Songs for Prepositions: Act I

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Act I:  “Dwelling”

A Song for Prepositions

By Jane Tawel

July 12, 2016

 

 

I desire to not dwell on it;

I desire only to dwell in it–

 

With You.

 

It’s true,

They want to build a wall against the tide

But I long for You to build a wall around my heart

To hedge me in, a prisoner in the walls of Your mercy and forgiveness,

A porous wall of Water that trespasses on the throne of my self

And keeps Your Spirit in,

Not them out.

 

My skin-wall is not me.

Your skin-wall is not you.

 

We keep making each other so sad

And the tears don’t wash away the colors

Of our collective, hateful grief.

 

I desire not to dwell on it,

I desire to dwell in it.

Inside–

A wall to keep the rushing fountains of Your love

Emigrating out to Immigrants I welcome in

To the circled enclosure of Our love.

 

We keep talkin’ ‘bout, talkin’ ‘bout, talkin’ bout,

The colors of,

The multi, separating colors of the world,

 

But You in agonizing silence,

Rebirthed us in one color only

The color Red

The Red of Your Blood

Shed.

 

So many colors shedding other folk’s blood

I have to start telling them today,

It’s all been already shed for you

No matter your hue.

 

From Costcos to bodegas

From favelas to beach fronts,

It’s time to sing a psalm of

Equitable housing for all.

If we can let Him trespass on the property rights of our souls

We can dwell in a new world mansion forever,

No more weapons, no more nightlights,

No security but His eternal light.

 

 

The housing of my skin is just like yours

A thin covering of dust which will return to dust, to dust, dust,

I simply must,

Get out of my skin and into your heart,

Like He has done to mine.

We will either cease and desist or we

Will live together forever.

 

It’s time to sing a psalm:

“We will dwell in Your House forever.”

Or not.

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Zechariah 2:5  “ ‘For I’, declares the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst’.”

Psalm 23:6  “Surely Your goodness and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

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What’s In Your Center?

A Devotional Thought on Christ-Centeredness

By Jane Tawel

June 7, 2016

As a lot of Christian businesses and churches do, at my work place we talk a lot about being “Christ-centered”.  Do we know what that means?

 

What does “centered” mean? The definition in the Oxford Dictionary is “having a central axis” and we Christians must believe that our “axis” goes through the whole earth. Our axis is the cross of Christ.  That central axis of Christ’s cross is true and it always points due North. So “centered” means our life compass points due North through the cross of Christ.

 

What does “Christ” or Cristos mean?  The Greek word “Cristos” means “the anointed one of God, The Lord”. The overriding biblical meaning of Christ is the anointed KING. So we are saying that we in this place, in this world, in this nation, city, office, house, in this community– serve Jesus the Cross bearer – the God-image bearer — as The King of the World. We serve.  Jesus spoke a lot about himself as the King and what His Kingdom and His followers were like – or where, and how and what His Center would be.

 

In John 18:37 We find Jesus confirming his kingly identity to a mere politician of this world, one who will soon put the Ruler of the Ages, The King of All Kings to death on a Roman cross.  Jesus tells Pilate. “For this was I born.” To be the King.

 

To His first disciples, Jesus offers no cheap grace. No excuses. No alternatives. If you want Jesus to be the center, if you want Him in charge, if you want to put His name on your propaganda, if you want to be Christ-centered, then you must do as He says.  Which of course would include the whole testimony of YHWH, all the laws and prophets, and God-spoken words which we find in the Old Testament.  Jehovah’s law was Christ’s law. “I came to fulfill the law, by my Kingly rule in my upside down Kingdom.” God’s word was in Christ– The Word –from the beginning. God’s word IS Christ. The Word of God in Christ is the Center of the universe, of time, of our history and of eternity.

 

Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do as I say?”

 

Jan Victors in “The Anointing of Jesus” writes:

 

To use the word “Lord” displays an attitude of obedient submission to a greater power.  Jesus seems even to expect that those who call him Lord obey him.  To his listeners he asked, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) To call him “Lord” or to call him Jesus “Christ” is to say that he is the King that God has sent who has a right to reign over us. 

This has implications about how we define ourselves as Christians.  Usually, we talk in terms of doctrines and beliefs, but the very word “Christ” calls us to more than assenting to a creed.  If Christ means King, a Christian is one who considers Jesus his Lord and King, and submits to his reign. (Victors, OurRabbiJesus.com)

 

So what does that mean? Well it means that our number one thing on our renewable daily “To Do List” is that, day by day, moment by moment, we live as if only Jesus were around and as if we were the only Jesus around – as if the image of God that was in Christ Jesus is in me.  You are created to be the image of the unseen God just as the True Image Bearer, Jesus The Christ, was and is.

 

At my  Christian school the faculty was asked to discuss the new and revised “Statement of Faith” that we all must sign. There were several folk who were discussing our Faith Statement and remarking that to them, the word “evangelical” which was used in several places, means different things to different people.  Not to put them down in the slightest, but let me just tell you what “evangelical” means to me.

Being “evangelical” means that I live as if the very most important thing in all the earth is the human soul. My soul.  And Your Soul. And that because my soul was created before time to be eternal. Ephesians 1:4 assures us that “even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

 

The Human Soul, which is every thing that sets us apart from all else, our mind, our heart, our will – that “very good” thing that God created is a valuable and valued thing to the holy, living Creative God, three in One, YHWH, Jesus Messiah, and the Holy Spirit alive in me.

 

Because of that, because I was bought with the greatest price a God can pay to redeem a human soul  from the weight of sin, the agony of death, and the curse of eternal separation from the Creator – God paid that price through His only Son with His death from the weight of my sin and as a propitiation on a cruel cross – because of that, then I must take to heart that what the bible says is true about the King and His eternal kingdom – a Kingdom established before Time, real in the present, and fulfilled with a new heaven and new earth in the future.

 

So what does The King say about how His redeemed should be centered in Him?

 

John 3:3 –  “You must be born again. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a human is born of the water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

 

Matt 16:26 – For what shall it profit a woman if she gains the whole world but forfeits her soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

Matthew 19:23: And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Matt. 23:25 – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

 

 

 

When is the last time I asked the King to point out the dirt inside my cup?  When is the last time I confessed my greed and self-indulgence?

 

We live in beautiful vessels – healthy, well dressed, nice colors of skin.  At my school, we claim to have Christ “in the center” of what we proclaim to be the most beautiful high school campus “of its kind” in the San Gabriel Valley.  But what “of its kind” is this place?

