Sunday, January 27, 2008

Social Action and/or Evangelism

Matthew 4:12-23 Westminster Presbyterian Church January 27, 2008


To drop the net or not to drop the net, that is the question.

Don’t you feel like this passage makes it look too easy? Jesus walked by and said follow me and I will make you fishers of people; and they immediately dropped their nets and followed.

Don’t you think a little drama, a moment of hesitancy and doubt would have made for a more interesting story? How we love drama. Well, at the heart of this message from Matthew, this invitation to discipleship, and how it applies to our lives we can find drama.

It has to deal with how this call to follow is lived out; what does it mean to make fishers of people? Jesus invited people to the movement that he was beginning called: the Kingdom of heaven club. Those who were part of this movement were those willing to listen to the message, and those willing to follow him. God continues to call us; as many of your experiences of hearing and accepting this invitation would tell us.

What amazes me is that, different from Peter and Andrew, we didn’t meet Jesus at la orilla. We didn’t hear his voice. He wasn’t standing there before any of us like I am standing in front of you now. And yet, the call was still heard; and there has been a response. This call to follow is essential to the movement, it is very much part of our church as we talk about people being called to various ministries, as officers, preachers, care givers.

And, this morning I want to focus on this second aspect of the heart of this message taught at that lake in Galilee. I will make you fishers of people, Jesus says. What is Jesus calling us to do? once I drop the net, what do I do next? This portion of the encounter may make us a little be nervous.

Often this aspect of the Jesus invitation to follow and make fishers of people, is considered in two ways.

  1. Following Jesus means Evangelism,

  2. Following Jesus means social action.

Both of these are valid responses to this invitation…but for some reason they have been separated as different missions of the church, and in no way related to one another.

For those who lean toward evangelism, you can cloth the naked and feed the hungry all day long, but if the recipient doesn’t know the good news of the gospel it is all for nothing.

For those who lean toward social action: It is offensive to proselytize and “win” converts,

it is imperialistic, and presumptuous.

There are churches, often labeled evangelical churches, where it is believed that the most important thing in responding to the call is to evangelize and make disciples. Seek conversions so that people will be saved. Look at what Jesus does immediately after these men follow him: He goes throughout Galilee proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. So some take on the very message Jesus and John preached: “Repent!” And they demand that people come to know Jesus for eternal salvation.

I must admit, there was a time in my life when I lived out a life of discipleship in what some may describe as evangelical. I had a passion to share the gospel, to tell people about Jesus, praying that opportunities would be given to me, doors would be open to share the good news. I genuinely was concerned about people’s eternal salvation, and was burdened and grieved by the possibility that those who had not been evangelized would suffer terrible consequences…fire, weeping and knashing of teeth. My grandfather, Chester, was worried I’d gone off the deep end.

And I’m sure for many of us, that kind of proclamation, that kind of discipleship makes us nervous, and even offends us. We are sensitive; and we don’t want to offend people by suggesting we may know more than they do about God. Also, our reformed theology teaches us a broad understanding of God’s love and grace, and that ultimately God is in control;if people are to come to know and follow Jesus, God will make it happen. We love it that St. Thomas said: Proclaim the gospel at all times, use words if necessary. And most of the find, we don’t find words very to be necessary, at least not when it comes to proclaiming the gospel!

The second way that many interpret this message to follow and make fishers of men is through social action. Look at what Jesus does immediately after he calls those fishermen to follow: He went throughout Galilee curing every disease and every sickness among the people. It is through our good works; ministries of compassion and mercy that we make fishers of men. Give time and money to charity. Open doors to the stranger. Clothe the naked, feed the hungry. These are very worthwhile projects. But what makes these distinctly Christian?

This past month, Pope Benedict, has announced to Roman Catholic mission workers that they need to be proclaiming that Gospel message far and wide, not in deed only but in words as well.

True missionaries preach the Gospel, aiming to bring converts into the faith, he said. All the world needs to hear, believe, and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.1

While this message from the pope may come as a surprise, it is not an unknown fact that the Roman catholic church is losing adherents in droves to more “evangelical” movements, led by people who seek to win converts and are growing immensely. Well, it is not an unknown fact that the Presbyterian Church and other mainline churches, including this one right here, that have shied away from proclaiming the good news in “word,” have also been losing adherents in droves. We find ourselves in a similar situation to the Roman and other historical churches.

