The lectionary readings for All Saints Day and All Souls Day include lovely words and images of God’s care for us and the Divine's promise of eternal life. In the face of death, these are the promises we cling to as Christian people. And they are good promises. True promises.
And, to be quite honest, annoying promises to have repeated to you over and over and over again when you are in the midst of deep grief.
A friend of mine recently posed this question on Facebook: Junior high girls braiding each other’s hair in church: appropriate or not? Considering this friend has never been a junior-high girl nor parented a junior-high girl, the question seemed sincere and did not bother me.
What did bother me, however, was the frequency with which one particular word kept popping up in the comments: distracting.
Lent was a fairly new concept for me when I was in college, and one year I decided to make the ultimate sacrifice—chocolate. I still remember standing in the ice cream parlor, looking at the luscious rocky road and chocolate swirl and brownie chunk ice cream–and choosing butter pecan. Butter pecan. Such is the suffering I was willing to endure for Jesus.
I think now that the whole endeavor was a bit melodramatic.
In the Celtic spiritual tradition, people refer to “thin places”—spaces where the veil between the Divine and the earthly is especially thin; places where you can easily have a sense of the holy, a feeling of connection to God.
There are places commonly recognized as thin, as holy.
I recently helped write a letter to leaders of my denomination, Mennonite Church USA. This letter asks that the denomination make space for congregations and pastors who welcome and bless LGBTQ people. Over 150 credentialed (and formerly credentialed) Mennonite pastors have signed it.
My family shared communion bread in my father’s hospice room before he died. We blessed it, broke it, and ate it. My mom caught a few medical professionals off guard by holding the loaf out to them when they came into the room to check Dad’s blood pressure or give him his medications.
At the gym recently, I found myself on the elliptical machine with two television options in front of me. To my left was evangelist Creflo Dollar telling his congregation that they could escape the prison of sin by being born again. To my right was supermodel Cindy Crawford telling viewers that for $39.95 a month they could use her miraculous skin care products to look years younger.
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