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When Hate Trumped Love

NB: Herein are my opinions about the election. They don’t represent my employer, my husband, or anyone else associated with me. I don’t expect to you to have the same ones—or to leave this with yours changed. Thanks for reading, in any case.

Let me start with a confession: This is the first election I’ve voted in. 

I realize that may be offensive to some. As a devout Christian, I’ve always believed “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phillipians 3:20). There are many ways to interpret the Christian political witness. The idea of America as a Christian nation has always made me squirm. I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance in high school. I cannot in good conscience pledge my complete allegiance to a nation—my first allegiance is to God and his Church. I am a strong advocate for the separation of Church and state. I am a passivist, and I believe in the equal value of all people, American or not, Christian or not, of all colors, orientations, political beliefs—because they all bear the image of God.

Because of these convictions, voting for either party has always felt morally treacherous. On the one hand, vote for the party that takes care of the poor, and you’re removing protections for the unborn. On the other hand, vote for the grand old party, and you’re paving the way for more guns and more harm to God’s creation.

And yet. Yet. This year is different. Though I still believe those things, this strange and heartbreaking election compelled me to action. Was voting morally precarious? Perhaps. But not voting felt far more dangerous. Midway through this summer, I shared this on my Facebook:

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I’ve not yet posted about the election, because I don’t know that my personal opinion is that important or helpful. However, I’ve decided to speak out because I believe the collective voices of those choosing to vote for Hillary Clinton ARE important and helpful. And in this election’s climate, I’ve personally felt afraid to voice my support of Clinton, because of how often I’ve seen Trump and Sanders supporters alike shame her supporters.

I understand and respect those who have decided to vote differently. I have come to my support of Clinton for a few reasons, and I hope to show here, in a positive way, that there are thoughtful, moral people supporting Clinton, despite the shaming on both sides.

As a Christian, I feel it’s incumbent on me to elect the person who is going to use his or her position of power to do the most good for the most people. Clinton has done this throughout her career, fueled by her Methodist faith. She’s not only the most qualified candidate for the job, but she leads with goodness, strength, and a philosophy built on love, not hate. I understand many see her differently; I have investigated these claims and do not see substantive facts behind them. She’s not perfect, but I believe she’ll be an excellent president. I also believe it’s incumbent on me to do everything in my power to prevent a dangerous, hateful, exploitative potential president from taking office. I understand that many in my circles make their choice out of an allegiance to the Republican Party that goes way back; while I see things differently, I respect their point of view.

Finally, while I don’t choose Clinton because of her gender, I am delighted and proud at the notion of electing a woman into perhaps the most powerful job in the world. Our culture and world need this. Our daughters and sisters need this. Heck, I need this. The argument that her gender shouldn’t be a reason for electing her has one major flaw: we’ve been electing presidents because of their gender (male, our “default” gender) for centuries.

I’m happy to dialogue with those who feel differently, perhaps privately. Proud to say #ImWithHer. We’re #StrongerTogether.

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As the election went on, it became more and more personal for me. Listening to the way Trump spoke of women, people of color, and immigrants, I was stirred to action.

Watching Clinton endure endless interruption and sexist comments in the debates, I felt a familiar sting most professional woman know well. We’ve all been victims of it. I admired her grace as well as grit—she ignored the sexism and got on with the work.

But my support for Hillary wasn’t just anti-Trump or pro-woman. I am the follower of a savior whose greatest concern was for “the least of these,” and who died to break the cycle of violence and enact justice in the world. I truly believed—and still do—that Hillary Clinton would be an excellent president. While I don’t have a savior complex about her, I believed she would do good for our people and our society, particularly for the vulnerable. The president of the United States has a powerful (though finite) role, both in action and symbolism, and I’ve been hyped about how Hillary could hold that role.

Tuesday morning, I woke up absolutely giddy, sure that we were about to witness history being made. I was joyful all day, having no doubt that we would have a female president that night—and that she would advance our society even further towards goodness. I felt newly aware of the power of representation—seeing my gender affirmed in the role of (almost) president brought me a joy I’d never experienced. That was moving. I proudly pinned my “Love trumps hate” button to my pantsuit and marched out the door towards my polling place.

