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Rituals // Some Things Are Hard to Explain…


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Early in my spiritual life i came to an understand that rituals were an unnecessary and even negative thing. Something the Catholics and other people who didn’t have a real faith participated in. Things have changed…

#1. I’m an Anglican. And i’ve been reading A LOT of Catholics guys lately. Not quite Anglo-Catholic but ya never know.
So yea, rituals have become a big part of my life of faith. I really value them and see the beauty in their rhythm. So i apologize to my Catholics friends i either doubted and demeaned or attempted to convert when i was in High School. Sean, you specifically come to mind.

Now a lot of my evangelical friends might want me to explain this a bit more. I could give lengthy theological banter here but instead i’ll show you a picture and say a few things.

 #2. I’m a dad and this is my son Jack! Just about every Saturday we go on an adventure. This includes many different things that Jack is fond of; car washes, parks, finding big machines (backhoes, bulldozers, and the like), going to the mall so we can walk up and down every escalator in the place and play in the lego store, finding water fountain to play in. AND always, ALWAYS going to Starbucks to get some chocolate milk!

 

Our Saturday adventures are our father & son ritual. At least for me it’s a really deep and meaningful time for me to connect with my son and experience life and love with him. There might be times when he is over it and thinks our Saturdays are lame or times when he thinks there are better things that could be done with his Saturday mornings but i will always be here for him, waiting and wanting our lives to intentionally intersect, for us to have a beautiful rhythm that we share, a ritual that is ours. It’s still hard to explain but it makes more sense to me when i think of our Sat. AM ritual as the center of our ever evolving relationship.

My relationship with God is also ever evolving. Sometime it feels as if it evolving in negative ways but if St. John of the Cross is right and the Dark Night of the Soul is God’s way of purifying us for our journey into perfection then maybe even when it feel as if God is distant and your spiritual life is dry, when you feel like you could be doing something better with your Sunday mornings… maybe it’s then, especially then when the eucharist needs to be participated in and the Word needs to be heard and the prayers of the people need to be said. Ritualistic. Absolutely. Because maybe there are times when that is exactly what we need, a good ritual.

There are very few Saturday’s, actually i’m not sure there has been one yet, when i don’t think about my own father and all he missed out on because he wasn’t around. And i think about how badly i want to be there for my son and how badly i want him to know that i love him. That’s another thing that’s hard to explain. Growing up without a dad feels like i never learned this particular language and now i am learning it by inhabiting the land of fatherhood. It’s a foreign language but one i think i am picking up pretty fast and one that feel as though i was born to know, i think we were all born to know the language of love, especially as communicated to us by our mothers and fathers.

Here’s to living a life of ritual and rhythm. Because maybe it’s exactly what we need.

 

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Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me…


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I had the opportunity to go on a retreat with my family this past weekend. It was a really good weekend despite the impossibility of retreat when you have a 2 year old and a 2 month old. I’ll share some details and reflections from the retreat later this week but the speaker / retreat guide for the weekend was Ian Morgan Cron. It was great to hear from him, chat with him, and be challenged by him.

Before the retreat i read his book Chasing Francis, AMAZING! I also started his book Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, which is also really good! Here is a quote that i ran across tonight that really stirred me, and i believe it to be true…

“Boys without fathers, or boys with fathers who for whatever reason keep their love undisclosed, begin life without a center of gravity. They float like astronauts in space, hoping to find ballast and a patch of earth where they can plant their feet and make a life. Many of us who live without these gifts that only a father can bestow go through life banging from guardrail to guardrail, trying to determine whyour fathers kept their love nameless, as if ashamed.

We know each other when we meet.”

I’m one of these boys and this is true.  And I am glad i will be able to give my son a different experience and will communicate my love to him every chance i get!

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The Pursuit of Happiness & my 14 month old son…


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Watching the last 45 minutes or so of this movie the other night with my 14 month old son in the other room absolutely WRECKED me! It was heart wrenching, tear jerking, and a slew of other things! I can’t imagine the pain and frustration, the despair and humiliation that he must have been experience as he walked his son through the line at the homeless shelter or as he locked themselves in a bathroom for shelter over night. GOSH!!!


If this doesn’t move you to help people and stand along side of those who are less fortunate and in need i don’t know what will.

The crazy thing is that i feel like i’m a few bad months away from being in his shoes.
And i’m also thankful that i am an amazing community away from every being in that place.

Those are 2 important things to think about i believe.


#1. You’re not to far removed from broke and bottom!

In the last few years i have met people and even have good friends who have pretty much lost it all, filed bankruptcy, divorced the love of their lives, and found themselves where they, where i never thought they would be! We judge the guy selling papers on the street corner and assume bad choices have gotten him their and we mock the lady sitting along side the curb with her cardboard sign asking for spare change but my guess is that many of those people never thought they would be their either. Your circumstance don’t make you a better or worse human being. You just are a human being and we should treat people like it no matter the circumstances or the choices they have made.

#2. I am thankful that i am an amazing community away from ever being homeless.

Yes i have family that in a worst case i could get too and live with. But even right here in Nashville i have a community of people whom i’ve chosen to follow Jesus with that would never let me live on the street or wait in line at the homeless shelter. And when i take in a story like the one portrayed in the movie The Pursuit of Happiness i am overwhelmed with gratitude for that fact. And i am challenged never to take that for granted!

