Spirituality

Three Women of the Faith - Talk by Karen Wright Marsh

In this talk, given to a women's group in Charlottesville, Virginia, Karen Marsh shares powerful stories of three women of the faith with us as a means of pushing us to think about what emotions we are carrying, and how we are bringing them to the Lord.

Watch (or listen) to the video here.

Julian Norwich

Amanda Berry Smith

Thérèse of Lisieux

Letter to a recent graduate | Parents Celeste & Kurt Zuch

"Stand at the crossroads and look: ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."  Jeremiah 6:16

'Tis the season for graduations. I have been feverishly purchasing, monogramming, and delivering gifts for high school and college graduates. I have attended luncheons and dinners honoring my daughter and her friends who are graduating from high school this year.  And I have spent hours going through photographs to make a very special graduation video that captures her last 18 years in 8 minutes. 

Just the word "Graduation" invokes thoughts of fresh starts, new beginnings, and a plethora of opportunities. This can be exciting, but a little scary too. When I asked my daughter if she is excited or nervous to go away to college she responded "a little bit of both". 

The Israelites were given a totally fresh start when the Lord led them into the Promised Land. It was a graduation of sorts from slavery in Egypt and from 40 years of wandering in the desert. Imagine how excited, yet nervous, they were. At that point, they had 2 choices: 1) continue to follow the Lord who had been faithful to them or 2) rely on themselves and serve false idols. Over time the wrong choice was made. 

In Jeremiah 6:16 the prophet Jeremiah urged the people to "stand at the crossroads and look: ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."  Unfortunately, that verse ends by saying "But you said we will not walk in it". 

That “crossroads decision” brought about terrible consequences. God took his hand of protection off the people, and their beloved Jerusalem was destroyed.   Then they were taken captive in Babylon for 70 years. Their lives were never the same. If only they had listened to Jeremiah. 

Graduation is surely a time for a fresh start, but actually every brand new day brings new opportunities. Remember, when standing at the crossroads, call on God's wisdom.  He is more than happy to point us in the right direction through the Holy Spirit.  We can all use rest for our souls. 

Thoughts to Ponder:

1. If you have expressed faith in Jesus Christ then the Holy Spirit lives within you.  This means that a part of God is always with you!  Isn’t that comforting – especially if you are going out on your own for the first time?  The Holy Spirit desperately wants to provide wisdom and direction, but you have to call on the Holy Spirit through prayer and then be quiet and listen:  “Be still and know I am God”  Psalm 46:10

2. Think back to some “crossroads” that you have encountered thus far. What decision did you make?  How did it turn out?  Was God a part of the decision or not?  How could you make God a part of your decisions in the future? 

 

In Christ,

Celeste and Kurt

Kurt and Celeste Zuch live in Dallas, Texas with their 4 teenage children. They have several years of experience leading Bible studies for both adults and teens. Their three biggest passions are Faith, Family and Education. That’s why they enjoy supporting organizations like Theological Horizons. Celeste is a UVA graduate (COMM ’91) and a die-hard Wahoo fan!

(Note:  Updated for the Theological Horizons’ website in May, 2019) 

"Prayer changes us." Mother Teresa

Some of you may know that we help support a small, diverse group of UVa women who live intentionally on the blurred borders of where the UVa world meets the broader community. This particularly diverse neighborhood, which is feeling the pressure of increased gentrification, has a rich history that the Perkins House has sought to honor. Knowing that prayer is in part listening, they formed a friendship with a local neighbor and are partnering to restore a historic church to create a space for building bridges between the past and present, between black and white, between UVa and the community. They are beginning with a Neighborhood Concert on March 30th.

Mother Teresa once said, "I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I'm supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I'm praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things." How might God be leading you to love your neighbor in a radical new way this month? 

GIVE THANKS WITH US FOR:

New friendships with students and community folks.

PLEASE PRAY WITH US FOR:   
UVa Sisters, Noelle McDonald and Norah McDonald, as their father was just diagnosed with a serious illness.

A friend just diagnosed with cancer.

Alison - for work on her dissertation.

Molly's dad as he struggles with a long term illness.

MacKenzie's dad as he fights a serious illness.

Our dear friend Ginny as she fights cancer.

Share your own petition  

PLEASE PRAY FOR THEOLOGICAL HORIZONS:

For our Spring Vintage lunch series on Sheroes & Heroes.

