Undertow

Ripping tides,

throwing horses,

hurling seabirds to the sky,

thrashing rock into sand, wrecking

the abandoned homes of limpets and clams,

reducing it all to grit and foam,

beaching itself in exhaustion,

receding;

the sand dries,

the rock stands

and starfish wait like wishes

for the next rising tide: such is my prayer;

beware of the undertow.

It has a warrant of its own.

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Absolute mercy

A sermon for Morning Prayer online from the Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, Ohio


You have heard it said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But I say to you that grace redeems, and absolute grace redeems absolutely.

I wonder of whom Peter was thinking when he asked his strangely specific question about forgiveness. Was he thinking of his own brother and fellow apostle, Andrew? Or did they have another sibling left at home? Perhaps he meant Judas, his fellow disciples; maybe he had some premonition of an almost unforgiveable betrayal.

Joseph’s brothers, likewise, are afraid that there is a limit to Joseph’s magnanimity. They are keeping score: how many bags of grain has Joseph added to their debt of guilt for throwing him in the pit and selling him to strangers? How could they ever pay off the burden of his forgiveness?

Joseph was a prophet. He knew how to interpret dreams and messages from the heart of God. He had glimpsed the purposes of the Divine. He was overcome by God’s Spirit of mercy and grace. How else could he forgive all that his brothers had done to him, and all that they owed to him? Only by operating in a different economy than seven times seven, than the one that keeps score.

For mortals, as Jesus says elsewhere, it is impossible; but for God all things are possible.

Peter’s question to Jesus was personal, but Jesus’ answer was a parable. It’s a parable, a parody of what happens when we forget to factor grace into our everyday calculations, when we fail to forgive.

Torturing the deplorable debtor is not going to get any payback out of him. It doesn’t make anyone’s situation better. And that’s the point: this is the trap we fall into when grace is answered with accountancy, and forgiveness with comeuppance.

We still have, by the way, debtors’ prisons, where people remain incarcerated because they cannot afford the price of their freedom. They are still unjust, and still unhelpful. Many of those freedom funds that some of us contributed to during the protests earlier this summer following the killing of George Floyd were already set up and ready to assist those taken off the streets because of the pre-existing conditions that lead to people being imprisoned punitively for being unable to pay their way out of jail. There are still people waiting for the good news of the kingdom, and the release of the captives that Jesus and the prophets promised.

But back to the story. The threat that hangs over and hangs from this parable is not that God will send us to hell until we pay what we owe – where is the sense in that? How would that even work? Where is the God of mercy and steadfast faithfulness in that story, slow to anger and of great kindness? Where is the God who so loved the world?

No, the threat, the risk of the parable is that we, like the servant, who have known grace, like the servant, forget to live like it. That our sense of justice, like his, is based on fear; on no one being any more free, or any more forgiven, any more loved than we are.

Josephs’ brothers were afraid that his mercy was not real, because they could not imagine being that merciful themselves. The servant was afraid that his king would change his mind and call in his debt after all, and his mistrust of mercy, and his failure to multiply it, made him do terrible things, and led to his own downfall, and perpetuated the systems of injustice that surrounded him. He put his fellow slave in prison and he pulled his king back from the brink of forgiveness and a real awakening of compassionate justice.

Peter asked Jesus just how many times he must forgive his brother, and Jesus told him that instead of counting out grace like small change, he should, we should, remember the mercy we have experienced before the throne of God, and count our blessings. Because while our hearts are busy doing that, and running out of hands and fingers to count on, it is so much harder to hold a grudge.

But the biggest shift is in trusting that mercy itself is real; that even if we fail at it seven times seventy times, God’s capacity for forgiveness is immense.

Isn’t that what Jesus came to show us, in life, in death, in resurrection, and in parables? That God loves you, more even than you love yourself?

Absolute power. Absolute grace. Absolute mercy. Imagine what absolute love can do.

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Bless, and do not curse or kill

A sermon for August 30, 2020, at the Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, Ohio. The readings are from Romans 12:9-21, and Matthew 16:21-28


Peter is angry with Jesus because the man is going to get himself arrested, or worse, killed, if he carries on this way. And Jesus knows it and he doesn’t even seem to care! Peter cannot understand why it all has to happen now. Why Jesus can’t just take a step back and wait for, I don’t know, a better time to be the Messiah. A better time for the coming of God’s kingdom.