We have done a pretty good job with ministries of compassion and mercy, in recent years, but, as I’ve said, been a little reluctant to use words when necessary.

At last year’s officer retreat the major goal of the elders was easy to identify: Grow the church. To have more members. Why? Surely we don’t seek growth just for growths sake, or simply to survive. Why grow: Now that was a little more difficult to name.

As I have wrestled with my own faith, my own call to follow; my own dilemma to make fishers of people…I have seen that so often evangelizing and social ministries are separated. During the time I was doing mission work in Latin America; seeking to build a ministry for college aged men and women. My faith was challenged as I experienced life, and a world different from the one I had known. People’s experience and understanding of God was different from what I had experienced; and as people shared with me their stories, I was challenged to reconsider what I had been taught and what I believed. I had to really examine what Jesus meant when he called me to follow and evangelize. If it is not to save people’s souls, then why proclaim good news? As one teacher put it, Chester, you don’t follow Jesus and proclaim good news for the salvation of others, rather, you do it for your own salvation. My own salvation, why, I was already saved right? Well, evidently not, for I was carrying a heavy burden. I was holding a net in my hands so that I could still have some control. The news I was preaching about Jesus wasn’t necessarily good.

What then, what was I supposed to be doing as a missionary in Santiago, Chile? As I was rediscovered my own call to discipleship, I was seeking discover anew what Good News meant.

Good news preached is preaching salvation, release from captivity, freedom from bondage.

As I sat with Diane in her struggling with the loss of her beloved husband, we sought words of comfort and words of hope found in our faith. As we remembered Dick’s life here on Thursday, we celebrated the resurrection, and proclaimed that death does not have the final word. Hope was proclaimed, even in our pain and loss.

And as I struggle what to do as one who wants to drop my net, follow and make fishers of people, I’ve come to discover that feeding the hungry and clothing the naked are matters of salvation. Yes, someone gets fed and clothed but, the one who helps to make that happen experiences salvation as much if not more than the recipient of these kind acts.

Donna has come up to the church every morning at 5:30 to be with the homeless women who have been staying here to help get breakfast ready. She said to me, you know, I don’t know what it means for the women that are staying here, but coming up here has really made me think a lot about my own life; I have learned from these women and gained new perspective.

This is salvation…discovering God in the midst of discovering something new about yourself.

As I look at what Jesus did after he called these disciples to follow, promising to make them fish for people, he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness. There is no separation of preaching and acts of mercy and compassion. The news that is proclaimed is GOOD NEWS! God is a God of love and mercy. This is a message to proclaim and this is a ministry to live out in our lives.

While there is no formula to how we are to live out Christ’s invitation to follow, I wonder if we as a church can seek to discover how we might participate in God’s mission in the world.

Can we live into our calling to follow through a merger of social action and proclaiming GOOD NEWS!

One evening last week I invited a neighbor on the verge of a serious confrontation with his grown son to come up to the church and check out what was going on, as we hosted homeless women. We’ve become friends and he knew I am a Presbyterian minister. He’s never been much of a church goer himself. But he and I get along with each other pretty well, and he trusts me, so he came with me. He met those up here from our congregation who were hosting, cooking food and sitting with the women that were here. He met the women. We stayed just for about 20 minutes and he left a changed man. He said, Chester, I needed that, it totally mellowed me out. You saw how angry I was, and I think I can just go home now and deal with my son later.

We can merge ministries of social action with evangelism; preach to good news and seek justice and mercy in the world. I love to see Grace’s enthusiasm for healing ministries. As I have sat in her classes and witnessed her apply this ministry of healing to her life, there is a beautiful relation in what is taught and practiced between proclaiming gospel, witnessing stories of Jesus healing, and then praying and seeking healing in the lives of those who seek wellbeing and wholeness.

This is participation in Missio Dei, God’s mission. Jesus invites each of us to follow and he will make us fishers of people. He encourages us to go throughout the city proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and sickness. The light has shined and those who had lived in darkness are drawn to that light; as a moth is drawn to a flame. This good news preached is one of joy and hope. For the yoke of our burdens, the bar across our shoulders, the rod of that which oppresses us is broken.

