Monday, March 14, 2011
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to grow up in a middle class family, where worrying about if we'd have enough food to eat or a safe place to live and sleep were never concerns. I have had opportunity after opportunity handed to me - the ability to travel and see the world, the opportunity to attend a university and now SEMINARY, the chance to go "back to school" shopping for a new wardrobe and new shoes each year.
And yet, as I'm reading Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution, my world is being rocked. It's like his words and the ideas he conveys on how to live a life of poverty and simplicity is one more chip into the mold of the life i've accepted and know so well - a comfortable existence. I've seen snapshots of what life is like in third world countries on mission trips, I've seen cases of homelessness and soup kitchens, but i've seen them through the windows of air-conditioned vehicles or with the mentality that I have an escape and can return to life as i know it whenever i want.
Here is the quote that has had my mind reeling since i read it: One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: "When i fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When i asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist." Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get crucified for charity. People are crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping poor people. People are crucified for joining them. - [Claiborne, 129]. As a girl from the suburbs, charity and giving to the poor is what's kosher, it's deemed enough. But is it enough? Are some people called to give generously (backed by the idea that "to whom much is given, much is expected")? Or are we all called to something more? Jesus lived his entire life amongst the poor, He was one of them. It wasn't a matter of how much should He give to the poor, it was a matter of choosing to live that lifestyle.
Given a choice, how much is enough? Because i've been blessed with a life of opportunity, can i be satisfied with simply giving? Are some people called to live a life of poverty and others called to give while continuing to live a comfortable life? Or is it one calling some take literally and abide by while others settle for charity? Am i asking, what next? and even considering a drastic life change because i envision an idealistic and inaccurate idea of poverty? How much have material items drowned out God's voice in our lives? How much is too much? Can I continue on living the way i do, if i use my education and future vocation for the greater good? While my dreams of international missions are still a possibility, what of the state and great need in this country? What if i could own a house and open it up to the homeless? What if i adopted a crazy amount of kids and gave them an opportunity for a "better" life? What if i was a foster mom and opened my house to kids who are struggling with feelings of abandonment and self worth? What if i didn't even own a home? As all of these questions plague my mind, I love Claiborne's response: Not everyone responds the same way. Some will give up their houses and leave their fields. Others will offer their possessions to the community and form hospitality houses like Mary and Martha, and Peter's family...There are Matthews who encounter Jesus and sell everything. But there are also the Zacchaeuses who will meet Jesus and redefine their careers. So not everyone responds in the same way, but we must respond" [Claiborne, 142].
We must respond. As a church full of people to whom God has unique purposes and unique callings for each individual, it is our job to respond, in one form or another: to glorify Him with our vocations, with the way we lead our lives, with the purchases we make, even down to the amount of clothes we buy, how much we spend on dining out, how much we give. Our calling may be as drastic as giving up a life of luxury for a life of poverty. After hearing countless messages and sermons on giving and the needs of this world, after seeing mere glimpses of poverty in different faces and places, is Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution the cherry on top, the final chip that will cause this mold of "life as i know it" to shatter? Here, as a twenty something woman who ha been giving much opportunity and an infinite amount of blessings, I am left wide-eyed and wondering - God, what is the lifestyle you are calling me to? How are you asking me to respond?
Thursday, March 3, 2011
It's decided: I am a book worm. The scene in Disney's Beauty and The Beast where the Beast gives Belle a huge library - book shelves from floor to ceiling packed FULL of books - would be a dream come true for me:
While that amount of books may be slightly overwhelming and may take more than a lifetime to get through, how cool would it be to have that many books at your finger tips? Seminary is a sweet blessing when it comes to never running out of things to read. While reading for class takes up the majority of my reading time, I try to set aside time for reading of my choice, as well. I am currently reading and/or will be reading the following list: Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli, The Great Omission by Dallas Willard, Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere and Forgotten God by Francis Chan. I cannot wait to crack open these books and absorb all the information, lessons and outlooks on life and faith they have to offer.
This short and slightly nonsensical rant about my passion for reading is a post of thanksgiving - i am so thankful for the written word. I am so thankful for the access i have to books - gosh i don't ever want to take this resource for granted! I am so in awe of the power behind the written word, the power of speech and the ability we have to put mere symbols/letters together to make words and sentences and stories and books, which allow us to COMMUNICATE. I am beyond thankful for the Living Word that serves as the backbone, foundation, guidance, direction, way to true life. Thank You, Lord.