For the recruitment of our Horizons & Perkins Fellows for 2019-20. More here.

Safety over spring break.

-Christy Yates, Associate Director

The call to Lament | Reflections by Fellow Robert Cross '19

Last year the church that I attend in Charlottesville, Trinity Presbyterian, had a sermon series on the book of Lamentations. At first I was curious and a bit skeptical — isn’t “lament” just a biblical word for being sad? Will studying this Old Testament book be fruitful? Of course, I was wrong. Lament is integral to healing and is present throughout the Bible. After a semester of orienting our worship toward lamentation, I began to see the beauty and difficulty of lamenting.

One of my favorite parts of this process was a song I was introduced to, “How Long?” by Bifrost Arts. It's on an album of lamentation which cries out for wholeness in a broken world.  

How long? Will you turn your face away?

This is the first line of “How Long?” and it honestly and unapologetically calls out to God, mirroring the Psalms of lament. God wants our honest and open hearts.

Over the past year, I've encountered brokenness, sadness, and injustice in the world and have felt hopeless in its face. I’ve learned that lamentation requires that we name the hurt and cry to God for help. For me, this often means listening to others and learning from people around me, so I can join in their struggles for justice.

I took a class this past semester about the history of race and real estate in the United States, and it exposed me to a part of our nation's past I haven't encountered before, one of racism and quiet, insidious exclusion. My after-class conversations with another Fellow, Lindsay, lamented the remnants of past injustice and the reality of our broken world. We ended each conversation with more questions than answers, but in this small way we began to lament.  

This wasn't easy, but we continually tried to understand our place in this pain and in its healing.

Amen, Jesus, come! 

“How Long?” ends with the repeated refrain, “Amen, Jesus, come!” When we sing it at Trinity, we start quietly and end with powerful drums and bright tambourines. It gives me chills every time we sing it, because this movement reflects how we must lament. We may begin in fear and sadness, but we end with hope and faith.

As I approach the pain and brokenness in this world, it’s easy to become hopeless. The relationships we’re in, the families we love, and the systems we’re a part of are all broken and we see this -- and feel this -- deeply. After some conversations with Lindsay after class, I could only say, “Amen, Jesus, come!”

I don't know how to approach all the pain in our world. There’s too much of it for one person to bear (like Ms. May in The Secret Life of Bees), but it’s our job to enter into our own and otherss’ suffering as we cry for Jesus’ will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. So, while I begin this lifetime of joyful and hopeful lamenting, I can work to return His creation to wholeness with the hope that Jesus will one day wipe every tear from our eye. He is making all things new. In Him alone is our hope.

November Prayers | "Prayers are tools...for being and becoming." Eugene Peterson

Greetings, friends.

Like many of you, the words and life of Eugene Peterson have helped expand my imagination of a life lived well through faith. Peterson, who died last month, taught us to 'live eucharist,' to embody in our fleshly, daily lives the love and artistry of Jesus. He wrote that "prayers are tools not for doing or getting but for being and becoming." And within those words is the call to indwell our prayers, to listen to the still voice of God. He had a habit of memorizing the psalms and poetry, to literally hold the words within his imagination. 

How could our prayers transform us more into the likeness of the resurrected Christ? What habits might cultiviate a posture of listening and becoming, more than doing and getting?

Watch this short film with Eugene and Jan Peterson at their home in Montana.

GIVE THANKS WITH US FOR:

Our Capps Lecture with Jonathan Merritt. 

A successful board retreat.

PLEASE PRAY WITH US FOR:   

A dear friend whose father just committed suicide.

Jerry Capps, for physical healing and health.

Alison - for work on her dissertation.

Molly's dad as he struggles with a long term illness.

Our dear friend Ginny as she fights cancer.

Unspoken prayer requests

Share your own petition  

On practicing resurrection by Fellow SK Doyle '18

As my last year of college is drawing near to a close and as we as Christians are approaching the season of Easter, I’ve been reflecting on all the ways that newness and resurrection have enriched my life this year. Entering into my fourth year, I had expected to spend a lot of time with the old: to spend time with wonderful old friends, reflect on old memories, and relish in my final times doing the same old things in the same old places. And while I have certainly done a lot of that and am grateful for the roots I’ve put down here, what has surprised me in this year has been the opportunities to dwell in the new. I moved into a new house with five other women who quickly became new friends and taught me new things about food justice, Instagram meme accounts, gratitude, and love. I discovered new bands and started listening to new podcasts. I made other new friends in classes where I continue to learn about new ways of seeing the world. I learned new ways of taking care of myself and giving myself to others, and it is comforting to know that even a place I thought I had gotten to know so deeply could have such vitality to continue to surprise and challenge me.

