Becoming fully ourselves (Genesis 3:7-13)

Becoming fully ourselves (Genesis 3:7-13)

From early on in scripture we discover that sin and brokenness is a part of the human story.

Becoming fully ourselves is about discovering how the image of God is expressed uniquely through each one of us.  But it is also about discovering our brokenness.  It is about becoming self-aware.

In the language of the text it has to do with having our eyes opened and seeing our nakedness.

How do we discover our brokenness—our nakedness?

If you are like me, you probably don’t have to look much further than this last week.

It is possible to discover our brokenness while on vacation at the shore.  There are moments when everything is right.  It’s hot and sunny.  Perfect beach weather.  There is ice cream at Springers.  The world is right.  We are playing a new game together as a family.  Laughter.  Joy.  Belonging.

But then there are other moments when we encounter our brokenness.  Differing desires about what to do.  A fun game heads south.  Moodiness.  Harsh words.  Anger.  Funk.

We discover our brokenness as human beings in a thousand different ways.

We discover our brokenness when we notice our inability to manage our anger.  We discover our brokenness when find ourselves looking at pornography.  We discover our brokenness when we begin to see our need for control.

We discover it in the brokenness of our relationships.  In the deep disappointments and regrets of life.

The wisdom of Genesis is that it gives us a language to be able to talk about brokenness as part of the human story.  I am learning that owning our brokenness is an important part of the journey toward wholeness.  It is an important part of discovering our story in God’s story.

Parker Palmer says that when we see wholeness not as perfection, but as embracing everything we are, then we become more able to talk about our brokenness and invite other people to share those same pieces of their lives.

I believe our hard journey together over the last year and a half as a congregation has deepened our awareness that we are broken people.

Our SMC covenant recognizes the need to own our brokenness together:  “Since we hold this treasure in jars of clay, we seek to be a community that is real about our brokenness even as we continue the journey toward healing in Christ by the power of the Spirit.”

Becoming fully ourselves is about being real about our brokenness.

A second thing we see in our text is that as we discover our brokenness, we also discover that God meets us in that place.  Even when we are hiding in shame.

The text images this as God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze.  God calls to the man:  “Where are you?”

This question is less about God’s lack of knowledge, then it is an invitation for the humans to become self-aware.  God’s question opens the door for the man to express his fear:  “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

The good news of the biblical story is that God comes looking for us.  God comes to us and asks the question that invites us to become grounded in the present moment—wherever we find ourselves.

Where are you?

It is a question that invites us to self-examination.

Where are you?

It is a question that invites us to slow down and reflect.  It is a question that invites us to live intentionally rather than just be driven by our impulses.  By our hiding.

I am discovering that this question God asks the first humans is an important question.  I am learning that the spiritual life, my ability to notice God, has everything to do with my ability to be present.  Even in hard places.  Places that aren’t fun.  Places like a journey with cancer.  Places like conflict.  Places like my own unsettled emotions.

Being present has to do with paying attention to what is going on in my body, my emotions, my mind…  Being present has to do with what is going on around me and my responses to what is going on…

God’s question invites us to live contemplatively.  But what does it mean to be present? Continue reading

A Gardening God: Thoughts about an Earthy Spirituality (Genesis 2:7-9; 18-25)

A Gardening God: Thoughts about an Earthy Spirituality (Genesis 2:7-9; 18-25)

What are you desiring in life right now?   

This was the question a woman was asking the man across from her at a nearby table in the local coffee shop.  I was not trying to eavesdrop on the conversation, but sometimes when you are working in third space, this is what happens.

The woman was playing the role of life coach.  She was actively listening…asking probing questions and reflecting back to the  man what she was hearing. 

It was a conversation about living a healthy lifestyle.  It was a conversation about financial security and doing meaningful work that fit his skill set and passions.  It was a conversation about priorities and how to make life decisions.  It was a conversation about wholeness and balance.  I heard it as a conversation about desire…

In his book The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser describes desire in this way:

“Whatever the expression, everyone is ultimately talking about the same thing—an unquenchable fire, a restlessness, a longing, a disquiet, a hunger, a loneliness, a gnawing nostalgia, a wildness that cannot be tamed, a congenital all-embracing ache that lies at the center of the human experience and is the ultimate force that drives everything else. This dis-ease is universal.  Desire gives no exemptions.”

