LECTIONARY MONDAY Already Done

Yes, I know yesterday was Monday.

John 17:1-7

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.

I like this understanding of eternal life, of αἰώνιος ζωὴ — to know God, and know Christ. It’s a simple description of eternal life, one a believer can get lost in.

Christians have added things to the biblical description of heaven/eternal life and hades/gahenna/tartarus that aren’t really there. In fact, I think a lot of the Christian notions as to what paradise and hellfire look like are derived from Islam. The Qur’an contains some remarkable descriptions of paradise as a place of comfort and ease, of bliss and eternal reward, while hellfire is a place of torture, pain, and despair. There’s a purpose to this afterlife, since where you go depend entirely on who you choose to follow — Satan and his minions, or God and his Prophet — and the deeds you do as a follower.

There’s some of this in scripture, but Israel’s relationship with God isn’t about afterlife. Resurrection becomes an issue, the the New Testament ends with a description of a renewed and resurrected creation.

But heaven … not so much.

What we do have is eternal life, and Jesus tells us that this eternal life is knowing God and knowing the Anointed One he sent.

That’s all it is. And it’s already done. Jesus still breathes here, and the work … is already done. The world is already overcome. We have been gathered and redeemed. And Jesus still breathes.

This is why I love John’s gospel. For all the talking Jesus does, for all the words he uses, there is a breathless wonder to what he says. I could ponder these words all my days and find no end to them. No bottom or finish to what they say or mean.

And we have eternal life. Eternal life. Because we know God. And we belong to Christ.

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Church, Flagellate Thyself

Rob Saler, a better and more successful man than I who has gone on to write books that are actually reviewed (he and I both graduated from LSTC, and we chat sometimes), posted this to his Facebook page, about the joy some Episcopalians take in their decline and the memory of their power, and it’s worth reading:

First was the rector and staff’s resistance to facing programatic weaknesses head-on. Real improvement is hard, and it frequently involves breaking some eggs. Episcopalians are often more comfortable spending their way toward a solution than asking for human action. If ushers are unfriendly and annoying, rare is the rector who will speak to and, if necessary, dismiss them; much better instead to install new and more “welcoming” signage. It is easier to talk about buildings and grounds than about human behavior.

More insidious, however, was the bizarre combination of glee and dolefulness with which the conversation of the handicapped ramps unfolded. Many of the staff were unyielding in their belief that merely by existing, this parish was somehow, in some way, profoundly alienating to unseen seekers. The longer the conversation went on, the less it had to do with the needs of disabled visitors; what the staff were really engaged in was the ostensibly canonical ritual of corporate self-reproach and self-censure. The litany of Christendom’s sins was rehearsed, the correct responses were made, and the inevitable conclusion reached: We are oppressing those who never darken our door.

What an extraordinary conceit.

The Episcopal Church in the present day seems to want to do two things: (1) insist that it has given up its hegemonic past and now welcomes all people, and (2) function as if it must incorporate all people in a hegemonic way. These two impulses do not hang together easily, and they produce in what should be our fine old church an astonishing schizophrenia. We not only welcome all, we insist that all must be present, as if the Episcopal Church is the only game in town.

At some point on this blog, and I am not sure where, I noted that progressives and liberals long ago decided the only reason people were on margins — not living and working and loving in the respectable, bourgeois center — was they were forced to be there. Pushed out. Excluded. No one would live on the margins of their own accord, and no human behaviors or identities should ever be marginal.

So, the only reason people don’t show up for Episcopal, or Lutheran, services is that we have not welcomed them. We have excluded them. Otherwise, they would be here. They would be just like us.

As Non Angeli notes in this blog, this is not only nonsense, it is conceit. It fails to consider: what if they aren’t just like us? There are plenty of reasons that, to borrow an example from real life (from the congregation I interviewed with in late April), Latino Pentecostals would not be or want to be United Methodists. A lot has to do with culture, language, comfort, tradition, community, and that may or may not have anything to do with the welcome they have received. Not everyone is called to be Methodist, or Episcopalian, or Lutheran, or pentecostal.

(I see some beauty in pentecostal worship, and gifts pentecostals bring to the Body of Christ, but I cannot be pentecostal. It’s just not in me. I will never be a pentecostal.)