Straight-up giddy about electing our first Madam President today. Yes, she CAN! Pantsuit power. ✊🏻

A post shared by Andie Roeder Moody (@andiemoody) on

Tuesday night was like a bad dream—a nightmare, more specifically. Surreal, dark, heartwrenching. I went to a returns-watching party, where everyone was in Hillary gear. They handed out “Nasty Woman” and “Bad Hombre” buttons. The tone was triumphant and even playful at 7:00 pm.

But things started to change quickly. The party deflated. We were shocked—none of us saw this coming. The polls were wrong. The newspapers were wrong. How could it be?

My feminist interest in having a Madam President suddenly seemed petty. If Trump was going to be our president, so many people I love were at risk. How could we give the most powerful job in the world this man? A bully who mocks the disabled and anyone who disagrees with him. A man who boasts about assaulting women and speaks of them in the crudest terms. An exploitative business man with no political experience and a platform built on hate. A racist whose constant display of prejudice gained him the endorsement of the KKK. A narcissist who can be baited with a tweet. What were we teaching our children about character? Furthermore, what would he get away with in office? What of human decency, kindness, LOVE?

At 9:00 pm I was overcome with anxiety and had to head home to watch in privacy. I stayed up all night, texting friends for solidarity. At 1:00 am, when the Clinton campaign announced their attendees should go home, I felt a glimmer of hope. Maybe we could turn this around somehow? I lay down and tried to go to sleep, but soon my phone began buzzing. Trump had reached 270; Clinton was going to concede. I ran back downstairs to flip on the TV, and I watched in a dream-like state as Trump walked across that stage to give his acceptance speech.

I couldn’t cry until the next morning, when it began to set in. I had to go to work, to a University where many of the students are immigrants (even undocumented), young women, or people who identify as LBGTQ+.

If Trump keeps his promises, their parents will be deported.

If Trump’s rhetoric is executed, some of them will be persecuted for their religion and labeled terrorists.

If Trump’s example is followed, assault on their female bodies will be normalized.

If Trump’s policies play out, their neighborhoods could be more militarized than ever.

If Trump has his way, they could lose their healthcare—and their path to finishing college and starting a career.

Trump’s victory has shown them that a large cohort of this nation is comfortable discriminating against them based on their skin color.

Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” We have seen our new leader’s heart, and it is a dark and shameful moment in history that we would put him in power.

I’ve dialogued with folks who feel differently. I know Trump supporters are not a monolith, and their motivations are many. For my dad, who voted for Trump, it’s out of a deep concern for the economy’s flourishing. I understand his perspective, and I respect him. But I’m saddened that he—and many others—can let their priorities eclipse human rights.

My mom (who didn’t vote for Trump, for the record) pointed out that, of course, Trump can’t carry out everything he’s promised. She’s right, and I needed to hear that. The core of my concern, however, is less about his words all coming to fruition—and more about the number who bought into and supported those words. I thought, as a nation, we were better than this.

I know many voted for him because of their concerns about Clinton or their allegiance to Republican values, including pro-life convictions. I know many truly believe he’s the lesser of two evils. I’m not suggesting all his supporters are morally corrupt. But truthfully, I’m still flabbergasted by their choice.

Chicago has been mournful, solemn, and quiet since Tuesday. One thing I’ve learned in this election, is your context is everything. In this city, filled with such beautiful diversity, such potential—alongside such poverty and violence—the sting is strong.

Many, many Chicagoans—particularly young people, particularly people of color—are angry. Rightfully so. They cast their votes, but the system is not working for them. Their voices have not been heard. And they will be the victims of a Trump triumph. Let me be clear: This pain we are experiencing is not about one political party or another. It’s not about Republican vs. Democrat. It’s not about Hillary’s loss. This is about the triumph of a movement of hate. This is about the flourishing of injustice.

On Tuesday night, thousands of them gathered to protest outside Trump’s tower downtown. After meeting with our students and faculty at Chapel Wednesday morning to pray and process, I decided I would go to the protest. The journalist in me wanted to observe, and the neighbor in me needed to stand in solidarity, and the broken parts of me had to mourn with others.