Rolheiser says that sometimes we experience desire as pain—dissatisfaction, frustration, and aching.  Other times we feel desire as a deep energy, as something beautiful, as a relentless pull from inside us toward love, beauty, creativity, and a future beyond our limited present. 

And so Rolheiser says:  “spirituality is about what we do with our desire.  What we do with our longings, and the pain and the hope they bring us.

The story of creation in the garden provides insight into our desires as human beings.  It is a text that points us to an earthy spirituality.  It is a text that helps us see that spirituality begins with our bodies… 

Body

The image of God creating in a garden (Gen 2) is very different from the image of an all-powerful deity who speaks into the formless void and brings things into being (Gen 1).  These are two different traditions—expressing the wisdom and mystery of creation in different language and style.   

The second tradition speaks to our relationship with earth.  To be human is to come from the earth and to return to the earth.  We are made from humus.  We come from dust, but the Creator of everything has breathed into us.  We are living beings because of the ruach (spirit/breath) of God in our earthy bodies. 

In the poetic language of the text, God breathes into the nostrils of the first human.  It is a powerful image.  We come from ordinary matter animated by the breath of God.  Christian faith affirms the goodness of matter.  And we remember that God is as close as our breath.

The story of creation in the garden reminds us that our very bodies are a gift of the Creator.  As the song says, “In these bodies we will live.  In these bodies we will die…”  So our bodies help us experience the full range of desire–both as aching pain and delicious hope.   

In our bodies we experience hunger, tiredness, pleasure, pain…  Our bodies allow us to experience the beauty of music…the endorphin-high of running.  Our bodies allow us to explore the world, be creative, move dirt, play, experience the touch of another human being…

The process of becoming means that our bodies are continually changing.  An earthy spirituality does not ignore this.  Listening to our bodies is a way we listen for God.  The process of becoming is about the process of being at home with our bodies and the God who has breathed into us the breath of life.  The God who is the deepest reality of our being. 

Place

We live in a world where some say geography is dead.  In an age of global travel and immigration, our relationship with place has certainly changed.  What we see in this text, however, is that being human has to do with the way we are formed and live in relationship with particular places–a garden… 

God planted a garden and there he put the man whom he had formed.  The garden is a place of abundance and beauty.  The Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.  The garden is a place where there are choices between good and evil.  The garden is a place of untamed wildness and creative possibility

What are the places that have shaped your life?  How does desire shape our relationship with place?

We are from many different places.  We have been shaped in different ways by these places.  We have discovered God in different ways.  We are from places like Sunnyside and Lancaster County, but we are also from places like Louisiana, Seattle, Detroit, Wisconsin, Canada, Germany and Mexico.  We are from farms, we are from city.  This diversity is a gift that enriches our life together as Sunnyside Mennonite Church. 

An earthy spirituality continues to explore, discover and help name the world that God has made.   An earthy spirituality prays for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.  An earthy spirituality seeks to practice attentiveness to all that makes up the places we are present. 

On a walk the other week in Lancaster, I discovered something new—I discovered where Thaddeus Stevens is buried.  I discovered that he was a passionate opponent of slavery.  I discovered these words on his tombstone:

“I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude; but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before the Creator”.

It is in the thick histories of the places we live and move that we discover how our story is connected with God’s story.  In gardens, in cities, in the burbs, in the country…

Relationship

Although the first human is in relationship with God.  Although there was meaningful work and purpose in the garden, God recognized that something was missing.  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”

And so God forms every living creature out of the ground.  Again this is a contrasting picture from the account in Genesis 1-where animals were created before humans.  Was God thinking the animals would be a suitable partner for adam?  I am drawn to this portrayal of God whose creativity is an unfolding work.  Like an artist working at a painting who steps back and says, no, that’s not quite right.  

God saw that there was still something missing.  There was no helper as his partner.  There was no possibility for reproduction and for human community.  And yet this story is about more than marriage and sexuality.  This is about the universal desire to experience love and belonging.

Parker Palmer says that wholeness is about being able to be known for who we are.  In the language of our text this has to do with being naked and unashamed.  While we can read this text as being about sexuality and moral innocence, I believe it also about God’s intention for human community.  It has to do with seeing ourselves in the humanity of another–who is also made of flesh and bone. It has to do with the dance of relationship where we are free to be known for who we are.