 

No matter if we call ourselves a Christ-centered school, or Christ-honoring church, or Christian nation, or a Jesus-Freak– If we are putting things on from the outside, with statements and policies, creeds and lifestyle statements,  fields and uniforms, trophies and landscaping, higher grades and deeper benefits, winning streaks and more free food — but our insides—the soul of us so to speak — are not washed clean by the blood, are not purged from sin, are not daily under the ministrations of His nail-scarred hands, then we are hypocrites. If we choose to hide or ignore the dirt – if we are more self-centered than Christ-centered – then what is at the center of us?

 

You know when you get those candy boxes and you aren’t sure what filling is inside – so you take a bite and quickly spit it back out because it is some ooey gooey fake berry filling and not the lovely caramel and nuts you had hoped for?  Our King says if His Bracingly Cold Fresh, Clean Living Water is not at our center – or if His Hot Purifying, Bathing, Cleansing Water is not at our center, then like a stale, icky Sees “lukewarm” candy, God will spit us out.

 

In Revelations 3 Jesus says as much to The Church at Laodicea – but He could be saying as much to me.

 

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

So here is my last “evangelical” word for now: He knows our centers. He formed my center. He adores your center. And He knows if Christ is there. I can’t put Christ’s name on the outside – it needs to be from my inside. We are commanded not to ever use The Lord’s name in vain – and in vain means I give Him credit He doesn’t want. It means I am really pushing my agenda ahead under my own steam, but just to make sure I want to use – in vain–without really turning anything over to Him – I want to use the power of His Holy Name – in case. Usually it means I put His name on something that rightfully belongs to this World’s kingdoms, and policies, and politics and powers. When my compass is off, then rather than journeying the central axis that leads due North, I am not only not centered, I am spinning around in circles, with an ever changing, ever confusing center.  I’m off center, not Christ- centered. No matter what I wish were true.

The King wants to know us for who we were best created to be – not okay, not so-so, the best. And He longs for us to know Him –Jesus Messiah– The Center of the Kingdom, The Center of it All.  “My sheep know my voice.”

 

In  Matthew 7: 21-23, Jesus looks at the human souls before Him in the final judgement and speaks these chilling words: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Evangelical? Definitely.

 

When I hear that from the Center of the World, I am very afraid. It’s sobering news. But it’s also good news! Because nothing else matters if you have Christ in the center. It’s doesn’t matter who will run this nation – that is peripheral – It doesn’t matter who wins the game – it’s a game. What matters is – the King is in the Center.  “Ring around the King –We all fall down – and worship.”  Evangelism means I ask every one: Is He in the center of your soul? Right now?

 

 

Jesus is very clear about how we are to live for Him.  We are to crucify ourselves  (Gal. 2:20) We are to put others before our own desires  — even our enemies – we are to not to merely tolerate, not be simply nice, not even to chivalrously turn the other cheek – we are to love others, even our enemies, as Christ loved us.  (Matt 5:44) We are to love God, YHWH, the Holy God with every part of our being – heart, mind, soul, and strength (Luke 10:27).  And we are to worship the Lord, the King – as a King above all kings and Lord above all lords. Rev. 19:16 on his robe and on his thigh it is written King above all kings and Lord above all lords.

 

I believe evangelical means that I can not shut up until every one knows intimately as a bride knows her bridegroom — the ruler of this universe – my King Jesus – until—

10  at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11)

 

I believe Christ- centered means I submit to the king as a servant of all and that I allow my soul to be refined for eternity, for if Christ is not in the Center of this very moment for me, then He is certainly not in the center of a place – school, family, nation, business office, house, or church building – all of which will pass away as all temporal things will.

If Jesus, The King is not sanctifying my innermost parts into His image daily, then He is certainly not at the center of my job, my family, or my friendships. With everything the world has to offer but without Christ in the Center— I am nothing. But Christ in me, means I have nothing in this world but everything in God.

We should be sobered – and elated both – that the description of The Christ that we are proclaiming to be in our very inner most centers comes from: Philippians 2:6-11

6     Jesus, The Christ —who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,[a] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

If today my soul were a piece of candy, what would be in my center?

 

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Happy Tom’s Day and Meacher Appreciation Week!

Happy Tom’s Day and Meacher Appreciation Week to You!

By Jane Tawel

May 7, 2016 Reflections the Day  Before “Mother’s Day” on Parenting and Teaching and Teaching and Parenting

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Okay, let’s say upfront — tomorrow is a Hallmark holiday. But hey, it is mine own Hallmark Holiday so with minimum fanfare and fat, we’ll celebrate it.  The best parts are always the cards that make me think I’m probably terminal but the kids haven’t told me yet, since they tend to gush about how great I am and always have been.  Later that day I will drive them crazy again making me hopeful I’m not –unbeknownst to me– dying of something.  My son I suspect will be terse and cheap — as he reminded me on my birthday, “Mom I didn’t buy you a present because I’d just have to use your money to buy it any way.” Good call, I gotta say.  Hope he’s always being that honest — especially when he tells me where he’s been until 11:00 pm at night.

This past week incidentally has also been Teacher Appreciation Week — now I think rather than teachers accepting mugs and apples and flowers and candy and free lunches during this week of appreciation, we should have just that one week, when like other government officials and professionals, we can accept bribes and slush funds — in the forms of cars, vacations, and monetary bonuses at least 4 figures long.  But hey, maybe I’ve been both a teacher and mother too long.  I have been both to the same four kids quite a long time too.  June 29 will mark 26 years of parenting plus the previous 9 months of gestation — which I count by the way.

So parenting and teaching always go hand in hand, whether you acknowledge one or the other or not.  Good parenting is like helping someone ride a horse.  At first the parent rides behind on a sturdy saddle, clutching the baby tightly and firmly speaking nonsense to both horse and child. As a toddler, you let the child ride along, ensconced in a very sturdy saddle but, you lead the horse. In fact you lead the horse AND the horse is tied to a pole that goes around in a very small circle. You have realized by the time you are out there alone with the reins clutched and your eyes on the child’s delighted or terrified face,  that all horses are dangerous and as a parent you are responsible for every waking and sleeping moment, every bump and poop pile in the road of your child’s life.  When the child hits the preteens and really begins to rebel against riding any horse, especially one that a parent has picked, you run behind with a long stick and you prod the horse or you run recklessly before the teen’s horse and coax  it forward with a carrot. Some time around then the mom begins to  stand on the sidelines cheering when your “baby” rides her horse over the hurtle, crying privately  when the horse throws the kid into the mud, and hugging your taller than you baby (sometimes you are only allowed to hug them in in your mind) when he comes home dirtied but safe, having learned a valuable lesson in riding through a day, or a test, or a broken relationship — riding through life all on his own.