When I posted a Facebook live video, I got some negative response. I agree with the commenters that we’re supposed to respect and pray for elected officials according to Scripture. But we’re also supposed to seek justice, experience righteous anger, and lament. I don’t endorse the protestors’ language or methods; I broadcasted the event to bring awareness.

The faithful Martin Luther King Junior said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Some commented that there’s no point in protesting when the election is “finished.” The point isn’t to change the outcome. The point is to question the system, to be heard, to fight for justice, to love our neighbors.

I am still overcome with grief. I am tearing up out of the blue. I feel tired. And I know that many have reason to be much more dismayed than I do.

Of course, my hope is always fixed on a Kingdom that is to come. Of course, God is still on God’s throne. And yet, Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will would be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” Whenever justice is done, whenever mercy wins, whenever love is given, heaven is coming down on Earth. For those of us tuned into heaven’s coming, this manifestation of hate is a severe blow. I know that hate had a temporary victory this week; I believe that love wins in the end; but the now is painful.

Part of the walking wounded, I’ve been looking into the eyes of people this week, thinking, “Are you hurting too? Are you a safe person? Do you bear this heaviness in your heart that’s in mine? Or do I need to pretend I’m okay?”

That’s why I’m partaking in the #safetypin movement. Borrowing from Brexit, it encourages individuals to wear a safety pin to show solidarity. If you see one on my clothes, you know I’m safe. I am for you. It’s a simple sign of solidarity.

I am not sure where to go from here. I did (along with nearly three million others—so far) sign the petition urging the electoral college to step in. I’m certain it won’t prevail. I can only pray that Trump’s power and tongue will be checked—that he will not be able to make good on his promises. And that perhaps some good could come of his presidency.

For now, I have to see this grief through. I have to help my neighbors (and myself) heal. I need a break from media. I need some silence and rest.

I am trying to follow the example of a good friend, who said today: “I’m not going to let Trump win even more by being afraid.” She’s right. Jesus said, “Perfect love casts out fear.” In other words, love wins.

I find comfort in the words I read from the gospel in morning prayer today:

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11

Let’s exalt each other, let’s make each other safe.

In love, tolerance, and care—despite our differences and disagreements,
Andie

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After 32 Months of Marriage

Collin and I are celebrating our third anniversary. Earlier this year, I wrote the below poem for Collin. I’ve been writing quite a lot of poetry lately. Perhaps because I read and edit essays all day, my words are coming in more concise forms. I don’t yet trust the Internet with my poetry, which is embarrassingly simple and, I believe, needs much refining before it’s presentable. This one is quite straightforward, so I’m going to share it.

I’m conflicted also about how to represent our marriage online. Social media have created a climate of extreme sentiment and celebration. Those are good parts of the human experience, but they aren’t everything. I fear that all the smiley, sweet photos of us present a distorted impression of our marriage. It’s dark and very difficult at times. I think you can hear even in this poem that it’s a lovely but solemn business. I’m thankful that the best things in life are too complex to be represented online, and as with my poetry, the few people whose presence in our life is more real and constant than a screen can capture—they are familiar with all the shades of our life, and walk with us. With those thoughts now unburdened from my mind, here’s an image of marriage that caught my imagination:

There’s an impression on my finger now

even when it’s bare,

when the ring’s rested in its dish by the sink.

Two hard horizontal lines—and a darker blush between.

One quarter of an inch,

where a symbol you had made—

yellow gold and diamonds,

blessed in the name of the Trinity

(that one strangely sacred hour)—

marks a bind to one another,

a transcendent covenant,

an impression on the world.

 

A recent photo of us, from my sister's wedding.

A recent photo of us, from my sister’s wedding.

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Poems and Theology for Christmas: Incarnation

IIn my recent article for Christianity Today, I invite Christians of all types of consider observing the 12 Days of Christmas as well as Advent. You can read “Always Advent and Never Christmas” here. Today is the fifth day of Christmas (I’m still waiting to receive my five golden rings), and I want to share a few thoughts on Christmas theology, as well as the writing of others that’s enriching my Christmas.

The central reality of Christmas—really, of Christianity—is the Incarnation: God with us. Humanity and divinity united, reconciled. Richard Crashaw captured its glory in these lines:

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.