An earthy spirituality sees“…wholeness not as perfection, but as embracing everything you are, then you become more able to talk about it and invite other people to share those same pieces of their lives…” 

And so we say to our Creator…

For the gift of our bodies…thank you.

For the gift of the places we are from—for the beauty and brokenness in those places that have turned us toward you…thank you.

For the gift of relationships that provide safety to be able to be known for who we are…thank you. 

Dreams of becoming (Genesis 1:26-31)

Dreams of becoming (Genesis 1:26-31)

This week I have been thinking about dreams and the process of becoming. 

Yesterday I traveled to Bally for a Memorial Service for my uncle Karl.  Karl was the husband of my aunt Rhoda–my mom’s sister.  The service was on the farm where my mom grew up.  Before the service I took a walk and noticed that the farm is looking different these days.  Different from the dairy farm that I used to visit as a child when my grandparents lived there.  

Several years ago my cousin Ryan and my uncle Ken began pursuing the dream of building a hydroponic produce business on the Ehst Homestead farm.  This dream has taken shape as Butter Valley Harvest.  So now when you drive in the lane off Route 100 you see four long green houses and a farm stand where the corn crib and the red tractor used to be. 

This last year my cousin Krista, after graduating from Candler School of Theology, returned to the farm with her husband Tim following the dream of starting Valley Run CSA.  So yesterday as I walked along the creek that flows from the pond (which is being maintained as a marshy natural habitat now), I noticed their dream becoming reality in the form of a large garden plot and free range chickens on the land behind the creek. Their dream is taking shape alongside my uncle Tim’s dream of raising grass-fed beef cattle.

Their dreams remind me of earlier stages in my own becoming.  When I was a boy, visiting the Bally farm would stir dreams of becoming a farmer some day.   I loved helping with milking, riding tractor and when I was older throwing bales of hay in the hay wagon.  I loved the smell of manure and freshly mown alfalfa.  The dream was about the big white farm house, land and the process of becoming

But my family lived over a thousand miles from the farm.  And there were other dreams.  The hot weather of the last few says reminded me of sweltering summer days in Oklahoma when I would spend hours shooting baskets in the driveway.  The dream was about playing for the team…being able to dunk a basketball…making the winning shot as the clock ticked down.  The dream was about the process of becoming

But there were other dreams…  I remember lying in a hammock at night, looking into the expanse of stars and contemplating God.  There were times when I could almost glimpse what my life would be.  Working with words.  Being in front of people.  The dream was about a hunger for God.  The dream was about something inside me wanting to grow.  The dream was about the process of becoming…

Then there was the experience of getting my permit and driving from Oklahoma to Kansas.  I remember the adrenaline rush of driving on the interstate for the first time.  That experience contained a dream that was about freedom and independence.  The dream was about the process of becoming… 

What dreams have shaped your life? 

In Genesis, we see God’s dream taking shape in the process of creation.  God’s dream is about separating, making, calling forth…speaking things into being.  The dream is about… Day.  Night.  Solar Systems…Galaxies.  Water.  Earth.  Sky.  Vegetation. 

God’s dream is about swarms of living creatures.  Cows.  Whales.  Quetzales…

God’s dream is about human beings.  It’s about both males and females expressing the divine image.  God’s dream is about sex, creativity and work—or in biblical language—being fruitful and multiplyingContinue reading

Receiving the gifts of outsiders

Receiving the gifts of outsiders

I find myself both comforted and unsettled by the story of the Magi.

I am comforted because it is a story that reveals the nature of God’s kingdom announced in Jesus is not limited to the Jews or any other singular people.  God’s promise to Abraham was that through his descendants God would bless “all the peoples of the earth.”

Matthew’s gospel begins with an account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  So it is striking, that in the gospel written to the Jewish community of Matthew, we have the story of the Magi—who were outsiders to the story of Israel.

The gospel of Matthew says they came from the East.  This may have been Persia, Babylon, or Arabia.  That is why we read their story on Epiphany.  God’s light is revealed to all peoples.

