God

Am I Hoarding Jesus?

 

When I was a young person coming back to faith in Jesus in the mid 70’s I was taught I had the answers to the questions of life. My experience as I traversed different parts of the world and met different kinds of people that this was not all together true. Yes, my young life had changed as I made following and learning about Jesus a priority, but I had a lot to learn from the people I met. Yes, I could offer prayers and encouragement from my perspective and I did see people encouraged, and even recovered from sickness. Yet, I learned to be quick to listen, slow to speak. Well, I had to be, because I was learning a new language! One of the many gifts of learning a new language. I also was learning and seeing beautiful things in the culture and people around me that I had not learned in my own culture. I learned to look for what good things God was already doing in a person’s life and in their culture. I learned to affirm those good things. Of course every culture has it’s light side and dark side, including my own. Now as I look back on those early years I think it was arrogant and naive to believe I had all the answers. Is it possible that Christians are hoarding Jesus? Saying and teaching that the way I interpret his life and teaching is the only way seems a bit narrow and exclusive.  As if I know all the mysteries of Christ who died for the sin of the world, the very same who is reconciling all things, all people, all creation to himself. I do believe those points. I just don’t pretend to know what they mean exactly or how it will happen.

Here in the form of a poem are some reflections from Mark 9:38 – 41 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me…”

Here, the path is wide

The door flung open

Us and them dismantled 

Here, we celebrate 

Our commonality – our humanity

See the goodness in each other 

Here, the hoarding of Jesus

Is not allowed

Trust the outcome 

To the one true judge

Of all motives, all character

Here we love and respect

We build up and affirm

The God given love

In one another

© Julie Clark 2020

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, growth, Love, Paths, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Blessing for those Waiting for Justice and Deliverance

A Blessing for those Waiting for Justice and Deliverance

(for those imprisoned in NW China)

In this waiting

Which feels so long, too long

When despair nags at our heels

Bless us with hope, 

Bless us with prayers to pray

With names of precious people we know

And do not know

Names and faces of captives and prisoners

We can hold before you

And honor them and honor you, their creator

Bless the space, the time

Between now and their deliverance

May they know your presence,

Your love, your goodness

May they know you hear

The cry of the afflicted

Even if the cry comes 

Silently from their hearts

Bless them with 

Lifting the heavy burden

With healing their 

Broken bodies

Their broken hearts

Lift their heads

Lift their hearts

To hope, to wait, to know

You are coming

and have not

forgotten them

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, lament, pain, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lectio Divina Poem

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Lectio Divina Poem on

Mark 7:24….

Jesus on the move

One place to another

Sent to the lost children 

Of Israel, yet…

Why is he here

Where the Gentiles live?

Like a magnet pulls

He draws the hungry,

The thirsty, the sick

The poor, the desperate

The greater the need

The louder they call

His meal disrupted

A noisy, needy

Foreign woman

With a child

He heard her cry

And turned his attention

Questions and answers

“Even the dogs eat 

The children’s scraps”

For this answer

She is rewarded

Her child is healed

Her faith commended

Do we see these

Women? mothers?

These men, fathers?

They will do anything

To save their child

Do we hear them?

Or do we turn away

From the disruption

And finish our hearty meals?

© 2019 Julie Clark

Categories: Autumn Poems, borderlands, children, Dogs, Faith, God, lament, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Questions I Have

What is this division you bring?

What about peace on earth, goodwill towards all?

Is it about our choice?

To love and serve

Or horde and kill?

Do you come to us at our borders in T-shirts and flip flops

Or camped out in our city parks?

One more opportunity to choose

As you ask, “Who will you serve?

Me or mammon?”

Ok, I choose you.

Now I have enemies.

What did you say about enemies?

I have to love them too?

Now that is hard to do.

Oh, you did that.

I see.  Is that how this works?

Love changes everything.

Love is the force that brings peace

Far and near and finally

Everywhere.

How long?