Do we drop our nets to follow…yes when the timing is right and we encounter anyone who needs to hear good news, and needs prayer and encouragement to help cure them. While for some this may imply a change in occupation and a new direction in their life…from industrial engineering to ministry. But, if you look at Peter, it wasn’t long before he was fishing again, at the end of the gospel of John. Casting his nets, he had to eat. Yet, he now knew that there was more to life than just his own lively hood. His life was to be shared with the world as he shared words of good news and sought to heal those who needed healing, working for the kingdom of God.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Psalm 29: Caution No Swimming

Laura Kuster, great guest preacher

Psalm 29

1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor.

3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.

8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!"

10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

It’s amazing how quickly the liturgical cycle moves us through Advent, to Christmas, then Epiphany, and now to this Sunday, on which we celebrate the Baptism of Christ. I, for one, have always wondered why we celebrate this day now … and what it is, exactly, that we are celebrating. Is this a day on which to give thanks to Jesus, who sought out, in some eccentric and soggy fashion, the blessing of his divine Father? Or, do we celebrate the exalted Parent, who at baptism appears to publicly and officially “claim” Jesus and Son and Savior? Heck, do we give thanks for John, who seems to have started this whole fad to begin with, and who, in all his befuddled unworthiness, nevertheless dunked Jesus in the waters of life? All of the above? None of the above? Jesus, parabolic as usual, lets us know that, for now, being baptized by John is means to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). And confirming all of this is God’s voice, breaking through the heavens, blowing over the waters, claiming and loving.

What surprises me is that nothing caught on fire, blew up, or drown when God’s voice descended from the heavens. I’d thought there might be an echo from the Psalmist in the Matthew passage, but no. There is no report of the riverside cedars being broken in half, no whirling oaks or stripped forest. No earthquake in the wilderness. No fireball, no flooding arroyo. As far as we know, everyone emerged from the scene more or less physically in tact, without even a singed beard or a splinter. So what of the violence woven into the Psalm? What of the breakage and destruction? What of the thundering majesty of God, the wild cavorting of the world ablaze in worship? What of the blessing and peace bestowed by our Creator, conqueror of the violent, flooding depths?

Admittedly, the flooding depths imagery is somewhat innocuous for me; I have never experienced the visceral violence of water. Growing up in Minnesota, water was everywhere. Winter or summer, we ran outside and flung ourselves in it. I began to swim when at 9 months of age (I was slightly older when I learned how to operate a snowblower. ) I simply did not understand how anyone could be frightened of water – until I spent the summer after college graduation working at Ghost Ranch, teaching swimming lessons to the local community. And by local I mean a 45 mile radius. Kids and their parents would flock in from as far away as Tierra Amaria for a 50 minute swim lesson and a day at the pool. They were thrilled with the novelty. Yet it never failed…one out of every two parents who walked their child over to the edge would say, “have fun. But don’t drown.” At which point I’d spend some minutes convincing the petrified child that water was fun, water was your friend, and here was a fluorescent green noodle floatie to help prove the point. By the end of a session, they believed me, and couldn’t wait to come back. Those were the kids. I also had one class of adults, who met on Tuesday evenings. Four women in their 30’s and 40’s who wanted to learn to swim. Trusting the water was a bigger issue for them, but even then I succeeded in teaching the majority of them to at least paddle across the width of the shallow end. Except for one woman. Night after night, while her classmates were splashing and kicking, I would stand in the middle of the pool with her, cradling her as she floated on her back. I still remember it – very distinctly. My head down next to hers, murmuring comfort and encouragement as she took deep shuddering breaths. How we would just stand there, in intimate watery embrace as the sun set over the mesa and the stars came out. Never once in the 10 weeks I taught her was I allowed to let go. Eventually I came to understand why. Her brother, she told me, had drown that spring. There was a reservoir a few miles down the road. He and his buddies had been out in a boat. Alcohol was involved. They never found him. But she came every Tuesday night, in a black tank suit, to step gingerly down into the 3 ft. and let me pull her back against me until her head rested on my shoulder in the water. Then we’d process out into the middle of the pool and just…be. I was dense at 22 – I pushed her a few times to front float over even doggie paddle – always with me supporting her. Then I’d applaud madly while she looked non-plussed. I didn’t realize that her accomplishment was simply getting in the pool every Tuesday. Surrendering herself to and seeking harmony with the very element that killed her brother. Life and death, literally on her skin. Her being submerged in synchronous violence and salvation.

