Advocating for the vulnerable

I about wore myself out last Friday walking 🚶🏼‍♀️ over 15,000 steps through the halls of Congress advocating for the immigrant and the refugee with The Justice Institute and World Relief. We had some very hopeful meetings. We won’t talk about the ones that weren’t. I am very grateful for all the hardworking public servants who work for us with heart. It is obvious when they do. Special thanks go to Senator Warner for providing sustenance from #Sabra. Apparently, they produce their hummus in Virginia and I’m a #hummusaddict.

As Christians, we approached our dialogue from the literal thought of #WWJD, or what would any compassionate country do? We advocated for family reunification, for opposition to amending the Flores agreement that would allow children to be detained indefinitely. We advocated to bring back Family Case Management which only costs on average $36/day versus private detention at $700/day. We stated the obvious, that kids 🧒 do not belong in jail and neither do adults seeking asylum. We also pushed for a standalone #DACA bill. These kids are more American than not, as they have been living here almost all their lives. For many, English is their first language. We emphatically stated and reminded them that refugees are the most strenuously vetted immigrants and asked them to support raising the ceiling to 75,000 refugees next year. To whom much is given much is expected. We cannot morally afford to be selfish.  We can be both pro-security AND pro-compassion, they are not mutually exclusive… and refugees benefit our economy. The decline in refugees is leaving those persecuted for their faith vulnerable. Advocacy is based on the justice of God to change an unjust situation. So let’s #justdoit.

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Love #RichardRohr 2

Every day I receive his meditations.  Each one is thought-provoking. This series on the history of Christianity is worth preserving here on my blog as his thinking has highly influenced mine, and it’s fascinating to hear it from another vantage point.

Early Christianity

A Changing Religion
Monday, September 3, 2018

Much of what Jesus taught seems to have been followed closely during the first several hundred years after his death and resurrection. As long as Jesus’ followers were on the bottom and the edge of empire, as long as they shared the rejected and betrayed status of Jesus, they could grasp his teaching more readily. Values like nonparticipation in war, simple living, inclusivity, and love of enemies could be more easily understood when Christians were gathering secretly in the catacombs, when their faith was untouched by empire, rationalization, and compromise.

Several writings illustrate this early commitment to Jesus’ teachings on simplicity and generosity. For example, the Didache, compiled around 90 CE, says: “Share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more in things which perish!” [1]

The last great formal persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire ended in 311 CE. In 313, Constantine (c. 272-337) legalized Christianity. It became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380. After this structural change, Christianity increasingly accepted, and even defended, the dominant social order, especially concerning money and war. Morality became individualized and largely focused on sexuality. The church slowly lost its free and alternative vantage point. Texts written in the hundred years preceding 313 show it was unthinkable that a Christian would fight in the army, as the army was killing Christians. By the year 400, the entire army had become Christian, and they were now killing the “pagans.”

Before 313, the church was on the bottom of society, which is the privileged vantage point for understanding the liberating power of Gospel for both the individual and for society. Within the space of a few decades, the church moved from the bottom to the top, literally from the catacombs to the basilicas. The Roman basilicas were large buildings for court and other public assembly, and they became Christian worship spaces.

When the Christian church became the established religion of the empire, it started reading the Gospel from the position of maintaining power and social order instead of experiencing the profound power of powerlessness that Jesus revealed. In a sense, Christianity almost became a different religion!

The failing Roman Empire needed an emperor, and Jesus was used to fill the power gap. In effect, we Christians took Jesus out of the Trinity and made him into God on a throne. An imperial system needs law and order and clear belonging systems more than it wants mercy, meekness, or transformation. Much of Jesus’ teaching about simple living, nonviolence, inclusivity, and love of enemies became incomprehensible. Relationship—the shape of God as Trinity—was no longer as important. Christianity’s view of God changed: the Father became angry and distant, Jesus was reduced to an organizing principle, and for all practical and dynamic purposes, the Holy Spirit was forgotten.

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Love #RichardRohr

Richard Rohr is someone I have followed for some time. He is one of those who has helped me hang on to my faith. Or more accurately, has helped me understand what is true and lovely. I am grateful.

Early Christianity

The Beginnings of the Way

Sunday, September 2, 2018

If we look closely at the evolution of religion over time, we see that there has been gradual growth toward the goal of union with God. Religions continue to change, “transcending and including,” as Ken Wilber says, learning from old ways and opening to new. Christianity is no different from other religions in this regard. Over the next few weeks, I will focus on people and communities within Christianity who were somehow transformed and “got it” at a mature level for their time in history.

