister Rogers

From the Woman at the Well and Zacchaeus to Mary and Martha, not to mention the 12 disciples. These people weren’t extraordinary, and some were considered to be the very dregs of society. Jesus took his time, talking with them, investing, and developing friendship. Something all of us are capable of doing. This world will be better as we love better.

Be a revolutionary: instead of creating fear and barriers between you and the stranger, call them your neighbor and love them. 

Love,

Juanita