But what is a better time than now to do what is right, to love what is good, to hate what is evil, to bless; to bless and not to kill?

I am angry. I’m angry that a man can be shot in the back seven times and the next act is to shackle him to his hospital bed. I’m angry that a teenager can be urged and encouraged and armed and driven to the occasion to commit homicide. I’m angry that even the weather has turned violent, killing randomly and destroying homes and families, mirroring our own violence against our environment. I am upset that we have not yet found our way into the kingdom of God.

Peter is angry, I’m angry, and we each struggle to see the way forward.

Then there’s Jesus.

Do not set your mind on earthly things, he admonishes. Don’t get mired in anger and defeat. Do heal the sick, do bring good news to the poor, do raise up the broken-hearted; but don’t confuse crucifixion with failure. Don’t conflate the Christ’s arrest by corrupt and complicit authorities with wrongdoing. Don’t give up on God’s will be done. Keep the faith.

Love what is good, hate what is evil and put it away from you. Bless, and do not curse or kill. Do not return evil for evil, but leave room for the vengeance of God, and for the hope of the Resurrection.

To quote from the letter to the Hebrews,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

He will judge the living and the dead. In his mercy, and in the grace of God’s kingdom, we rest our trust.

Amen.

 

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Friday

Breaking open

pistachios by the Friday fire,

pitching shells toward the pit.

I wonder whom the meat of casements

that arrive empty fed. Others

refuse to open, peeling back my thumb

nails; I surrender,

hurl them to the fire.

A moth drifts singeingly close,

riding the updraft like a bird of prey,

pretending grandeur.

All around the fire pit, pistachio

shells litter the scorched earth, fallen

short or saved by a small miracle:

the ricochet of bleached

bones off burnt wood.

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Crumbs

A sermon for Morning Prayer online from the Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, Ohio. The readings for Year A Proper 15 include the story of the Canaanite (or Syro-Phoenician) woman imploring Jesus for help for her child.


It strains credibility that Jesus, having fed the five thousand and healed the multitudes, who had travelled deep into the trans Jordan to heal the man of the Gadarenes and cast his demons into swine; that this Jesus, faced with the prospect of a mother’s grief would say, “I’ve got nothing for you.” (Matthew 15: 21-28)

Jesus knew better than anyone how much he had to give, and for how much of the world, and how many of God’s people, God’s children. It does not make sense for him to withhold healing from this woman’s child when he would not even decline to provide wine to a wedding.

Yet here we are, sitting like dogs beneath the table, catching at crumbs, trying to piece together enough sense to make a meal of.

 

Paul wrestled with the expansion of Christ’s mission to the Gentiles, even as he claimed that mission as his own. He knew that God’s grace is not like pie – that sharing it, like the loaves and the fishes, multiplies rather than reducing grace. And still he voiced those fears, “If God loves these people as much as mine, does that mean that God loves mine less?” (Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32)

No, the prophet answers: there is room for everyone on God’s mountain. (Isaiah 56:1,6-8) “In my Father’s house,” Jesus says elsewhere, “there are many dwelling places.” (John 14:2)

 

If, as some suggest, Jesus was playing a part for the sake of his disciples, to teach them a lesson about their own limitations and limited vision, to expand their hearts for compassion, then I would hope that the woman was in on the joke, that he whispered or winked to her, this poor mother brought to her knees by her daughter’s suffering. If so, she played her part well, especially given the circumstances.

If Jesus was trying to shock his disciples into beginning their anti-racism training, then he chose a risky tactic, playing up the stereotypes and the derogatory statements in order to knock them down. His disciples were often a little hard of understanding; it would be easy, instead, for us to perpetuate the error of calling women dogs, of dividing people into the deserving and undeserving of food, medicine, housing, grace, humanity; into those in network and those out of network; into the pure and the other.

If Jesus was putting on a scene in order to convict his disciples of their own exclusionary, xenophobic, racist, sexist, selfish attitudes towards the woman – “Make her go away!” they say. “Make her stop talking” – then we have yet fully to learn our lesson.

 

I hope you know by now that I will not, from this pulpit or computer screen, push one political party over another. Only God is good and only Christ is my saviour; all else are fellow workers on the road to justice and judgement. That said, there is a tendency still to make less room for women, to suggest that foreigners are greedy for crumbs, to pretend that there is not enough grace in America to go around.