But the Liberal church still wants to be empire without actually being empire. It cannot envision equality without sameness. Many years ago, the ELCA — concerned at how white it was — set itself a target for the percentage of people of color in the confession. It was a silly move, and unlikely to be achieved short of the annexation of a largely non-white church. I find myself wondering if ELCA leaders and pastors asked themselves — why would people who are not like us want to worship with us? And it may little or nothing to do with them. The ELCA does have a problem — my experience at seminary showed me, and the rise of the #decolonizelutheranism movement demonstrates, that pastors and parishioners and congregations of color have a very difficult time in the ELCA, in part because the confession is torn between its liberal ideals and the reality that many of its congregations share in America’s heritage of white supremacy. But that problem is as much a matter of class — a suffocating bourgeois piety that has no ability to forgive sinners — as it is race.

The truth is, there are many reasons people do not want to be ELCA Lutherans that have absolutely nothing to do Lutherans failing to be welcoming or inclusive. It’s not necessarily about us. Even if we say we get the gospel right, in the end, people make choices for reasons that honestly have nothing to do with us.

Maybe some folks live on a margin because that’s where they feel comfortable, safe, and welcome. Because that’s where they know they belong. Margins should be safe, and not abolished.

Liberalism and progressivism, however, in its many forms, cannot abide marginality. And it cannot abide separateness either. All must belong to the one true community. Eventually, the progressive reaches for the cudgel. To force others if it can.

And if it can’t, to scourge itself.

Memorial Day Sale

All you out there who might not have my book, it’s on sale for 40 percent off right now. Go to the Wipf & Stock website, order The Love That Matters: Meeting Jesus in the Midst of Terror and Death, and when prompted for a discount code, type in MEM17 and receive your 40 percent discount!

Do it now! Read what one reviewer called a “spiritual adventure” that will take you from the suburbs of Southern California to the dusty streets of Dubai to the overly pious and uptight classrooms of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago! And meet Jesus while you are at it!

Living In Terrorism

I have nothing of much value to say either way about terrorism — Islamic or otherwise. I think I’ve said most of what I want to say, most of what needs to be said, and no one is listening to me.

I have grown tired of the outrage and sentimentality of our times. Of the moral posturing and virtue signaling demanded. Weary. This itself is a statement, and likely even a posture and a signal. Such is life.

But William Dalton wrote in response to Rod Dreher’s most recent blog on the Manchester bombing something that needs to be remembered:

Islamic radicals do not attack us because they are Muslim, but neither do they attack us because of their ideology. They attack us out of their sense of grievance, their sense of victimhood. They attack us for the same reason Dylan Roof decided to attack a church full of black Charlestonians – because he didn’t see a room of friendly and accepting people. He saw creatures of a kind with those who made his life a life of futility and despair and he knew his life would never be right until they were all dead and gone. So he grabbed a Confederate flag to represent the cause which would give his life meaning and would justify his actions. So do all the young Westerners who have streamed to Syria to join ISIS, and come back to perpetrate acts of terrorism against us. Like our friend, Charles Featherstone, many have no Islamic background or connections whatsoever. But they live in the West, they don’t like what they see, what has been done to them, and the teachings of the imams and mullahs they hear give them an understanding of what is wrong with their lives and a path to free themselves of it. They join ISIS for the same reason young Westerners of generations past joined anarchists and communists and fascists and Nazis, each of whom also identified the evils of the decadent capitalist West and prescribed a plan for curing those evils.

But they go out and kill because they have seen their own, those with whom they identify, being killed. They go out and inflict suffering on others because they have been made to suffer. No ideology is responsible for the hatred and anger they feel and must express. Ideology, grounded in religion or political theory, only gives them an avenue to express themselves forcefully, in concert with others who feel the same grievance.

The answer to our dilemma is as clear as it has been since the days of the Hatfields and the McCoys, and before. There will be no end of them, and people like them, killing us until we come home from the far corners of the world and stop killing them.

I’m honored to be part of a conversation, no matter how obliquely, but Dalton makes a good point here, and I won’t repeat it. However, I’m not sure withdrawal is enough at this point, since empire and globalization intertwined European and Islamic societies in a way that have never been, and that has made for a great deal of discomfort on both sides. Most Muslims living in and with the secular West are happy to do so, but secular modernity has created enough malcontents (Muslim and otherwise) that they can cause trouble. And are more than happy to do so.

