kindom musings

Thoughts and musings from a pastor in the peace tradition. Perspectives come from a progressive, justice-minded, feminist position. Responses are welcome.

Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States

I am a Church of the Brethren pastor in my thirties. While I love what I do, I started out with plans to be a veterinarian. God has a great sense of humor, and I wound up in ministry instead. However, my sojourn into veterinary science did make me a vegetarian with a love of animals. (We have two cats and a dog at home -- only a small petting zoo!) My husband is also ordained, and we have a son (LB) and a daughter (KB). My husband keeps me up to date on baseball trivia, and my children keep me giggling. All in all, it makes for a well-rounded life. I was born in Pennsylvania, moved several times for school and work, and have recently returned to my home state. On the Myers-Briggs scale, I'm an INFP.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5 years

My last post was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Now it is the day before Maundy Thursday, a day most Chruch of the Brethren congregations celebrate Love Feast. For a low church tradition, this is about as high and holy as we get. The service involves a time of examination, washing of one another's feet, a simple meal, and communion. For me, it defines the fullness of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. In some ways, I look forward to it more than I do Easter, even though it looks toward the looming cross instead of bearing witness to an empty cross.

I've never been a big proponent of bloody remembrances. I cringe at Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ (for more than one reason), and I find the idea of a bloody atonement and a wrathful God inconsistent with everything else I have come to believe about faith and God's mercy. Nevertheless, Love Feast names the love of Jesus that is not limited by threats of death or suffering and that creates an enduring community. Its emphasis on service, a horizontal relationship of Christian kinship among brothers and sisters, give me a glimpse of what it means to try to live into
the reign of God. Communion forms the other axis, a connection to the essence of God, not in a literal body and blood way, but no less a powerful symbol of Jesus in our midst. This service both humbles and strengthens me as I step into Good Friday and eventually Easter morning.

There are interesting connections with Maundy Thursday falling on the first day of Spring. It's easy to think of the symbolism of new life and restored hopes. However, today I am stopped cold by a different time marking. This is the 5th anniversary of our invasion of Iraq. Nearly 4,000 US lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, unknown numbers of injuries and displacements later, we still show no clear signs of drawing to a close. President Bush called it harder and more costly than anticipated, "but it's a fight we must win." What is it that he and supporters anticipate we can win? History shows that humiliating an enemy rarely produces lasting peace and usually mushrooms a sense of terror. Financial costs aside ( and they are large in and of themselves), what does this war reveal about what we truly value? I am reminded of a quotation that you can no more win a war than you can an earthquake.How can you win a war if it means the destruction of lives, wishing an annihilation of enemies, and forsaking your own understanding of justice and goodness? Among Christians, how can we not see the disconnect between killing "enemies" and bowing before Jesus who, while he was on the cross spoke (at least according to Luke) of his tormentors "forgive them for they know not what they do."

Mary watched her son die as an innocent, and Christians believe that his death put an end to the power of death. Other traditions name that life is a value and the killing is never without a cost to the spirit. Isn't it time for us to stop offering sacrifices to the god of death and to start living the faith we say we proclaim?

For those who hold to no religious convictions, what does one's basic sense of humanity say? My son was born shortly before this war began, and I remember thinking of mothers and fathers who faced losing their precious baby boys and girls, regardless of their age. There must be a better way to pursue our interests or the justice we claim to want to promote.

May the tears of grief shed today lead to an Easter of release and restoration of life! Maranatha!