I have come to know a visceral violence of a different sort. And my fear of it meant a different sort of submersion. I was 24 and a newly married military wife when the planes hit the twin towers. I was 26 when my husband rode the first wave that besieged Baghdad. For me the first months of the war were ones of uncertainty, denial, loneliness, and fear. When my husband came back physically in one piece, we faced a death of a different sort – one manifested in post-traumatic stress, domestic violence, and the ultimate destruction of our marriage. I emerged from that abyss afraid of so many things…yet when an opportunity came to travel in the Middle East, I jumped at the chance. And so I waded into Jordan, Lebanon, Syria… until I stood 90 miles from the Iraqi border and got no further. Then my group circled round to Israel, to the very wilderness of Kadesh today’s psalm refers to. It’s in the northernmost quadrant of Israel, north even of the Sea of Galilee. It’s in this area that the streams rushing down from Mt. Hermon form the headwaters of the Jordan River. And don’t let anyone ever convince you that the Jordan River is only a docilely meandering stream. At the headwaters it rushes and boils and cascades and one takes heed of the “Caution: No Swimming” signs posted. But even though I didn’t actually get into the water, I understood that I had submerged myself in something similar to my swimming student years ago. I’d allowed myself to sink into that which had caused me so much pain – I’d followed Iraqi oil trucks across the deserts of Syria, driven by the anti-aircraft guns that dotted the wasteland. I’d stood very still in the midst of the swirling hate of religion and politics and, in the arms of my travel companions and tour-guides, I’d felt a lifeline and a hope for life after pain, after war, after death.

So, there was to be no swimming in the headwaters of the Jordan. But I didn’t see any signs warning “Caution: No Baptizing.” The Matthew text doesn’t say where exactly John was. Jesus just went out from Galilee to meet John in the wilderness. Perhaps in the wilderness of Kadesh. Perhaps near the head of the Jordan, where the waters are icy and dangerous and very, very alive. What’s more, aside from any peril the river itself might impose, if those present were anything like you and me – and I think they were – they already knew death of a sort. In our world there are so many things that kill us, parts of us, pieces of us. There is so much intrinsic violence. The violence is not of God, yet it permeates God’s world. And realizing this makes Psalm 29 seem much more real, and more comforting. We live in a broken world, as broken people. God claims the breakage, embodies it, masters it, and defeats it. The ultimate result is that God sits enthroned above the very waters that would drown and destroy us, and offers us strength, blessing, and peace. So no, I guess nothing had to blow up or overflow when Jesus was baptized. There was going to be enough of that to come…at a different time when the same Beloved Son was to drown on top of a cross on the mount of skulls. And what we celebrate in Jesus’ baptism was the presence of God amidst the destruction. The life swirling into and dissolving death. The submerging and the re-emerging. The drowning of the old ways and the resurrection of the new. We celebrate the gift of the Creator, the sacrifice of the Son, and the arms of our fellow mortals who hold us in connection with the Body of Christ. Such, perhaps, in the words of Jesus himself, is the “fulfillment of righteousness” – the foundation laid for salvation and healing, between ourselves and the elements, between one person to another, and between ourselves and God. It’s a physical, visceral experience, and God calls us to feel it on our very skin, that we may feel it in our very souls.

Thanks be to God.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Changing Diapers May Change You

Matt. 2:1-12 Epiphany, WPC January 6, 2008

Christ has been born. Has your world been changed forever?

It’s fascinating how birth changes things. I remember when my nephew Henry was born. My brother-in-law became so protective and cautious around us all; insisting that we wash our hands anytime we entered the same room as little Henry; keeping a watchful eye on us when we held him. Yet, when that baby was in my arms, the world was strangely different. Any tensions that may have previously existed were forgotten. All I could think was what a miracle; what a gift.

