Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Make me whole again

Hear it! [Make me whole again MID]
See it! [Make me whole again PDF]

Lord to you I lift my wounds
my sickness and my sin
for I know, if it be your will
you can make me whole again
O Christ if you want to
you can make me whole again

Know, my child, I have heard your cry
your heart I cannot refuse
I will place my spirit in you
and your face I will renew
O child how I want to
and your face I will renew

The earth cries out for renewal and justice. The earth bears our sin and is our partner in wholeness. “For, creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19) Indeed, the earth groans in labor pains for us, even as the Spirit, like a skilled midwife, intercedes for us “with sighs too deep for words.”

The song “Make me whole again” was motivated by my reading of Psalm 104. God takes delight in creation and delights to care for all living beings on the face of the earth, in the sky, and in the waters below.

“These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.” (Psalm 104:27-28)

This is life as we would hope it to be. However, death is also in God’s hand.

“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” (v. 29)

So we find ourselves broken, dependent, in need. Earth, too, is carved up and scarred by our restless actions. What we need, however, is not merely the goods of this earth, the goods we clamor for in this world and kill each other to have. No, what we long for and most truly need is the breath of God.

“When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.” (v. 30)

I take this as a promise. God says to us and all creation, I will send forth my spirit to enliven you, and your face I will renew.

Renewal is God’s justice, a creative justice that restores, heals and uplifts our face.

I can trust this God who creates. Without shame, I can lift my wounds, my sickness and my sin to Christ, my Lord and Midwife. One little breath and I shall be radiant.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Do not touch my anointed ones

[When we were few in number PDF]

1 Chronicles 16:19-22 19 When they were few in number, of little account, and strangers in the land, 20 wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, 21 he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, 22 saying, "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm."

There are no accidents in war. It is all premeditated. It is entirely the intentional exercise of power through violent force.

We were all stunned with the bombing of Baghdad. Soon the world realized that Iraq had no meaningful defense, not in the face of US superiority. “Shock and awe” was the glamorous display US techno-military hardware.

We were all stunned into believing that such awesome power was somehow necessary. We accepted the moral illusion that says it is acceptable, even necessary, to kill thousands of civilian to take a couple of misguided shots at “high value targets.”

One envisions a long line up of children shot one at a time as an arcade game for some bigger prize. Or rather we don’t see the children at all. We don’t see the grandparents, the sisters, the brothers, or the parents torn apart with each blast that lights up the night sky. We are blinded by the blast.

We do not hear the prayers that rise up before God, one soul at a time.

Before the attack, some activists had petitioned the Pope to go to Baghdad and remain there as a moral shield. Would this have prevented the war planners in the Administration from carrying out their schemes?

Sure, this would have been a political problem, killing the Pope “unintentionally.” But what really is the moral distinction between killing the Pope and killing just one small child? “Collateral damage” is just a reality of war, damned be any sanctity in human life.

No, the intent of modern warfare is to tear apart bodies and traumatize the human psyche. Gone are the days when one army battled against another army. Rather it is now high technology set against civilian populations. There are no accidents.

By distinction, terrorism is relatively low technology set against civilian populations. When a fanatic straps on some homemade explosives and takes them into a public place, what follows is no accident.

The distinction is between high and low technology, between well engineered weapon systems and improvised devices. Our moral illusion is that somehow high tech can deliver “surgical strikes” that can destroy a city from a safe distance with only minimal harm to civilians. Still children are torn apart. Any surviving family members wail to God as neighbors rush them to medical help or stack their lifeless bodies on trucks.

To this, God’s prophets of old say, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

Our own people serve in the military with honor and skill, but they too are being damaged day by day in this conflict. We count our fallen, the wounded and the killed. Still spiritually and emotionally wounded are many more. They will need and truly deserve our respect, compassion and understanding. They will grieve for a lifetime at the moral damage that will last for generations, both here and abroad.

Christ stands with all the wounded and offers healing in his hands. So in faith against all moral illusion, I too will stand and grieve with all the prophets and all God’s little ones. I will sing:

When they were few in number
of little account, and strangers in the land
God allowed no one to oppress them
Yah rebuked kings on their account, saying
“Do not touch my anointed ones
and do my prophets no harm.”

And they traveled from nation to nation
from one kingdom to be another people
God instructed them to have no fear
but be faithful in covenant, saying
“Do not touch my anointed ones
and do my prophets no harm.”

Now we too are called to follow this God
a people set free, a royal priesthood
to stand with all the downcast of the land
to rebuke the oppressor’s hand, saying
“Do not touch my anointed ones
and do my prophets no harm.”

When we were few in number
of little account, and strangers in the land
God allowed no one to oppress us
Yah rebuked kings on our account, saying
“Do not touch my anointed ones
and do my prophets no harm.”

May God grant us true repentance.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Spirit Moves

[Spirit Moves PDF]

Once I asked my grandmother Pauline how it was that she got into the Pentecostal movement in the 1920s and later left the church when her youngest, my father, was finishing high school. She thought a moment and said, “Well, I suppose, the Spirit moves us in, and the Spirit moves us out.”

That line stuck with me. My own journey has been into and out of various religious commitments. Even during years when I felt I had no faith, somehow I know the Holy Spirit was still with me and leading me. I have both lost faith and found it in my life.

About seven years ago, I went through a time of spiritual renewal. My grandmother’s line kept floating back into my mind. To my surprise, the words emerged as a new song, Spirit Moves.

The Spirit moves us in
and the Spirit moves us out
Blow wind where you will
blow wind where you will
And this song is also a prayer, a pray of acceptance of wherever life takes us. We can breathe in, and we can breathe out. We can trust that the Spirit is with us and leading us on.

Thank you, Grandma Pauline.