Sunday, August 24, 2014

Flopping Fish, the Filterless Filter, and Room to Spin - a meditation on Peter and the church

MATTHEW 16:13-20
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

You guys. If I have to step on one more lego or bang my knee on one more corner or stare at my pile of clutter and books and clothes and stuff that has no place to go, I think I’m going to go mad. My house is so small. Not Nigeria-hut-in-a-slum small. So I really have no right to complain. But still, I do. 851 square feet. We’re on top of each other. And I feel bad, too, because my boys have to share a room so small that they wake each other up at night with each cough, roll over, and dream-induced laughter. Every square inch of my house is occupied by something, has some specific function. If Jonah pulls out his trains and begins building a track, the house is a wreck. If Levi wants to practice his newfound skill of running, it will end in a collision with the furniture, a black eye, and a goose egg.

So, this week, as I tend to do about once every six weeks or so, I had a freak-out moment where I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I started to concoct strange, hair-brained ideas for how to get us out of this house and into a bigger one. If we shuffle that loan, or beg that mortgage guy, or bother that realtor to show us a “fixer upper” in a sketchy neighborhood that has 150 more square feet than our current house, maybe we could make it work. If we ask the in-laws for yet another loan, or take on a little more debt or sell a car, if we post one more link on Facebook, maybe we could move, and I won’t feel so crammed, these walls won’t feel like they’re closing in around me, I could hear myself think, and we could fix this.

And then I worry and wrestle and think and stay up all night wondering what our next step should be. 

And then the house gets sold, or the application falls through, or Dan doesn’t like the house, or we don’t get the mortgage, or really, we should just wait until we get “real” jobs. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I just need a little room. A place to stretch out.  Some space to breathe and hear myself think. A place where my boys can pretend to be helicopters and spin and spin and spin until they can’t hold themselves up any more, and I won’t have to worry about rabid coffee tables and attack storage shelves. A place where Dan and I could be a little cluttery, a little messy, without the whole house becoming a wreck. A place where my kids can take empty boxes and duct tape and yards and yards of rope and toilet paper tubes and turn them into trucks and airplanes and trailers, and I won’t want to stop them because of the mess they’re going to make. I might actually want to join in on the fun.

My friend was telling me about this place, Pymatuning Spillway - their motto is “where the ducks walk on the fish.” It’s this place where they’ve been throwing hotdog buns, ho-ho’s, and slices of Wonder bread at the carp since the 1930s. And if you look it up online, you see pictures of fish on top of fish, a foundation of fish so thick the ducks walk on their heads, and their tails are flopping and writhing and their mouths are gaping open for another bite of government subsidized wheat and high fructose corn syrup. Who knows how many black eyes they’ve caused each other.

Sometimes I feel like my house is the Pymatuning Spillway. 

And I bet that sometimes, you’re wishing this place, this church, were more like the Pymatuning Spillway, and less like a struggling church on a Sunday morning. More people in the pews, more folks to help clean and plan and keep this place open.

I often dream of the giant church, teeming with misfits and kids and coffeehouses and hip outreach programs to the seedier parts of the city. I’m tempted by attracting throngs of people from across the bridges and through the tunnels who come to hear me speak, who come to throw a check into the offering plate and volunteer for the homeless ministry and the community meal and the free daycare and support a full-time pastor. All of us flopping around in the lake, undulating our bodies for the sake of a slice of stale bread.

But when I’m honest with myself, and I think about what the church really needs, what we’re really called to, it’s not to one more program, one more thing to do, not even necessarily one more way to serve or social injustice to right. We’re called to breathe. 

This is what Jesus is doing when he asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”

Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am,” is fundamentally tied to what the Church should be. The question of who Jesus is is in direct relationship with what the church is. How we answer the question, “Who do you say that I am” determines how we do church.

If Jesus is a prize to be won, then our church becomes a carnival where those with the best shot and the strongest arm gets to take him home.

If Jesus is a commodity to be bought, then our church becomes the stock exchange, full of people shouting and meaningless trades are made, and Jesus’ stock wavers with the price of oil and consumer confidence.

If Jesus is a warm fuzzy, then the church becomes “Build A Bear” - that place where you fill a lifeless Jesus with polyester stuffing and dress him up in a tutu or a fireman rain jacket.

If Jesus is an academic exercise, then the church becomes the university where Jesus wanders around in texts and in elevated conversations, and the ones with the degrees get the best and the clearest access to the Kingdom.

If Jesus is a secret code, then the church is a computer, a series of zeroes and ones, that, if put in the right order, will reveal an operating system, a way to plug in the right algorithm and get the answer for every possible scenario.

If Jesus is Santa Claus, then the church is a shopping mall, and we wander from store to store, making lists, sitting on laps, asking for more stuff.