Valerie Garcia told me that she was relieved for obvious reasons that the child inside of her, in both instances of Bela and Antonio, was out of her body. Yet she was conflicted. She felt remarkable peace and tranquility holding her child in her arms; and at the same time, she could no longer protect the child as she once could before when it was in her womb. Her life was changed forever. (Harold’s?)

Jaleesa’s birth resulted in her mother putting her up for adoption, and Christel and Sander becoming the happy new parents. Now they see the world differently than before: They used to travel, and they rode their bikes around everywhere, now they are changing diapers, they must prepare many unusual things to carry with them before they can even set foot outside of their house: feeding formula, strollers, diapers, rags whatever; They can’t strap Jaleesa onto their bikes, yet! As a result of Jaleesa’s birth four people travel great distances to see her. Christel’s parents had visited only a few months back. And soon Sander’s parents, who had previously vowed they weren’t going to travel anymore. This baby has altered their perspective; changed their plans.

It was the birth of a child that led three wise men to travel from far away places in the east in search of this child. We know this story. They came from the East, “bringing gifts of Gold, frankincense and myrrh,” singing as they went, “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” But it appears they’re lost when they get to Jerusalem, “Where is this future king of the Jews who has been born? Isn’t Jerusalem what the prophet Isaiah foretold? Had they programmed the wrong address into their GPS system?

Isaiah 60…

An old poem recited to Jews in Jerusalem about 580 B.C.E.. inviting depressed, discouraged people in the midst of a city in shambles: no economy, little new possibilities to look up and hope; God is about to do good:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come…the Lord will arise upon you.

Jerusalem would become prosperous, the new international trade center. The nations—their leaders and traders—would come bringing wealth. Great camel caravans would come from Asia, loaded with exotic goods and rare spices: gold and frankincense. (v 6b)

These three foreign wise men from Asia knew what was to happen. They were fulfilling the poet’s vision: “Arise, the time has come, Jerusalem is our destination: Out of our way!”

But Herod doesn’t exactly roll out the red carpet upon their arrival: He was frightened; frightened because a new king in Jerusalem would be a threat to the old king and to all those who trusted in and benefited from the old order.2 Still for some reason, horrified Herod calls in his best aids, experts in sacred texts… to help the wise men out? What is this unwelcomed birth? And…Ah Ha!! Could this be it? Did they have the wrong scripture? It’s not Isaiah’s prophetic poetry—promising a future that ensures the powerful will remain powerful and prosper and that the status quo will remain intact—Isaiah won’t lead to the place of the newborn king.

Instead it is the voice of the prophet Micah, the voice of a peasant: from you, O Bethlehem, shall come forth one who is to rule in Israel, A peasant not impressed with high towers, huge sporting facilities, multinational banks and Wall Street. The little ones think about a different future—organized for well-being in resistance to the great powers. The voice anticipates a common leader, who will bring well-being to his people, not by great political ambition, but by attentiveness to folks on the ground. And they shall live secure…and he shall be the one of peace.

So off the magi go to the little town of Bethlehem, the hometown of king David, a little rural place, dusty, unnoticed, humble Bethlehem. This was the proper place for this unnoticed,

uncelebrated peasant birth….a birth that who would confound kings and intellectuals, and would provoke savage violence in Herod. And in the end, their visit to this peasant baby,

wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger changed the lives of the three magi forever. Before they seemed to be searching for power and glory, flocking to the potential center of power and prestige. In Bethlehem, they encounter humility, poverty, meekness,

and a precious baby, a different kind of king. And now, they don’t return to Herod as had been requested. They don’t seek their own self-serving interests or those interests of the powers.

They find alternative routes to pursue. They seek a different way home.

Today we celebrate a year that has gone and anticipate a year to come. Today we celebrate Epiphany which encourages us to anticipate the future Epiphany—the story of two human communities: Isaiah’s community of Jerusalem with its desire for greatness in the future…

and Micah’s little peasant village of Bethlehem with its modest promises.

Epiphany announces two ways of living we are always choosing between, a way of self-preservation and acceptance of the status quo, or through the encounter with the Christ child an invitation to practice life lived in vulnerability and self-sacrifice.

All this to say: What is our experience of the babe lying in a manger? How has the birth of this prince of peace, of Emmanuel changed our lives? Do we still pursue the interests of the powers? Seek to appease those in high positions with the hopes that it will serve us and we will gain prestige? Or have we discovered an alternative route; a different way home after coming face-to-face with baby Jesus: One of love and peace; of humility and meekness.

