Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ashes for Action

Following a full morning of #AshesonBART, our church intern Lacey Hunter, elder Tom Pack and I gathered in front of the immigration court building in San Francisco to offer a service of ashes and prayers.

Together with the Interfaith Coalition of Immigrant Rights, we lamented the fear and uncertainty that hundreds of thousands of immigrants feel as they cannot yet apply for safety through Obama's extended programs DAPA and DACA. Read more here.

The connection for me is clear. On Ash Wednesday, we step into the season of Lent. We mark a cross with ashes on our forehead and we remember that we are mere dust...beloved dust...and that as God's creation we belong (in life and in death) to God. We also belong to each other...

"Somos todos seres humanos." We are all human beings. We are connected beyond borders, beyond governments, beyond racial our faith. By our Creator. By our God.

Thus, Ash Wednesday and this season of Lent cannot be just a time to focus on our personal relationships with important as those are. We cannot just be aware of how God is present to us, but to our neighbors as well.

The ashes remind us that we are dust and we will return to dust. That dust is all of creation...God's creation...we are connected.

This lenten season I'm excited to walk with my community (Mission Bay Community Church) toward a deeper faith as we seek to see and care for our neighbor.

As a great mentor and professor Bill Brown once said, "May we see what God sees, and may our hearts break over what breaks God's heart."

Parts of our Service of Ashes and Prayer was documented by NBC Bay Area News. You can watch online here:!/on-air/as-seen-on/Protests-Follow-Court-Order-on-Obamas-Immigration-Reform/292514031

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love is a Risk

Last year I determined that my life goal is to take risks for the sake of the gospel. As I live it, I realize that this takes shape both in my professional life and personal life. In both, it is often the risk to open my heart to love.

This Valentine's Day, we get swept away with images and messages of love. And though our culture prioritizes intimate love, there are many more forms. Love between parents and children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, friends, colleagues. This year, I received a valentine from one of my mentors.

Love for me means many things -

Love is an intentional action to care for someone's needs above your own.
Love is a feeling of belonging, being known and accepted fully.
Love is opening your heart to let someone else in.

...Ultimately, love is a risk.

In my professional life caring for people, love is a risk I take every day. I meet people, I look for God's presence in them, as I get to know them and care for them, I begin to love them. This takes investment of time and emotional energy. And sometimes that Christian love spreads and multiplies and I am amazed by the joy it brings. And sometimes it falls short leaving me a bit empty and tired.

In my personal life too, love is a risk. Risking to invest in a new friend in a transient place when we really don't know how long they can or will stick around. I risk when I invest all of who I am and all I have in my spouse, Tim. If one day I were without him, a large part of me would be missing. Same with my family and close friends. With each step deeper into love, I'm risking more of myself. Vulnerability and parts of me I won't get back.

This Valentine's Day, I am aware of these risks. I'm aware of my friends who have lost someone or several people that they love. They mourn this day because they know what the fullness of joy love brings and they feel the empty space. I'm aware of friends taking a risk to love and the fear they feel of being vulnerable and hurt. And I'm aware through my social media feeds and texts and calls how worthwhile these risks for love are... because regardless of what kind of love it is, love is what binds us together. Love is what reminds us of our worth. Love, for me, is the purpose of life.
The risk well worth taking.

Happy Valentine's Day.