When Jesus came to us as God Incarnate, he literally united heaven and earth. Our salvation occurs in His Incarnation—as it is what allows us to have union with Him. God with us. Christ in you, the hope of glory. There is a physical sense in which Christ is truly present in our members—and us in His. Shortly before Christmas, it was my turn to give the devotional in our staff meeting. I shared this poem by St. Symeon:

We awaken in Christ’s body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ, He enters
my foot, and is infinitely me.

I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly
whole, seamless in His Godhood).

I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous? — Then
open your heart to Him

and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
we wake up inside Christ’s body

where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us, utterly, real,

and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed.

We prayed at that meeting for a friend of mine whose body has been ravaged by cancer. Her reality has been devastating and dark. And yet this poem attests: every part of her is made whole and healed by Christ. This is the hope of the Incarnation.

On the last Sunday of Advent, I snuck into Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue to hear Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols (the Christmas harp piece to rule them all) performed during their worship service. I don’t think I could ever be a Presbyterian, but the combination of this space, Britten’s stunning harp and choir piece, and, what was probably the most beautiful sermon I’ve ever heard (preached by one tiny, poetic lady pastor), I don’t know. I’m could maybe flinch on that.

She described the Incarnation as God’s protest against all material evil, his presence in our mess:

When the Word becomes flesh and blood and moves into our neighborhood, what we call incarnation, it is God’s protest song against all that tries to demean us—against all the voices that tell us we are not enough to be loved, to be worthy. Incarnation is God’s protest song against our own behavior with each other that seeks more to create walls and mistrust rather than to seek cooperation and peace. Incarnation is God’s protest song against the evil that does not think twice about massacring 130 kids in Pakistan for the so-called purpose of revenge. It is God’s protest song against the horror and tragedy that teenage kids will kill each other for a coat. It is God’s protest song against all that separates us from each other and attempts to separate us from God.

It was a revelation for me this year that Christmas is not primarily about the nativity. That historic moment is critical and beautiful; we should reflect on it, perhaps even sentimentally. More than that, though, we should dwell in the reality it points to, the reality that’s transforming everything: uniting heaven and earth, healing our bodies, standing in protest of the broken social structures we’re witnessing. Christmas—the gospel, really—can be summed up in three words: God with us. As Symeon says, “Do my words seem blasphemous? — / Then open your heart to Him / and let yourself receive the one / who is opening to you so deeply.”

(P.S. Don’t miss the two Christmas poems we published in The Behemoth: a whimsical, celebratory Gaudete and lovely original collect by our editor Mark Galli.)

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Turn, turn, turn

I was honored when my former professor, Kelli Worrall, who is also a mentor and friend, asked me to guest blog on her lovely corner of the Internet, This Odd House, where she’s hosting a series on waiting. Below is my post. Please check out some of Kelli’s lovely writing.

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In my childhood home hung a beige stone plaque with loopy, cut-out letters. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1. I’m no Hebrew scholar, but I’m partial to this lovely King James iteration, etched in my memory as it traced my childish lips a thousand and one times, while I was washing dishes or eating dinner or filling up the dog’s bowl.

During a recent season of lonely and difficult change, I stumbled upon a print of these exact words at a Hobby Lobby in rural Illinois. It’s not exactly my style—black foam with gold lettering. But I absolutely purchased the thing (with a 40% off coupon, of course. How do they stay in business?) and hung it my apartment. I’ve found myself clinging to these words with newfound need.

Pete Seeger must have been touched by this verse, as he wrote a melody to accompany it. The song is Ecclesiastes 3 nearly verbatim, with the addition of a soft echo: turn, turn, turn.

To everything (Turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (Turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose under heaven

(Here’s a cute video of Judy Collins and him singing it together.)

We’re getting to that time of year when everything becomes outrageously beautiful. As the leaves change and the wind grows sharp and the days get shorter, we tune into the fact that God is turning everything, always. If the seasons are a symphony, fall is the movement God plays so loudly that none can miss it. Or perhaps it’s not even the volume that gets us, but the soft and striking harmonies he creates with color and texture. Turn, turn, turn.