Then one day Mom/ Teacher looks in amazement as the child has found and does new tricks on that one horse– the dream horse of a certain breed and color that your child can ride without any one holding the reins; she is riding it, flying through life’s courses bareback on her very own horse.  You had thought a few times while the child was growing up, that that horse would be his “dream horse” but you had no idea, what he could accomplish, could envision, could love in the way he rides that horse. That’s when you know you have parented and taught to the best of your ability — because that one horse is exactly the one your child was created to ride — it is her dream.  Your kids will still fall a lot and get hurt and you will often want to go grab them and ride with them in front of you holding on so tight they will never, ever get hurt again You are more than willing to take the falls for them.  But you can’t.  It’s not your horse any more. There isn’t a saddle for you. You can still cheer from the sidelines.  You can still cry when they break an arm.  You will pray your knees raw for them. You will be in agony if they are so badly hurt they can’t ride that horse any more.  But you will be okay with doing all of that.  Because you love them.  And you still have your own horse to ride.

Once you become a parent/ teacher or teacher/ parent you will have found your own horse to ride bareback.  No matter how many other horses come along to fulfill no matter how many of your  dreams — you will still be always and forever riding the horse that your child or your student gave you on that very first day you became a parent / teacher.  And your riding abilities better be pretty darn pliable because that child will put your heart through tricks and tumbles, turns and jumps you never ever thought you could or even knew you wanted to do. But I wouldn’t trade my parent/teacher rodeo for all the Rodeo Drives in the world!

 

All parents have the minds of teachers and all teachers have the hearts  of parents — because both of these life-roles — they are so much more than jobs, that the word “job” becomes a besmirching lie when used for either — both mother and teacher pour their hearts into the care of the child and both teacher and mother want the child to gain skills, to  grow, to learn, to gain wisdom and character, and to at least pass the SAT test, for Pete’s sake. Really we should have a hybrid name. It would be really useful when the calendar comes up with Mother’s Day and Teacher’s Week in the same week of the year.  We could all be called Meachers or Toms?  Paculty? or Farents?

We often say as teachers that our goal and our happiness are the same — to see “the lights go on” in  students’ minds. When you are teaching a young child, they are completely in the dark.  It is your house and you grab his sticky little hand, turn on a light  and start flipping switches in rooms and turning on lights.  You  turn a switch and they learn to say “Dada”; you turn on a light in the next room, and they learn to read Go Dog, Go; you turn on a light and in that room they learn to drive a car, go on a date, play the violin, or do calculus — or maybe that calculus room stays forever dark, like mine did, who knows.  But you are turning on lights and saying, “See!”  “What do you see here?”  “Do you like it?” “Sit here awhile”. “Turn the page.” “Watch out!”  “Slow down or you’ll trip, let me turn on the light first. See?  See? See?”

Now some teachers and parents get stuck thinking that it will always be their job to turn on the lights.  Of course, every kid knows that is not the case, so some teachers and parents think they are still holding the student’s hand and turning on the lights and that’s a wee bit sad. It’s a ghost hand.  The kid is in another room.  I still do it myself time and time again, and it’s sad.  But when you get teaching right, you move from the first stage of leading and turning on  the lights, to the second stage of still holding their hand, but letting them turn on their own lights, even though it’s still your house.  But the final stage is when you as a teacher/ parent are out in the front yard of the child’s  house and you aren’t in any of the rooms — if you did a good job, the kid will have a framed photograph of you on a couple of the walls, nicely backlit, but you it is not your house any more, you are on the outside looking in.

And as you watch in the gloaming of your life if you are so blessed, you see the most astounding thing — no matter how many students and how many kids you have “stalked’ — standing outside their houses — it will every time amaze and move you to tears, laughter, joy, and bittersweet memories and hopes– all at the same time.  Because you will be standing outside that house of that child’s and you will see– way in the back corner room, a little nightlight glow; and then in the upstairs front bedroom where in your house, you taught them how to correct their term papers, you will see a strong desk light turn on — like magic it seems– the child must have turned it on himself! The kitchen will light up bright and cheery — that’s where you put together puzzles and meals, sometimes mistakenly getting the pieces of them mixed up together with Waldo in the spaghetti sauce and cookie dough on the Santa Barbara Mission! And then the living room will become warmly lit from within, and through your tears of pride and the front room window,  you will see that child of yours hold her baby, read to his very own toddler, defend his dissertation, or change the oil in her  car, and you will know that you did turn on some very important and wonderful lights indeed  in the child’s heart and mind. Because that is how he can now  love and teach, teach and love,  how she can turn on some lights for her very own child and student — because that is how you first taught her.

The porch light will sometimes come on while you are standing out there in the front yard.  It is welcoming you in — but it is welcoming you into the no -longer- your- home. It is welcoming you as a student into your child’s home. When you become a teacher /parent you are  always a parent / teacher, and because of that you are always a curious child and an eager learner.   The front porch light means the Owner of the house is saying: ” I may not do it the way you did, I may not have gotten everything you thought you wished I got,  there are some things I didn’t learn, but others I never thought I could and maybe you didn’t either! –but I have this brightly lit house because of you Parent/ Teacher and now, I love you as my Friend. And now, I want to teach you. Now I want to parent you. Now I want to share my lights with you.  Come in. Watch out, don’t trip, let me get the light first. Have a seat. Let me show you something. See?  See?  See?”

 

I don’t know if today you as a teacher/ parent are in the riding – behind the child phase or the holding the reins of the toddler’s horse phase or in the watching silently from the sidelines phase of your parenthood.  I don’t know if you as a teacher are in the switching on the lights, pointing out the light switches, or standing outside the house watching all the brilliant chandeliers and nightlights and lava lights go on. But wherever you are, enjoy the ride, don’t be afraid of the dark, keep the lights burning so they always know they are welcome, and take a daring leap now and then on your very own special dream horse.

Don’t tell the kids, but every day is a special day for Farents and Paculty.  Where ever you are in your journey—

Happy Meachers/Tom’s Day to you!

 

A Poem: “You Have Grown Old With Me”

You Have Grown Old With Me

By Jane Tawel

April 9, 2016

This is a poem that is meant to be taken in several ways about several loved ones. 

You have grown old like I,

With me–You have grown old.

We share a lot of memories.

Your cheeks don’t sag like mine,

Your bone structure is better;

But you have more grey hairs on your chin,

Until probably the next time I look in the mirror.

I need to remember to ask you more politely to have a seat,

Not just bark out “sit!”– but old habits die hard and

We have used familiar, familial short- hand for many, many years.

