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Trail Notes: 06/24/2018

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A Storm is Raging

A great windstorm arises and Jesus’ disciples are scared to death on their little boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.  What will happen? 

We know the end of the story: Jesus stills the storm and all are saved.  But before that could happen, Jesus had to wake up.  I picture the disciples shaking Jesus’ shoulders, shouting at him over the din of the wind and waves:  “Wake up!” 

Last Sunday, I had a wonderful day with my family, relaxing on Fathers’ Day.  I hope you did, too.  As a dad on Fathers’ Day, I think of the storms that have threatened my children over the years: illness, disappointment, rejection.  I feel supremely fortunate that Leslie and I have been able to manage these storms for the most part, and see our two kids safely and happily to adulthood.  We’ve had the resources to keep them safe and healthy, and give them an education. What a gift! 

But I also realize that many dads have no way of taking care of their children, and our own government is causing excruciating, heartbreaking damage to hundreds of families by separating children from their parents on our borders.  This report is from the grassroots organization People’s Action:

Imagine how horrific it would be to have your children torn from your arms and driven off in a car by agents. Then you’re taken to jail for asking for asylum at the border. Multiply this heartbreak times 1,800. This is how many families have been separated since February. Here are a couple of their stories.

Marco Antonio Muñoz, a father from Honduras, was separated from his son and wife by the policies of the Trump administration. Muñoz was so distraught he took his own life in detention.

Manuel Cano-Pacheco, a 19-year-old DACA recipient, was sent back to Mexico only to be murdered weeks later. Manuel leaves behind a one-year old son who’ll never know him.

This week Attorney General Sessions announced that people who seek asylum and claim that their husbands beat them, or that they are fleeing gang violence, will turned away and sent back to face domestic abuse and death.  

Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters have called these policies “immoral,” which they are (from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).  Our own Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has decried inhumane, immoral acts by any political or social group, through the joint statement “Reclaiming Jesus.”   As a father, a human being, and a follower of Jesus, I would object to such policies by any nation, and by any political party.  We cannot suspend our moral values when it comes to politics.  Somehow, we must fight these policies which destroy the dignity of human beings.  It’s part of our baptismal covenant. 

We need to “wake up” before we can help still the storm of family separation which would break any parent’s heart, and destroy the lives of little children.  JBM 


 

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Trail Notes: 06/17/2018

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As Jesus walked through Galilean fields, he often used what was at hand to teach and illustrate his message.  So it’s no surprise he spoke of seeds and grain, the growing cycle, the seasons, and the harvest.  Today we hear two short parables of the Kingdom, both based on small seeds growing into something great.  Jesus is saying God’s kingdom is like that. 

Living in metro D.C., we are rather divorced from these basic forces of life on earth.  I was back in my home state of Nebraska recently, and reminded of the huge fecundity of the land – how it is the source of life itself, food for all of us.  For the people around Jesus, it was a livelihood for many, and its produce was precious.  Pain and want were frequent visitors. 

In that world, Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God was a cause for hope: enough food for everybody, release from social and political oppression and violence, and the knowledge that we are loved by God – not just the wealthy righteous Pharisees, but also the poor, imperfect prostitutes, tax collectors, and other struggling souls – sinners all, like us. 

We think of fathers today – our own fathers, living or dead, and those of us who father others.  As a father, I feel a strong need to provide for my children, to give them all they need to grow, to be healthy and happy.  I imagine God feels this way about all of us, God’s own children. 

Whenever we can bring love and hope to a neighbor, we participate in that Kingdom of God.  When we share our wealth so others have enough, we are building that Kingdom.  When we stand up against the bigotry and indifference that are rampant in our society today, we are standing up for Jesus.  JBM


 

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Trail Notes: 6/10/2018

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Humanity Matures

The recent Walter Isaacson biography of Leonardo da Vinci depicts a brilliant, erratic, lovable man – a giant of both art and industry  - a true Renaissance man.  Leonardo was also a gay man, something that he didn’t hide.  He had long relationships with male lovers, even while he lived at court.  What happened between then and now? 

In our day, we have had to fight for that kind of acceptance of ways of living and loving that don’t conform to a traditional standard of heterosexual love or no love at all.  Both science and the experience of countless human beings have confirmed that humans live and love in many ways, naturally.  The joy and goodness I see in my many LGBTQ friends give me cause for hope that our human race can continue to become more loving, more compassionate, more accepting of difference. 

My friends have taught me much, through both honest discussion and gentle confrontation.  They have helped me grow in my understanding.  They have helped me move beyond “tolerance” and “acceptance” to real celebration of the rich variety of human life and experience – and that’s where PRIDE comes in.  PRIDE is affirmation, celebration, solidarity, and compassion, all wrapped up in one.  

As we study Jesus’ behavior with people who had been pushed to the margins of his society – poor people, lepers, disabled people, and notorious sinners – we see that Jesus did not distance himself.  Instead, he chose to become their allies: to walk with them and respect them in front of everybody.  If we wish to emulate our Lord Jesus today, we must become allies of marginalized people in our world.  An ally doesn’t stand by and listen to a hurtful remark or “joke,” but responds firmly.  It’s all part of our baptismal vow to “respect the dignity of every human being.”  JBM


 

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