“Until all is changed and all submit

To love

Singing praises!”

Your ways are better

Your ways are higher

Than ours.

What is impossible for humans

Is possible for you.

Now we must 

Get up on the highway

Of your ways

Watch and see

What you can do with love-

The strongest force there is

Moving mountains and

Raising valleys.

May we make the choice

To love

Rather than continue

This madness.

© 2019 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Life, Love, mountains, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s Complicated”

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I have been hearing this phrase more and more lately.  It’s a handy little phrase. I’ve used it myself many times when I am struggling to understood an issue or a situation.  It is true that life is complicated, human beings are complicated, but I feel like this phrase can be used now as an excuse, a way of not getting involved.  It is a way of distancing oneself from a messy perhaps dangerous situation. There are numerous situations going on around the world that are both messy and dangerous. 

I wonder in a revised version of the Good Samaritan story if one of the religious leaders who crossed the street away from the poor guy beaten and left for dead may have mumbled to himself as he hurried away – “It’s complicated…maybe he deserved what he got or maybe he has a contagious disease, or worse if I stop and help maybe someone will get me next!”

Last night I attended a vigil, calling for an end of the inhumane detention of immigrants in our country. I was heartened to see the church where the vigil was hosted packed out. More and more people are outraged at the news that is coming out and wanting to get involved or at least learn about what is happening.  It was helpful to hear from women who themselves endured the indignity of being locked up and treated as a criminal. (No it is not illegal to seek asylum.) Both women mentioned how terrible it was to witness the way children were treated. One saw the the agents tearing children away from their parents. 

There are numerous things we can do to help. We can raise our voices for the voiceless. We can contact our representatives both federally and locally. We can volunteer, we can donate, we can educate ourselves and help others understand.  We each can do something.  

Let faith have wings that lift us to pray

Let hope have eyes that look for solutions

Let love have feet that move us to action

May we take a risk to love our neighbors who are in great need rather than turn our backs on them because “it’s complicated”. 

I do not know what the answers are to good immigration reform. I need to learn. I do know inhumane treatment of immigrants is not one them. Another phrase I am hearing that I like much better is “This is not a political issue it is a moral issue.”

Categories: children, Faith, God, Hope, Love | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Locked In and Locked Out

door green closed lock

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(This poem is dedicated to those imprisoned in concentration camps and their families in Northwest China.)

 

What else can I do

But continue to speak up and out

For the ones locked in

And the ones locked out

They are separated from family

From community and their beloved land

From health and safety

Their hearts are tormented

And their bodies are broken

They are in anguish and pain

Can you hear them and lend your voice?

 

What else can I do

But pray and cry out

For the ones locked in

And the ones locked out

For the ones I know and do not know

To ask the One whom death could not hold

Who razor wire and prison gates

Cannot keep out

To walk among these people

Locked in and locked out

To call them by name

To comfort

To give courage

To give hope

To heal

To restore

To lift up

To set free

To rise like the sun

And bring a new day

 

© 2019 Julie Clark

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, grief and death, Hope, lament, Poetry, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why We are going to the Mosque on Good Friday

art cathedral christ christian

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It is Holy Week. We remember all that Jesus did for us when he went to the cross, died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day rose again. The very depths and heights of our faith. My husband and my calling to follow Jesus in loving those outside our own faith community compels us to go to our local Mosque this Friday night. Don’t get me wrong, I love Good Friday services. The somber reflections of the ultimate sacrifice Christ paid moves me deeply.

 

This friday is especially important that we go to the Mosque. For many years of our adult lives we  have lived in Central Asia, first in Northwest China, then in Kazakhstan. We lived and worked among many different ethnic groups – Chinese, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, but especially Uyghurs. Our Uyghur friends and neighbors taught us deeply about many things, hospitality, faithful loyalty to family, respect for elders, love of music, dancing and food, to name a few. These very ones who sowed richly into our lives are now struggling for their own lives in their homeland. The government of China is attempting to wipe out their culture and possibly existence by incarcerating over a million people in concentration camps where people are dying daily. They are seperating children from parents and mercilessly controlling every aspect of their lives through extreme measures. We are teaming up with our local Mosque this Good Friday to lend our voices to the voiceless. We are speaking up together to say No to this horrific act of violence.

