Friday, April 15, 2016

Easter 20 Witnesses

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. [Hebrews 12:1-2]

One of the things that humbles me and keeps me grounded, at least somewhat, is keeping in mind the people---in history and of the present world---who suffer great hardship without losing faith.

I'm not talking about people who are persecuted for their faith, which is also humbling, but people who experience long term, crushing hardship or violence, just because of where they live, the color of their skin, or social/political machinations of people in power.

Here I have to be careful. Those of use who live relatively comfortable, easy, safe lives have too often made the lives---and more importantly the deaths---of those in terrible circumstances into something "precious" in the worst sense of the word. I do not want to do that. Real suffering and crushing death is not something to be fetishized.

But their faith and their commitment to kindness, forgiveness, and grace should be my model for when I, too, face adversity. Because I do have a life of relative privilege and safety, it's easy for any little adverse event to make me want to shake my fist and cry out, "why me?"

Really? People pray, praise, and give thanks while missing meals and burying their dead, and I want to ask "why me?" when I don't get my way?

So, in another season, I would go on about how we who are privileged must work harder for justice and turn to those with harder lives as our teachers. All true and not to be diminished.

But right now, on this 20th day of Easter, I'm celebrating. I look to the great cloud of witnesses around me, who sustain me and call me into the Reign of God, who teach me in the ways of grace.

Resurrection happens in the worst places. I celebrate resurrection and pray I will pay attention, will see it, when it happens.

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