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We started this blog as a way to frame our Lenten Refugee project for Lent 2010.  As Lent is now over, our blog entries have concluded. 

New readers may click the “about” tab for an introduction.  You’re welcome to browse through the archives of thoughts and links below.  Thanks for reading!

Jesus and angels

The Bible Study on Wednesday morning at First Lutheran was asked this question: “Why so much attention given to the angels?”  (We’ve begun to study The Letter to the Hebrews and most of chapter one expresses concern with angels)  We learned that the writer of The Letter to the Hebrews is concerned that a contingent of Christians were superseding their faith in Jesus with a renewed focus on angels and their spiritual dependence on them.  The writer is expressly clear that Jesus is the one who “made purification for sins, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become much superior to angels.”  Our group of 24 engaged in a broad discussion about their understandings of angels.  What do you believe about angels ?  Do you have a guardian angel?  How do you angels  to Jesus?  We’d love to hear from you.

Day Forty

Rogier VanDerWeyden, 1445

My final thought as a Lenten Refugee comes on Good Friday.  I would like our little experiment in self-denial to, in the end, turn our minds to those who suffer neglect this very day.  Since each of us are pilgrims and refugees in some way or another, let us remember the source of strength for all of us:

A Prayer for The Neglected

Almighty and most merciful God, we call to mind before you all whom it is easy to forget:  those who are homeless, destitute, sick, isolated, and all who have no one to care for them.  May we bring help and healing to those who are broken in body or spirit, that they might have comfort in sorrow, company in loneliness, and a place of safety and warmth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship, pg. 79

The Journey’s End

As we make our final preparations for our Good Friday services, I can now sigh a sigh of relief that I can move out of  my suitcase and back to normal.  But do I really want to?  Undoubtedly this has been the healthiest Lenten season I’ve walked through as a pastor.  I have taken more time to rest and reflect than in past years, thanks to my refugee situation which took distracting items away from me.  In past years I may have focused on what I had given up rather than how to be thankful and make use of the few things I have.  I feel much richer, more taken care of, and here at the end of 40 days I feel rested and prepared for the next three days.  I am surprised!  I am thankful!  God provides richly in and through daily bread, even though we often beg for more.    All thanks be to God!

Day Thirty-Nine

Today is Maundy Thursday, and technically the end of the Lenten Season.  We will have one final post tomorrow and after that, the blog will remain up for a time though comments will be closed.  [Perhaps this is motivation for those of you who have been lurking — it’s your final chance to make your own reflections known!]

Tonight we will share the story of that final Passover meal Jesus celebrates with his disciples.  It is the time of First Communion for our 5th graders.  We have instructed them and their parents in the four weeks prior, and now it is time to experience tangible grace in the Sacrament.  We tell the story again tonight of how Jesus reinterprets that meal of freedom–that Passover seder–and takes his place in the drama of divine redemption.  In this moment so long ago, Jesus’ reinterpretation befuddles some of the disciples, challenges others…and by the end of the night, they are all scattered like stones.

One is not only a refugee when one is displaced geographically; one is a refugee emotionally and spiritually when one feels abandoned and forsaken. 

The psalmist says God is our refuge.  But Jesus is our refugee.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?  Words of impatience.  Yes, I am impatient for the journey to end, in fact I need to confess two infractions, two fines.  On Saturday I could not resist wearing a shirt not from my suitcase.  I felt like spring had sprung, I could not wait.  Yesterday I sat in the barber chair and had my spring haircut, I suppose I could argue that the only appointment time available for me this week was on Tuesday but then if I were truly patient I could have waited until next week.  Twenty more for a good cause.

Again, I see in my self the privilege of being able to pay a simple fine and get what I want, now!  Refugees who suffer what we cannot imagine probably cannot imagine my impatience.  Does an encamped refugee know of her/his day of release?  Can they allow themselves to believe what they are told about a possible release?  This small experience has drawn my mind to ponder the mind and plight of refugees.  Maybe because of this experience I will be a little more aware and even a bit more able to hear a true refugee story. 

The bigger picture is, however, how can we pursue forms of justice in and around the world?  Do we all need to share a bit of refugee plight to lessen that of others?

Day Thirty-Eight

A young woman returning home after working a year with those in poverty in Guatemala reflects on her life now, writing, ” …It is honestly VERY difficult to remove oneself (as an educated white person) from the ranks of privilege.  I was always very conscious that at any time, even with the economic crisis, I was much more employable than most in my situation would have been whenever I chose to rejoin that track. I am currently in a Fellows program to teach bilingual education, and it’ll be my first year ever earning more than the federal poverty guidelines.

Honestly, I’m scared of this change. I hope to save or donate most of the excess money I will suddenly have, but I’m afraid that consumer culture will push me toward a more middle-class lifestyle, and I may not have the strength to resist that pressure. I’ve been much happier with less money than with more.”

 

I agree that it is difficult to remove oneself from the ranks of privilege.  Perhaps, impossible.  We know that our Lenten journey has only been a small taste of being removed from that privilege of upward mobility.  I know that I enjoy it everyday–with my full-time job, my comfortable home, my adequate and nutritious food, my daily amenities, my disposable income.  One place were I see a difference, however, between myself and the quote above is that I am not afraid to return to my lifestyle.  I return to it with knowlege and compassion that I did not have before.  The question is, will I use my upward mobility for the good of others, or let that upward mobility lull me into a lifestyle of personal fulfillment?