As a woman and as an immigrant, I notice; as a white woman, and one of a privileged accent and background, it is easy enough for me to slide past most complaints, to become part of the problem.

Even for those who have been here generations, one way or another, or whose generations preceded the generation of a majority-white nation, the ways in which we talk about one another, the labels we use: “minority,” suggests a certain discount.

We have yet fully to learn the lesson that there is no minority section of God’s heart; that Creation swells and grace abounds and that the very details of difference that God seeded among us were designed to show us the beauty of a broad imagination, not to divide us but to invite us to embrace the infinite, the indescribable, the all-encompassing, the God.

 

Jesus has the capacity, the will, the grace of God to heal the woman’s daughter, to lift the woman from her knees. No one is left to crawl around for crumbs under his table; if they were, you might be sure that he would be right there with them. In what might be a bit of a backhanded rebuke to his disciples, “Woman, great is your faith!” he says, who last week admonished Peter, “Oh ye of little faith.”

“Woman, great is your faith!” he says, “Let it be done for you as you wish.”

May our faith be big enough to make room for difference. May our wish be not only for grace for ourselves and our own, but for the daughters and sons of Canaanite women, knowing that the love of God is not diminished nor spread thin, but multiplies like loaves and fishes when we join forces with the Creator, who made all things good. May our differences be the instruments not of our division but of healing, seeing the expansive grace of God refracted through them, more fully to reflect the glory of God.

Amen.


 

It’s a commonplace that preachers are always preaching to ourselves. Starting tomorrow, I am working through a curriculum originally developed by the Bar Association of San Francisco, and now taken up by the American Bar Association, called the 21-DAY RACIAL EQUITY HABIT BUILDING CHALLENGE.

As the name suggests, the curriculum is a three-week course designed to “advance deeper understandings of the intersections of race, power, privilege, supremacy and oppression. … The goal of the Challenge is to assist each of us to become more aware, compassionate, constructive, engaged people in the quest for racial equity.”

“The Challenge invites participants to complete a syllabus of 21 short assignments (typically taking 15-30 minutes), over 21 consecutive days, that include readings, videos or podcasts. It has been intentionally crafted to focus on the Black American experience. The assignments seek to expose participants to perspectives on elements of Black history, identity and culture, and to the Black community’s experience of racism in America. Even this focus on Black Americans cannot possibly highlight all of the diversity of experiences and opinions within the Black community itself, much less substitute for learnings about any other community of color. This syllabus is but an introduction to what we hope will be a rewarding journey that extends far beyond the limits of this project.”

Find more information at: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/labor_law/membership/equal_opportunity/

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Elements of creation, currency of compassion

A sermon for our online Morning Prayer service of August 9, 2020. The Gospel account is of Jesus and Peter walking on the water, with varying degrees of success.


Peter grew up as a fisherman. Water was in his blood. He knew its essence, its beauty, its danger. He had no illusions that his long relationship with the Sea would save him should it one day turn against him.

When the disciples saw Jesus walking across the storm-churned water towards them, they were rightly terrified. They knew that this was not how the world works. Even after all they had seen – the feeding of the thousands, the healing miracles – the idea that Jesus would challenge even the power of the elements, the powers that be, that control the way that we live and move and have our being in the world – this was truly wonderful and fearful; frightening in its potential to open up a whole new way of being.

For a moment, Peter could see the possibilities. Wind and water were, after all, the first elements of creation (Genesis 1:1-2). In a rush of hasty optimism, Peter appealed to Jesus: “If you say so,” he told Jesus, “I can walk with you.”

Jesus said, “Come.”

Once Jesus had given the command, Peter had to choose whether to obey his fear or his faith; being human, he chose both.

Peter started out alright, but his wet feet, his cold ears, his shivering body screamed at him that this is not how it goes; that we are not born to understand the wind and waves and make of them a new creation. His body, with its conventional and unassailable wisdom, told Peter to forget new horizons. It told him to sink.

But Jesus, of course, caught him, and hauled him into the boat, and laughed gently at his humanity, his human error of believing in the impossibility of the situation rather than in its potential.

 

Peter had seen what was possible. In the first place, when he saw Jesus walking on the water, as terrified as he was, he said, “If you command me to, I can do that, too.”