The approach of moderns — both conservatives and liberals — has been to double down. More secularism, more multiculturalism, more anti-racism, more immigrants, more openness, more more police, more violence, more occupation, more war. It’s a curious approach, one doomed to failure. It assumes that there is enough state power, enough suffering that can be imposed, enough ability to compel and kill, that will eventually inflict enough pain and trauma and suffering to end resistance.

But the idea just about every resister has in their head — or their souls, since I suspect most aren’t consciously aware of this — is the Algerian War. Algeria had been not just a French colony for more than a century, but had been settled and integrated into France proper. A place the French were willing to use brutal and inhuman force to keep, were willing to destroy their society to keep. The Algerians won few if any battles in that war, and had been decisively beaten by the late 1950s even as the continued to resist.

And yet they won anyway.

The French deployed nearly every resource at their disposal, knew the language and the culture and the country and could infiltrate just about bit of the Algerian resistance, tortured and imprisoned and disappeared and killed. They held the high ground and defeated the Algerians in just about confrontation that mattered.

Yet they lost anyway. The Algerians never stopped resisting.

What the 20th century showed us is that as long as resistance continues, whether we speak of France in Algeria or the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, then the resisters have effectively won even if they remain conquered and occupied. It was a war for the minds of Algerians, to get them to accept and embrace their conquest and occupation. As long as they refused… they had won. No matter what things on the ground actually looked like.

We’ve seen how this has played out in colonial struggles. But a version of this has come home. If the United States is currently working on a slow motion civil war, it is because we have become roughly two societies which cannot accept the legitimacy of rule by the other, and everything becomes resistance. The Algerians won against the French because the French, even the Pieds Noirs, many of whom had been in Algeria for a couple of generations, could pack up and leave. The Palestinians are facing Israelis who see themselves as having no other home, and who are able, and probably very willing, to do everything necessary to keep that home. Red and blue America, Islamic and non-Islamic Britain, where does anyone go? What happens when everyone sees themselves as the FLN, and no one sees themselves as the Colons or the Metropole — everyone is resistance, and no one is the accountable power of authority?

There is something I encountered at seminary that long troubled me. We took classes on liberation theology, studying the American Civil Rights movement as a theological and religious struggle, and to a lesser degree, the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, but we did it entirely from the standpoint of those resisting. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his critique was the operative frame.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but we got a very one-sided story. We never studied the effect any of this had on the powerful and how their hearts and minds were changed. A lot on the suffering of Black people, how Western Christian theology had dehumanized and justified their enslavement and mass murder, but absolutely nothing — nothing real — on how a church like the Dutch Reformed in South Africa shifted its position in its encounter with the very people it oppressed and eventually came to see Apartheid itself as a sin.

There was no engagement. Just resistance. In the belief that a forceful and determined enough resistance would, like the Algerians, eventually win.

Except very few wars are colonial wars of liberation anymore. Does Red America occupy Blue America? Does Blue America occupy Red America? To hear from frightened, angry, outraged partisans, we are either a moment away from living out The Handmaid’s Tale or Brave New World, in which camps and the gallows or nine grams in the back of the head await all who cannot or will not conform.

Or accept their defeat.

So … Everything becomes defense. Everything becomes resistance.

Too much is at stake. No one has power, no one has authority, no one can show restraint, no one can accept responsibility, no one can be magnanimous.

Because if there is always resistance, there is never victory. Never an end.

One of the reasons I stepped back from becoming the kind of person who could strap a bomb and blow myself up, or wage a nihilistic war of resistance, was because I came to see myself — even before I was Christian — as responsible. For myself. For my wife. I have an obligation to the world around me, to love and be kind, whatever circumstance or situation I find myself in, no matter how I or even others have been treated. I do believe the Gospel is resistance, but it is a resistance grounded in love and hope, not fear, that lives knowing Caesar is called king but Jesus really is. It is resistance with real authority. I have always lived in two places at once — the world of unjust rules in which suffering and anger and fear hold sway, and another one in which love is all that matters. I arrived in this place long before I became a Christian, long before Jesus called me, but it was in the midst of a terror attack, in the midst of the kind of death I was more than willing to wish upon people, that I was forced to see, for real, what I wanted.