If Jesus is about having your house in order, then I’m in big, big trouble.

Jesus asks his friends, “Who do you say that I am?”
And Peter blunders forward, without thinking, without questioning, without processing or weighing the costs. He comes to the feet of Jesus and shouts out, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!” 
And Jesus says, essentially, “because of the way that you’ve answered, because of your floundering, and stumbling, and your commitment and your willingness to make such a pronouncement and your faith in me and in the Living God, I’m giving you the keys to the kingdom.”

“You, Peter, who speaks before thinking and does before counting the costs, who jumps in and forgets that you can’t walk on water, you, who have no filter, who blurts out whatever is on your mind, to you I give the keys, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The one who has no filter is the one who is put in charge of the Kingdom of God.

Peter, the blundering idiot who is an organizational and categorical mess, whose heart is in the right place, unless he’s scared to death of course, is the one who is the Rock, the foundation of the Church.

I don’t think too much emphasis can be put on this point. The Church’s foundation is fundamentally faulty. It’s crumbling. It’s enthused and ready and all in one moment, and then running off and denying Jesus the next. And this guy is given the keys - the filter - that will determine who is in and who is out. The one who has no filter becomes the filter.

Because it’s not the answer to the question that is important. It’s the how of how we answer the question.

Because I don’t really care who you think you are, whether a cradle Catholic or a rational atheist or a born again Christian, your attempt to answer the question, “Who do you say that I am,” will be wrong. You’re going to get it wrong. We’ve all got God a little bit wrong. None of us truly, fully, get it. Or if you do get it right, like Peter, you’re not really going to understand what you’ve just said.

It has never been about answers — if it was, then Jesus would have reneged his offer to Peter to be the foundation of his church. After all, just a few verses later, Peter is going to be called Satan by Jesus, and then later, he’s going to deny Jesus three times, and he’s going to get into big theological fights with Paul at the church’s earliest inception.

It’s not about the answer, really. But about HOW we answer the question.

I think the church has worried about getting enough people into a building all nodding in unison to the “right” answer to the question. So of course, when put this way, the Church is dying. We no longer have churches thronging with folks flopping around with mouths gaping open to catch a piece of empty carbs thrown from the pulpit. People aren’t interested in swallowing it all whole while the ducks walk all over them.

But I think that Jesus is telling us that it’s not about getting it right or wrong; faith is not a scantron sheet or a true/false quiz, or an easy sell. Faith isn’t going where the crowds are and battling each other for the biggest bite of Jesus. 

And Jesus knew this. That’s why he gave Peter the keys to the kingdom, precisely because he goes all in, he flails around, because he believes and then he doesn’t. He gets the keys precisely because he has no filter, because he speaks before he thinks, he jumps in before he remembers that he doesn’t have a change of clothes. He just goes for it. And he’s the one with the keys. He’s the gatekeeper.

Everybody come on in. Peter jumps in, blurts out, flails around and tries and tests and falls on his ass. Everybody come on. Peter has the keys, and he’s got no filter. 

Because Jesus bids us to enter. Enter the kingdom of God where you don’t have to have the answers, where you don’t have to battle the giant goldfish next to you for a bite to eat, where you don’t have to be consistent or sane or sober or a straight-A student. Where you don’t have to have it all neat and tidy and where everything must have its place. Enter the kingdom of God where there’s room to breathe and room to build castles out of cardboard and to tie ropes from the ceiling and to jump on the beds and play hide and seek in the closets and spin and spin and spin until you’re dizzy and you can’t hold yourself up any longer. 

Thanks be to God.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

how do i doubt thee? oh, let me count the ways...

MATTHEW 14:22-33
22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

So I know that this passage isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus, and Peter and the rest of the disciples. And maybe it’s about Matthew’s audience, as they searched for meaning and hope while they read these texts in dim lights behind closed doors. 

But I cant’ help but put myself in the text. And I can’t help but get annoyed.
This text kinda makes me nuts. At least, at first. It’s the hoodoo voodoo Jesus, Jesus-the-magician, the pull the rabbit out of the hat, the dove from the coat, and walk on water Jesus. 

Maybe it’s because of my technology driven context — my post man-on-the-moon, post flying in airplanes across the world, post hovercraft, post skype-with-the-grandparents-on-my-iphone context, but I just am not all that impressed by Jesus walking on the water. 
Or, maybe it’s because I don’t really believe it, if I’m honest. I’m with the disciples - “It’s a ghost!”  And I don’t really think ghosts are real. They’re having a delusion. They’re seeing things. They all ate the wrong brownies.  I just have the hardest time really believing that Jesus in the flesh actually did walk out on the water to the middle of the lake. 