 

I remember the day I met you.

You were so chipper, so lively, so bright.

Now you sleep a lot and snore too– you know you do.

Your eating habits have changed, much like mine,

Bones might stick in our throats, if we don’t use care.

I wish your breath didn’t sound so scary,

I wish mine didn’t stink so much.

 

When we pass folk on the street, no one remarks our cuteness any more.

We might as well be invisible grey ghosts and someday,

God willing, we will walk as ghosts in this world,

But as we once were here,

We will scamper in The Next.

Maybe you’ll take the lead– Next Time.

 

It makes me so sad to look at you, but you sure don’t ask much from me.

But then I don’t recall that you ever have.

A little tenderness, a little touch, good food in a bowl and warmth snuggled at night–

What else is there to expect or treasure in life?

You had it all.

And always tried to teach me that I did too —

I had it all, if only I could give up the anxious worrisome Wants.

 

You take my love as you always have–

Open hearted, always a joy to meet again.

You are all of yourself still and forever,

Falling in love with me, and letting me love you

As if it were the very first time,

I saw you,

In the pound,

Your whole body waving frantically

Barking your greetings

Ready to walk through life with me.

We chose the best in each other, hoping to keep bringing it out.

 

Now, these things must remain: faith, hope and love

And you and I have had all three.

We will walk together as we always have

Into death

Into a life forever young.

 

I love you, my pet.

Thank you for loving me.

A walk in the park
Dedicated to Daisy, Jolie, and Raoul

On Honeybirds and Hope

On Honeybirds and Hope

by Jane Tawel

March 28, 2016

Yesterday was my religion’s High Holy Day and what for years we called Easter but now some of us call Resurrection Sunday. On our front porch up in the ceiling on a hook that used to hold a porch swing but now doesn’t, a humming bird has made a nest. When my tall, handsome “I’m a man, Mom” son first saw the grey sack hanging there with something swarming around it, his Dad said he got scared and freaked out. Maybe he was thinking it was a bee’s nest or something. I was at work, so they had to show me the nest when I got home that day. Two days ago the bird was sitting still as a statue on the grey sack. If you have ever seen a humming bird can you imagine how hard it must be for momma bird to sit still? I thought – I know that look, you are getting ready to birth those little waiting lifes, aren’t you little momma? I don’t know how many bambinos humming birds birth or how long the gestation period is or what they look like when born, but I knew the determined expectant, fearful, hopeful look of that mamma’s every fiber.

 

This morning at 6:20 I went out to check on the nest. Momma is not there. I looked up all around the nest and didn’t see any tear -aways or holes so I’m hoping mamma bird just went out for breakfast. I hope nothing is amiss. I hope every thing is all right.

 

My children used to think humming birds were called “honey birds”. My four children were so adorable. I have said it before and I will say it again, I think Heaven might include a lot of do-overs – I get to do all the good parts over and over again. And then again.

 

I have discovered that many of my Western World Peers do not do anticipation very well. All of those great Anticipatory Church Holidays, like Advent, Lent, Good Friday – a lot of people don’t even know what they really are or mean any more and if they do, they really want to skip to the punch. Sort of like people I guess now do designer on -demand cesarean section births – I’m ready, so let’s get this over with and get to the baby part. Christianity has gotten to be where every one just wants to sing one praise chorus of “Just As I Am” and skip to the designer good baby part. New birth fast. Hallelujahs on demand, Tivo-ed every day. My husband and I see our son fighting the need to wait on things as he rushes to grow up. It is natural and it is also natural for parents who love him, so say, “Son, some things you need to wait on.” Because we all make mistakes when we get tired of waiting.

 

I wonder if Mama Honeybird got tired of waiting? I hope not. I hope she just went out for breakfast.

 

Can you imagine if God got tired of waiting?

 

One way the bible can be read is of a long, long story about centuries of people who get tired of waiting and the God who never does.

 

I think The Church is getting tired of waiting. Like Adam and Eve did. Like the Hebrew children in the Exodus did. Like Judas did.

 

And I think we daily want to skip right to the joy of Easter via the caesarian section of cheap born again life. We don’t know how important it is for that life to be born of cross carrying gestation. We want to skip Good Friday and all that it means about our sinfulness, our weightiness, our infirmities, which only Christ could carry to term at the cross. We want to shout “He is risen” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and so we miss what the anticipation of “Sunday’s Comin’” could mean in our lives, in the world, in Eternity. Because if we aren’t carrying our cross to term, then we can’t really love others and we certainly can not know, worship and love a holy God who wants to carry us to term into a new, re-created, perfect eternal life forever. Jesus doesn’t offer to birth us free from pain and mess, but He births us in and by the bloody placenta of the Cross. God banished Adam and Eve from a perfect world with many offerings of His grace, and the extreme pain of giving birth was one of those graces. Because without understanding that because of fallenness and sin, we must with some amount of pain birth all human creation — children, art, clean dishes, fields of fruit, microchips, vaccines, novels–birth with sweat, and toil and pain– if we didn’t have that pain, then we wouldn’t need a Savior and we would forever give up the anticipatory hope of a new creation in us and in the whole world. The very, very best part of Resurrection Sunday, is that Jesus willingly had to die to get to it.

 

If I am not dying to something in myself, daily, making every day a Friday, then I will never know the glory of being resurrected into new life on Sunday. “I am crucified with Christ”…. Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…….

 

“NEVER THELESS I LIVE!”

 

Jesus did not skip the cross to get to the glory. And neither can I. But He carried the Lion’s share for me, for us. Christ had no idea what the end of the suffering would bring, there was no “spiritual heaven-sent sonogram” to predict the ending. But He knew the Father and He knew that He had to carry the kingdom to the end of it’s gestation period, no matter how agonizingly horrible and painful and lonely it was. He saw the pregnancy through to the bitter end, and birthed a whole new world, a whole new creation on Resurrection Sunday.  And just like I long to do with my little birthed biological children, He longs to daily offer us do-overs – He is walking along, holding our hands, carrying the heaviest parts of our crosses, warning us to be careful crossing the street, laughing and holding and snuggling, and disciplining and admonishing and guiding and investing in our futures. If we rush to grow up, we will make mistakes. If we trust in our Father,and let His Son guide us, live in us,  we will have eternal life.

