25 July 2013

The Bald Head of George HW Bush

Former President George HW Bush shaved his head this week in solidarity with a two-year-old boy who is battling leukemia. Mr. Bush's 12-person Secret Service security detail did the same.
       No big deal, right? WRONG. It's a very big deal.
       There are so few leaders today who do things for the pure act of sacrifice, kindness, and charity. Most leaders have ulterior motives. Not Mr. Bush. George HW Bush is in the twilight of his life and has nothing to prove to anyone.
       He is living as a truly FREE man, at peace with himself and with his world.
       In an interview with NBC News tonight, Barbara Bush said of her husband, "I think of you [as] a great, gentle man and we certainly can use clean gentle men these days." I could not agree more.

07 July 2013

Defined by What Embraces Us

"While I fear that we're drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we're defined by what embraces us." - J.R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar
       I spend more time than I would like interacting with people who have been abandoned - by parents, by children, by friends, and most recently, by clergy/pastors. The latter is especially painful for so many people.
       Currently I am reading J.R. Moehringer's beautiful memoir, The Tender Bar about an Irish Catholic guy about my age who grew up on the north shore of Long Island. His upbringing parallels mine in many ways. Just switch out Jewish for Irish.
       The book opens with the perplexing idea that we are drawn to the people and situations which will betray and abandon us, but we are defined by what embraces us.
       I hope this is true, because if we are also defined by what abandons us then a lot of people who have been hurt and used by religious leaders are in a heap of trouble!
       But I am more hopeful than that, only because I believe God's embrace is far greater than a person's abandonment of another.
       I am reminded of a friend who comes from a Muslim background and is now a follower of Jesus. It is a rare Muslim who will make such a radical change in life. My friend - call him Yayer - has been terribly betrayed and abandoned by his family and almost all of his Muslims friends. His life is in danger because of his new-found beliefs. But he lives in the reality of God's embrace in and through Jesus. He lives in the tension between human abandonment and divine embrace.
       So I am left with the somewhat nagging question of myself: Am I living in light of what has abandoned me or by what embraces me?

06 July 2013

A Time to Speak ... Again

I have not been blogging for a couple of months. There were a number of reasons, and much of them have been sorted out (not all though). It is time to find my voice again.

"You Had Me at Shalom"

The reference is to the climactic scene in the film, "Jerry Maquire" in which Tom Cruise woos back Renee Zellweger and she says, "You had me at hello." I admit it - I LOVE that scene!
       It is full of hope, and possible redemption, and pathos! Even though it's a Hollywood fantasy.
       I love the phrase, "You had me at shalom" a million times more. Shalom is utterly impossible apart from God, and more specifically apart from the person of Jesus Christ.
       I don't know a person who does not want to live SHALOM - an inner experience of contentment, fulfillment, settledness which overflows into a "peaceful" external life.
       This week Egypt experienced its second "revolution" in which President Morsi was removed by the military. Is Egypt any closer to shalom today than a week ago? I doubt it. We would do well to have a muted, respectful, and prayerful response to a people suffering greatly at the moment.
       Shalom is a word that is larger than life. You know it when you experience it, but you can never manufacture it. Shalom came on a few of us two weeks ago when I was with my friends Ashraf (a Jordanian) and Ali (a Tunisian) at a training week. We celebrated the Lord's Supper together and I was privileged and humbled to lead the Commmunion time. In the midst of 100 people, Ashraf and Ali came forward to receive the body and blood Christ given for them - and given for the Jewish guy who was serving them.
       That is shalom.