Asides

 Greetings in the Lord,
 
I’ve thought a great deal about what my blog might say right before I head into surgery again….(It’s a hip replacement surgery, the 2nd in four months)….and this is what I’d want our church and the Church at large to consider every single time we make vital decisions…..Image
 
“GOD LOVES LOST PEOPLE THEREFORE, WE SHOULD LOVE THEM AS WELL” when I came across this story in a book called, Alternative Spirituality For The Third Millennium, written by Mike Riddell.  He tells this story…
 
“Vincent has met and fallen in love with a young girl named Marilyn.  Neither one of them was seeking a relationship, but the relationship is seeking them.  Swept up by their emotions, the two become deeply involved.  Marilyn, a prostitute, is not prepared to fall in love and is certainly not prepared for the honesty love requires.  She must tell Vincent who she is, knowing full well it will probably mean the end to their relationship.
 
“Vincent?”
Mmmmm
 
There’s ah….there’s something we need to talk about.”  Vincent replys, “Only if you want to, I’m perfectly happy just to sit here and look at you.”  “Sorry this seems like something serious, like the beginning of a Dear John speech, truth be told.”
 
Marilyn says, “It’s about me and what I do.”  Vincent responds, “Yeah, I was wondering when you were going to pluck up the courage and tell me.  Are you an agent for the CIA?  Sorry, I’ll shut up.”
 
She is totally absorbed in the remains of her salad, anything to avoid his eyes.  “There is no easy way to say this…I’m a prostitute.  I sleep with men for a living.  It’s a business.  I’m very professional.”  Time and silence have this thing they do together.  They make a chasm that has no bottom to it.  And there you are, standing right on the edge of it.  Aware that at any moment you may be falling and falling and falling, with no hope of recovery.  At the moment they are at either side of it, each consumed by their private terror.  She looks up at last from her salad.  Vincent is crying.  The tears streaming down his cheeks, and he is biting his lip to keep himself from sobbing.  He wants to speak but he can’t, all he can do is look at her beautiful face.  She reaches a hand across to hold his.  She is beyond tears, empty and bleak and barren.  Vincent is mumbling something, but it’s incoherent through the pain.  And then he begins to repeat it over and over again.  “I love you, I love you, I love you.”  It is the most painful thing he could have said.  Her tears are flowing.  They grip each others hands, and lean their foreheads together.”
 
Marilyn expected Vincent to reject her, to pull away from her, to have nothing to do with her.  I believe in a strange and touching way Vincent did what Jesus does with us.  He looks beneath the behavior, sees our longing, and loves us despite our past.  Maybe we expect rejection and condemnation.  Maybe we even deserve it!  But when we come to Jesus we receive grace and forgiveness and hear over and over again, “I love you, I love you, I love you!”
 
Living in His grace,
 
Rick

God’s Never Ending Love

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I remember seeing this picture for the first time right before our students got together for their meeting.  It’s a Pulitzer Prize winning photo, taken by Kevin Carter in the Sudan in 1993.  This starving toddler, a little boy was trying to reach a feeding center when a hooded vulture landed nearby.  Carter took the picture because he thought it captured why he was in the Sudan.  It was his job to photograph the horrors and inequities.  He sold this photo to the New York Times and it first appeared in their March 26 edition in 1993.  In 1994 he won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo.  

 

Carter is reported to have waited 20 minutes for the vulture to leave and when it didn’t Carter chased it away and left the scene.  Two other reporters, Jose’ Luis and Luis Davilla, reported that they took very similar photos in the area…it was near a feeding center and the vultures came from a manure waste pit.

 

The rest of the story was the firestorm that ensued from public reaction.  How do you leave a toddler in that position?  How do you take a picture and walk away without doing anything about the situation?  Why did’nt you pick up the child and carry him to the feeding center after you scarred the vulture away?…so,

 

On July 27, 1994 just months after winning the Pulitzer Prize Kevin Carter drove to a place he used to play as a child and took his own life by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end into the driver’s window.  He died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of….33…His note read….

 

“I am depressed…without phone….money for rent….money for child support….money for debts….money!!!!  I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain…of starving, wounded children…”

 

I thought of Kevin Carter’s pain as he looked back on what he should of could of done..and I realized how many times I’ve passed by on the other side like the priest and levite in the story of the good Samaritan.  How every single one of us have chased the vulture away because it bothered us…but then realized, picking up the child involves too much time…too much of my involvement.  I think before any of us choose to condemn or throw rocks at Kevin Carter we’d better darn well examine our own hearts.

 

I remember a woman’s group getting a bunch of stuff ready for Africa…medical supplies and food…watching them pack each item carefully and beginning to feel good about what they were doing…and I’m not saying they shouldn’t…but I asked one or two of them what they were doing for the Hispanic kids at the school or at River City downtown….and they said, “Nothing right now.”  And I said, “It’s easy to help those we can have a long distant relationship with…harder for those who can know us in our own hometown.”  

 

It is my hope…it is my prayer, that we won’t just scare away vultures and we won’t be continually haunted by the pictures of guilt and pain…but that we will, as Jesus commanded “go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the world.”  For us at Gardenside Christian Church…here’s a loose paraphrase…”Go serve at JLA and Cardinal Valley, in Kentucky, in the Ghetto and Slums and people of Color, and then head to Africa.”

 

Love you all…(Thinking of Photographs)

 

Rick