Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Intercede for us

I've always found the idea of intercessory prayer a little bit weird. I mean, if God is all-knowing and all good,  how can it possibly make sense to try to convince God of anything?

And yet, we're obviously supposed to do just that. Not only are we supposed to directly ask God for what we need--that part makes sense, simply as an expression of trust--but we're also supposed to pray for other people, and ask other people to pray for us.

Which is very, very weird when you think about it. I mean, don't we each have direct access to God, through the one mediator Jesus Christ?

Nonetheless, we're obviously commanded to pray for each other, and to ask for prayer. Make of it what you will.

Yesterday, I was praying for my children, and also asking Mary to pray for them and for me, when the baby woke up from his nap. I could hear his sweet little voice calling out, "Mama? Mama? No Mama. Where Mama?"

And big sister took him by the hand, and brought him to me. The little guy was overjoyed, but before settling in to nurse, he took a moment to celebrate with his big sister, happily pointing me out to her.  "Mama. Mama."

Lately, I've been noticing my children intercede for one another quite a bit. It absolutely melts my heart when one of them begs me to bend the rules for a brother or sister.

And it changes what I do.

I won't allow anything dangerous, of course. But I will gladly be more lenient about computer time or sweets when brothers and sisters ask for each other, just because the love between them is so very precious to me.

And I cannot think of anything that makes my heart gladder than watching my children lead one another into my arms.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

the abyss
of trash that sparkles
like a pixelated sunset
casting colors up to the steely sky. Swift beaks snatch
for silent prey: odd bits of bread
and discarded fruit;
feast enough
for all

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It eats right
through your intestines,
feeding upon anxiety
as well as sugar. Caution itself is perilous;
pride finds purity very sweet.
It may be this kind
is only
cast out

Monday, February 16, 2015

unraveled stories 
must suffice for light; lovely tales
sacrificed for thread. Merciful mother, undoer
of knots, show me the clear bright strands
freely flowing down
from heaven's

Saturday, February 14, 2015

thought there is
someone who thinks it,
and also someone who links it
with something you think. This is an opportunity
to form the kind of distinctions that are essential
for good dialogue, and help you inch
closer to the truth.
Use it. The odds are
you think some

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

is full
of good things.
You can't have them all.
Every glory comes at the cost
of another. Ours is the splendor of the lilies,
of grass and of dust. Revel in your bounded brilliance,
and the unending streams of light
you will never hold.
That there is
such good,

Criticizing the good guys

Last night, one of my little boys asked what a Pharisee was, and one of his big brothers answered.

"The Pharisees are the bad guys."

Good guess... but no. The Pharisees were the Bible teachers.

"Okay, yeah, but they were the bad teachers."

Another excellent guess... but no.

The Pharisees were most definitely  the good guys.

Jesus has some very hard words for the good guys.

And some of the good guys were willing to listen to those hard teachings. They sat at Jesus' feet alongside the crooks and the prostitutes, welcoming Jesus as their king and their God.

But just as most of the bad guys wanted to go on being bad, most of the good guys just wanted to go on being better than the bad guys.

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, like a dying grain of wheat, and Jesus has hard things to say to all of us.

Given that the world is so full of bad guys committing acts of unspeakable brutality, perhaps it was rather offensive of President Obama to mention the crimes of our own people during his prayer breakfast remarks.

But it was just as offensive in Jesus' day, and in Paul's. Then, as now, the bad guys were engaging in murder and torture, burnings, crucifixions and large scale mass infanticides.

But even then--and even now--Jesus has challenging words for the good guys, too.

If the crusades were less brutal
 than they might have been, it is precisely because careful self-examination is woven into our heritage as Christians. We must not allow fear to induce us to abandon the great tradition of acknowledging our enemies' shared humanity, and our own shared capacity for evil.

The violence of others presents us with the twin temptations of apathy and imitation. It is wrong to stand by and give tacit permission to injustice. It is also wrong to follow our enemies in the ways of inhumane brutality.

There are no easy answers. Disagreement is inevitable, and probably needful. But however we respond to evil, we must do so carefully, prayerfully, and with eyes wide open to the many dangerous traps around us.

"...lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."