When Hope is your home, and not your home

Tragedy in La Limonada

Lalimonadamurder-10-15-11

I can’t shake this story from my friends in Lemonade International.  I just want it not to be true.  This is not the created intention for this 15 year old girl wanting to escape the clutches of evil.  Deep, deep loss.  My heart saddens for her family, friends and community.  Christ have mercy.

What do we think of hope in a time and place of such darkness?  As followers of the Christ, we have only one thought in regards to hope.  Hope is our home, and moment to moment we realize we are not home.  We long, we yearn, we wait . . . we hope.  Our Hope is in a Kingdom that has come, and a Kingdom that is yet coming.  Hope is our home, but we are not yet completely home. 

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity puts it this way in his chapter on Hope:

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. . . . If I find in myself a desire in which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. . . . Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. . . . I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find til after death; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”  (p. 136-137)

Today I mourn with La Limonada, and today I Hope with La Limonada.  We are not home, but we don’t leave this world as it is. 

What do we do against such heavy darkness when hope feels like a faint echo?  What do we do when the stench and sting of death pierces our senses?  We do what we have always done, we follow the Resurrector.  We do what is written in our soul, we read words of life.  We in no uncertain terms, RISE AGAIN!  We know no other way, we are people of the Resurrection.   

So hear is my prayer today for my friends serving in La Limonada, go in the Spirit of the One who created it all and proclaim your hope this day.  Proclaim the Hope of the One who is Resurrected.  Serve, love, give mercy, sing, dance, worship, feed, educate, clothe, persevere amidst long suffering and all in the name of the Hope that has come.  Show the children what Hope looks like.  They long for the ‘other’ country, a place where it is as it should be.  Reveal to them the Hope just on the other side of the veil.  Let the light come in and pierce the darkness.  God as you once did, I pray you push away the stone in La Limonada and release your Resurrection of Hope. 

When I have no more words to say in this regard, I fall on the words of my brother who has passed on to Kingdom fullness who knew this hope full well.  These are some of Mark Palmer’s final words and I pray them over La Limonada this day:

“When it seems that hopefulness is the least appropriate response in this situation, let it rise up even more. Whisper your hope when you lie down at night; scream your hope when you wake in the morning. Live your hope as if it is the one and only thing that sustains you in this ravaged world. You will not be disappointed.”

May Hope be your home today in La Limonada, even though you are not yet home. 

Our Ordinary Story

Ordinary Community Church, what does community mean to you?

 Above is the Photo ellicitation project for our DMin GML cohort.  This was a fascinating journey to learn what others in the community see through their eyes by using photographs to explain.  It was actually really emotional to read some of their profound stories.  We have lived a decade of pain and beauty, as any church does, and this is our Ordinary story. 

Here is what I learned:

  1. Children are central to our story.  I was amazed as the photos came in how many of them saw our community faith through the eyes of the kids.  When we first started out, this was our largest question:  What do we do with the kids?  We tried everything, and just landed on letting them become an organic part of the larger community.  Realizing that segmenting age groups really has its roots in corporate marketing and generational target groups, the Body of Christ is whole together.  We embrace the chaos of having kids in and amongst us in any part of worship, they are never a distraction.  We just roll with it.  What we’re learning is in this environment, kids choose in themselves.  They want to be there by their choice, they are attracted naturally to the worshipping community.  What was a major question for us a decade ago, has become a strength.
  2. Events play a larger role in galvinizing community than I thought.  The pics were largely of parties, retreats, public worship times and celebrations.  Life is mostly lived in the ordinary and the daily, but events play a role in providing community memory, marking values with larger experiences. 
  3. Community is tangible.  It is not a buzz-word, it isn’t a ‘fluffy’ notion, it’s real.  You know when it’s present and you know when it’s not.  We have strived to make it our “point” in the midst of individualist American culture.  We are still learning what it really means, but it’s messy and painful at times.  However, at this point, I can never opt out.  I belong to them and they belong to me.  It is not my Christianity, it is ‘our’ Christianity. 

After 10 years, I have spent all year reflecting on who we are as a community, where we have come from and where should we be seeking to go.  This project helped me see the answers to these questions through the eyes of other.  Very inspiring.  I think we’ll keep going, time to re-up for another decade of asking for His Kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven. 

Agreeing on ‘Hiraeth’, a yearning for home

In this commercial madness of mid-term election season in America, what is really going on inside of us?  What does all this political angst have in common?

 

Teaparty

I would suggest at least a common Hiraeth, a yearning for home.  Things are not right, there is a longing for the rightness of what only a true sense of home can provide.  Hiraeth is a Celtic and Welsh term to depict this extreme yearning for home and hearth.  The Celtic missionaries, because of their deep love for family and community called this a ‘white martyrdom’.  To leave home for the gospel was the hardest to endure, it was a lifetime of Hiraeth.

I think that Hiraeth is where reality and our internal ‘oughts’ collide.  These ‘oughts’ are our true sense of home and hearth that we long for.  The world ought to be just, people ought to treat one another fairly, liberty ought to be free, individuals ought to have a voice, equality ought to be the lifeline of society, community ought to mean that there is enough for everyone, tyranny ought to be opposed for the goodness of all the people . . . etc.  Is this not what these angrily opposing political parties are voicing?  They are dis-satisfied, they are ardently disappointed, they long for the rightness of themselves and others.  It is a yearning for the place that is right, the place I would call the sense of ‘home and hearth’ in our memories and imaginations.

C.S. Lewis puts it this way, “First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.  Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way.” (Mere Christianity, p. 8 in reference to the Law of Nature)

Does this all speak to a larger brokenness?  Yes, that resonates deeply with me as a follower of Jesus. We are not home.  We wander as aliens and strangers on this side of the veil.  We long for the ‘home’ of the other side, but our Hiraeth does not leave us passive.  We understand that his prayer was that his Kingdom would come “on earth as it is in heaven.”  We yearn for the cause of justice, for the plight of the poor, for the suffering and downtrodden.  If the poor, the orphaned, the destitute, are not at peace; then we ought not to be at peace.  We ought to be stirred to action.  I may have a different approach to my politic than the political party commercials we are being bombarded with, but I join in the stirring.   Things are not as they ‘ought’ to be, I yearn for rightness too.

So for today, in my place, in my community, in my neighborhood, in my city, I join in solidarity with all those voicing their protest that things are not as they ‘ought’ to be.  My cry today is with them, it is Hiraeth, a longing for home.

Hiraeth