The following ramblings are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the local church I serve, the United Methodist Church, John Wesley, my family, my dog, my gecko, or anyone else whom I may have forgotten to mention for that matter.
“I have a dream!”
~Dr. Martin Luther King
How big is your dream? Do you have one? Is there something – a goal or accomplishment – in your life that you hope to achieve? Is your dream big enough? Does it stretch you? Will it be easy for you to achieve? What’s your plan for making it a reality?
Dr. King had a dream and you should to.
Dreams keep us on our toes. Dreams keep us motivated. Dreams keep us alive. Whether it’s a personal one or one that say, a particular church has latched on to, dreams are our vision of our desired future.
And, the world needs more dreamers.
When we commit to a dream we are:
• Dedicated to seeing it through
• Willing to risk the status quo in the pursuit of God’s next best thing.
• Committed to striving for excellence in all we do, because excellence honors God and inspires people.
• Willing to align all of our activities around the vision that God has given us.
• Enthusiastic about mobilizing the key participation need to accomplishing our goals.
Dedication. Risk. Excellence. Align. Mobilize.
This is the stuff that dreams are made of!
I've been mulling about this idea for a little while now, and thought I'd through it out there for some friendly conversation.
As Christians, a central tenant of our religious and spiritual understanding is that we as human beings are broken and fragmented people.
Now I know what some of you might be thinking, "here we go, another chucklehead whose just going to bash the human race again and talk about how 'unworthy' we are, blah, blah, blah."
Well that's not exactly where I'm going, but I think that if you truly look around long and hard enough, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that we've been beating one another over the head with clubs (and the more advanced we've become, the more sophisticated the club) for eons in hopes of fulfilling our on personal endeavors, however twisted they might be.
You see, when as followers of Jesus, we fail to embrace the notion that we are flawed individuals that create flawed communities, that create flawed governments, that create flawed world-views, that even, and here's the kicker, create flawed churches, why then do we think that we really need Jesus anyway?
I mean, if we're really OK, then, well, we really don't need a savior do we?
I'm not suggesting that we adopt a pessimistic stance and cluck our tongues at "how bad the world is," but what I am suggesting is that understanding that we are bent and broken social creatures is part of the mystery that makes us, well, human, beautiful, and worth redeeming.
News flash: you don't always get it right. I don't always get it right. Sometimes you live for your own desires in a way that says, "forget you world." Sometimes I live for my own desires in a way that says, "forget you world."
When we fail to remember and embrace our brokenness, then by definition we fail to remember and embrace the need for personal transformation. We then become, sanctimonious, pharisaical, legalistic, and judgmental. Everyone else has a problem, except us of course.
From there we move to easily categorizing people into neat little boxes: conservative/liberal, gay/straight, rich/poor, male/female, in/out, married/divorced, addict/sober, sinner/saint.
I can't tell you how many times I have heard as a pastor something like the following, "well, that's just the way (insert name here) is. They've always been like that, and they're probably not going to change."
If we, as people who bear the name "Christian" fail to carry the standard that declares that not only is real change necessary, but perhaps more importantly, real change is possible, then we might as well throw in the towel.
I'm broken. I'm a forty-year-old, overweight, child of God, husband, father, friend, and pastor, who cares waaaay too much what people think of him, who gets it wrong probably more than he gets it right, but believes and hopes, beyond all belief and hope that God can change even me.
God can and still does change lives!
So how 'bout you? Are you perhaps willing to admit and embrace your brokenness and allow God to move you towards wholeness? Because until you do, you really have no business pretending you need a savior.
As many of you know, my wife, after 13 years of yearning and dreaming of carrying life in her womb, had a successful embryo implantation in November and is now entering into her 2nd trimester of pregnancy.
While we have enjoyed bringing along our friends, family and even church on this amazing voyage, it has meant that the process has been pretty transparent at every level. So, in order to keep one thing a surprise, we have chose to withhold "her" (yes we know it's a girl) name until we are blessed with her presence; when we hold her for the first time and stare lovingly into her beautiful eyes.
Needless to say, this is driving our boys, well, nuts. They desperately want to know her name. So, since we aren't telling, they've decided to call her "Cindy Vortex," hence the title of this post. I guess Cindy Vortex is a character on Jimmy Neutron.
I wrote the following poem for her and framed it and gave it to my wife for Christmas. I hope you enjoy it. It's called, "Baby Girl."