Christianity first emerged not as a new religion, but as a reform and sect of Judaism within Judea and the Mediterranean. Wherever Paul, Peter, and other early missionaries traveled, they formed small communities of believers in “The Way,” a movement that emphasized Jesus’ teachings, death, and resurrection as the path to transformation. Gradually the movement grew and took on a life of its own, welcoming non-Jews as well as Jews, becoming more inclusive and grace-oriented, until it eventually called itself “catholic” or universal. By 80 CE, there were Christians as far away as India and France.

The “Early Church” period (the five hundred or so years following Jesus’ resurrection) was a time of dramatic change in culture, politics, and economy. All these changes affected the development of the fledgling religion, shaping liturgy, rituals, and theology. Historian Diana Butler Bass writes, “for all the complexity of primitive Christianity, a startling idea runs through early records of faith: Christianity seems to have succeeded because it transformed the lives of people in a chaotic world.” [1] During this time, Christianity was not so much about doctrines or eternal salvation, but about how to live a better life here and now, within the “Reign of God.”

From the perspective of occupying Roman powers, the Christian sect was radical because it encouraged alternative behaviors that were both attractive to those at the bottom and threatening to the worldview of empire. Rather than acquiring wealth, this new sect shared possessions equally. Followers of The Way lived together with people of different ethnicities and social classes rather than following classist and cultural norms.

Early Christianity is largely unknown and of little interest to most Western Christians. The very things the early Christians emphasized—such as the prayer of quiet, the Trinity, divinization, universal restoration, and the importance of practice—have been neglected, to our own detriment. With the schism between what are now the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in 1054 CE, Christians, in effect, excommunicated one another. Every time the church divided, it also divided up Christ, and both sides of the divide were weaker as a result.

Through these meditations, I will try to reclaim some of the forgotten pieces of the Christian tradition for our wholeness and blessing, hopefully bringing us closer to what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God. Not knowing this early heritage will allow us to cling to superficial Christian distinctions that emerged much later, and largely as historical accidents. ~Richard Rohr

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How did we get here #ColinKaepernick

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If God chose Trump

Hey, if one now believes God chose Trump in 2016, then they need to accept that God chose Obama in 2008, and provided Obama with a Congress that voted in the Affordable Care Act and other legislation that helped the marginalized, the poor, and the immigrant. Those same people who say God chose Trump, want us to believe that God has reversed course and would have laws dismantled that were designed to help the people Jesus Christ called on us to feed, heal, care for, and love. I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that God would flip-flop on this. It’s time to accept that our free will plays the deciding hand in the fate of this Nation. For better or worse, it’s on our shoulders.

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When the baby of the family turns 25

You would think that when your baby turns 25, you would finally be able to admit that you have gotten a wee bit older! I do admit it, I do! I mean, after all, Samuel Nehemiah Smith, III is one-quarter of one century old as of 9:09 am EST this August 19, 2018, and he’s the baby.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU BUBBA! We love you so very much! ‘They’ say at 25 a brain is fully developed, so there’s that. You may now rent a car all by yourself! Other things you may do at 25, graduate from Law School & begin your first ‘real’ job! Things you have been doing for 25 years…. you have been a wonderful friend to many, a caring brother, a loving son, a compassionate human being. You have had some spectacular accomplishments in life. You are a wonderful husband to your beautiful wife, Sarah. You have a sweet sensitive soul. You are also a lover of history, Doctor Who, soccer, board games, hikes in the mountains, and those Jesus referred to as ‘the least of these.’ You live out your love for the world. We live out our love for you. So…..

We wish for you the happiest of birthdays! Celebrate 25 well! Love, Mom & Dad

 

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Celebrating 24 with you just last year! 

 

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Love is the only thing that matters. Period.

We’ve been watching #QueerEye on #Netflix! And wow! The #Fab5 could teach a thing or two about love to so many Christians. Including me. Watch it, and start with season 2 episode 1 and a box of tissues. With all the negativity swarming our culture over the past two years, this show is a strong breath of hope. It’s truly all about love.

If everyone who calls themselves Christian, woke up tomorrow to the realization that love is the only thing that matters. Period. The world overnight would be a completely different place, in the most amazing and beautiful way.

That is ^ my constant prayer. I had always assumed we would leave a world to our children that was a better version than the one we grew up in. The past two years all but extinguished that hope. Still, there are little seeds of hope planted in my head, often from small, even strange events and situations, that make my heart soar. This show is one of them. Another one, the one that introduced me to this show, was spending a staycation with all our kids at home under our roof for an entire week. There is nothing like spending time with stellar, interesting, compassionate, loving millennials (and yes, we did determine they are all millennials… by a hair) to make me realize the world is going to be ok. They may have their work cut out for them, but they are clearly up to the task.

