Possessions and Love

Once St. Francis was asked why the Franciscans desired to give up all material belongings.  He answered…

“My Lord, if we had any possessions we should also be forced to have arms to protect them, since possessions are a cause of disputes and strife, and in many ways we should be hindered from loving God and our neighbor. Therefore in this life we wish to have no temporal possessions.” — St. Francis in The Legend of the Three Companions.

How do what you and I own hinder us from loving God and our neighbors?

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

 

 

Love is a Match in a Windstorm

This article is a reprint of an article written by Brooke Sexton
and published by the Simple Way in their May 2018 newsletter. 

At a recent Passover Seder, someone said that love means embracing complexity. I didn’t think that was true 20 years ago.

I thought (as The Simple Way name suggests) that love was simple. You just love.

When we started The Simple Way, I could see the path clearly. We would love. We would love each other, our neighbors, our enemies. When things were hard, we would love more. When we were hurt or vulnerable, we would love like Jesus loved and trust in the resurrection.

One of our dearest friends from those early years passed away recently. Casey was the perfect example of a good man addicted to heroin. I can’t count the number of times he cleaned the kitchen when I was exhausted from a day of cooking for whoever had come to the door.

Sitting on the steps, we would talk as much of my struggles and relationships as we would his. We drove him to countless rehab facilities and welcomed him back over and over again. We visited him in jail and went with him to identify his wife’s body at the coroner’s office. He held me when I cried, and he stole the Cuisinart my parents had given me for Christmas.

It was complex.

After a couple of years at The Simple Way, I would have told you that life and love were simple but hard. Now, I tend to think they are complex because we are.

I don’t think my young adult self was wrong. I’m thankful for the open trust she had, the community that held her up, and the love she was able to give and receive. But it wasn’t until I embraced the messiness, the unfairness, the ugliness, and the bittersweetness of loving people that I was able to actually do it.

Casey got out. He got clean. He moved away and got a job. Then, he reunited with his daughter and married again. Every morning, he would get on Facebook and greet the day and his friends with joy.

I’m thankful we shared our lives together for a season or two. Grateful he stole things from me and that he helped me. He taught me love does not grow by being subservient to the idea but by engaging with the person. He taught me how to light a match in a windstorm.

— Brooke

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Love speaks through the discarded clothes of refugees.

The picture is of an art installation at Canterbury Cathedral. Suspended from the ceiling are the clothes of refugees collected by the Anglicans who met the refugees on the beach with fresh dry clothes. There is a light at the center that glows when the natural light is dim.

“God has chosen to tell the story of humanity through the story of a refugee — Jesus was a refugee whose parents fled persecution… And it was in seeing the discarded grave clothes of Jesus in the tomb, that convinced the disciples that Jesus was risen… My prayer is that the discarded clothes will enlarge our hearts…”

— Canon Revd Nick Papadopulous

There are millions of Hispanic refugees in America who have fled starvation, violence, and joblessness.  They need a homeland.  What if we greeted them with clothes instead of a wall? It would be like greeting Jesus, wouldn’t it?

There is a short, but excellent video about the installation
that you can watch by clicking here.

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

What is Love?

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. — 1 John 3:16

Putting your life on the line for someone else… wow!  Now that’s love. But most of us won’t ever be put in that situation.

But have you ever needed people to just stand up for you? Have you ever needed people to just step in and give you a hand? Have you ever been hurting and just needed someone you could trust to talk with?

And no one showed up.

This is love: you are there for those who need you — not just when it is convenient or easy. But you are there because they need you.

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Made for Love

“We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family.” — Desmond Tutu

You are God’s masterpiece. So am I. So is your neighbor. So is your enemy.  Make sure you live this truth.  Make sure everyone who meets you knows how delighted God was when they were created! How much God loved them. How they have infinite worth to God. And treat them as such!

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Be Best

Be Best? Be Your Best? Be The Best? Or why not just Be Perfect?

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Mat 19:21)

Being The Best by definition means that there are others worst than you.  It’s a competition that isn’t always supported by loving your competition.

Being Your Best is a bit better, but it’s complex.  No one has time to be their best at everything. How do you decide where you will put your time and effort? Does it matter that you are doing your best at learning math, but not your best at loving others?

So… heck with being best.  Why not just be perfect? Jesus tells us how in the verse above. What he has to say is a summation of the radical love that Jesus calls us to — giving up what I have for those who need it.

Be best? Be perfect? Or Love Radically?

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Love has the Final Word.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Live differently with me! Refuse to accept unjust world systems as normal. Let us make room in our hearts for unarmed truth and unconditional love. You have my permission to hold me accountable to this!

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on Wipf and Stock Website.

Never Separated from Love

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” — Romans 8:35

Following Jesus is not a promise that all will be roses and sunshine.  It is a promise that even in the darkest night, the Holy Spirit is with us, loving us, experiencing our pain, and giving us peace and joy despite it all. Our hearts just have to be open to it.

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on Wipf and Stock Website.

 

True Reconciliation is the Result of Love

A friend of mine just got back from the Coventry Cathedral in the UK and brought me this prayer. Shortly after the Cathedral was destroyed during WWII, the words ‘Father Forgive’ were inscribed on the wall of the ruined chancel, and they made a commitment not to seek revenge, but to strive for forgiveness and reconciliation with those responsible.

Here is the prayer that has led Coventry in their commitment to reconciliation.  It serves as a reminder that when we pray about the problems of the world around us, we need to begin by acknowledging the roots of those problems in our own hearts.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
FATHER FORGIVE
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
FATHER FORGIVE
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
FATHER FORGIVE
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
FATHER FORGIVE
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
FATHER FORGIVE
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
FATHER FORGIVE
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
FATHER FORGIVE
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on Wipf and Stock Website.

Vessels of God’s Love

“Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.” — St. Clare of Assisi

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on Wipf and Stock Website.