But here it is in our text, and in two others - in both Mark and John - so something must have happened, something beyond science, beyond reason; something beyond the laws of physics that the Gospel writers didn’t even know existed, something happened. The disciples have an experience of Jesus doing something as crazy as walking on water. 

And then there’s that reprimand. That reprimand really gets to me. The reprimand that I take so very personally - “O you of little faith! Why did you doubt?” 

As if it should be so easy to believe in a God who has become human and is now walking on the water and will come to feed us and to heal us and to die the most horrific of deaths just to “save” us and then will rise from the dead and tell us to spread the word and change the world forever. 
Easy peasy. Sure. All of it is true. Piece of cake.

O you of little faith! Why do you doubt?

I want to get all sassy and pull out my snappy fingers and be all like, “oh, let me tell you why I doubt.”

Well, Jesus. Let me tell you why I doubt.
I doubt because they are beheading children in Iraq.
I doubt  because all our country can think to do about it is drop more bombs.
I doubt because doctors and nurses who have given their lives to treat folks with Ebola are now dying from the disease.
I doubt because airliners flying at 30,000 feet can get shot out of the sky.
I doubt because two groups of folks who come from the same ancestor are bombing each other over a measly 139 square miles of land.

I doubt because there are homeless women out there who are desperate to get pregnant so that they can get some healthcare, some food  stamps, some clothing and a section 8 voucher.
I doubt because a young man with a new baby gets a brain tumor.
I doubt because if our country spent what we spend on dieting on food assistance programs, we could eradicate hunger.

I doubt because for some reason, I’m living inside, with healthy kids and a supportive husband, and there is nothing that I have done to deserve it. 

And I get all angry because I’m tripping over toys and my boys have to share a room and there’s not enough room. All the while there are families sifting through landfills trying to find something to eat, some scrap metal to sell or to use for a roof, some pieces of cloth to wrap around their blistered feet.

Why do I doubt? 
Just look at this mess, Jesus, look at it, all around us, choking us, making us fearful and angry and hopeless and so full of doubt. 

This passage makes me want to get all defensive. To shout, “get off my back, Jesus. I’m doing the best I can.”

Oh, Jenn.
O you of little faith.

Jesus uses this phrase two other times in Matthew’s gospel.
In chapter six, he says, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith?”
And in chapter eight, in the middle of yet another storm, with the disciples freaking out - again - “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’”
“O you of little faith,” he says to the disciples, you who get to see him and feel him and touch his wounds and eat with him and see it all. O you of little faith. Well, if the disciples had such little faith, where does that leave me, 2000 years later, all full of modernity and the scientific method and the Age of Reason and the laws of physics and Hiroshima and concentration camps and preemptive strikes? 

I ain’t got much. Hardly anything at all.
I’ve got just about enough faith to throw in a fountain and make a wish on.
I’ve got about enough faith to buy groceries and give ten bucks to the church.
Enough faith to wake up in the morning and drink a cup of coffee and build a block tower with my son.
Enough faith to drive over to the South Side, all tired and grouchy, and show up to serve a meal to a bunch of folks who seem really needy and really ungrateful today.
About enough faith to decide to not say that mean thing I was thinking about that guy who cut me off in traffic, enough faith to live one more day.

But the thing is, if you look at the whole of the Gospel of Matthew, and you look at all that “littleness,” you start to see things. Just one chapter earlier, in Matthew 13, we get all this kingdom talk - how it starts in tiny things like mustard seeds and yeast and pearls. And then in Matthew 17, we are told that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we will be able to move mountains.
Jesus seems to praise all those littles, those tinies, those seeds and pearls and yeasts of faith.

O you of little faith. O you of just a little bit. O you of just a mustard seed of faith - or even less than a mustard seed of faith. 

Maybe this isn’t always a reprimand, but rather, a term of endearment. 
You stinkpot jones. You stinker. You little punk. You silly kid. O you of little faith.

And he shakes his head. And he smiles. And sighs. And does what he was going to do all along - calms the storm, heals the demoniac, brings the kids onto his lap.
O you of little faith. You are silly and human and broken and fearful. And your little bit is enough. It’s enough.

It’s enough faith for 1/2 a second. Just long enough to ask, “Jesus, is that you?”
Just long enough to take a step out of the boat.
Just long enough to call out to Jesus when we sink - ‘cause for sure, we’re gonna sink. Enough to call out to God when we see the buildings crumbling under the weight of another hurricane or another earthquake. When the polar ice caps are melting and when we are waiting for the diagnosis. It’s enough faith when we see the tents under the bridges and all the minorities in the prisons. 
It’s enough when we’ve been battered by the waves and the husbands and the post traumatic stress disorders. It’s enough for the day. It’s enough for this moment right now. 
It’s enough to open this church one more week, to keep showing up, to keep wiping down the windowsills and to keep vacuuming the carpet. It’s enough. For now. For the next step. Enough. 

