The Widow’s Might

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money into the treasury.”  Mark 12:43

Admittedly, I have a habit of associating much of what happens in the world with the Biblical story. This past weekend I managed to tie 311 lyrics together with Colossians 3 for my brother’s wedding. Sometimes I even impress myself.

Folded-American-Flag

When I see the image of Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson leaning over her husband’s casket, I can’t help but think about the story of the widow’s mite from the Gospels. It’s a story about a widow who literally gives everything she must the temple treasury. It’s a story about money, but also a story about a lot more. There is no doubt that in agreeing to serve our country both La David and Myeshia Johnson gave all of their lives.

In many experiences with people grieving the loss of a loved one, I have learned two things:

It’s never easy to walk with someone through losing a loved one.

It’s far easier to say the wrong thing rather than the right thing.

I commend POTUS for calling her. I understand that perhaps what he said wasn’t what he meant to say. Maybe the moment overwhelmed him and he tripped over his words. I realize I’m stretching the benefit of the doubt.

Here is where this gets problematic for me; we know that the POTUS is a bully who especially enjoys belittling women and people of color. At the very least he could have hung up the phone and not said another word about their conversation. Instead, he lied about what happened and took to Twitter to call Myeshia Johnson a liar. So, either a man who lies like its going out of style is lying or a grieving Gold Star widow is lying. You decide, right?

I cannot imagine the grief that Myeshia Johnson is experiencing right now. I cannot fathom the immense pain she feels. I do know that like the widow in the Gospels, she gave her all.  She continues to give her all. Like the widow in the Gospels, she inspires others to give more. Her might in standing up to a bully in this most difficult time is inspiring. I hope her might encourages us to each find our own might and say, “enough is enough.”

A Thin Line Between Protest and Prayer

Colin Kapernick kneeled, Jemele Hill of ESPN spoke out, Steph Curry hesitated to visit the White House, and the President turned his racial prejudiced agenda against athletes and those who cover them. To quote Ron Burgundy, “that escalated quickly.” On Friday, the President referred to NFL players as “SOBs” and tweeted that those who did not stand for the national anthem should be fired.

Kneeling

I don’t believe the issue is a lack of respect for the flag or our nation, but the racial bias and prejudice that permeates our living today. The President has made it clear that he cares only about himself. This is the man that has continuously tweeted about crowd size at rallies while making no mention of Puerto Rico being without electricity. When the subject turns to race, he goes to great lengths to defend white supremacists as “nice guys” while calling African-American athletes “SOBs” This culminated in yesterday’s mass protest by NFL players, officials, and owners. Many kneeled, some locked arms, and a few even skipped the whole national anthem all together. The NFL said “enough.”

Walter Bruegemann describes Biblical Christianity as “awed to heaven, rooted in earth,” The wonder of God roots us to what is going on in current time and place. I’ve been thinking about the difference between being driven to your knees in prayer and being driven to your knees in protest. There are times when the line between the two is thin. This is such a time. Prayer is proclaiming that God’s will makes a way when it seems there is none. Prayer is asking that a world more whole than what we currently experience will take root.

All our biblical prophets confronted the evils of empire in their time and place. The stories from the Bible that we read to our children are about heroes who were in tune with God’s will against empire. The one whom we proclaim Lord and Savior was put to death because he confronted empire. Yesterday I thought about where we would find Jesus. I imagine if you looked closely enough, you would have seen him somewhere on his knees, in prayer and protest, proclaiming God’s kin-dom come to earth.

Dear Future President: A Letter

Dear Future President,

The big day is almost here. You will be elected to the highest office in the land by the American people. Regardless of what people might say, you will be elected to serve all the American people. That’s a tough job because we can be pretty difficult. Are you sure you are ready for this?

There are several things that I hope will happen over the course of the next four years as your policies and actions shape our shared future.

I hope people will pray for you. Whether they voted for you or not, I hope people will pray for you. Imagine the power of people from many faiths praying for you and your work. Know that there are people across the nation praying for you. May you feel these prayers.

I hope you will be welcoming. Our nation continues to grow more diverse. This is a good thing as a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions comes together as one. You should see this as a strength, not a weakness. This is something for which we should be proud, not ashamed. Continue to welcome those in our land who are seeking our cherished freedoms.

I hope you will embrace all people. Too much of the language of this campaign season has been divisive and “othering.” When considering policies, take into account the effect they will have on everyone. Don’t be afraid to take on the systemic issues that we need to face.   May you foster an environment in our nation where all people are celebrated. Not tolerated. Celebrated.

I hope you will promote peace. I get it, foreign policy is difficult and we are threatened on several fronts. You receive information daily that most Americans could never fathom receiving. Very few of us would want to be in your shoes. However, as you are able, help us lead the way in promoting peace in the world. I believe we can support those serving our country  while working together for peace.

I hope you will work for the economic good of all. In a nation with our resources, we should not have the poverty levels that we do. I realize the government is not the only institution that bears the responsibility for caring for our people, but please advocate for policies that lift people and benefit the widest range of people possible.

I hope you will be a responsible steward of the earth. We can do better when it comes to addressing climate change. Let’s talk about climate change while looking at our own lives to see where we can be better stewards of the earth, so that we may leave a better future for our children and grandchildren, etc.

I hope you will respect those who disagree with you. I know this is a tough one. It’s hard to, especially when you are the one who has to “turn the other cheek.” One of the ways in which we can turn around the way we talk to one another is if you set a good example.

So there you go. Just a few hopes that I have for your time in office. May Gods grace and peace be with you as you begin this journey.