 

And that is why we anticipate The Christ’s coming once more in the flesh, in person to reign in the world forever. Because that Resurrection Sunday, when Christ’s children are eternally resurrected to live with Him. That Sunday will mean the end of all anticipation – all pain, all sin, all sorrow, and all death. That Resurrection Sunday is what we are preparing for. That is the end of Good Fridays. That means Hallelujahs every day. He is risen. Indeed. Easter Morning my husband made this English nerd’s day by coming up with synonyms of the “indeed” part of that liturgical phrase.   He played around with, “He is risen also.” Nope. “He is risen in fact.” Okay. And then he hit on it. “He is risen, Kapow!”. And so we joyfully throughout the day, would proclaim, “Christ is risen! He is risen KAPOW!” It was after all, a very Kapow thing for God to do.

 

I was hoping to see Honeybird give birth. But all I saw was her waiting vigil, her anticipatory expectation. That is my world, sitting vigil on a planet of people groaning in expectation of something better, something cleaner, something more loving, and more just, and more true. A world groaning to be born again. We, Christ’s church, Christ’s body, are called to wait vigil for Christ’s return and to midwife the new birth for the whole world that He died for. However you are called to do that today, know that as Paul discovered when he turned his whole world upside down for Jesus and helped midwife Christianity in the process, know as you go about your life today, as Paul says in Romans 8: 18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

 

Just like in the agony of childbirth I could never have imagined how wonderful it would be, to be the mom of such four wonder-full children, so too, do we see only vaguely how wonder-full the world will be when it is fully gestated and brought to new birth, new creation when Christ comes again to reign forever. The paradox remains that as we strive to give the world new birth, Jesus longs to be born in us. That is the glory in us He died to reveal. That is what our present sufferings mean if we live into His Story, waiting patiently for all Christ’s birth, death and resurrection mean in our lives and in the world. “But you beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 1:21)

 

Come, Lord Jesus. We wait and hope.

 

God is still waiting – with the anticipation and joy of a loving, doting father to celebrate for eternity –our birth. YHWH is the suffering God, who through His Suffering Servant Jesus, and His death and resurrection, offered each of us Life – real life, abundant life, not just 15 minutes but an eternity of all we now merely dream could be real life. This world of pain will seem like some weird Reality Show compared to our real life in Christ’s kingdom, and our souls will realize that life outside the womb of these present sufferings, is all life was always meant to be, a wonder-full reality of relationship with our Creator and Lord, an eternity of walking hand in hand in the Garden with the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus the Messiah.

 

Like my son, once you know the reality, then faith keeps you from freaking out. Like the Honeybird, once you take up the task of painfully gestating God’s love in you and in the world, you can live daily with anticipatory hope in the Pregnant Pause of Christ’s Kingdom. He is Risen. Kapow!

 

photo 1-16

 

Because it never gets old:

“Hope is the Thing with Feathers” By Emily Dickinson

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

 

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

 

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

 

 

On Politics in America, The Wonderland

How to Make It Through This Political Season in America, The Wonderland

by Jane Tawel

March 12, 2016

As Christians we should be gladdened that God is trying to get us out of Egypt.  Read Exodus though and you will find that just like the Hebrews, we are trying to cling to the kingdom we know even though it abuses and confuses us.  Even though it is anti-YHWH.

I’m talking about the American Government — or Pharaoh. It feels as though America is sprinting backwards as fast as its reactionary citizens can run in this shape-shifting political season of Donald, and Hillary, Bernie, Ted,  John, Ben, Paul and George (not Ringo, so far, but you never know).  It should finally be clicking in that America is not — nor ever has been a “Christian Nation” –there isn’t such a thing.  And whether a ruler imposes the name of our God on his / her agenda or not, authorities in the kingdoms of the world are all the same. They all want to rule Egypt as pharaohs. They are all misled and misleading; they are all fragile and foolish; they are all power-hungry and greedy;  they are all of this world and in it; But ironically, they are all used — even the non-Godly ones– by and for the purposes of our One True and Only Jehovah.  Read Exodus.  God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” and then “unhardened”. Then hardened. Then unhardened.   In the New Testament we are told that all authorities are under God’s management.(Romans 13:1) Oh yes,  all authorities — those who live in teepees and those who live in toupees. That thought is both a source of confusion and confidence for me. I don’t need to figure every thing out — not what has happened in the past nor what I imagine might happen in the future.  I just need to do the right thing.  So my advice during this time of and during all times — make your bible a well worn map, listen to a lot to people who know God, contemplate how Jesus did it, worship only God and serve only the Savior, pray thankful prayers a lot (be thankful for America!), and then do the right thing.  Just. Do. The. Right. Thing. Period.

So what do we do during this Age and in the particular temporary and flawed nation that we happen to inhabit until Christ’s Kingdom comes into its complete fullness? Well, first we thank the Lord for continually offering us new wineskins. America has been a wonderful wineskin. Praise God. But the ole’ U.S. A., ain’t the wine, so to speak. No nation is. No– the wine? –That is Christ’s blood and only Christ’s. Secondly, we thank Christ for offering us a new lens to see with. “Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light” indeed!  Can you see instead by Christ’s morning star light?  And thirdly, we understand as Ecclesiastes says that there is really nothing new under the sun, not even American-born Pharoahs, not even Egyptian Congressmen. “For all we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”. (Isaiah 53:6) I loved Obama’s Hope campaign, but Isaiah 53 — read it all sometime— goes on to say “He was oppressed and afflicted yet he opened not his mouth (vs.7).”  Imagine that as a Hope campaign in this political season of wide open mouths who combine false hopes with blame — for everyone for everything. Finally, get out there in a counter revolutionary campaign for the Son of Man who bears our grief and sorrows, who takes on the whole world’s sins while others take on the whole world’s PAC money. Campaign for a kingdom where everyone wants to be like that Man. No walls. No Defense Departments. No taxes. Just complete death to self and glorious life in Christ.

As far as politics, I recommend a reread of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Begin with the introduction, in which he tells the reader that this is not an allegory about the Soviet Union as so many Jr. High English Teachers mistakenly teach.  It is an allegory about all kingdoms of this world, which all eventually so intimately love power and money  that they become dictatorships.  All governments eventually betray their people because they worship power and self-love –including governments, as Orwell points out, such as Socialist Europe and Capitalist America.

A good start is also to recognize that America is not a democracy and that even if it were, humans’ ideas of democracy are horribly flawed at best, sinful at worst anyway.  We were a sort of republic in simpler times, we are now a dictatorship run by an oligarchy.  The oligarchy is all those you might imagine — big businesses, special interests, lobby groups, congress, judges, presidents — you name it– that worship the idols of power and money — all that put a holy God’s name on their own self interests or the interests of, yes, a wonderful nation like America.  They are not always evil.  They are sometimes just fooling themselves rather than you. They are all mistaken and misled, though. You know, when God saved the Hebrews from the slavery of Egypt, they too, remembered Egypt with much fondness and longed to be back in the land where their guts were satiated and their television shows made them laugh, where their responsibilities and benefits were determined by the government and where they could own assault  weapons (oops, told you all nations blur into one after a while).  The Chosen People of God wanted the reality shows of Egypt rather than the reality of a living God living amongst them.