Last week I put out the question on Twitter: if you could imitate any one of the things we have seen Jesus doing – from walking on water to turning water into wine – what would you choose to ask him, “Say the word, and I can do that, too”? No one replied.

Perhaps it was a foolish question. Or perhaps we are too afraid to ask, in case Jesus calls us into the storm, or in case he tells us we are not ready. Or perhaps we would really like to walk on water, because it sounds awesome and fun, but we feel as though we really should be asking to heal the sick and feed the hungry, to steal back life from death.

Of course, they are interrelated. If we ask to follow Jesus, if we ask him to command us, to give us some of his Spirit, so that we can walk on water, then we are already beginning to reshape the world around us. If we ask Jesus to help us to follow him, to walk with him, to love our Creator and to love our neighbour and even our enemies as he does, then we are by default challenging the way that the world works. And if we challenge the ways of the world, we confront the powers that be, and we defy the forces that decry compassion as an inefficient currency for our economy of life. If we choose the way of love, and Jesus as our commander and guide, we can ride the currents and rise above the depressing mess that the world has been in since the Fall.

 

Peter set out confidently, sure of the possibilities before him, knowing that Jesus would change the world, wanting to be at his side, at his feet, at the hem of his garment as he did so. But as Peter’s imagination retreated into his own skin, he became afraid, and he let go of the vision that had stretched like a bridge between him and Jesus and creation, and he began to sink.

Two thousand years later it sometimes feels as though we are still weathering the same storm. We are still afraid of the call to walk on the water, to defy the strong winds that keep us from reaching the promised land, the kingdom of God. But after all that we have seen him do, from the water to the wine to the bread to the boat to the Cross to the Resurrection, what is really holding us back from asking him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”?

Do we doubt him? Do we doubt ourselves? Or do we secretly like life the way that it is, as long as it profits us. Is the way of the cross, the currency of compassion too much of a stretch for us to give up the coinage of personal capital and complacency? Are we too stuck in our own skin?

You understand that I am preaching to myself here.

 

If the value of life and limb were held in universally higher esteem than the profits of the individual and the elite, then we would not see an exchange rate of hundreds of lives, thousands of injuries, hundreds of thousands of people made homeless for the customs duty on a couple of thousand tons of fertilizer.

If the way of love, the way of compassion, the way in which, as Paul advised, love makes room for those at risk, using love’s freedom to promote the common good rather than the individual’s right to flaunt it, then we would reshape the curve of this pandemic and its effects on our country. “Be careful,” Paul writes, “… that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling-block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9).

If we were to choose the way of love over the way of blood, then our “stand your ground” laws would be grounded instead in the commandment to turn the other cheek.

What would we pay to defray the risk of storing explosive chemicals among people’s living spaces? What would we give for an economy that could never be said to depend upon a thousand deaths per day from pandemic to stay afloat? What would we confront in order to be able to offer a cup of clean water to the children of Flint?

If we were to refuse to be conformed to the standards of this fallen world and its uneven powers, if we were to exercise our vocation to walk on water, to reshape the world around us, in Jesus’ name, in the name of love, what storm would stop us?

What would it take for us to get out of the boat?

The disciples, seeing Jesus walking upon the water, were terrified. By the time he had hauled Peter out of the sea and into the boat, they were in awe, and they worshipped him.

 

As far as we know, Peter never did walk on the water again, and he stumbled more than once more, denying Jesus as the rooster crowed over the Friday dawn. But he no longer doubted that God’s kingdom was near, closer than his own skin, and he did go on to heal the sick, and raise the dead, and to root out evil in Christ’s name.

Whatever we choose as the one thing we have seen Jesus do that we would like to follow, it cannot be separated from his whole life of love. It will lead, if we follow, to the way of the cross, the way of love, the way that leads to the promised land, the kingdom of God. And if we feel ourselves sinking, we have only to reach out and Jesus will pull us up, and gently rebuke us, and it will be worth it, to weather the wind and water with him, the storm-torn elements of a new creation.

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What will you share?

If I were preaching tomorrow (which I am not), I might be inclined to ask.

Now that everyone can distribute crumbs among the masses with a keystroke, what will we share?

Crumbs of comfort, or of shame;

kernels of truth, or disinformation;

pieces of repentance, or of pride;

the bread of life, or poison?