Fall, to me, is often about making peace with change. Chicago spends the summer in perpetual celebration (it’s all beaches and block parties and festivals around here). Come October, we start to settle (it’s all cozy socks and staying in and homemade soup). In this stillness we give thanks that summer was, and we relish that fall is, and we try, at least, to accept that winter will be. Turn, turn, turn.

Submitting to this change is ultimately submitting to the (unchanged) Changer, who was and is and always will be, unto the ages of ages.

Kelli asked me to write on the concept of waiting. We’re all waiting for a future something. I’m waiting for the time when we live close to our families again, or when we’re ready to have babies, or when we can afford a second car. Maybe you’re waiting to finally get married, or get a better job, or conceive, or pay off debts, or grant someone forgiveness.

Waiting is a human thing, which means it’s equal parts holy and harry. Every oddity of life on this earth has something to teach us about redemption (which, come to find out, is more about living into our humanity than fleeing it). There’s certainly a future orientation to this life. Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. But anticipation becomes malignant when it eclipses today. As Christians we know our times are in God’s hand, which means we can quit frittering and worrying and always looking forward.

As we await the fulfillment of dreams, as we endure change—or the lack thereof—we must accept that God has ordained a season for everything, even the broken and beautiful pieces of today. Christ is before all things, and in him all things hold together. It’s certainly his will that we might have life, and life to the fullest, today. A friend put it this way: “We focus so much on fulfilling our own dreams that we forget we’re all living God’s.”

Making peace with the present then, is nothing more than giving thanks. It’s nothing more than simple, decided gratitude. It’s nothing more than submission, surrender to God’s sovereignty: past, present, and future. Gratitude in the here and now—present-tense living—may be the greatest worship we can offer God.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. This is a command Jesus both spoke and was made to obey. I think of him as he awaited the darkest moment of his life—of history, really—and the moment of redemption (resurrection, glory, ascension, reunion with the Father). Turn, turn, turn. He sat down with his disciples, he broke bread, and he gave thanks.

So I ask myself, I ask you: What are you waiting for? Is it eclipsing of today? Do you pray only for your will and your wishes, or do you give thanks for God’s will already made manifest?

In verses, in plaques, in Pete Seeger songs. In prayer, in dreams, in the words of Jesus, in autumn leaves, may you find peace in the turning by giving thanks.

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Our Love for Coffee & My New Piece on Her.meneutics

Coffee shops have been a centerpiece in my life since my teens, mostly because Collin has been working in the coffee industry since he was 15. I can remember one of our first times hanging out; we sat the independent suburban shop where he once worked and talked for several hours, learning much about each other and realizing how much we had in common.

Since then, I’ve watched him compete in latte-art throwdowns and pourover brewing competitions. I have attended countless formal coffee cuppings, met Honduran coffee farmers, and toured the roasting facilities of many specialty coffee companies. I’ve been the happy beneficiary of many leftover pastries after closing. We honeymooned in Portland, because we were both excited to check out the bustling coffee scene there (though, I did have to remind him more than once that it wasn’t  a business trip). The centrality of coffee in our relationship even motivated us to take the below engagement photos at Intelligentsia’s lovely Monadnock store.

All this coffee love meant I had to say yes when my colleague, who is the editor of Her.meneutics, Christianity Today‘s blog for women, asked if I wanted to write about how Christians are working in coffee and engage with this NPR article on Louisville’s “Christian coffee” scene. So please click over there check out my piece: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Brew.”

Photos by Stephanie Horstkoetter

Photos by Stephanie Horstkoetter

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I previously wrote for Her.meneutics on stewarding language—and why I don’t (generally) use emojis.

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What Makes a Marriage

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This month my parents will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. On May 27, 1989, they held trembling hands before the altar at a little church in Yorktown, Texas, the same church where his parents had stood a few decades before. Both knew the pain of previous marriage and divorce, neither knew the love and grace of Christ. My dad proposed over the phone, scared, but knowing it was right. He was to be transferred across the country in just a few weeks. They bought a plain gold band—all they could afford—and two weeks later she walked down the aisle in a simple, knee-length white dress. A few friends and family surrounded them as they vowed a lifetime to each other. They may not have understood all that was said or prayed that day, but God did, and He blessed their union.