I’m also reminded about how much i love my son and that fact that i would do anything for him! I just pray i can faithfully father him and follow the way of Jesus in protecting and providing for him.


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Grace and peace

(from a ragamuffin father who is thankful for the people God has placed in his life!)

erik

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Pacifism and parenthood…


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I’ve had this blog brewing for a while but just haven’t taken the time to flesh it out. It’s some thoughts from a while back but my first fathers day stirred them up again. So I thought I would finally share.

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I was sitting down with a good friend and another dude (friend / acquaintance), the other dude happened to be a CCM musician guy; trendy, hipster, semi-famous, and of course wise! Somehow we got to talking, I had recently gotten married, he had recently had his second kid. We were talking about family stuff, the joys of being a father and challenges of being a husband, at least a first year husband. At some point the conversation shifted and we began to talk about politics, faith, and then pacifism. And then the trendy Christian rocker stated, quite matter of fact, “Well I used to be a pacifist until I had kids.” Followed by a “you’ll understand someday.”

In case you didn’t know, I’m a pacifist. As I read the scriptures, especially the words of Jesus I think it’s fairly hard not to be. I mean if your going to take the words of Jesus seriously, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” “Don’t resist an evil doer.” The list goes on… just read The Sermon on the Mount. So for me it’s hard not to be a pacifist when i read these words. Now I respect people who have differing opinions than me but for me, I think it’s hard to read these word of Jesus and then pick up a gun and go kill people to protect the things I love; God, country, family, etc. That’s a hard move for me to make.

But like my trendy, wise, Christian rocker friend stated, “You’ll understand when you have kids.”

Well now I have a kid. And to be honest what my friend said has really stuck with me. I understand the difficulty with even the IDEA of being a pacifist, especially in our world. I really do. And when I’m honest and people ask me if i’m a pacifist my response is, “Well, I want to be.” I say that because I know in reality I am bent toward violence and reaction. I understand that about myself. But I also feel like I understand that the most faithful // Faith-Full thing to do is to follow Jesus and that’s isn’t always easy or the way i am naturally bent.

Now I often tell people who roll there eyes at me for even suggesting the idea of pacifism that, “non-violence isn’t necessarily non-action.” I think that is an important caveat to the conversation, but another conversation altogether.

As I reflect on my stance as a pacifist and my now status as a father I’m trying to decide if my wise rocker friend was correct. Does the love I have for my son negate my ideological position as a pacifist?

For the first few months of Jacks existence (Jack is my son) I would take him when he was crying into my office and play a few of his favorite tunes. The 2 songs that seemed to calm him the most were, 1) The Hope That Lies Within 2) Oh How He Loves – both recorded by The Glorious Unseen. (great album, you should get if you don’t have it). But I would blast these songs and sing them into my infant sons ear and he would, miraculously, calm down. And almost every time I would sing these words,

“He is jealous for me (I would sing you)
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy
When all of the sudden I am unaware of these affliction eclipsed my glory
I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affection are for me

O, How He love us so
O how he love us
O, How He love us so”

…almost every time I would sing these words I would think about that comment, “You’ll understand once you have kids.” As I would sing those songs into Jacks little ears, telling him how much God loves him, I would realize how much I love him and how I would do anything for him and to protect him. And I would think, “was he right? Do I now understand?”

But in the midst of those thoughts I would realize that my love for my son can’t be stronger than God’s love for my son OR God’s love for his son. And in the mystery of the Trinity God’s love for God’s self which, more often then we are aware of, is turned in our direction and lavished upon us. This infinite and incomprehensible love that’s exists within God’s self and is poured out on humanity with undeserved regularity. This love that I can’t even fathom is directed from the heart of God to my son Jack every second of every moment and in the same way it was directed toward Jesus in every line we read of scripture, every space we ignore, every pause we skim over, and in every possible way we don’t even think of, God was in constant Love for his son. Even when his Son was hanging on a tree, bleeding and hurting, being killed by the enemy, LOVE WAS THERE. I don’t understand that but I pray God would fill me with the faith to embrace that moment of divine love that we witness in the crucificition of Jesus and I pray even harder as a father that God would gift me with even a small portion of the love I witness in that cosmic even of the cross for my son Jack.

And if I can receive that gift, even in part and as feebly as I am capable of, I believe I can continue to be faith-full to the words of Jesus, living the way of a hopeful, aspiring, would-be pacifist father. Which might be the only way any of us are capable of doing it anyway.

So was my friend right?
I don’t think so. Not if I believe in the power of the resurrection and the hope that lies within! I don’t think he was.

Grace and peace
from a would-be pacifist and an awestruck father!

erik

PS :: if you would like a resource to further this conversation here is a REALLY good one!

What would you do if? This little book entitled :: What Would You DO is a great resource to help you think through the challenges and questions of being a pacifist. It’s a great read from a few voices, put together by John Howard Yoder. Who is a stud and somebody you should read! Without a doubt!
:: Politics of Jesus
:: The Original Revolution
:: Body Politics
// TO NAME A FEW…

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