There are many ways we experience life as outsiders.  I am a third culture kid.  My sense of self is rooted in many places—Mexico , Dallas, Tulsa, Bally, Hubbard and now Lancaster.  Even after 20 years of living here, I am aware that I did not grow up here.

So, as one who often experiences life as an outsider, I am comforted by the story of the Magi because it reminds me that in God’s story there is no insider status.  In God’s story, we are all outsiders who have been brought near.

But the story of the Magi can also be unsettling.  It can be unsettling because the Magi are enigmatic characters.  We have tended to miss that in our reading of the text.  I suspect we have missed it because we have seen the magi through the sentimental lens of nativity scenes, Christmas cards and as the plum parts in the Christmas program at church.

In commentary on Matthew, Stanley Hauerwas observes that sentimentality is one of the greatest enemies of understanding the gospel, especially the Christmas story and the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

So, perhaps our first task as readers of this text is to see the Magi as outsiders.

Whatever the language of the Magi was, we know that they were well-versed in reading the stars.  One tradition says that the Magi were a caste of pagan priests who specialized in astrology—which was considered a respected science at the time.

Their study of the stars leads them to believe that a child has been born king of the Jews.  So they embark on a long journey to search for this child and to pay him homage.

The news of their pilgrimage reaches King Herod.  Herod is unsettled by the possibility that the Messiah has been born.

I find it ironic that the Magi who discerned God’s work in the world by studying the stars were moving to Christ to kneel and pay homage, but those who were consulting the scriptures were afraid.  While we might focus on the contrast between insider and outsider status, what I notice is the marked difference in behavior that is shaped by fear and that which is shaped by faith.

Matthew’s account says that King Herod was frightened and all of Jerusalem with him.

I recognize the fear of Herod because I have seen it in other rulers in scripture.  Pharoah.   Nebuchadnezzer.  The fear of Herod is enacted over and over again in the human story.

Fear is a powerful human emotion.  It is a fear that we see played out in American politics where, as Duane Hershberger expressed so well in the December issue of The Mennonite:   “…politicians toss vast hunks of red meat to people’s murky, inner fears and win elections.”

Herod hears from the chief priests and scribes that the testimony of Israel is that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  The words of the prophet Micah speak of one who will come as a ruler to shepherd Israel.

If I am honest, I can identify with Herod’s fear.  When things are changing, when I recognize that my security is being shaken, when circumstances are beyond my ability to control, I also experience fear and anxiety.  Again and again, I am invited to let go and to trust that God’s work in the world is trustworthy—even when it does not look like I would want it to.  Even when it threatens the security structures that I have built.

So I see myself in Herod’s story.  Herod scrambles and tries to control things.  He calls for a secret meeting with the Magi.  He wants them to tell him what they know.  He tells them to search diligently for the child and then to come and tell him when they find him so that he too can pay homage.

The magi listen to the king, but continue to follow their desire and the star to their destination.  When they reach the house where they find Mary and the child, they are overwhelmed with joy.  Their joy is the joy of those who are willing to leave home and go on a pilgrimage of faith.

The story of the Magi reminds me that faith involves paying attention to the signs of God entering our world.  They remind me that faith is about taking journeys, bearing gifts, and kneeling in worship.

They remind me to see the possibility of God being revealed to those outside my own story and tradition in surprising ways.  They remind me to not get side-tracked by the agenda of power politics and fear.

The assigned lectionary reading for today stops at verse 12.  I extended the reading to include verses 13-18—the account of the slaughter of innocents.

I included these verses so that we could wrestle once again with the question of where God is in the midst of this kind of violence.  I included these verses because we live in the world after the ovens of Auschwitz and the atomic bomb of Hiroshima.  We live in the world after 9-11.

We live in a world where the ancient slaughter of innocents is re-enacted all around the world, again and again—at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Damascus, where children are blown to bits by their own government…

So where is God in the midst of this unspeakable suffering?

Where was God in the face of the massacre of all the children who were two years and under in and around Bethlehem?  Where was God in the midst of the voices of wailing and loud lamentation?  Where was God in the midst of mothers weeping for her children, mothers refusing to be consoled, because they are no more?

If we consider these questions through the lens of our text, we must say that God was present in this kind of a world. God was present as a vulnerable refugee baby crossing a border in the middle of the night to get to a better place.

