The Advent of Untold Stories

There are untold stories waiting to be reborn and save us like the cries of our little Lord Jesus.

In our anxious Advent waiting, the pressure builds from within, like Grandma’s stovetop cooking. Yet, good stories take their sweet time to arrive, making their way over the river and through the woods of life.

Meanwhile, our untold stories drop deep within us, falling closer to the fertile Earth. Did you know that heaven and nature sing in order to show us how to break the silence?

We wonder as we wander around alone, stories dancing like sugarplums inside our heads, searching for words we cannot yet name, the answer to our silent night pain.

Hark the angels post in the newsfeed. Is there any hope while we bleed? Can anything good come out of this pain? Will God arrive in time, like a call to the suicide crisis hotline?

This scares me most: the chance that my untold stories slip too soon out from the sacred darkness of the womb. All is calm is not a balm when all you know is the tomb.

Advent is a time when untold stories grow inside. The breath of heaven guides contractions of truth, preparing our holy bodies for the all-consuming power of unpaid emotional labor.

In sacred blackness the collective heartbeat of our untold stories grows stronger. It doesn’t matter that we cannot yet see how to prepare the way. Truth comes anyway. All it will require is an opening.

Get ready to go tell the untold stories on the mountain.

It is almost time for our untold stories to be born.

Soon we shall sing: Rejoice! Rejoice! For unto us a story is given and we shall name them: Healer of the Nations, Mighty Counselor, Guardian of Peace.

Prayer for World Suicide Prevention Day

God of the valleys

God of the shadows

God of the pit of despair

We claim your Holy Presence everywhere.

When we see hope dimly,

You are there.

When we see life fading,

You are there.

When we see life end,

You are there.

We pray this day for all who experience suffering because of suicide.

For the person who is thinking about suicide,

For the person who is recovering from suicide engagement,

For all who fear suicide will touch them,

For all who have known the pain caused by suicide,

Grant us peace.

We pray for the arms of HOPE to enfold all of us, like a soft blanket wrapped around us, holding our pain, holding our loneliness, holding our inexpressible sorrow.

Hold onto us, God of love, even when we want to let go.

Hold onto us.

Grant us one more day.

Amen.

Call the Suicide Prevention hotline for help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 911.

The Law of Love

When Christians start talking about “the law,” pay close attention. This might be code for anti-LGBTQ theology. I was enjoying a perfectly lovely day with Christian leaders exploring how to create an experience of church that would be meaningful for people currently in their 20s and 30s. Themes such as LOVE, JUSTICE, and BEAUTY were lifted up as foundational values of this generation.

Then after lunch things got weird. Someone in the front row asked the presenter the question “but what about the law?” And the room got quiet.

All of the sudden the room full of Christians wanting to make their churches more meaningful for young adults turned their attention to this question of how to make space for LGBTQ young adults in church when “they” are in violation of “church law.”

And in reply the speaker said, “I’m theologically opposed to marriage equality, but I accept them as members (of the church).” He then went on to ask why this sin of homosexuality gets more scrutiny than the sin of pornography or infidelity in marriage. My heart sank.

Here we were, imagining a church where LOVE, JUSTICE and BEAUTY are at the center. A church where young adults would want to be. And yet “the law” comes crashing down and shuts down the conversation.

Which I think is exactly right. Not only do tired arguments about “the law” (which actually go against Jesus’ teachings) shut down conversations, it’s killing the movement of the Spirit, and it’s shutting down the church.

Why in the world would anyone today in their 20s or 30s follow a law that said LGBTQ people, by nature of their sexual orientation, are sinners?

Why in the world would a church still teach this abusive and homophobic “Christian law” in 2018? As disciples of Jesus Christ, Christians have one law to follow: the law of love (Matthew 22: 37-40).

How can a church be authentically grounded in LOVE, JUSTICE and BEAUTY while at the same time deny its members the right to love and marry?

The truth is, the church cannot proclaim a gospel of LOVE, JUSTICE and BEAUTY as a way to unlock the doors of the church for young adults and only to then, once at the altar, lock the door to the sacrament of marriage. Nope. It doesn’t work that way.

God’s LOVE, JUSTICE and BEAUTY are not a bait and switch gimmick for church growth. Sorry church, there is no law above God’s law of love. It’s time to admit you were wrong. It’s okay. God forgives you and loves you. And churches that remain silent in the face of such spiritual abuse are just as wrong.

The take away for me is that churches that are truly open and affirming of people who are LGBTQ need to really step it up.

Be bold. Be loud. Be proud. Be the church. Be LOVE. Be JUSTICE. Be BEAUTY. Be YOU.