In the next few years, Christ drew my mom to himself first, then my dad. My siblings and I have had the privilege of being raised in a gracious, Christ-centered marriage. Knowing this milestone was coming up, Audrey, Alex, and I wanted to honor and celebrate them, so last weekend we threw them a surprise silver anniversary party, with a Texas touch. We had a country band and awesome barbecue. We hugged, danced, cried, and talked about what we’ve seen in their union these last 25 years.

As I prepared to give a toast, Proverbs 3:3-4 came to mind: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Those two things are what a marriage is made of: love and faithfulness.

The love part is easy, at least at first. It’s assumed. There’s no better picture of all-enveloping, relentless, Father God-like love, than the way a groom looks at his bride, and the way she admires him. I still see that love in the way my parents look at one another, the way they hold hands, the way they serve each other. This is the part of the equation that culture generally pushes—the part the gives happy feelings, butterflies, and foot-popping kisses. It’s what Cinderella and other fairytales exalt. It’s what I always thought happily-ever-afters were made of.

But I was wrong about that. It took getting engaged and staring flatly at the reality of my happily-ever-after to realize that it takes more than that love. Love runs out, at least the romantic gushy sort. That’s where faithfulness comes in.

Faithfulness isn’t feeling; it’s character; it’s a long obedience in the same direction. It’s a reflection of our covenant-making—and covenant-keeping—God. This is why we make our vows in the presence of witnesses and of the Church; because we don’t have the strength to keep them on our own. My dad has always been a picture of faithfulness to me, of constancy, patience, quiet strength. Ultimately, the faithfulness we lean into when the happy feelings run out—that’s the beautiful part of marriage. That’s intended to be a reflection of God’s faithfulness to his Church (even in the face of Her unfaithfulness)—indeed, it’s an extension of the faithfulness we receive in Christ.

In a wedding ceremony, we bind two people into one on the foundation of love and faithfulness. But what will hold love and faithfulness together throughout their lifetime is grace. The grace of Jesus Christ, the grace my parents each accepted—and then reflected to one another day-to-day.

I’m only two years into my marriage, and I can see how much we need grace to sustain both love and faithfulness. I look at their 25 years, and I am amazed. I saw grace in their marriage, day-to-day, in the way they spoke of one another, and laughed and cried and prayed together. They certainly hurt one another, but they gave grace generously. That’s what it takes.

Mom and dad, grace is the heart of your marriage. And—praise God—we don’t have to muster it. He gives it us in his Son. Thank you for choosing love and faithfulness. Thank you for leaning into grace. Glory to God for your union. I love you, and I’m so thankful for the example that you’ve set for us.

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Holy Week and Hunger

When we started making that often-written-about millennial move to the high church, started calling communion eucharist, started reading weekly collects, started praying the hours (or at least thinking about praying the hours), we knew a few things: We knew we needed more than what we were getting from the Church then. We knew we were tired of being cushioned and entertained. We knew we desired beauty and substance, liturgy and sacrament, history and tradition.

But we didn’t know that the high church would transform our faith or inform our marriage. That worshipping the same way Christians have for two thousand years would draw us nearer to Christ than ever before. That following the rhythms of the Church year would tune our ears to God’s whispering, would create space for the Holy Spirit to dwell richly in us, allowing him to rub away rough patches, to sanctify, to draw things to the light.

It’s Holy Week, and I’m hungry. Easter hasn’t sprung up out of nowhere. It’s being birthed from a long, slow, Holy Lent (just as outside the spotty green on our grass, and tiny flower buds showing their tentative faces, follow a long, painful, dark winter). 40 days of fasting and discipline, of omitted Alleluias, climax this week. And knowing what’s ahead, I’m hungry. Ready to hear the story, sensitive and tuned-in. A little weepy (teary in my car as I hear audio of the Boston marathon bombing or the story of hundreds missing in a Korean shipwreck).

Our little church will work hard this week. We’ll gather more often than usual, telling each other story of that week, of how he entered, ate, spoke, blessed, bled, lay, and rose. On Sunday, we waved our palms and spoke Hosannas. At Thursday’s dramatic service, we’ll pour cold water on each other’s feet and remember that first New Covenant Passover. On dark, Good Friday, we’ll gather in mourning to walk through the stations of the cross, each one crafted by a different artist in our community. Vulnerable and brave, we’ll think a lot about death, and we’ll wait while he lie in the grave.  All in preparation for Sunday.