The good news this morning is that God enters the chaotic, unstable, violent world where innocents are slaughtered.  The good news is that God enters our violent world not to play the game of power politics and fear mongering better than Herod, Hitler, or any other politician.

God enters this world in vulnerable weakness and will eventually be crucified by the powers that operate by fear.   The good news is that God enters into a dark world of fear-driven politics and violence and embodies another way.  The way of vulnerable love.

Love is a light amidst the darkness of fear.  Love is familiar with suffering and acquainted with grief.

This is the same one whose star was discovered in the Persian sky a long time ago.  This is the one who received the gift and worship of outsiders a long time ago.  This is the one whose light is rising upon us.

Welcome to the season of epiphany.  May we be open to the surprising way in which the light of Christ is shining in the midst of darkness.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit

2243380079_a2772dfdcfWhen I was in 3rd grade, I lived in Mexico.  I remember going to the school down the dirt road from our house.  I remember wearing a uniform to school and playing baseball at recess.  I remember playing balero with my friends.  Do you know how these work?

I am grateful for the ways living in Mexico has formed me.  I learned how to do baleros.  I also learned how to speak both Spanish and English.  But I also remember a few times when I felt like an outsider.  Like I didn’t quite belong.  I remember that one boy would walk by my classroom, stick his head in the door, and shout:  “Hey, gringo…”

I remember not liking how it felt when he did this.  I remember feeling squirmy inside…

I’m not sure what made him call me that name.  Maybe he was just trying to be funny.  I do know that when we are afraid of people or ideas that are strange and different, sometimes we say words that hurt others.  When we are afraid, we can say mean things.  When we are afraid, we are less able to give and receive love.

I am going to read a story to you.  It is called The Sandwich Swap.  I want you to listen for moments when you notice love being given and received.  Also notice places where love is not given and received.

51fVTiz5XrL__SY300_Read the story…

Where did you notice Salma and Lily giving and receiving love?  They jumped rope together.  They ate lunch together.  They walked home together…

What changed their relationship?  They jumped to conclusions about what each other was eating that seemed strange.  One thought a hummus sandwich was yucky.  The other thought peanut butter and jelly was gross.

Did you notice that before the mean words came out of their mouths they were thinking and feeling these things?

What happens after the mean words are said?  They begin to treat each other differently.  They don’t talk to each other.  Their classmates begin to take sides.  There is a big fight.

This happens sometimes.  It happens in families, at school, at church.  It happens with kids.  It happens with adults.  We call this conflict.  There are all kinds of feelings that go with conflict.  When we are hurt, we feel angry.  We close ourselves off from others.  We take sides.

You have been talking about the fruit of the Spirit this week.  Love is a fruit of the Spirit.  So how do we give and receive love when we are experiencing conflict?

What did Salma and Lily do?

They were willing to give their relationship another chance.  This didn’t even happen with words about forgiveness.  They were willing to try to see things from another point of view.  They were willing to swap sandwiches.

The Bible tells us that God is love.  Giving and receiving love is about learning to notice where God’s love is at work each day.  Each day we experience things that connect us with God, others and ourselves.  Each day we experience things where we feel disconnected from God, others and ourselves.

I want to give you an exercise to do before you go to sleep tonight.  It is called Remembering the Day.  When you come to the end of the day, ask God to help you remember one moment today for which you are most grateful.  When you were most able to give and receive love today.

Thank God for that moment.

Then ask God to help you remember the moment today for which you are least grateful.  When you were least able to give and receive love.

Then take a deep breath and remember that God loves you just as you are.

The Abraham Project

The Abraham Project

We live in a world where religious and political identities contribute to separation from and violent behavior toward those who are different than us.  In this context, the act of eating together and sharing stories is a subversive act.  It is a way of expressing the vulnerability and humanity that was expressed in the life of Jesus.

The Abraham Project began simply as the desire to create a space where Christians and Muslims could eat together and share stories for the sake of building mutual understanding and peace.  The project began as a conversation among pastors in Lancaster District this spring.

We talked about what the space might look like.  We talked about the Menno Media documentary Waging Peace.  We talked about relationships some of our congregations had developed with Muslims through the work of refugee resettlement.  We talked about reaching out to leaders in the Muslim community to share the vision of this project and invite their collaboration.

