As I pondered this past Sunday’s gospel passage in John 2, Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, the word that came to mind was “Disruption”. I usually think of disruption as something negative, but at times it is this disruptive Jesus who makes me feel and think about something that I hadn’t thought about or have forgotten about. Jesus shows me wrongs and injustices that anger me. Jesus makes me view the world in a new way and be transformed to live my life differently, or at the very least, moves me in a positive direction. So here are my disruptive moments/thoughts for this past week:
1. A 9 year old girl in Brazil who was pregnant with twins had an abortion this past week. It was soon found that the father of her twins is none other than her 23 year old stepfather who had been abusing her for some years. They are all catholic. In hearing this news, the archbishop of this town, with the backing of the cardinal in Rome, immediately excommunicates the doctors and the mother of this child. The young girl was not excommunicated since according to catholic law, a minor can not be excommunicated. And there was no mention of harsh words or excommunication of the stepfather. As the writer Mary Hunt points out,
at a time when a family most needs pastoral care, love and mercy (not to mention counseling and legal help), their church responds with a theological slap in the face. The Church is the cause of scandal. . . .In Roman Catholicism, according to these men, the law rules; letter over spirit, teachings over persons. One could ignore it, write it off as meaningless, except it’s hard to pass over the harm done to the people involved. They have suffered enough. They don’t deserve it. No one deserves it.
It saddens me that any Christian church and followers of Jesus would treat God’s people in such callous and uncaring way. How was God glorified in this instance? I wondered how angry Jesus would have been in this particular temple.
2. I was recently directed to John Piper’s thoughts on female wrestlers by a few bloggers that I read, including Eugene Cho. I am not talking about women flying off the top rope WWF style, but actual high school competition on the wrestling mat. It seems that Elissa Reinsma of Minnesota, is the first female wrestler to ever compete at the state level in wrestling. And John Piper, a well known name in Christian circles, doesn’t like it. And really that’s fine, because I now have a daughter of my own, and don’t know what to think if she ever wanted to be a wrestler, though I would be supportive and never stand in her way of trying anything. But I do not agree with his theology, scriptural usage and use of belittling language to describe how women should act or how men should treat women. Here is some of what he says,
Wrestling obliges you to grab, squeeze, and pull with all your might. If a boy tries not to touch or grasp a wrestler around the chest, or not to let his legs entwine with the other wrestler, or not to slam his full body length on hers, he will wrestle with a handicap. Of course, he is being taught that handicap is not a virtue. . . Get real, dads. You know exactly what almost every healthy boy is thinking. If a jock from Northern Minnesota encircles her around the breasts and twists his leg around her thighs, trust me, he will dream about that tonight. Only in his dream she won’t have clothes on. And if he doesn’t dream it, half the boys in the crowd will. Wake up dads. You know this. .
He goes on to say by using 1 Peter 3:7, “woman as the weaker vessel”, that fathers should teach their sons to honor and protect girls/women.
I do not know John Piper, except for a few articles and blog entries, but I do know that if the only thing a son thinks about when he is in competition with a girl is sex, a father has much more to teach his son than honoring them a “weaker vessel”, which certainly he is not. Blog entries such as this from a very popular Christian leader makes me think that women’s viewpoints and voices are needed in all facets of society, and needs to be heard just as loud and clear.
3. Which brings me to the excellent blog entry written by Julie Clawson on women or the lack of women’s voices in the emerging church movement. It is a much needed read and something that should be heard by both men and women. The part of the blog entry that hit me the most as a man is:
I think men and women need to work together, mutually making sacrifices, to ensure that the conversation is a welcoming place for all. Men should take the time to extend invitations to women. They shouldn’t just assume that if women aren’t showing up to the conversation that they don’t want to be there. Taking the time to make room for women, going out of their way to extend invitations, and showing a willingness to learn from women are just the sorts of encouragements that many women need.
An invitation, so simple, yet powerful and difficult to do. It is not only about making room with an extra chair at the table, but also about giving up your power, giving up some of your time, opening your mind to new possibilities and giving up your voice so that other voices can be heard, encouraged and empowered. This idea is not just appropriate to the emerging church but to churches and society in general.
4. And finally, I came across a short article in CNN about homelessness in America. 1 in 50 children in this great country of ours is homeless. This is from a 2005-06 analyzed data. At that time, 1.5 million children were homeless and they are sure that number has increased. Just heard on NPR a few days ago that in the town of Richmond, California, just across the bay from where I live, the number of homeless children enrolled in public school has doubled this past year, from around 350 to now well over 700. We know of the many problems associated with homelessness including the physical and the emotional, and most of these children will never finish high school. I know that homelessness and hunger issues are difficult and multifaceted problems to solve, but as I work with my church to forge a way for the future and to be missional in reaching out to the world as Jesus did, I feel that we must do something. I recently heard an interview with Jody Williams, a woman who won a nobel peace prize 1997 for her work with International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and who continues to work for other causes said, “I don’t care where you volunteer. Just be passionate about something and then get off of your butts and do something about it. Just imagine what this world could be like if everyone just gave 1 hour a month to a cause they feel passionate about.” This has given me the impetus to work towards opening a food pantry at the church building for those who are hungry and with needs around our neighborhood. I am sure it will not be easy since this I serve a church that built tall iron fences around the courtyard 10-15 years ago to keep out all of the homeless in the area, but when Jesus disrupts, one must follow.
In many ways, the Christian life is about disruptions. It is about Jesus disrupting me from passivity and apathy to action, new possibilities and hope. So as I live my life, I will continue to be open to Jesus breaking in and disrupting my life over and over again.