 

What better way to fight the evil of dehumanization then to join with our Muslim brothers and sisters from around the world. We will not be manipulated into divided camps, but stand together and with one voice cry out to God to deliver the Uyghur people from their oppressors.

Categories: Faith, God, Good Friday, lament, Lent, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders

 

Hidden away

For me to find

To discover

Secret treasures

Or surprises

Early spring buds and flowers

The haron circling me

Then landing on the beach below

The sea lion

Lifting head from the water

Barking greetings to all

The fog laying down

On the water

Surrounding the island

Like a blanket

Majestic Volcano

Radiant in white

All call me to pay attention

To notice the beauty

Of Creator

Signs of love

Wonders to ponder

 

© 2019 Julie Clark

 

Categories: beauty, God, Love, Photography, Poetry, Seasons | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Lament for the Earth

forest fire smoke burning

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God we ask for your mercy and help.

 

We have filled the waters of the earth with poison and pollution.

We have harmed people, animals, fish and plants with this water.

We have continued to fill the waters with chemicals, plastics and garbage even when we know this is harmful.

 

God have mercy on us and forgive us.

Help us to care for these precious waters that sustain us.

 

We have poisoned and polluted the land.

We have destroyed forests and fields.

Our foods are no longer rich in nutrients.

We continue to harm people, animals and plants with our poisons and pollution.

 

God have mercy on us and forgive us.

Help us to care for the land that sustains us.

 

We have poisoned and polluted the air.

We continue to burn fossil  fuels that are heating our atmosphere.

We are harming people, animals and plants with these poisons and pollution.

We know this, yet we continue to burn and pollute our air.

 

God have mercy on us and forgive us.

Help us to care for the air that sustains us.

 

The earth is suffering and groaning

With floods and fires.

Glaciers are melting and forests are disappearing

While deserts are increasing.

 

Oh God forgive us!

 

We have done this to the beautiful earth you created, filled with living creatures that we are harming, including ourselves.

We have ignored the warnings and

We have not acted when we realized long ago we were culpable.

 

God we ask you to help us do what is right.

Help us to care for our planet and all who inhabit it.

 

Even now, if you do not help us it will be too late.

We put our hope in you. Help us and sustain us.

 

God have mercy on us! Amen

 

for a better understanding of what is happening to our planet read this extensive article in the New York Times Magazine:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losing-earth.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fmagazine&action=click&contentCollection=magazine&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront

 

Categories: Faith, God, lament, Prayer, Trees | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

What Will It Take

silhouette of boy standing near barbed wire fence during golden hour

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What Will It Take

 

Today I am adding my voice to many who are speaking up for the children being separated from their parents at our borders.  I am appalled, grieved and angry. I know this is not the first time our nation has done this, but I pray that it will be the last. I pray that men and women in our government will take responsibility and quickly return these traumatized children to their parents. Children are being used as political pawns all over the world and they need us all to speak up for them.  Today is not the time to be silent or sit and watch from the sidelines.

 

What will it take

For those harming

The little ones

The children

To awaken

To the gravity

Of their own plight?

 

You are being watched

Your actions are being noted.

Will it be a vision

Of a millstone

Necklace being

Crafted for you?

Or

Will it be a later cry

“Lord, when did I see

You as a child

Being torn

From your parents?

The answer,

“What you did

To the least of these

You did to Me.”

 

Speak up!

Lift your voices

All mothers

Fathers

Grandparents

Send your help,

Else who will listen

When someone comes

For your children

Or grandchildren?

 

© 2018 Julie Clark

 

Categories: children, Faith, God, lament, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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