Over the summer months, others joined with the vision of creating this space—including leaders of the Islamic Center in Lancaster.

On a Friday evening near the end of Ramadan, I went to the mosque with Andres Prins (Christian/Muslim Relations Team, Eastern Mennonite Missions).  We went to observe the prayers and to share a meal with members of the Muslim community as they broke their fast.

That evening we met individuals from Morocco, Palestine, Iraq, and Jordan.  We listened to a story about growing up in Bethlehem and experiencing the hospitality of Mennonites who had served with Mennonite Central Committee in the Middle East.  We listened to stories about the challenges of being Muslim in America following 9/11.

Over the meal we talked about global politics and faith.  What do you think about Egypt?  What brings you to the mosque?  What do Mennonites believe?  We talked about the vision of The Abraham Project—about the idea of eating together and sharing stories for the sake of peace.  “This is a good idea,” said Ibrahim, “I would like to bring my family.”

——

If eating together and sharing stories is a subversive act, then food preparation is a form of prophetic imagination.  In this regard, The Abraham Project had many co-conspirators.

A group from James Street, led by Marian Buckwalter, took charge of planning and organizing the preparation of a halal meal.  Halal is an Arabic word that means an object or action has met the requirements of Islamic law.  Other congregations in the district contributed in various ways.  Sunnyside prepared salads and fruit.  Laurel Street brought cheese and crackers.  East Chestnut Street made the cakes.

It is not easy to know how many people will show up at a first-time event.  So it was a gift to have folks preparing the space and the meal who were trusting the process.  Folks committed to the work of peacemaking.  Folks with prophetic imagination.

Around 100 people—perhaps 25 of whom were Muslims—attended the meal.  A number of things struck me that day.  I was aware of the sense that the space and the people who came to the meal were participating in a drama.  I noticed characters wearing distinctly Muslim garb and at least one Mennonite covering.  I noticed different ages and skin colors.  I noticed bodies leaning toward each other to listen intently.  I noticed shared laughter.      Continue reading

A city built on a hill cannot be hid…

Esther 3:1-4:3; Matt. 5:13-16

I have been thinking this week about one of the questions we are asked at our baptism:  Are you willing to give and receive counsel? 

I thought about that question as I read the article that Richard Thomas wrote for The Mennonite in which he called the church to expand the conversation on human sexuality.  He was writing, of course, from his experience as superintendent of Lancaster Mennonite School and the difficult challenge of facing a sexual misconduct crisis in the last year.

But, he was also writing from other experiences such as the experience of working with primary school-age children who are filled with rage because of sexual abuse, often by a relative….”

He was writing from the experience of “conversations with friends who are sexually attracted to people of the same sex.”  Richard says these conversations “make LGBT questions more than abstract discussions” for him.  He laments that “we as a church have been too silent on sexual issues that impact many in our midst and instead have talked past each other on LGBT questions.”

This same week I read Bishop Lloyd Hoover’s letter to the editor in Tuesday’s newspaper.  In the letter he offers a view of why it is important to respect “God’s way” in sexual relationships.  Lloyd makes an argument from scripture and biology which he believes should lead us to a restrictive view on the LGBT questions.

Two leaders.  Two different ways of reading scripture.  Richard acknowledges the lens he brings to scripture and to life.  Lloyd speaks of “simply doing things God’s way.”  Two contrasting ways of talking about what is needed in the church around issues of human sexuality.  Perhaps two differing approaches to what it might look like to give and receive counsel.

At Sunnyside Mennonite Church, we are in the midst of a Safe Church process in which we are looking at the issue of sexual abuse in the church.  This is not an easy conversation for any church to have.  We have seen how the silence of leaders in the Catholic church in response to this  issue damaged their credibility and compromised the witness of the church.

It is a conversation that acknowledges the brokenness of our human stories as well as the possibility of God’s redemptive love.  But how do we talk about our brokenness as humans in the body of Christ?  How do we discern together what a journey of healing looks like for victims and offenders?  How do we discern appropriate boundaries—together?  These questions lead me to a more fundamental question about how we express what it means to be the body of Christ.

It is the question we are asked at our baptism:  Are you willing to give and receive counsel?  Continue reading