I have felt this newness deeply in the relationships I’ve built with the other eleven Horizons Fellows I have had the pleasure of getting to know this year. Spending time with these Fellows in our monthly meetings, over s’mores on the Lawn on a Friday night or late-night study sessions in the Theological Horizons office, I have deepened my belief that our triune God is fundamentally relational and reveals Herself in the relationships we stumble upon and cultivate. Some of the Fellows I’ve known for all four years at UVa, but many of them I likely would never have met without Theological Horizons. I’m grateful for the ways they’ve brought to life new ways of loving myself, others, and God. Earlier this year, we read Wendell Berry’s “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” together. The last stanza has become something of a mantra for me:

Be like the fox

Who makes more tracks than necessary,

Some in the wrong direction

Practice resurrection.

I have felt closely and deeply connected with God and Her constant newness and vitality in the relationships that have continued to be born and reborn even as my time in this place comes to a close. I have made lots of tracks, many in the wrong direction, as I’ve learned from and done life alongside the Horizon Fellows. We’ve practiced resurrection together and I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the role these eleven fellows and our fearless leader Christy have played in filling me with excitement for all of the new I will encounter after I leave this place. 

Worry, Maslow's pyramid and resting in Christ | Reflections from Fellow Sam Kesting, '18

As I continue to move through life, I have found that there are quite a few areas which lack consistency.  Relationships, academic performance, athletic skill, and even housing situations all seem to be in flux, for better or for worse.  With all of these facets of life on a roller coaster, often times the only thing that seems to be constant is worry and ironically, it is the uncertainties of life that feed the ever-present nagging in the back of one’s mind.

Just like a love of sunsets or a fear of deep, dark water, worry is one of those things that is uniquely human and just comes naturally to us.  It is impossible to fully escape its clutches and can even be incapacitating at times.  I often think about worry as it corresponds to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: a pyramid of what are considered to be necessities to an enriched and fulfilling human life.  While the pyramid is by no means a perfect illustration of needs for all cultures and societies, it is helpful when conceptualizing and compartmentalizing worry.

Principally, our existence is predicated on being able to anticipate answers to questions of survival such as when we will have our next meal, where we be able to find water, and how we will stay warm, dry and out of harms way.  From these physiological needs, the tiers of the pyramid ascend up through needs of safety, love and belonging, esteem, and finally self-actualization at the top.  While I certainly cannot speak for everyone, I would posit that most of the individuals reading this post do not live with daily worry regarding food and shelter, especially those of us reading this on the screen of an electronic device.  Many of us are blessed to be well-fed and sheltered regularly.  However, the upper four tiers on Maslow’s hierarchical pyramid are where things begin to fall apart.  Worry quickly descends into our minds and begins to grow dark, cold roots around our hearts.

First, we struggle with needs of safety.  Financial woes, abuse, and poor health (both mental and physical) plague our society.  Everyone is touched by these ills on a daily basis in some way and they can cripple the mind and soul with fear and worry.  Next, we are confronted by a yearning to belong.  Anywhere.  Spousal relationships, church groups, sports teams, book clubs, yoga class, or even a night out with a group of friends are all manifestations of attempts to meet this need.  On many occasions throughout life, it can feel like we are each one of the least wanted in our respective communities.  We also wrestle with problems of esteem.  We fail at work, in school, or in a relationship.  Our capacity for “success” as the world would define it crumbles and we see ourselves as worthless and with nothing to show for the years of life behind us.  Finally, we face challenges to self-actualization.  Work is often not fulfilling, our potential seems stifled, and we still do not have the slightest clue what we want to be when we grow up.  It is clear to see these upper four needs going unmet in those around us and even clearer still within our own persons.  Universities are environments replete with worry regarding these necessities and having been at one for the last four years, I can tell you it is ubiquitous.

The obvious question that follows these unmet needs asks how we fix them.  Do we not have seminars and counselors?  Medicines and therapies?  Clubs, dating websites, and self-help books?  Why do all of them fail us?  What are we missing?  Why do we continue to worry?