Baby girl, I saw you today for the first time, and what I beheld I can sum up in a word: Gorgeous. I don’t mean the color of your eyes or the long, flowing mane of your hair, as black and straight as a winter’s raven-colored sky. I’m not talking about the color of your auburn skin or the cute slope of your nose. You see, I saw beauty that was much more than skin deep. Beauty that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Today, I beheld a thing that, for the ancients, was impossible to imagine, let alone conceive. For today, I beheld you, baby girl, a candle pulsing in the darkness. Not flesh of my flesh nor bone of my bone. But heart of my heart and soul of my soul. And as I beheld you, your life flashed before my eyes. Today, I imagined first smiles and first steps. First words and first days of school. Today, I began rehearsing my speech for your suitors. That’s right, I said suitors, because not just anyone’s gonna date my baby girl. Today, I prayed for the heart and soul of the man who would commit his life to you – to honor, cherish, treasure, and adore you for the miracle of God you are. Today, I walked you down the aisle, struggling in vain to hold back tears that refused to be subdued, insisting that this moment be baptized in water and the Spirit. Today, I laughed with grandkids and great-grandkids who had your eyes and their Father’s heart. Children of the New Israel who will truly be the means by which all the nations of the earth shall finally receive their blessing. Today, I sang Hannah’s song to the tune of Mary’s Magnificat. Today, I laughed with the audacity of Sarah and reveled in Rachel’s redemption. Today I understood what is must have been like for Zechariah to have his words stolen from him until he could utter speech that birthed hope. Today, I hoped for a world in which a woman would no longer be judged by the flawless elasticity or color of her skin, but rather, as brother Martin said, “By the content of her character.” Today, I envisioned a world in which a woman would be president, where stereotypes and caricatures of feministic fault lines would shift on tectonic plates of truth, justice, and the way of the kingdom. Today, whew, today I beheld you as God beheld me.
Over the last several months, Lisa and I have been on a journey, pursuing embryo adoption. We had been in the process for a standard adoption for almost two years, when we were made aware of the possibility that we could adopt several embryos in hopes that Lisa would be able to carry a child to term. These embryos are not our own, biologically speaking, but have been graciously offered to us by couples who had had successful invitro processes and have grown their families to their desired size.
In just a little over an hour, Lisa will undergo a procedure in which two embryos will be implanted in her uterus in hopes that at least one of them will take root (yes we could have twins, pray for us!)
Below is what I had written for the front page my church's newsletter for the month of December, and I thought maybe you my faithful reader(s) my appreciate it. So here it is...
Isit at a desk this morning, November 19th, some 950+ miles from my home. In just two short hours, my wife and I will make our way to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, in hopes that one of the embryos that we have adopted will take root in her womb, and allow my wife the gift of birthing a child into this world.
It seems somewhat fitting to me that this is the context out of which I write this morning for this edition of the Trumpeter. For the month of December is all about hope isn’t it?
Hope that salvation is coming.
Hope that God will truly fulfill his plan for a broken, twisted and fragmented humanity in Jesus.
Hope that what happened that cold dark evening so long ago, in the little burro of Bethlehem, just may in fact be true.
I thought about Mary and Joseph a lot over the last several days. Now, let me be clear, I am in no way comparing myself to them; my wife is not carrying in her womb the Son of God. But I did think about what they must have went through.
Although Lisa and I, like Mary and Joseph, have traveled a great distance, we did it largely in comfort and ease. To be sure the car was cramped and the two days getting here were long, but at least my wife didn’t have to travel on the back of a donkey, as I slowly lead it along.
While Mary was great with child, my wife is great with the hopes of finally knowing what it is to feel a baby kick within her, perhaps much the same way Mary felt when Jesus leapt inside her when she was greeted by her cousin Elizabeth, who’s womb bore the forerunner of Jesus: John the Baptist.
Lisa and I are in Knoxville out of our own free will; no tyrannical dictator demanded that we come to be counted. Yet there is a purpose for us, just as there was a purpose for them.
Yet much like Mary and Joseph, hope births within us this morning. Not just the hope of having a baby, although that is a powerful pull on both of us. But, rather, the hope that we as a people might realize we are part of a magnificent story. A story in which we, human beings, who are the grand antagonists, destined to have our on way and be our own gods, are pursued by a divine love that is strong enough to demonstrate itself in weakness; to allow love to seep in, instead of cramming it down our throats, demanding that we respond.
Whether Lisa and I are able to have a baby or not, we this day, sit, saturated in the presence of this amazing, strong, powerful, all-consuming love, that demonstrated itself most fully in the frailty of a child, a baby, an embryo infused with divinity and humanity.
So won’t you hope with us this Christmas too? Hope that this year, we might truly allow ourselves to be embraced by the powerful weakness of this birth of divine love in Jesus.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only, flesh and bone, soul and spirit, that we might have hope. This is our peace. Amen.
My friend Penny's daughter Madeline has suffered from Type 1 diabetes since 2002. She and her mom made this amazing video to raise awareness and to secure support for her upcoming walk for the cure. Give it a watch and support diabetes research where ever you live.