This is not a call to put on a happy face, nor to pretend that all is well in a world where still we pray, fervently, “thy kingdom come, but soon, please, soon …”

Comfort comes on the heels of grief;

truth can be hard to swallow;

repentance reflects on the rough stuff;

but when Jesus saw the people spread out on the hillside like sheep, like sheep without a shepherd, he had compassion for them, and he had mercy. He fed them with the bread of life: his life. He gave thanks, broke the bread, and had his disciples distribute enough, with baskets returned to them, enough to sustain them on their journey home across the small Sea.

Whatever we share among the masses, will it be worthy of partaking in memory of him?

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Who among you: an open letter about guns

An open letter to the Ohio Senate 133rd General Assembly regarding Senate Bill 137: Exempt from training if allowed to go armed in school safety zone


[Jesus said] “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?” (Matthew 6:9-10)

Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a lesson, will show them a gun?

Asking a teacher to carry a gun into a classroom is asking for trouble. It introduces the means of deadly accident, of impulsive and irreversible injury, to a place that should be intent on the promotion of life and flourishing. It increases the escalation of violence in our communities, the reliance on violent force to quell our fears. Caution: the threat of violence does not diminish the risk of actual physical and moral injury.

Asking a teacher to carry a gun as though they go into battle when they go into school, even when they are not trained as soldiers, is asking for trouble. Specifically exempting such faculty and staff from proper training in the deployment or restraint of their weapons in the course of their work is actively courting trouble.

I commend to you the report of the American Bar Association: they have done the research. I do the preaching.

Introducing the means of deadly force to an environment where already those most in need of protection from discrimination and indignity are those most likely to suffer from them ratchets up the righteous anxiety of those students. It is asking for trouble.

The introduction of a deadly weapon to a classroom, even if the worst never happens, risks moral injury. To carry a gun is to consider using it. It introduces a note of defensiveness and offensive weaponry to every social interaction. It diminishes the scope of our compassion by offering a solution to situations that bypasses more patient and difficult means of resolution. It does not belong in an environment designed to provoke problem-solving, learning, and the growth and flourishing of young lives.

The Ohio legislature, as other bodies with similar influence, would do better to invest in reducing the occasions for gun violence than participating in the proliferation of deadly weapons in hands that are not at war.

You may already be familiar with what Jesus said about stumbling blocks, little ones, millstones, and the sea (Matthew 18:6).

“Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks!” Jesus continued. “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!” Matthew 18:7)

Of all the people who might introduce a gun into a classroom full of children, let it not be you; let it not be on behalf of me.


This letter was edited slightly from its direct delivery to the committee considering the Bill and to my own district senator.

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Walking on water

I’ve been walking the earth in a dream,
skipping faith like pebbles across
the surface of a quiet sea

A foolish hound,
snapping at white horses, tries to catch them
as they melt under the sound

My feet are wet; the pebbles
in my pocket have become an anchor. I reach
after wild geese, grasping at feathers

A heron, surprised, sounds as though
it has been eating rocks. It rises now
with clumsy grace unfolded


It’s been a little while since I’ve shared a poem here. Between, you know, 2020 and a looming new book deadline (deadly exciting!), it’s been an interesting summer. But there is hope in the heron, and music in its rasp, and the water, the medium of God’s creation still calls us to test it with our faith, and our feet …

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Slow to anger

A sermon for the online service, 19 July 2020, using the readings for Year A Proper 11, including the parable of the wheat and the weeds.


When we read one of Jesus’ parables that ends in judgement, we might want to use as our introduction and epilogue his warning elsewhere: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

The temptation otherwise is either to read ourselves as the righteous and our enemies as the weeds, and secretly to revel in the thought of their comeuppance at the great conflagration; or, equally damaging, to diagnose ourselves as worthless weeds, only tolerated by the wheat that surrounds us, and doomed from our seeding to damnation.

The judgement, Jesus has warned elsewhere, is not ours to make. The servants who offer to go out and do the weeding for the landowner are rebuffed.

In fact, the parable is a model of withholding judgement so that the wheat is not damaged by a reckless and thorough weeding; there is no warrant in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus might be saying, for rash judgement and its collateral damage. Instead, we are shown the patience and forbearance of a God who is full of compassion, and slow to anger.