I have been blessed to have grown up in a family of faith and many wise voices have poured into my life over the last 22 years.  From them, I have identified two methods for combating debilitating worry: resting in Christ and practicing thankfulness to learn to give generously.

Being a young kid dealing with worry and fear, I memorized 1 Peter 3:5 and Matthew 11:28.  These verses speak of casting anxiety and burdens on Christ and receiving rest and care in return.  As a child, this brought some comfort but in growing older these words become far easier said than done.  It can be difficult to see the Lord’s plan come to fruition in a tangible way, especially on His timeline.  Ultimately for me, resting in Christ has meant prayerfully laying plans, expectations, and worry at his feet and trusting that He knows what he is doing with them.  There have been many occasions in which I was filled with strife about the future and Christ has revealed His better way for my life.  Although there is and will be plenty of uncertainty, I can be free from trying to have it all figured out.

Thankfulness is like a muscle: left alone, it decays into nothing but when exercised, it flourishes.  It is far easier to dwell on what we do not have than what we do, especially in a state of constant comparison with those around us.  We will always be able to see the bigger, better, and more successful and our circumstances are rarely exactly to our liking.  I once had a director at a camp I worked at tell me that he was thankful for rainy days.  When I first heard this, I was a bit taken aback.  As a counselor, rainy days were usually the toughest.  It was always colder, kids got wet and frustrated, and activities were cancelled.  The director went on to explain how the rain watered the earth, reminded you that you were alive through discomfort, and led to more time indoors where important conversations could be had with the campers.  This taught me to find opportunity to be thankful in all things.  Much like thankfulness, generosity does not come easy.  We are selfish creatures and any extra time, money, or other resources that we have tend to immediately be used on our favorite person (ourselves).  However, in thankfulness, the seeds of generosity are sown.  Being thankful for our circumstances surely leads to the realization of the abundance that has already been given to us.  From this abundance, we are called to be open-handed and freely distribute what we have to others.

The worry that corresponds to the tiers of Maslow’s pyramid is countered through Christ and His church.  Safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization are found through prayer, study of scripture, and community with likeminded Christians.  Resting in Christ provides safety and belonging, thankfulness builds esteem, and generosity provides purpose.  Although a perfect and complete picture of needs being met will never occur on this fallen earth, glimpses can be realized through a relationship with Christ and interactions with those who love Him.  I have been blessed to be able to see these glimpses through others and in my own life at school and will hopefully continue to see them as I move on from this place.  While worry will never fully be dispelled, this perspective has helped to keep it in its place.

 

 

Holy Week: The things that make for peace

And throwing their garments on the colt, they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. 

The disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" 

… And when Jesus drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace!"     (Luke 19)

"Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord," the cry goes up.  People throw palm branches into the road in front of him as Jesus approaches, a poor man's ticker-tape parade.

Around a bend, there suddenly is Jerusalem. Jesus draws back on the reins. Crying disfigures his face. "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace." 

The things that make for peace.  We do not know these things, Jesus says, and God knows he's right. The absence of peace within our own skins no less than within our nations testifies to that. 

So as Holy Week begins, let us name instead the one who is himself the Prince of Peace.

Jesus is our only hope: the hope that finally by the grace of God the impossible will happen. 

Despair and hope. They travel the road to Jerusalem together, as together they travel every road we take ---despair at what we bring down upon our own heads and hope in him who travels the road with us and for us.  

Hope in the King who approaches every human heart like a city. And it is a very great hope as hopes go and well worth all our singing and dancing and sad little palms because not even death can prevail against this King and not even the end of the world, when end it does, will be the end of him and of the mystery and majesty of his love. 

Blessed be he.            (adapted from Frederick Buechner)

God in the whirlwind. Reflections by Perkins Fellow Dominique DeBose '19

Lately I've been feeling like I'm in the middle of a whirlwind*. A disorienting but comforting peacefulness at the core, accompanied by an eerie awareness of the fact that I am surrounded by gales of ungraspable uncertainty... I'm not sure if I should be encouraged or fearful. My vision is clouded... although what vision? The winds protect me, I suppose, or maybe limit me? I want to give my all to something, I want to go out into the world. But I don't know where. I have this mind-eating anxiety about what God's will for me is and a heart-aching desire to pursue it. Yet still, in light of all of my endless interests and passions, I refuse to think of God's will as a time-sensitive bus that I stand in wait for at a specific stop on the corner, worried that if I'm not paying attention, it will pass me by, and I will be left stranded. Instead, her will is of a daily state of mind. So, in that, I ask for WISDOM, FOCUS, PEACE, and RETENTION to go on living each day at a time. I don't know what I'm doing and I don't know where I am going. And that's okay. 

