What an emotional weekend it has been. Lots of subtle things going on around me, gentle reminders of God's presence all over the place, moving quietly in and out of the lives of the people I interacted with. At moments God spoke through the tears of some, and through the sincerity and thoughtful introspection of others. There is heartache in the lives of a couple of people I love dearly, situations with no quick fix or easy solutions. There has been a reaching out to me in love as I have in turn been trying to reach out to others in the ways I can.
Our children's sermon this morning was such a blessing, and a reminder that our family is worshipping with folks who are unique and extraordinary in their care and nurturing of us. Our new pastor is...well...she pretty much totally rocks. What I loved about her message to the kids this morning was how natural it was, how profoundly understanding it was of issues we deal with daily, and how it was just a part of how she views the world and not at all about making a point about any particular person.
She was talking about the various ways in which people see Jesus differently, and she had a picture projected up on the screen of Jesus surrounded by children in modern attire, and in typical multi-cultural style there were children of many colors surrounding him. On his lap was a blue eyed blond boy (and of course Jesus was depicted as Caucasian with blue eyes, regardless of the fact that there was almost no way he was fair skinned or blue eyed!). Our pastor then asks if we see anything wrong with this picture? After a couple of responses about Jesus' blue eyes, she gets to her point.
Why is it that you rarely see Jesus shown with a child of color on his lap? Yes, you read that right...she was bothered by the fact that the Asian child, the Indian child, the African child were not shown in the "seat of honor" but instead there was the perfect little Caucasian child being held by Jesus while the others looked on.
Matthew then spoke up and said "How come I can't sit on his lap?".
And once again I was brought up short, realizing that even at my best and most intuitive I can never truly understand what it is like to be Asian living in a Caucasian world and family. Subtle messages bombard our children without us even recognizing it, telling them over and over again that they are not good enough. You see very few Asians in our media. We don't recognize it, because we have been conditioned to see things such as this picture and not give it a second thought. It may not have been a purposeful slight on the part of the artist, but it goes to show how we become accustomed to seeing life in a certain way, and we don't usually question or even think much about it.
In our small congregation at the moment, our children are usually the only non-Caucasians in attendance. And yet our church family has never seen them as "Asian" or even really "adopted" other than when we are going through the process of bringing them home. Right now without me doing any pushing at all and having only brought the idea to one of our ministries, they are raising money for John Wright's work in Kyrgyzstan, and with their contributions have helped provide a way to make a living for one family and are working towards more mattresses to be made for seniors and orphans for whom the mere existence of a mattress to sleep on instead of cold concrete through the winter might truly save lives. Watching Kenny on his knees this morning peering at a poster with pictures of Kyrgyz folks right there in the sanctuary of his church half a world away from his old home, I thought how welcoming that is for a little boy to have the people around him show by their actions that he is accepted. Awhile back our congregation showed us in another way that we are loved, by adding the Russian word for peace to our closing circle refrain of words for peace...Shalom, Salaam, Shanti, Vrede, Paz, Mir, Peace.
For me, that is the real Jesus...he is present in each of us who embrace the Spirit, he lives because of these sorts of actions, actions like the ones our church takes, without fanfare or need for attention. My Jesus...the Jesus that lives in the hearts of the people I call my church family...that Jesus would try and scoop up ALL the kids and plop them on his knee!!
On another note, I managed to get my homework done for class this weekend, and I am so glad it is over! I am NOT a preacher, and it is very difficult for me to write and deliver a sermon. It is about the most uncomfortable thing I have ever done!! I don't know how anyone gets enough confidence to step up to the pulpit week after week. I enjoy my classmates a great deal, and it was great fun to hear all of their sermons. I still have one more class meeting in November and have to deliver 2 sermons for that session. How I hope I am not there for it!!! Not because of the fear factor of sermons, but because I hope we are winging our way to Kazakhstan!!
After class I had the luxury of dinner out with a close friend, and hours of conversation. When I arrived home I was treated to a big surprise...an envelope was laying on the table waiting for me. When I opened it, I found a gift card and a message from one of our blog followers to use it for the girls. What a sweet surprise it was...made all that much sweeter by seeing her family's faces on the card itself! It was the coolest thing! Somehow this company makes the gift card with your photo on it!! It touched me deeply, and will be used for girlie clothes! How much fun!
Well, time for bed as I have a field trip all day with Kenny tomorrow, and then Tuesday we begin the homeschooling for real! Maybe tomorrow night I will manage to get to bed before midnight. A special thanks for all the homeschooling tips and web sites...keep them coming! I am checking out absolutely every single thing you post and appreciate all your suggestions and advice!