Tag Archives: homeless

How Will I Find God’s Peace

 

Luke 15: 11-32 Jesus’ story of “The Lost Son”

          The last few days, my thoughts have focused on Jesus’ story of “The Lost Son.” In movies, books, and life, I seek happy endings. I smile when the lost son realizes his folly and returns home. I nod when the grieving father runs out to meet him when he is still a long way off. The elder son’s response of anger and righteous judgment feels good and proper. The father’s response also feels good.  Will the elder son understand his father’s plea for love and mercy? We aren’t told, so I can fill in my happy ending. Both sons have learned how to love. Father is wiser.

How does Jesus’ story end today? Too often today, addiction swallows us up leaving us lost, sleeping on the streets, even murdered. Sometimes it’s our commitment to overwork, an extramarital relationship, total self-indulgence, that carries us away from family, loved ones, God. Unlike the lost son in Jesus’ story, we don’t return home. We may have started home many times but we stumbled again and again and again. We can’t stay on that homeward path.

And so, too often, as parents, spouses, children, friends, we are left sitting at the gate, still loving, still praying, still hoping, still weeping. The opportunity to run down the path, arms open wide, love pouring forth, never comes.

Too often, as elder siblings, we keep plugging away, doing our best, resentment hidden and growing, judgment made. We want to hang onto our rage, our self-righteousness. We’re sure we are right. We don’t want help forgiving those who are unforgivable. We don’t want to face God’s unconditional love, God’s endless mercy, let alone participate in it.

Today, whether we are the lost son, the elder brother or the loving parent, we go to our death still paralysed, still lost on life’s journey. And so we think there is no possibility for a happy ending.

For me, the Good News, the “happy ending” comes when we learn to trust our Christian story which tells us that the power of God’s love is so strong, God’s plan for each one of us so flexible, so creative, that even death cannot keep us paralyzed. In fact, death, in whatever form it comes, opens the way for “new life,” the happy ending.

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)

Jesus’ own life story tells us that whether our death brings forth the possibility of new life, transformation, abundance.

Today, whether we are facing the loss of a beloved person, the ending of a life-long dream, the closing of our precious church,– wherever we find ourselves present in Jesus’ story, we can trust that the resurrection will come. God will not be defeated. We may not see the transformation, but it will come, if not in this world than in the next. Weeping will end. Joy will come with the morning. We are not truly paralyzed. We can open ourselves to understanding, forgiveness and love. We can receive God’s peace that is beyond our understanding because we can trust in God’s transformation, whenever it happens.

God’s love will prevail

We have hope, for God has assured us there will be “a happy ending” in this life or the next. Our transformation is guaranteed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

We can hear and live Jesus’ words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27) For this, I am truly grateful.

 

Would you choose to place your newborn child in a “manger” to sleep?

Logos of Christmas – The Manger

There was no room in the Bethlehem Inn, the Bible tells us. So, Jesus was born in a stable and his parents laid him in the manger – the place where the animals were fed. As a child on the farm, I knew that a manger had high sides just like a crib. Our stable/barn, warmed by the animals that were housed there, was quiet and peaceful especially at night. Filled with soft, sweet smelling straw, a manger didn’t seem like such a bad place. After all my dad kept our stable relatively clean, although there were often big spiders and tiny mice living there.

By the time I was ten, I had soaked in the idea that we needed to make room in our hearts for the baby Jesus. That didn’t seem very hard. I loved babies. Why wouldn’t we make room for Jesus? I understood him to be loving and fun. After all, he played with the children, which was unusual for a famous speaker and healer.

Today, I’m aware of the much deeper symbolism of that manger, and of being born in a stable. I see people on the city streets wearing several layers of clothes, carrying all their belongings in plastic bags, sleeping on hot air vents and under bridges. I know there is a second face to homelessness. Loss of the income of one or the other or both wage-earners, through layoffs, downsizing, or out-sourcing, means no money for heat, or hydro, or shelter. Without extended family to take them in, whole families become homeless.

Mary and Joseph had come to their home town and still, there were no family or friends to care for them. Even money couldn’t get them a room at the inn.

The Christmas manger calls us to step outside of our comfortable world and remember the hungry, the homeless, the refugees. Jesus didn’t begin life in the wealth and luxury that many of us have living in Canada. It wasn’t his parents’ choice that he would be born in a stable, I’m sure. And yet, the manger bed carries a stronger call to love and care for all people, than a fancy crib in the finest palace would. This Christmas, listen to God’s call. Be generous. There is endless need.  

 “While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)  NRSV