I've come to realize that God is too good to me to let me truly miss out on anything. A tolerant mother who just wants the best for me. Though in the midst of the whirlwind, I get frustrated and angry wondering why she speaks in indecipherable metaphors instead of clear answers, irritated because I cry out and hear no answer. I get annoyed because I thought she was good. But who am I but a child? Who am I to doubt her goodness that has already been so prevalent and revealed to me thus far. Life-giving friends and all the laughter and other good medicines they come with, community, and family that I would be a fool to not express my gratitude towards is what has been given to me. I am learning to live each day at a time, with all of its confusions, frustrations, and laughs. And each day at a time, I will continue to seek God's will with wisdom, focus, peace, and retention. 

*whirlwind: also, used in similes and metaphors to describe an energetic or tumultuous person

 

Lent 1: at the far side of the wilderness

Then you will call and the Lord will answer. You will cry for help and God will say, "I'm here." Isaiah 58:9

Moses led the flock he was tending to the far side of the wilderness
and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  
There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush...
Moses thought, 'I will go over and see this strange sight--why the bush does not burn up.'  
When the Lord saw that Moses had gone over to look,
God called to him from within the bush, 'Moses! Moses!'  
And Moses said, 'Here I am.'    Exodus 3:1-4

the burning bush.jpg

Where does Moses encounter God?  On the far side of the wilderness--that out of the way, untamed place where Moses slows down & tends his flock in quiet.  It's the ideal place for God to capture his attention.  Alone with his sheep, Moses can't help but see the steadily burning bush. He draws closer until God calls him by name: "Moses! Moses!" In this intimate meeting, God touches Moses to the depths of his heart.
During this time of Lent, I'm invited to travel to the far side of the wilderness, a place where nothing much is happening. In those moments away from the everyday chatter, manifestations of God's strange blazing beauty wait for me.  There God calls me by my name and hopes for my response, "Here I am."

Your wilderness can be a graced place.  Be still and let the things of God touch your heart.  Wait for God to whisper your name, to light a flame in your spirit, to speak of how beloved you are.

hosea 2_14.jpg

What Does Every College Kid Need? Good Friends. - Jodie Berndt

We are doing a book give away of Jodie's new book, Praying the Scriptures for your Adult Children! Email us your name and mailing address by midnight, Friday, January 12th and we'll announce the winners early next week!

I remember the high school counselor asking Robbie and me what we were looking for in a college for Hillary, our eldest. He expected, I guess, for us to say something like “affordable tuition” or “strong academic reputation” or even something lofty, like “opportunities to pursue bio-medical research.” I think the guy was a little stunned when I gave him my answer:  I wanted my daughter to go someplace where she would make good friends and enjoy strong Christian fellowship.

Fellowship is a tricky word. Author John Ortberg says it is “churchy,” and that it “suggests basements and red punch and awkward conversations.” I get that. But I also understand what Ortberg means when he says that fellowship is something we can’t live without. And when the time came to send Hillary—and then later, her siblings—off to college, my first prayers were for them to find life-giving friendships, the kind marked by things like loyalty, joy, and a vibrant commitment to Christ.

God answered those prayers, but the road to connectedness has not always been easy, or quick. I remember dropping Hillary off at U.Va. on Move-In Weekend. Someone had chalked a cheery greeting on the sidewalk steps: 

 

Steps.jpg

The words held such promise! But, two months later, as the newness wore off and homesickness set in, they seemed almost hollow. Hillary had a great roommate and her life swirled with classes and social activities, but she had not yet discovered “her people.” There was friendship space that had yet to be filled.

Our kids need good friends. We can’t make them for them, but we can certainly ask God to provide. And as we pray for this need—as we partner with God to accomplish his good purposes in our kids’ lives—let’s look to the Scriptures for insight on what matters most. There are, obviously, all sorts of ways we might pray; here are three of my top friendship requests:

Constancy. The Bible offers several portraits of friendships marked by loyalty, dependability, and faithfulness:  Jonathan and David. Ruth and Naomi. And of course Jesus, the one who promised to be with us “always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Let’s ask God to give our kids faithful friends and to draw them into a life-giving relationship with Jesus, the one who gave up his life “for his friends” (John 15:13).