We need this week. Need it to make Easter Easter. I’ve been thinking back on past Holy Weeks all through Lent, thinking about what makes them Holy. And feeling a deep hunger to walk through these traditions with my community, to prepare our hearts for the glory of the resurrection. To face death together, because we know the hope of Christ in us.

Observing the Church year transforms us. It creates hunger, it guides our spirits, it draws us into the rhythm of the God’s people. After several years of following the calendar, I’m aware of the sanctifying effects of it.  Not just in my “spiritual life,” but in all life. In how I hear radio stories and my dietary patterns and my emotional stability.

This year, it’s gone like this: It’s Advent, and I’m longing. It’s Christmas, and I’m hopeful, joyful. It’s Epiphany, and I’m stunned. It’s ordinary time, and frankly I’m a little bored. It’s Lent, and I’m sad, tired. It’s Holy Week, and I’m hungry.

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Fall

We’re just getting to that point in the year where Chicago starts to look like some majestic oil painting. This time last year, I wrote this short piece as part of a set for the 2013 ARCH reflecting on the seasons of the year in Chicago and at Moody. I plan to share the rest in due season.

Come each October, autumn begins to make her appearance in Chicago. The wind’s touch slowly grows sharper, and the temperatures begin to drop. Scarves, hats, and coats are debuted. LaSalle’s arboreal row dawns oranges, mustards, and browns. A flourishing tree in the plaza gently surrenders her red berries and leaves, laying a beautiful carpet that crunches under the step of a student’s brown boots.

It’s a time of harvest as the midwest rakes in the earth’s bounty. On Saturday mornings, groups leave through the Arch and head to the farmer’s market at the intersection of Clark and Division, where merchants sell gourds and a hundred varieties of apples.

Joe’s coffee shop offers the long-anticipated pumpkin spice latte. Girls take on seasonal Pinterest projects, dawning their doors with tea-stained coffee filter wreaths. In the fall, a simple walk through the neighborhood feels magical. Leaves funnel on the sidewalk before us, circling in the wind as if controlled by some conductor’s baton.

Fall is a symphony, and God performs it so loudly that none can miss it. As He makes music out of color, texture, and movement, we are all struck by the way He changes not only the earth, but us.

Fall

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I feel it in my knees today

I feel it in my knees today,
the need
to bend

to crawl into some holy space
kneel there in the silence
press my forehead against the hard, cold wood of the pew
feel my heaviness fall on my joints
hear the kneeler’s cushion shift under my weight

to feel the physicality of me
Spirit and flesh unbroken
to feel the physicality of Him
human, yet God

to mumble incoherently
or say softly in my mind
what I have done
and what I have left undone

I feel it in my knees again,
rising and shuffling forward
that I might bend again
low, humble at the altar
like Marie Antoinette at her bedroom window,
a broken monarch, a forced surrender

head bowed low, hands cupped and raised,
hopeful,
that I might receive you

Lord, yet bread
Word, yet wine

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Piece on Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics

Today I’m pleased and honored to have a piece published on Christianity Today’s blog for women, Her.meneutics.

In the Beginning was the … Emoticon?

I belong to a generation of online natives, owning my first cell phone around age 10 and learning to communicate via text message years before I wrote emails or crafted essays.

These days, you’ll still find me texting, toting around my iPhone and spewing a stream of tweets and Instagram updates, but I draw my digital line at emojis, those tiny smiley faces and cartoon symbols. Right about now some of you probably want to reach for that one that looks like The Scream. But stay with me. As a writer and a Christian, I care for too much for words to indulge emoticons.

Words are a gift from God, a piece of his created order given to humanity, as author Marilyn Chandler McIntyre reminds us in Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies. Christians are fundamentally a people of the Word, a body formed by Holy Scripture. What we know about our faith we know by words.

Our Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit and crafted by the God-breathed creativity of men. Before they were written, they were passed down orally, repeated by communities and families, memorized—in homes and tabernacles and tents of meeting. The sacred sharing of the Word is preserved in the church when we gather each week and to feed each other on Scripture…

            Read the rest here…

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