Loving Our Enemies and the Exodus

As I age I have more questions than answers. They say this is wisdom, I think it’s dementia. The questions come faster and more furiously when I try to wrap my brain and body around Jesus admonishment to love our enemies.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be                   children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. –Matthew 5:44-45 NRSV

Two nights ago we were reading the Exodus story. A story where there is a good guy and a bad guy; or so my dualist mind thought. This is the story I have known for what seems like my whole life. It is neat. It is tidy and I knew who God disliked- I knew the bad guys.

And then I read it with my children. I was cheering when the Israelites made it across the Red Sea. The wonder of it all, all those people crossing on dry land- miraculous. When we got to chapter 14: 26-28 our exuberance diminished. As is our custom I stopped and we listened to what the Holy Spirit had to say about this.

One child asked, “I wonder how God felt when all those Egyptians died?”

I was frozen in my thinking, frozen in my heart. “Well, of course.” I thought, “They were the enemy. So… happy?” (Thank you God for keeping my mouth shut. At this point I was the student needing to be taught.)

Another child answered, “God made them, even if they didn’t know it. So I think he was sad. He loves everybody. Yeah, he was sad.”

The moment was gone in a flash. The children were on to other topics, but I couldn’t shake this one. Two days later it’s still teaching me. How do we love our enemies?

We love by realizing we don’t have enemies. Yes, there might be people who want to hurt us, but is that what makes an enemy? If we are in Christ, can anyone cause everlasting damage? I came to the conclusion that we are all created by God. We are all loved by God. We are connected whether we like it or not.

Perhaps this is the starting spot. Children of the Father will see all people as siblings. Children of the Father will really see them. (Matthew 5:45)

Governments, religions, families often thrive on having an enemy. Having someone to hate provides more energy that Starbucks can harness. I hang my head in shame that much of the energy in Christianity has been focused on creating and hunting enemies.

Father, help me to see the connections I have with every living thing on this earth. Help me to love my siblings.

“Still Good” Saturday: In Search of Celebration

This blog was originally posted at http://www.Renovare.org.

Celebration: Knowing that every good gift is from God and a reason to party.

Of all the disciplines I’ve practiced over the years Celebration is the one I have struggled with the most. Celebration often begins with gratefulness, which leads to joy and when done right carries over into a jig.  While I start well, I just can’t seem, with much consistency, to pull off the joy and the jig.

I have spent the majority of my life with children and this is not an issue for them. They are perpetually party ready. I have been to countless tea parties and been asked to dance by people under three foot tall at least twice a week for two decades. But I’m always feeding off their celebration, it’s rarely my own.

Lately though I’ve been paying attention to their partying ways, trying to grab a few bread crumbs from the celebration table. I found that they don’t even count their blessings! For shame, they aren’t even overtly thankful!  After spending an evening with six of my favorite young friends, I realized Celebration begins with an all encompassing sense of safety. These children can party because they feel safe.

Here’s the difference…. When I start to count my blessings, I do begin to feel joy and the jig, but before I can say “party streamers”, my joy is hijacked by the need to feel safe. The “what if’s” begin to ring in my ears, and I’m back where I started.

But my young friends live in the land of safety, they are free to party at a moment’s notice.

Listening to Richard Foster has given me many gifts, but maybe one of the greatest is the saying, “The Kingdom of God is not in danger.”  Dallas Willard often said, “The universe is a perfectly safe place to be.”  Anybody with ears or eyes knows this is crazy talk. The world is not safe– but the kingdom of God is. Our God is a redemptive God and there is nothing he can’t turn around for good- and that’s some serious safety.

So the LORD and I are working this out. I count my blessings and he says, “See, I can be trusted. You are safe.”  I’m going to keep gathering crumbs from my young friends, but I’m also practicing the merengue just in case.

 

What is the root of celebration in your life?

Tell us about a time you have celebrated with children.

“Still Good” Saturday: A Conversation with God-Children and Prayer

This blog in it’s original form was posted at http://www.Renovare.org

I’m not sure who learned the most. Really I’m sure, but let me have my dignity for just a moment.

It was the first day of deer hunting season so I knew the church would be nearly vacant. I was right.  As I was gathering my wits for the Preschool Sunday School class, Jeffery meandered in, head hung low, frown draped across his face.

I mustered up a jolly, “Hello.”

And Jeffery shot back, “Guess it’s just me and you.”

This room is familiar to him and so am I. I see him every week.

“Well Jeffery, should we start by talking with God?”

“No,” he said, “I don’t know how.”

“Talking to God is just like talking to me. You can do it anytime or anywhere…. Bla, bla, bla…”

Jeffery had long since tuned me out and began playing with the glue and the glitter. Frankly I had tuned me out. Talking about prayer is like talking about eating ice cream or riding a roller coaster, words pale in comparison to the real thing.

Finally, I quit talking and watched Jeffery. He had opened the Beginners Bible to the story of Noah. “Read this to me he said.”

So I did.

“Let’s make some art.” He said.

So we did.

We found every color of glitter and paint we could imagine. We made the most sparkly rainbow ever. The best detail was the angel beside the rainbow, a big beautiful brown angel with yellow wings and just behind the brown I could see kind eyes and a huge red smile.

I said, “Your angel, he’s smiling.”

“The angel is wearing God’s smile.” He said.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“He told me.” Jeffery said while adding a last splash of gold glitter.

I suppressed the urge for one more teaching lecture how listening to God is prayer, and how art can also be prayer.

Instead I picked up the green glitter and prayed.

This weekend break out the art supplies with your littlest people, maybe read a Bible story, or how about Psalm 150… then pray. Don’t use words…