In the face of the violence of the world, I really only have one answer — Love.

This situation we have trapped ourselves will very likely only end in calamity, in civilizational, and possibly global, disaster. I don’t have an answer to that. There are no guarantees in life except maybe death and some amount of suffering. It’s wonderful to live through the reign of Augustus or Trajan, sucks to live in mid-third-century Rome. We don’t get to pick.

We just get to live. Even in the midst of terror and death.

My Meaning, Or Not

In a really piece at The Atlantic about parents who cope with children diagnosed as psychopaths, Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes this as she discusses life for a profoundly troubled 11-year-old girl she calls Samantha:

Watching them in the darkened room, I contemplate for the hundredth time the arbitrary nature of good and evil. If Samantha’s brain is wired for callousness, if she fails to experience empathy or remorse because she lacks the neural equipment, can we say she is evil? “These kids can’t help it,” Adrian Raine says. “Kids don’t grow up wanting to be psychopaths or serial killers. They grow up wanting to become baseball players or great football stars. It’s not a choice.”

Yet, Raine says, even if we don’t label them evil, we must try to head off their evil acts. It’s a daily struggle, planting the seeds of emotions that usually come so naturally—empathy, caring, remorse—in the rocky soil of a callous brain. Samantha has lived for more than two years at San Marcos, where the staff has tried to shape her behavior with regular therapy and a program that, like Mendota’s, dispenses quick but limited punishment for bad behavior and offers prizes and privileges—candy, Pokémon cards, late nights on weekends—for good behavior.

Jen and Danny have spotted green shoots of empathy. Samantha has made a friend, and recently comforted the girl after her social worker quit. They’ve detected traces of self-awareness and even remorse: Samantha knows that her thoughts about hurting people are wrong, and she tries to suppress them. But the cognitive training cannot always compete with the urge to strangle an annoying classmate, which she tried to do just the other day. “It builds up, and then I have to do it,” Samantha explains. “I can’t keep it away.”

This is an outsider’s musing about the meaning and purpose of someone’s life, about how to cope with young people seemingly incapable of empathy and all-too-capable of harming others.

We do this all the time, and while we often times muse on the meaning of good and evil in the face of what we conclude (at least right now) to be a random, biological inheritance. “This is not a choice.”

And yet, meaning and sense must come out of this. We make them. We try to figure out the point and purpose of a life and events we didn’t or even couldn’t choose. (Even as choice is the idol on our altars before which we all bow and sacrifice.) Yes, Samantha will have to figure out who she and the purpose of her life. But to say she is the only one is to take autonomy too far. Her mother, her friends, the people she meets and encounters, will tell her story too. In the end, their version of her life — their understanding of why she is — will likely be more important then her own.

This is hard, because our ethic on this is one of absolute autonomy — no one has any right to tell Samantha’s story, determine Samantha’s meaning, except Samantha herself.

But I go back to the Gospels. Jesus does not tell his own story. We do not get things from the point of view of Jesus. The story of Jesus is told by people who are not Jesus. We have several different takes on who Jesus is, and who we are given who we think Jesus is. I could go a little farther, and that whatever the provenance of scripture, what comes through is an anonymous narrator who is close to the action but not attached or invested in its outcomes, a narrator who is omniscient and in which God, rather than the author, is simply another character whose actions are related with almost no judgment and whose motivations are a near complete mystery.

It is our story, but it is only kind of told by us, told about us by someone who sits a little bit outside of us. It is God’s story too, but it isn’t told by God, it’s told about God.

If we take the relational nature of our lives at face value, then we aren’t autonomous in many meaningful ways — certainly not as autonomous or self-defining as we’d like. We don’t determine our own meaning. We don’t impose our own meaning. We can’t. We struggle to define our lives to ourselves, and express some of what that meaning is to the cosmos, but those around us — and possibly the cosmos itself — will come to its own conclusions about who and what we are, and what we mean.

We can tell our own stories, but we cannot impose that meaning on others. We don’t have that power. It may be the only meaning we ever have of Samantha are the stories told about her.