 

Have you heard the phrase, “cancel culture”? Its definition may be as controversial and complicated as the interpretation of a parable, but perhaps it boils down to the battle and balance between holding a person accountable for wrongdoing and allowing them the grace to redeem themselves, if they show any inclination to do so.

Certainly, actions and words have consequences. Some offenses are so egregious that the answer is clear. We have seen talk shows and dramatic roles cancelled when the #MeToo movement brought the misdeeds of various men to light, and rightly so. A politician can be righteously cancelled out of office with a vote. If a business is offensive or abusive, we can sometimes refuse to do business with them.

But what if they were convicted, by court or conscience, of their offense, and paid a penance, reparations of some sort, and publicly repented: would we forgive them?

At is most extreme, a culture of cancellation contributes to a culture of death. Those who have been tried, convicted, and officially sentenced to death live out for us our fantasies of judgement and a clean wheat field. Three times in the past week, after holding back its hand for seventeen years, three men have been killed on our behalf by federal execution.

Deacon Josh knows more about this aspect of our cultural judgement than I do, having ministered for years to men living in that valley of the shadows known as Death Row. But I also draw on the wisdom and faithful hope of Beth Kissileff, whose husband leads one of the congregations that met at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh when a man bent on sowing evil burst through their Sabbath doors. Beth wrote against the government’s move to seek the death penalty for the man who killed her friends; partly because that judgement belongs to God alone. Beth, via the Religion News Service, quoted her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Perlman:

“Our Bible has many laws about why people should be put to death, it’s true,” my husband said. “But our sages and rabbis decided that after biblical times these deaths mean death at the hands of heaven, not a human court.”

Beyond that, and the slightest chance and hope that the man might repent of his sins, given a life long enough to reflect upon them, Beth pointed out that our clumsy attempts to pull out the weeds with the wheat can damage the tender plants that we’re trying to protect. Families and survivors of capital offenses endure multiple trials that can drag on for long years, delaying healing and wholeness, prolonging the harvest of pain. This, too, is collateral damage from our culture of judgement and cancellation; and there is no warrant for collateral damage in the kingdom of heaven.

 

I can’t help but think of John Lewis this morning; a man who, despite those who sought to cancel him, stood strong. He ended up serving in government, where wheat and weeds are sometimes difficult to tell apart. He recognized the tension of the need to act decisively to end evil, while holding fast to the gentle optimism that non-violence breeds, the impatient patience of the justice-seeker. He brought forth good fruit despite the strangling weeds, the poisonous strain of racism.

Of course, we hold one another accountable for egregious actions, words, attitudes. Of course, where there is evil at work, we can and should respond with a little bit of “good trouble.” Of course, there are rightful consequences. But we do not own the wheat, or its harvest, and the weeds are not ours to destroy. At the end of the age, Jesus says, it is the angels who will exercise judgement over us.

 

I came across a story online last week which I share with permission from my friend, Amanda Wolf. Amanda is a keen, not to say fanatical, cyclist, familiar to all Bishop’s Bike Rides participants and many other members of many other communities, including the cancer support charity that she rides for every year. Last week, she was riding out my way when a van nearly took her out altogether. Thank God, she was ok.

I’m still in awe of this story because of the grace that bursts out of it. It would have been easy to write off the driver of the van as a total weed, based on his actions. Instead, an encounter that could have led to real, physical, economic, social, and spiritual injury allowed, with a little forbearance and a lot of humility, for an abundance of healing.

The van bore the livery of a local business. Amanda, posting the story of her close encounter on Facebook, duly named and shamed the business for its recklessness and disregard for her human life and safety, and encouraged her friends not to send their business that way.

But then later that same day, I saw another post. It read:

In a previous episode of my Facebook, you might have witnessed me posting about getting sideswiped by a local business owner this morning on my bike, and I called him out on it. You also might have seen his jerky retort and lack of understanding of bike law.
You might also have noticed that post disappeared.
All for good reason.
Long story short, Cards In Your Yard has a better understanding of bike law, we’re friends now, and shortly I’ll be putting up a raffle for your own free yard card as long as you live in the counties he services.
All to benefit American Cancer Society Pan Ohio Hope Ride.
There could not have been a happier ending to this story. I hope it makes your day because it certainly made mine.

It did make my day, and it reminded me of Jesus, who told his disciples to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, to love neighbour and enemy well and alike, and to let the angels worry about who among us is whole wheat or a little bit of a weed.

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