I am not advising you to hate America and grow a cynical distain that thickens the heart along with the skin. America has been and is an amazing country. I am advising you not to mistake America for a permanent place to live. As is — this world is not our home. Not as is. I am not advising you not to vote although it is an option. Voting is a good right to exercise in a world in which many even today do not have the right to vote.  But a vote for any one candidate will not change things much.  Only you can do that — only you with one little God-seed at a time planted by your own hand. I am not advising you not to think– not optional at all — I hope. But thinking just with a world-trained mind is highly over-rated.  “May this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”. Read the rest of Philippians 2.  Jesus was a pretty radical candidate for Messiah.

One thing I am saying, is that when you say the Republican party has changed or how could we vote for a socialist or whatever you are saying during what seems to be an American free-fall into Wonderland–playing card politicians and all– please realize that as Solomon warned you: to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. But in the end, no matter the season,  the ever changing nations never really change that much– since The Fall, they are all chimerical foundations built on sand all of which shall end and end and end again. But also, thankfully, there is no change ever in the everlasting personal relationship of The Church founded on The Rock of Our God and His Kingdom — which shall have no end. “For I the Lord do not change, therefore you, sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:6) In order not to be consumed by the things of this world, this season, this nation — in order not to be consumed for eternity –one must join the right party — the party of the Chosen People, the people of God and of His Son, Jesus.  Vote for Jesus. Jesus changed the whole thing.  Jesus was a paradigm shift.  Jesus wants to change you.  He wants you then to, as Gandhi said, “Be the change”.  Jesus wants the whole world to know that everything changed on Calvary and that His upside down kingdom changes today into eternity. Vote for Jesus.

This is the time to look inside yourself and spend more time in God’s Holy Word and more time praying and talking and walking with Jesus.  Because those things — His Word and His Word Made Flesh — will actually never change.  Anyone know Pharaoh’s name?  Nope. And neither will anyone in Eternity remember who won this election.  We all have new names there anyway. There — “every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and every tongue proclaim that Jesus the Christ is King, Lord, President, Ruler.” (Phil. 2:10) He is the dictator who changes hearts, changes nations, changes the whole thing –on the cross. Not as paltry President. But as a King. The King of kings, The Lord of lords. Vote for Jesus for King.

Spend more time with Jesus and study God’s Word than you spend watching politicians and following elections and then, you will not just know how to vote right, but you will know how to live right.  Forever.

daniel kingdom image

Who You Gonna’Serve?

Who You Gonna’ Serve?

by Jane Tawel

February 20, 2016

 

These days there is a lot of discussion about the religion of Mohammad. My alma mater is buzzing about whether Muslims do in fact worship the same God that Jews and Christians worship.  I find this hilarious in some equally sad ways, since if you study the history of any of these religions but especially of the founder of Islam, Mohammad, then you get a pretty clear idea that they don’t really want to claim that they worship the same God– unless it works in their favor. Human nature, of course. That’s why these three religions fight each other. But if you step away from religion and try to find God or true Truth, then you can look not only outside yourself but inside your own soul. It is helpful to read Jesus’ words to both the Pharisees and the pagans. It might be helpful to read stories about people who just wanted to get into a closer relationship with Elohim, genus God, Creator, and YHWH, the God of his chosen people, and Jesus, only begotten Son of God. Motivation matters. It really does. Just ask the Holy Spirit. LOL.

See here’s the thing. As I read through the Bible, study theology, pray, worship, fellowship, I ask myself frankly: Do most people who claim Christianity worship the “One True God”? Do I ???? One of the  most sobering stories in the New Testament is the one Jesus tells about  judgment day  when God says to those who claimed His name, “I never knew you.”

Matthew 7: 21 – 23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

The will of the Father. You have to know the Father, to know His will. From the story of Eden, to the Song of Solomon to the parables of Jesus about the bride and bridegroom, humans are called, nay, required to be in intimate relationship with the One True God. We were created to function best in intimate worshipful relationship to our Creator. Verse after verse in the revealed Holy Word of the Only God states over and over, “there is no one like our God”. Jeremiah, Psalms, Philippians, the words of Jesus who says, “I come to do the will of the Father.”  Jacob wrestles with God, Moses communes for weeks on a mountain with God, Mary magnifies God, Jesus goes away again and again from  everyone to be with His Father. The word “know” in scripture is often the same word for sexual intercourse.  To know someone as completely as you possibly can. To be one with them — one body, one mind, one heart, one soul. To know – to be obsessed — to know is to truly love and worship One God. Imagine — a God that wants to be known. A God that wants to know me but leaves it up to me to decide — do I want to walk in the Garden daily with God, knowing Him better and better, more intimately than I know myself?

As the famous sermon by S.M. Lockridge asks, “Do you know Him?”

Bonhoeffer warned us quite a while ago about the dangers of cheap grace and like a Walmart economy where the rich get richer and poor poorer, we have so cheapened the value of our eternal souls that it is no wonder we want to offer others the cheap love we have settled for.   The cheap grace.The cheap me. The cheap god.

Since The Fall we have refused to understand that the Accuser will use the good things of God, like our poor understanding of love, to convince us that pride is not a sin. The question is: Who is on the throne of my life? Christ wants to be more than our buddy, He wants to be our King. He is the King who came to redeem the world from evil and death because only God could do it.  Ephesians 6: 12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  As another great prophet whose name in this world, is Bob Dylan, sang, “You gonna’ have to serve somebody.”  Who you gonna’ serve?

We live in a world that believes in the power of the individual and that you can accomplish any dream you want to accomplish and that you deserve to feel good because you are you.  This load of lies has infected the world with the worst disease there is, a disease of false pride and lies about the way the world really works, and this disease of pride and sin always leads to death — the eternal death of the soul.  Only one God can save us. The God of the Bible, the God of His Chosen People, the God of Jesus. Do you know Him? Do you know His dreams for you and for His world? Do I long more than any thing for others, no matter who or where, to know the love and salvation of my God?

Do you know the God– as best we can ever know Him this side of the veil– that is revealed through The only Holy Scriptures and the Only Holy Son? Period. End stop. Either Christ is at the center — Israel –Christ– The Church — all circles flowing out, concentric, joined, ever widening circles from the Center, “the way the Truth and the light” — joined with God come to earth to His people in YHWH , in Christ — either at the center of my life or He is not. Each minute of my life is in fact a challenge to “Day by day.. see Him more clearly, love Him more dearly and follow him more nearly. Day by day.”(Godspell) Lord have mercy, on me a sinner.

