A Place for Us

Though we work hard to ignore it, we live in a constant state of Threat Alert. Our radars highly attuned to stuff that doesn’t belong or places where we feel unwelcome. The modern life of high speed and low connection activates a part of our brains built to expel danger, leaving us pent up with rejection we’ve got to dole out somewhere.

This is a story about hydrangeas, cracked soda cans, a goat, a madman and a tree. And running through it is a story about us and Jesus.

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The Wild Goat: Intro

In Mark 5, the Gospel tells the strange story of a demon-possessed man, living among tombs, showing signs of self-mutilation, and liberated by Jesus. I have always wondered, how did the man find himself in such a situation? Why the pigs? As I studied the passage, I began to see in it a thoroughly modern story. A story of how we heap shame on those who are different in the hopes that we could find comfort in staying the same. And, finally, a story of Jesus who would not settle for the freedom of one man, but set out to break the system of oppression that had destroyed him.

We are only as sick as our secrets.

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Grace for the Demolition

The great mass of Jesus people who no longer feel like they have a fit anywhere cannot—by definition—be alone. We are, in fact, a community of travelers, making a way through the desert together, if we are willing to lean in and see each other and tell our stories.

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Lent is a Rebellion

For Lent, if we must give up gluten, let us give it up to discover the spiritual starvation it may be masking.  If we must go off Facebook, let us do it because every glance is a Siren’s call to avarice, envy, jealousy and self-aggrandizement.  Let us unplug to push all the demons of our own self-reliance to the surface.  Let’s prepare ourselves for the showdown between our wounded hearts, our weak knees, and the towering gods which have held us in their sway. 

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No Why in Pain

Too much religion and too much self-help have taught us to find a “why” in pain.  Like a hidden latch holding a door closed we believe that knowing some cause, some reason behind the suffering will bring us freedom.  It won’t.  Pain comes to us an all-too-regular unwelcome visitor, demanding our attention, drawing us into the simple now, with all its annoying sufferings. The invitation of pain is to widen the circle. To radically include all that we’ve wished to ignore.  To include the stories we’d dare not tell, the facts that scare us, the people whose rejections we shudder to feel. 

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Nick Richtsmeier Comments
Dear Church, Start Here:

Too many churches believe that as long as we’re having services, collecting a tithe, serving communion, hearing a sermon and singing some songs we’re at least still doing church.  It just simply isn’t so. The church’s sole reason for existence is to train us all up in the all-inclusive love revealed in Jesus.

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God, We Need a Silent Night

Jesus enters a world so much like our own, full of tumult and chaos, fear and distraction.  He enters it powerless, not with a silencing of His foes, but a silence within Himself. But in seeing my Christmas next to His, the one we noisily make and the one 2000 years ago made silent within the noise, I know which one I want.

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Nick RichtsmeierComment
The Holy Hollow

But if hope is what we are after, then helpless is where we begin.  Not by contriving some false humility, but by paying attention to the hungering dark, the deep places for which that none of our holiday do-gooding is doing any good.

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