So, when I consider the suffering of the world, and those who suffer, I find myself increasingly drawn to an unpleasant conclusion for a modern — suffering exists, in part, as something for the world to look it, to consider, even contemplate, and then respond to. Think of how Jesus describes the judgement of the nations in the second half of Matthew 25. We’d like the suffering to tell their own stories, create their own lives and futures that do not involve suffering, but that understanding puts us in a place where the only meaning suffering has is its elimination. And we can extract nothing else. Liberation is one response, but it has become our only response, and for many deeply committed Christians, it has become the only faithful response. Especially when we speak of inequality and violence as measured against our ideals of justice and equality.

And so we increasingly cannot find meaning in suffering. Cannot discern meaning in the suffering of others, especially when we are powerless to do anything about it. Cannot faithfully live out grace and mercy in a world where power, agency, autonomy, accountability are all we have. Grace and mercy, the true power of forgiveness, can only really exist in a world where our power and agency are not a possibility. (Though God’s always is.)

I know what my life means to me — I wrote a book, told that story, got it published — but I also am becoming increasingly convinced that my life is also not my own and never was. Whatever my suffering meant — it was mine, it was all I had, and I understand both its limits in the scheme of things and its blessing, that it opened me up to a world much bigger than I am, to at least try and meet those whose suffering was and is much greater than mine and very different than mine — I am only partly in charge of what it means.

We are not in charge of who we are. Not as individuals, not as communities, not as assemblies, not as nations or peoples. We struggle to tell our own stories, but in the end, stories will be told about us. And we won’t write them.

LECTIONARY MONDAY The Lord Reigns

Psalm 93

1 The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.
4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!
5 Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore. (ESV)

“The Lord reigns.” יְהוָה מָלָך He is sovereign. He rules. The world is his. The world, the cosmos, is his.

What does this mean for us? It is is easy to despair. I come back to that fact again and again because it is true. The flood washes around us, encompasses us, carries us aloft and takes us places we don’t want to go. We are no longer in control, the flood is. It even threatens to drown us, this flood, as it carries us away.

And some … it does drown.

But no matter how cast adrift, no matter how threatened we are, no matter the tide and the rush and the wet and the power in those waves, the Lord is sovereign, is master, over even this. These waters speak and shout and roar their power — their power to submerge, to carry away, to reshape, to inundate, to drown, to destroy — but this Lord who is enthroned, he is master even of these waters.

Even of this power.

It may not answer to the Lord, but it will never overcome him. Never overcome the one enthroned, enrobed, who sits over the world and is mightier than all the terror and confusion the waters can muster.

The Lord reigns. And the Earth, no matter how flooded, shall never be moved.

On Liars, Church People, and the Church

The ministry I do online with kids continues, but it’s suffered a rather severe blow this week.

It turns out that Bethany — about whom I wrote about here, and here, and here — wasn’t real. Or rather, nothing she told me about her life was real. She lied. About almost everything. Beginning with her name. I won’t say how I found out, only that I did. (I am a journalist, and I’ve got mad Internet search skills, and when I go digging, I find what I’m looking for, or I know why I haven’t.) I was always a little suspicious given the sheer and unending amount of violence in her life. After one of the foster couples she claimed enslaved and pimped her out was arrested in 2016, I did a public record search with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services — which oversees the state’s foster care system — and was told there was no record they had ever been licensed foster parents. After that, there was always a little doubt in my mind, especially given that I’d caught her in several big lies previously.

I’m waiting the results of a few more public records searches, just to see what I can find out. I’m not expecting the records I have asked for to exist, however.

This might not be a big deal — she’s just one teenage girl, right? — and none of it appears to have been malicious. But she was part of my life for 18 months, and she became very important to me. When Bethany stopped texting me in January, the ministry work dropped off to nothing, leading me to think that much of the work I’d done was this one young woman pretending to be various different other young women in dire need. So, at this point, I have no idea what was real and what wasn’t.

I know Kaylie’s real. And I believe her story — I’ve seen her nightmares, I met her and spent time with her and I trust what she tells me. But there’s a whole host of kids I’ve texted with that I can no longer trust or know how real they were. For example, Bethany was one of only two people (along with Francisco Herrera) who could quote my book to me, and two text exchanges I had with “two” young women in February and March involved these young women, in two very different ways, quoting my book to me. Could be coincidence, but it seems a stretch. So… Bethany?