Next, Transparency. When I was a student at U.Va., I had two roommates (Susan and Barbie), and we gave each other permission to be what we called “brutally honest.” It didn’t matter if we were critiquing an iffy outfit or confronting each other about a questionable behavior; we spoke the truth. We tried to do so with love, but even the gentlest rebukes sometimes hurt. “Faithful,” Proverbs 27:6 says, “are the wound of a friend.” Let’s ask God to give our college kids friends like that—friends with whom they can admit their mistakes and find restoration, forgiveness, and genuine love.

And finally, let’s pray that our kids will enjoy friendship with other believers, the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 13:14, the kind that fosters connection, not just on the natural level, but also in the deepest recesses of the soul. Friendships forged around common interests (sports teams, Greek life, good books) are wonderful, but when the common ground of eternity comes into play, the most satisfying relationships—the kind that transcend things like race, age, and socioeconomic background—can take root. Let’s ask God to surround our children with friends who will “spur them on toward love and good deeds” and run alongside them as they “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” (Hebrews 10:24, 2 Timothy 2:22)

If you like praying this way—taking the words we find in the Bible, and using them to give shape to our prayers—you’ll find hundreds of prayer prompts in my new book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children. In addition to the prayers about friendship, the book covers grown-up needs like getting a job, resisting the party culture, and making the transition to adulthood with wisdom, purpose, and grace.

It doesn’t matter how old our kids are, or how far away they may go. We never stop loving them. We never stop wanting God’s best for their lives. We might not be able to pick their friends (or anything else they might choose), but we can pray. We can slip our hand into God’s—the One who loves them enough, and is powerful enough, to do more than all we could ask or imagine—and trust him to do what he promised.

It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

_____________________________________

Jodie Berndt is a 1984 graduate of The University of Virginia and a former co-chair of the U.Va. Parents Fund Committee. The author of nine books (including the popular Praying the Scriptures series), Jodie is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher. Find her writing at JodieBerndt.com, or connect with her on Facebook (Jodie Berndt Writes), Instagram (@jodie_berndt), and Twitter (@jodieberndt).

Jodie and her husband, Robbie (Class of 1985), have four Wahoo children and two Hokie sons-in-law. Which, except during football season, is not such a bad thing.

 

 

Jubilee Year, Where a White, Middle-Aged, Relatively Rich, Overweight American Woman Tries to Live Out Some Sort of Biblical Jubilee | Cary Umhau

This blog post originally appeared on the Spacious blog. Cary will be sharing about her work and unlikely friendship with Joey Katona at Vintage Lunch on Oct. 6th. All are welcome. More info here

“And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man,” reads Genesis 9:5b.

How responsible are we? How seriously do we need to take this? Pretty much so, I’d imagine.

I heard a quote recently and like many good things I read and hear, I am not able to attribute it accurately. If you know the source, please tell me, and I’ll update. I think it could have been Rob Bell or Francis Chan. I listened to books of each of theirs on the same day on a LONG road trip (my favorite kind). Anyway, the quote was something to the effect that “When we feed someone, it means that we want him to go on living another day.” It’s an investment in them, a statement of the value of their life.

Here in Big Mac Land, we aren’t talking about sustenance for living or life-and-death calorie counts. But it still applies in the sense of desiring to nourish someone, provide something “life-giving.”

So when Genesis admonishes that we are going to be held accountable for the “life” of fellow man, certainly it includes actual life. So why, when I see someone sprawled out on the sidewalk or on a staircase in the more visibly hurting parts of my city (there is as much pain of a different sort in homes with manicured lawns), looking as if they are dead, do I not go see if they are in fact dead — or living but desperate? I shudder to think why I don’t.

And C.S. Lewis famously talks about our encounters with each glorious person (full of the glory of being God’s image-bearers) that we meet, and how it is incumbent on each of us to treat the other that way.

Here is an excerpt from Lewis’ Weight of Glory:

The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people.

So when we read in Genesis, “And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man,” we know that beyond doing anything we can to insure that our fellow man lives bodily, we are also charged with the privilege of taking their dignity and spiritual destiny seriously. And held accountable for such.