Ultimately love awakens love. Love ends suspicion of the ‘other.’ Love ends superiority and ushers in humility. Love ends inferiority as only love can do. Love awakens love, which awakens love, which awakens love. Love changes life’s trajectory. Jesus set the example by prioritizing people over his own religion, customs, and traditions. And he is God. How much more should we have the same priorities? We must show love, well, actually be love, above all else. By doing/being that, we acknowledge people are more important than the law. Every face bears the image of God. That is really hard to accept at times. When we start thinking ‘others’ need Jesus more than we do, we begin to dehumanize. Think about your own children and your relationship with them. Hopefully it is one of unconditional love. Great parents will break their own rules when appropriate. God is a perfect parent. Connect the dots. Love absolutely is the only thing that matters. Period.

I believe this next generation will change the world.

Meet my tribe. Some of the next generation world changers. I love these people. Period.

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Prophetic

This is utterly prophetic. mobile.twitter.com/SATXIndivisible/status/1018774655870619649/video/1

#russian #electioninterference

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Happy Birthday Red Rover

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First Smith to Cuba!

Dear Ari!

I wish you the happiest of birthdays my dear middle child! I am simply in awe that 28 years have gone by since you entered our family bringing with you even more laughter & joy. You were our planned, yet surprise child, not knowing if you would be a ‘boy’ or ‘girl.’ The arrival of Smith baby #2 happened quickly before our doctor was even able to get to the hospital. When we heard ‘it’s a girl!’, we thought, easy peasy another girl, we’ve got this! 2016_09_21_18_50_47But no, we didn’t. You were night and day different than your big sister in a great many of ways.

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Middle child 🙂

Over the years you’ve challenged us to be better parents, although I am confident at times you thought we were very slow learners. IMG_4108_2The sense of wonder and adventure with a dose of quirky humour you embody made it completely logical that Conner would one day show up in your life!

We are so proud of the person you are! What a privilege it was last summer to have you home for a few weeks planning your wedding. Truly one of the highlights of my life, a fun & exciting adventure. Enjoy and celebrate your first birthday as a married woman!! 

Love you so!! Mom

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Dear Adeline,

UnknownWhen I started writing this online diary of public-private thoughts it was just before my first ever surgery and I wanted to leave something in writing for my family, just in case, you know….. Well, I am still here and since then I have often thought how wonderful it would have been had my grandparents left behind letters, diaries,  or personal papers, anything that gave a look into their private thoughts, concerns, admirations, struggles, loves, whatever gave a glimpse into their soul. I did interview my grandpa once, years ago. It was insightful, but I was in middle school, that interview would have been much more in-depth today.

I am certainly not a writer, but as I put my thoughts down here from time to time, it’s my hope that someday a future grandchild will ‘enjoy’ reading about her/his grandma, or Nonna :), getting a glimpse into the thoughts, prayers, hopes, and opinions on any given day in my life. Many years ago, during Ariana’s bedtime reading extravaganza, we were into a particular series of books in which the protagonist was named Adeline. One night Ariana declared that someday she might name her daughter Adeline. That memory was seared into my brain. Thoughts swirled in my head with that declaration, let’s just say, I love that name now. Anyway, since no other child has ever broached what name they may use someday for their future children, I’ll just address this note to Adeline.

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I had soaring hopes that when my children were all grown, the world would be an improved version, at least to some degree. With great consternation, I have to say today, that is not the case. Rather, we have taken too many steps backward. In the past two years, as a country and culture, we have sunk to a low I have never known in my lifetime.

My new soaring hopes tell me there is good news on the horizon. I believe with my whole heart, this new generation rising up will be an amazing catalyst for change, and all future generations will benefit. Love and peace will replace hate and war. Christians will no longer be seen as judgemental and hypocritical. They will be actual Christ followers modeling sacrificial love. That alone could transform our country and our world. Never again will 81% of Christians cave to fear and make an idol of a political candidate. A racist, misogynist, dictator wannabe will not be taken seriously, let alone electable. Our government will become a much more compassionate group of women and men, who understand their mission. They will be servants of the people, not kowtowers to corporations. Corporations will be held accountable to their employees, not just their stockholders. Poverty as we know it may not be entirely eradicated, but the playing field will be leveled, as the new and rising leaders make policy that benefits more than the 1%.

Call me a bleeding heart, a Pollyanna, or whatever else you can think of, but I see so much more good, pure, and lovely encroaching on the horizon. pexels-photo-132340.jpegLight does drives out darkness and pexels-photo-887349.jpeglove does win.

 

 

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