23 June 2016

That's your story to tell

Matthijs and I had a delightful visit with a couple last week. I knew them from my time in Grand Rapids and appreciate how they, too, are a mix of cultures, love community and love God.

While we were talking, every so often they'd stop and say "oh, that's your story" or "no, that's my story, let me tell it." It was striking, and I loved it.

I loved it because it highlighted how each of them was unique and each had their own individual stories to tell. Even the things that they'd experienced as a couple, if she had initiated the situation, then it was her story to tell, even if he also experienced it. By actively recognizing that something was the other person's story, they made space for the other person to be part of the conversation and to have a voice. The whole experience made me appreciate each of them better, as well as to appreciate how this little phrase "that's your story to tell" was an outworking of the hospitality they had towards each other.

The experience also motivates me to use that phrase more often. I like talking, love telling stories, and sometimes like being the center of attention. This sometimes comes at the cost of being hospitable. It'd be good for my ego and for my practicing of hospitality, not only to Matthijs, but also to others, if I could at times stop and realize that, no, this is not my story to tell: it's your/his story. And I should not only refrain from telling it, but instead should encourage you/him to tell it.

20 June 2016

My dad, the rescuer

On Saturday, we spent the day in Chatham with my family to celebrate Father's day. In the evening, Matthijs flew out of Windsor airport. Just as I was leaving for the car, Matthijs came running out. As he was going through security, he'd discovered that he didn't have his computer with him. Perhaps it was still in the car? Otherwise, he most likely left it at my father's house.

A call to my father confirmed that, indeed, he'd left the computer at my dad's house after he'd rescued it from our very hot car. It was comforting to know exactly where it was, but frustrating to realize that he'd have to figure out how to make do without a computer in the next while.

Nonetheless, one part of the conversation with my father stood out to me. When he realized we'd left the computer, he was ready to drop everything and immediately drive the hour to the airport to bring it to us. Matthijs' plane was leaving in less than an hour, so there wasn't time, but I was reminded again of how my father shows his love to us through his willingness to rescue us.

Over the years, that rescuing has often involved cars (and not even mine). I drove an old car for quite awhile, and it got to the point that if I ever called my father's cell phone, which happened about every 6 months, he'd ask what was wrong with the car. Thankfully, my current car, which my dad also helped me buy, is a bit more reliable (thanks also to my aunt and uncle for selling it to me!).

My family is not really all that vocal about how we love each other. We don't even hug each other that much. So sometimes it's hard to recognize how we love each other. Yet, the willingness to help each other out and be there for each other - something my dad has been doing for all of us for years - tells me he loves me in a way that even the most flowery of words couldn't.

18 June 2016

Two Prayers for Orlando

In response to the shootings in Orland, I came across several prayers in response to what happened in Orlando. I'd like to share two that I appreciated here.

The first is from the Christian Reformed Church's Office of Social Justice.
God of comfort, we lift our prayers to you.

We lift prayers for the families, friends, and partners of the victims, for all of those who are grieving.

For the questions which have no answers, we pray.
For those who wring their hands, bring dishes of food, struggle to express their condolences, we pray.
For pastors who plan funerals and stand at hospital beds, we pray.
For those who are estranged from a loved one because of sexual orientation, and who today feel grief and loneliness, we pray.
For those all over the U.S. who feel fresh grief because someone they love was also killed by a gun, we pray.
We lift prayers for the LGBTQ+ community.
Protect them from harm.
Heal them from trauma.
Lead them to places of hospitality and safety.
We lift prayers for the Muslim community.
Shield them from fallout.
Call Christians to reach out in mutuality and solidarity.
May the stories of the many Muslims who have responded in love, help, and hospitality be told often, and publicly.
We lift prayers for lawmakers.
Give them wisdom as they craft their public statements, which have an impact on real people’s lives.
Give them wisdom as they consider policy implications, which will always make some furious and others gratified.
Give them wisdom as they accept donations to their campaigns, as they align with interests, as they reach across the aisle and compromise.
Work through politics to build your kingdom, Lord.
We lift prayers for your church, which includes each one of us. May your church speak the words of Christ -- of healing, hope, repentance, and good news.
We are a people who believe in resurrection. As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death in times such as these, may we see and be signs of kingdom hope. We long for the day when death will be no more.

To read the article surrounding the prayer, follow this link.

The prayer/sermon written by Brian Walsh, campus minister at the University of Toronto, contrasts sharply. It takes the words of Habakkuk and seems to our times, with sometimes jarring results:
All of creation suffers from our violence,
all of creation joins the chorus of grief,
and all of creation bears witness against this violence.
Woe to you who heap up what is not your own.
Woe to you who heap up the bodies of LGBTQ folks,
sisters and brothers,
mothers and fathers,
lovers and friends.
Woe to you who get evil gain for your house,
setting your nest on high
to be safe from the reach of harm!
Woe to you who erect walls of division,
walls of self-protection,
walls of injustice.
Woe to you who build a town by bloodshed
and found a city on iniquity.
The blood of the LGBTQ community,
the blood of young black men in Toronto,
the blood of our Indigenous neighbours.
Woe to you who make your neighbours drink the draft of your rage,
who pour out wrath until it leaves your victims naked and bloodied.
Woe to you who have turned your back on love,
and live out of a fear and hatred
that will inevitably rebound on you.
Woe to you who are seduced by idolatry.
Woe to you who make the gun into a sacrament,
and whose hands are smeared with the blood of your victims.
Woe, cries out the God of life.
Woe, echoes all of creation.
Woe, we shout or whisper or just moan, through our tears.
Habakkuk gives us the space for such grief.
Habakkuk gives us permission for such hurt and anger.
Habakkuk calls forth such lament.
Habakkuk authorizes such declarations of woe.
But Habakkuk does not leave us there.
Or better to say, God does not leave Habakkuk there.
Say it clear, say it loud,
there is still a vision for an appointed time.
There is still a word of truth that breaks through the deceit,
there is still a word of hope that breaks through the despair,
there is still a path of life in the midst of death.
Those who embrace a path of righteousnessin the face of violence,
those who choose a path of justice
in the face of injustice,
are those who choose
faithfulness over infidelity,
truthfulness over deceit,
love over hate,
the God of life over the idols of death.
To be faithful, sisters and brothers,
faithful to those who have been lost,
faithful to their memory,
faithful to our own pain,
faithful to a vision of life restored,
faithful to justice,
faithful to Jesus whose blood also cries out,
faithful to a resurrection hope,
we must go on standing, because we are not our own,
we must go on singing, even though it all looks grim,
and in our city of ruins,
in Orlando, Toronto, and all other cities of bloodshed,
we must sing in hope and in defiance,
we must sing for the dead, come on rise up, come on rise up!
 To read the rest of this Old Testament prayer/ sermon, follow this link.