When all is said and done, it is not what I call myself, it is what I call Him. Do I call Him King of the Universe? King of my life? Savior. Lord. I Am.

Someday He will come to judge the living and the dead, and all nations shall bow at His feet. He will know –no matter how falsely  we judged each other– whether we in fact knew and served Him  in the truth revealed to us. We will enter a new creation or not — beginning now, fulfilled at the end of time– and  no matter how we come to hear about Him, we are only redeemed by whether or not we know Him and He knows us. If you are a visual learner, regard Calvary and the blood that was shed for us.

For a great historical  and theological paradigm shift on this, read as I am, N.T. Wright’s Simply Jesus. Studying history  as objectively as possible through the lens of the Judeo -Christian worldview, can help quite a lot too with looking truth in the face. Jesus was pretty clear about who He was and what He came to do, to “those who had / have ears” to hear. We must unashamedly know what we believe and then ask daily and humbly as the great saints have and as Frances Schaeffer famously quipped, “How shall we then live?” No matter how rich, how powerful, how humble, how needy, how religious you are, you’re gonna’ serve somebody.  Don’t leave it til the End, to figure out who you really serve. And on a happy note — I have found today gets a lot better and clearer and more peaceful and joyful, if I with extreme humility, try to serve the One True God in some faltering way, step by step starting here, starting now. Today is a great day to serve the One True Somebody. Become a Nobody in the One Body –given for us, alive in us.

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Might be a rock’n’ roll adict prancing on the stage
Might have money and drugs at your commands, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a state trooper, you might be an young turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody’s landlord you might even own banks.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may call me Terry, you may call me Jimmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say.

You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

 

Ash Wednesday from 2015

ash wed

 

I thought I might post this again, to remind myself to pray for those truly suffering throughout the world for the cause of Christ.  My silly first world self is embarrassed even to post this.  But I wanted to remind myself as I celebrate Ash Wednesday and what has become a very meaningful church day for me, that there are many who cannot worship in freedom or truth but who still do. There are those who still suffer for the sake of telling others about a King of kings and Lord of lords, about a Messiah for the world, a Savior, He who suffered, was crucified, buried and risen on the third day, who will come again and make all things new. Long ago in a midwestern galaxy far, far away, I memorized this as a sort of “life verse”  Galations 2:20:  For I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live.  Yet not I but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”  “Happy” Ash Wednesday!

Ash Wednesday 2015

Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I can’t put words together well today. Every time I try to think about any thing about the endless irritating meeting today or the fight I had with my child or how old I look these days. I think of the families of these 21 men:

  1. Milad Makeen Zaky
  2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
  3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
  4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
  5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
  6. Bishoy Astafanus Karnel
  7.  Somaily Astafanus Karnel
  8.  Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
  9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
  10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
  11. Mina Fayez Aziz
  12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
  13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
  14. Samuel Alham Wilson
  15. Worker from Awr village
  16.  Ezat Bishri Naseef
  17. Loqa Nagaty
  18. Gaber Munir Adly
  19. Esam Badir Samir
  20.  Malak Farag Abram
  21.  Sarneh Salah Faruq

Since seeing their names on Monday after their martyrdom Sunday February 15, 2015, I have been going down the list holding each name and each name’s family in prayer. These are my brothers in Christ who took up His cross in the realest way possible. These are my fellow humans who went to a dangerous country because they wanted work – a job – a way to bring food to their families. For bread, they embodied Christ’s body, the Bread of Life.

The one I can’t stop thinking about is “Worker from Awr village”. Did he refuse to give his name because he feared for his family if a name was given? Or did they simply not bother to find out his name? What is his secret name now, the name that Christ hands him written on a white stone?

The ones I cannot pray for, and God forgive me, but I can’t are the executioners who are as much in need of Light and Life as any of us. I managed a small little thought for them this morning on my 5:00 am jog – God help my violently angry unbelief. I felt some grief for those who kill others. But I just cannot focus on my “real life” today. I couldn’t jog today because tears kept blurring the pavement so I walked carefully, like there were hidden bombs.

I went to All Saint’s for early Lenten service. I’m sure they thought I was crying for something in my personal life—I couldn’t seem to stop. I thankfully saved myself from saying, “I am crying for the 21 Egyptian martyrs.” Thankful because I do not even deserve to mourn them, in my dress and boots and jacket, and my stomach turning from going one stupid day without gorging on food, and the beautiful well cared for church, and driving away in my Prius, off to a job in an office – Oh, God, how can I even claim your Son as my Lord when my offering is nothing compared to the world’s martyrs?

My cheap tears offered up on Ash Wednesday for the mothers of martyrs. My easy pride laid down next to the poorness of spirit –the heart – ache –of the fathers of the 21 martyrs. My worries about safety blasted to smithereens by the dangerous world my brothers and sisters live in daily so that they can eat. My old face staring back accusingly with my head wobbling still on my scrawny old neck while 21 families see in their hearts’ eyes the heads of their loved ones lying in the dirt. My paltry prayers for my four children as weak as kittens next to the Lion of Judah alive in these great saints.

My cheap grace – surely God would forgive me if I denied Him? Isn’t my life more important than the Truth? My Walmart Grace.

What is it like to be like Kara and Casey and Malak and Bishoy and Worker from Anw Village and untold others throughout history who love Jesus enough to lay down their lives?

I tried to explain my grief today to someone who told me, “Stop, I can’t think about that. I won’t be able to go on working if I let myself think about that.”

We should not be able to go on.

We should not be able to go on as if nothing has changed.

We should let every thing change in us.

Twenty-one. 21. Plus. Plus. Plus. Plus. Each day, across a “civilized”, “evolved” world, a human soul murders another human soul. Souls kill themselves with darkness and souls die because they will not deny the Light. Someone chooses death rather than The Life. Someone chooses Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Someone dies because he or she will not deny the Lord. They are all souls. All souls. All saints. All created by The Word. All making choices that mean life or death. But we are still not understanding which ones died when the 21 were martyred and which ones lived — eternally. Twenty-one truly lived. Twenty-one died to live again. Twenty-one now truly and really live. Resurrected. Living with The Christ they love. And their families weep and weep and weep. And the families of the murderers weep, and weep and weep. Do I know what it is to die to Christ, so that “yet I may live”?  My life was bought at great price but I live it so cheaply.

I have no words for my shame and my ignorance.