I don’t know. I’ll likely never know.

I bring this up for two reasons. First, I accept the risk of anonymous ministry online means I’m going to get played, for whatever reason, at least a time or two or three or five. As I said, I have no idea what Bethany’s motivations were — they don’t appear to have been malicious, and if I have to guess, she got in over her head and didn’t know how to simply walk away and was too afraid to fess up. Second, and this has always been my greatest fear, that the whole enterprise I’ve engaged in has been a lie. That none of it was real, that much of the purpose and point of my life in the last two years has itself been a complete and absolute lie, some 14-year-old girl’s strange game or entertainment.

And yet it continues. I don’t think it was all Bethany. Some of it was real.

I’ve been texting this week with a 10-year-old. I have assurances that she is real — since Kaylie started at Job Corps, some of the young people there have texted me, and shared my number, and this young woman contacted me earlier this week got my number that way. Yes, she’s using TextNow to contact me (I always check), so could be texting me from anywhere. At this point, I can’t help but wonder if whoever is texting me isn’t Bethany pretending to be someone else. It’s just where I start.

Still, I engage. I won’t stop. I care for these kids. It means I’ll get played a few more times. I don’t like that idea, but I can live with it.

And we had this conversation this morning:

Her: Hi.
Me: How are you this morning?
Her: I can’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep all night
Me: I’m sorry. I’ve had nights like that. I slept okay last night
Her: That’s good. My mom wants me to go to church with her today but I don’t want to.
Me: Okay
Her: Church is full of stuck up self righteous people who think they are so amazing and try to tear you down if you admit to not believing the lies they try to force down your throat like cough medicine.
Me: That’s one way to look at it. I’m sorry church people have treated you so badly. I don’t like church people much either.
Her: They all need a big scoop of Jesus in their lives. Or an awakening. Jesus himself could show up and be like, what the heck is wrong with you?
Me: Yep
Her: People would still not care
Me: Nope. They’d probably be mad at Jesus. Tell him he was a bad Christian.
Her: Probably

I realize I’ve spent the first half of this essay completely discrediting my ministry, so I suppose any conclusions that flow from this “conversation” are suspect, but let’s take it at face value for a minute.

There’s an interesting truth about the church in this conversation. An abused 10-year-old — because yes, as a general rule, abused and autistic kids are the only ones who contact me, assuming anyone who contacts me is real at this point — knows the difference between who Jesus is and how the church lives out its call to follow Jesus. And the church doesn’t even begin to measure up to Jesus, fails spectacularly and utterly and stunningly to be Jesus.

And that the church needs Jesus. To keep it from being something other than self-righteous, judgmental, cruel, and abusive.

I’ve found the churches here in Moses Lake to be tiny little family clubs, suspicious of and terribly unwelcoming to outsiders. I realize strangers and guests have much to prove, but I’ve been a stranger and guest my whole life, and I’m tired of trying to prove anything to people who refuse to meet me in any meaningful way. I’ve found more welcome and belonging, more acceptance and camaraderie, at the local dive bar — The Hang Out, if you must know — then I have in any church I have been in since Peace Lutheran in Alexandria, Virginia.

I love worship. I love leading worship. I love preaching and singing and living the Gospel. I love caring for people. Few things make me feel whole, like I am being exactly who God made to be, the way pastoring does. But I simply do not know what to do with church people anymore. I know I am not sanctified enough for either bourgeois pietists or followers of the prosperity gospel (and there’s a lot of overlap there, even among progressives), not clean enough, not a good enough example of right living, but I do try to love my neighbor, to be Jesus and to meet Jesus. I try to bear witness to the truth as I can.

But none of this ever seems to be enough for church people. And I don’t know why.

My young friend had locked herself in her bedroom (though for other reasons), and that seems to me to be a really good idea. I might want to put the phone down while I’m at it and maybe lock it away too.

However, it’s a nice day outside. Too nice to hide from the world.

But I have a question maybe someone out there will answer. Anyone else in the Moses Lake area tired of church people, but aching to be part of the people of God, and looking for a place to hear a word of Grace and Truth, to meet Jesus? Can we start something?

Because I want to start something. I don’t want to be with church people, but I do want to be with the people of God.