Sunday, March 29, 2015

Loving Without Borders

Last week I read a story about a high school in New York celebrating National Foreign Language week. In a celebration of different cultures and in the spirit that America is a country full of diversity and citizens from around the world, Pine Bush High School decided it would have a student recite the Pledge of Allegiance in a different language each morning that week. 

Things went off the rails when they asked a girl to read the pledge in Arabic. Because apparently when we hear Arabic in America we instantly think terrorist. No, for real. Mere moments after finishing reciting the pledge, a poor high school girl was called a terrorist by fellow students. The ignorance of "This is America, speak English" began to fly. The class president who allowed the girl to read the pledge has been stripped of his duties as pledge reader each morning and will face possible impeachment. Because he let a girl read the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. There is no lack of hate in America.

As an American, I usually think about what the Bible says about how we relate to foreigners in terms of undocumented immigrants. But this morning when I read Deuteronomy 10, I had another thought. 

“For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. - Deuteronomy 10:17-19

This girl is in need of love. How many mosques were vandalized after 9/11 and could have used a loving hand to help them clean up. How many new citizens enter this country feeling lost, lonely, and rejected? I think we forget that people are not our enemy. If there's a living, breathing person, God loves them. There are sons and daughters of God who aren't home yet, and it's our love that will help show them the way! Race, language, nationality, non of these matter to God. We need to find a way of having them not matter to us. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Kind of Joy That Makes You Smile

Going from living in the suburbs with a nice back yard, to living in a loft in the city, I knew changes were coming. One of those changes was the dog. With no backyard, I could no longer simply just let the dog go outside so relieve himself or burn off some energy. If Charlie needs to be outside, I have to take him. It's a minor annoyance at times. Because taking the dog outside isn't just me putting the leash on him and going outside. It involves having to make sure Emily is dress appropriately for whatever the weather might be. Because she has to go outside with us. And we live on the second floor in a building that doesn't have an elevator. So you can forget ever using the stroller when mommy's at work. I don't have enough hands for that! (I know, I know. First world problems for sure.)

But I've come to enjoy these little trips outside. Because Emily loves them! The moment we step out into the hall, her little face lights up and the chatter machine kicks into high gear. It's a new and joyous experience for her every time.

If I could bottle the joy she gets just from seeing our dog, I imagine I'd sell enough of those bottles to retire in six months. People would want that kind of unadulterated, pure, and simple joy.

Emily gets excited about and is filled with joy at everything. And yes, I understand that's mostly because her world is opening up to her more and more every day. But it's fun to watch. It's infectious! I'm not sure what it would take to get me that excited or joyful. And that's the saddest thing of all.

Jesus said unless we become like little children (Matthew 18:3), we won't enter the kingdom of heaven. Most people say to have faith like a little child. But I think we also need to be joyful like a little child. The miracles of God are all around us and we've become so accustomed to them that we don't even notice them. We walk into that hallway at least twice every day and Emily is overjoyed and excited every time! We need more fresh eyed discovery. We need innocent and pure joy. We need to find ways of taking in the world around us better so we notice the miracles happening each and every day.

Because if we, as adults, have that kind of joy, we could make a difference in those around us!