I have no words for a grief that should fill the whole world.

I am only thankful for this day, Ash Wednesday, to “mourn with those who mourn”.

Oh, God, forgive me for thinking I am worthy to someday stand near them and rejoice with them. I am too afraid to even pray to be made worthy.

Forgive me. Help me. Accept my cheap tears. Hear our prayers.

Amen.

On David Bowie and Neil Young: Starman vs. Southern Man

by Jane Tawel

Musings on David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken

January 16, 2016

First let me say that I believe I am correct that none of these people have died yet, except I’m pretty sure David Bowie died. Oh, and Alan Rickman died too.  If I am wrong please feel free to comment to that effect but you should know first that my definition of getting old is that “you don’t remember if someone is dead or not”. By next week I’ll probably not be sure if Bowie died or not. I’m pretty sure Paul Newman died. And that makes me sad.

Everyone has been “honoring” David Bowie and Alan Rickman with tears and Facebook RIP’s and sorrow to the extent of “I was privileged to live at the same time as Bowie” posts  and tee shirts.  I imagine women in labor this past week couldn’t wait to be the first to name their little ones Bowie or Starman or Snape.

I liked Alan Rickman as an actor and I grew up with a few David Bowie classics but I didn’t post anything about them because I haven’t posted anything about them in my entire life up until now, so I’m not sure why I would suddenly proclaim and declaim about them when they died.   Just not my style maybe — not my flavor of the week to do this, though next week if someone famous dies, I might. This morning I was watching the down- right adorable and cute James Corden and Adele “Karaoke Car Ride” Youtube — so if one of them dies this week, I might online mourn them.  That would make me sad. If I remembered that they died.

What I mourn is the sad passing of important careers and historic moments. That is– careers I consider amazingly important and historic moments of my life, of course. Mourning people means I miss them. I lost them. I’m sad because they aren’t here anymore. That’s a bit tricky with famous people since I didn’t know them and I can still listen to them or watch them any time I desire.  What we mourn with the passing of famous people is the passing of the time or event of our own lives they represent.  For instance, when my daughter Justine was still at home, she  and I liked Alan Rickman movies. My husband Raoul likes David Bowie songs and had Verity and Gordon put some of Bowie’s tunes on Raoul’s “Favorites”.  I messaged privately Justine this week about Alan Rickman’s passing.  He was a connector and I was sad he was gone because mostly I was sad Justine was gone and those years with her and Rickman as Snape were gone. I’m sad Bowie is gone because he represents a time to Raoul when my husband was young and could dance to weird 80’s music. This means of course I am also sad that Fred Rogers is gone, and The Teletubbies are gone and Little Joe is gone and Audrey Hepburn is gone and Gilbert is gone. Because all those good years with good people I love are — gone.  But back to Bowie and Rickman who are gone. (Right?)

I liked that fact that David Bowie was married to Iman. For 24 years! I have no doubt Iman is truly mourning the death of David Bowie.  I liked Alan Rickman in the weird indies — “Snow cake” and  “Bottle Shock”. I liked him as Snape until  J.K. Rowling cheated and wouldn’t decide in the end if he was evil or good.  Rickman played it so it could have gone either way — just like all our real lives– they could go either way.  It wasn’t Rickman’s  fault Rowling cheated us.

I was in fact shaped by the artistry and often profoundly meaningful lyrics of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.  Young is an amazing musician and if you haven’t heard his guitar riffs then you are indeed missing something. Don’t listen to him though if you prefer voices auto tuned.  His is not.

I feel like posting some Neil Young music for you on Facebook — right now– so you can see how great his music is. Unless he just died.  Then I’d feel hypocritical. After this blog and all that.

Joni Mitchell was concerned about the environment before anyone had heard the term “global warming” and she taught me in her songs that relationships are worth crying over if they don’t work out, not songs about giving the guy the finger and moving on to the next one.

When I saw Christopher Walken in Deerhunter  I thought I would  never get his performance out of my head. Checking…. Yep, it’s still there.  And in my youth, Meryl Streep did more for  strengthening the cause of strong, vibrant, talented women  than Mother Teresa and Hillary combined. Acting as an art form took on a whole new meaning with actors like Streep.

Young, Bowie, Mitchell, Streep, Rickman, Walken — all of them had in common two things that I guess spoke to me — at least in the beginning, they went for Art, not for Fame.  And they were all odd. Odd looking and odd acting. Like me. So I guess even though they were known artists, they felt like someone who could speak my language. The difference was –They just turned my language into art — and got paid for it.  Of course fame happens– just like sh–.  And once fame happens, well something usually — not always, mind, but usually — happens to art and oddity. Didn’t someone once say, “Fame corrupts and absolute fame corrupts absolutely”?  Yep — synonym implied.

Perhaps art will never be the same now that it moves through the world faster than Florence Griffith-Joyner as byte files and lives like “Rocketman” mostly in i-clouds.(Yes, I know that’s an Elton John song not a Bowie song — speaking of odd artists I used to love who became famous….)  (Is Elton John still alive?)

Perhaps art will never be the same now that we have twenty plus “producers” and we have marketing experts and we have focus groups and we have reality tv stars and we have more channels and musicians and actors than we could possibly ever know about. There is a lot to be liked about our brave new world and a lot to applaud. But that doesn’t mean I can’t facebook-mourn what “It” was and is no more.  No matter what we gain in the world of music and cinema and media, we have lost something I can only describe as something tactile and patient.

There was something different about sitting in a room holding the source of music in your hands.  There was something different about having a room filled with music that other people could (or had to!) hear. There was something different about fighting over who in the room had to get up to turn the channel. There was something different about having to wait until you got home to find out about it, having to wait until it came out  to watch it, having to wait until it came on the radio to hear it. It all used to be something you felt you could hold and somehow it would hold you back. It used to require a waiting period and then — It was– like a surprise — like a sudden rainbow — like a gift.

There is something different about artists not caring about fame — not caring about anything more important than changing the world.  There is something different about people being odd not because it got them noticed but because they couldn’t help it. I don’t know how to facebook the difference to make any difference in how people see things. I guess it doesn’t make any difference anyway. I have my memories and will mourn the passing of those moments spent in the company of family and friends and great people . And I’ll try to keep carving out new memories — with family and friends and new odd artists who maybe want to change the world as well.  Or maybe artists who just want to change the moment.  And that is a very nice gift to we commoners as well.

So here’s to all the odd artists still living (as far as I know).  I guess I can’t include Adele any more. As odd that is.  I think she’s still alive. Isn’t she?

Christopher-Walken-The-Deer-Hunter