It’s really hard to imagine what an encounter with the baby Jesus would have been like; to see Mary and Joseph struggling to keep him warm, to keep him clean and fed. We didn’t see their fear when they had to run to Egypt for their lives because of political threat. Yet, I wonder if we can catch even a glimpse of the baby Jesus in every single baby that is born. What would make new-born baby Jesus distinct from another new born baby? What difference is there in Jesus from Jaleesa, other than gender? From any baby? A few physical characteristics? Jesus cried, Jesus slept, Jesus suckled. How does an encounter with a new born baby change our lives

and our perspective? Even for a moment? Even for a life-time?

I recently came across a story of a man, Freddy, his cow, and his encounter with a little baby. The grandparents of the baby, Rosa and Drake lived in a village where they were part of the ethnic minority group, with their older son, Cory, and his wife. War broke out and ethnic factions divided neighborhoods. They had been indifferent to the warring efforts, and despite being of the targeted ethnic minority, they resisted moving from their home and getting caught up in the ethnic slandering. But, on a dreary night in June 1992, the police came to the door for Cory. “Taking him away for interrogation,” they said. “but Cory never came back.” Rosa and Drake went nearly every day to the police station to beg for information. They were given nothing; and eventually had to assume he was dead. They were continually harassed by some in the town, and began to consider fleeing, but it would be months before they could get out.

Drake found himself digging trenches and chopping firewood for a living. There was little to eat. They were beginning to despair and to hate.

Five months after Cory’s disappearance, his wife gave birth to a girl. Because of severe food shortages, the mother was unable to nurse the child. The city was being shelled continuously.

Infants, like the infirm and the elderly, were dying in droves. The family gave the baby tea for five days, but she began to fade. “She was dying,” Rosa said. “It was breaking our hearts.”

Meanwhile, a man named Freddy, was keeping his cow in a field on the eastern edge of the town; milking it at night to avoid being hit by Serbian snipers. He had seen this baby. And five days after the baby was born, “just before dawn, someone was at the door,” Rosa remembered.

It was Freddy in his black rubber boots. He handed us half a liter of milk. He came the next morning, and the morning after that, and after that. Other families on the street began to insult him. They told him to give his milk to his own people, to let the our child die.

He never said a word. He refused our money. He came for 442 days, until we left.”

When Rosa and Drake left, they could no longer communicate with Freddy. The couple said they grieved daily for their son; their home, their losses. But Rosa and Drake also said that despite their anger and loss, they could not recite their own sufferings, without telling of Freddy and his cow. This is the power of love. “What this illiterate farmer did would color the life of another human being, a little baby who might never meet him. In his act lay an ocean of hope.“ Drake whispered, “The milk he had was precious; it was hard to keep animals. He gave us 221 liters. And every year at this time, when it is cold and dark, when we close our eyes,

we can hear the boom of the heavy guns and the sound of Freddy’s footsteps on the stairs.”

Freddy fell on hard times after the war. He ended up selling small piles of worm-eaten apples picked from abandoned orchards. His great brown-and-white milk cow did not survive the war.

It had been slaughtered for meat. He had only a thin, worn coat to protect him from the winter cold. He sat huddled in the corner of a dank, concrete-walled room rubbing his pathetic collection of small apples, against his sleeve.

Yet, when a contact relayed news of Rosa and Drake, his eyes brightened. “And the baby? he asked, “How is she?”3

In spite of all the hardships, a baby can transform fear into love and compassion. In spite of all of the worries, a baby can transform selfishness into self-sacrifice and vulnerability. In spite of our desires for power and prestige, a baby can transform greed into giving.

How might the cries of a new born baby, change our perspectives? How might the Christ child transform our lives forever? Can we hold onto that innocence, can we hold onto that peace?

1 Walter Brueggemann, Inscribing the Text, “Missing by Nine Miles,” 2004, pp. 129-134.
2 Walter Brueggemann, Inscribing the Text, “Missing by Nine Miles,” 2004, pp. 129-134.
3 Modified version of the story found in Chris Hedges’, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, 2002, pp. 51-54.