“O you of little faith,” Jesus says. “Take heart. It’s enough. Don’t be afraid. Come. Why do you doubt? Come anyway. I’m real. I’m true. I’m here. Take my hand. It’s enough.”

Thanks be to God.

Monday, August 4, 2014

“two fish, five loaves, and one broken hip.”

GENESIS 32:22-31
22The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had.24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”27So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.30So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
MATTHEW 14:13-21
13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

There weren’t many folks who wanted to date me when I was young. I was often everybody’s flat chested little sister, never dating potential. But that, of course, never stopped me from wanting to date, from having crush after crush, hoping that some day, a prince would see past my 85 pound body, past my dental retainer and impatience with make-up, and see the “real” me. And if they did, we’d fall madly in love and live happily ever after. Sigh. 
But first, we’d have to get through that first date. And that non-existent first date terrified me. We’d certainly go get something to eat. And then he’d see me chewing. Food. He see that I eat. Food. He’d see me open my mouth and bite down on a burger, or take too big a forkful of salad, or try to spin the spaghetti and keep spinning and spinning as it slipped off my fork until I gave up and shoved it toward my mouth and then mid scoop half would unwind from the fork and then land on my chin, hanging there, as I nodded along with the conversation. “Why yes, I do agree that the running back is more important to a team than the quarterback, and of course I’m a dog person, and that test that I got an A on but that I won’t tell you about was definitely too difficult and that professor is just so unfair.”
I hated anything that had to do with the body, including eating, at least, eating in front of people I was trying to impress, and I would run and run and do hundreds of sit-ups in order to beat my body into submission. So that no offensive piece hung loose, no stomach bulged over my waistline, no hip curved or chin doubled.
I wasn’t anorexic or bulimic. I was just ashamed. Ashamed to be in this body that was nothing like what I saw on tv, or in the movies, or in the magazines. I was ashamed to feel so tired all the time. Ashamed that I really did like to eat. Ashamed of all this need. To drink. To eat. To sleep. To blow my nose. To have that itch you get in your ears when you need to clean them out. To have some physical human contact. Ashamed of this constant fleshiness. Of the constant demands of being human. 
All the hunger. The exhaustion. The sneezing and the coughing. The way my pulse would speed up and I’d start to sweat when someone criticized me or laughed at me or stood there, quiet, but obviously, surely, judging my hairstyle and my nubby fingers and how I don’t have enough space between my thighs. There he is, across from me, hating my three inch scar along my arm that I got in the fourth grade from falling into the window well, and the spots down my legs from picking at the mosquito bites I got as a kid, and there he is, questioning my choice of eyeliner, and my brand of jeans.

Ah. My prince charming. But first, that first date.

So my first date with my now husband, I didn’t order anything. We met for coffee. And he ordered. And I was broke, and I didn’t want him to know I was broke, and I didn’t want him to pay, and most of all, I didn’t want him to see my neck muscles move as the nonfat no whip mocha slid down my throat, or hear that slurping sound you make when the coffee is a little too hot. So I ordered nothing. And sat. And smiled. And tried to look interested. But not human. Definitely not human.

And here we are, in a church, thinking about hips and hunger and how Jesus is reeling about just hearing that his cousin’s head has been perched on a platter. Our passages today are so very human. So very fleshy. Wrestling and hunger and deserts and crowds of sweaty, noisy, coughing people, and broken hips and dead fish.

First is Jacob who is in the middle of a frantic race to save all his stuff, because surely his brother, Esau, from whom Jacob stole his birthright, is coming, and surely, Esau is gonna be pissed. So Jacob divides all his stuff and sends it in different directions so that he’ll at least have half of it if Esau comes to fight. So in a last ditch effort to save his family - or maybe to just save himself - he sends them across the river and camps out alone. Where, somewhat strangely, he starts wrestling with some guy. And like a honey badger, Jacob keeps at this guy even after he’s been struck in the hip. This guy is so worried about stuff and flesh and food and more stuff, he won’t let go until this guy blesses him. What is Jacob expecting, I wonder? More wives? More children? More cattle and camels and goats?

Whatever it is, Jacob doesn’t get it. Instead, he simply gets a new name. He wants to know the name of God, but Jacob gets the name instead. And a limp. “Israel” - the one who strives with God - and needs a walker.

Struck in the hip, the tendons and sinews stretched, the ball pulled out of its socket, Jacob will now forever be seen first as someone who is in a body, a broken, gimpy body. 

And then in our New Testament reading, we get more bodies and their incessant, messy, need. A small city of gimpy, limping, dirty, sick humans gathers in the desert, searching for the face of God, searching for some healing, and they get tired and hungry instead. 

Jesus sees the crowds and has compassion for them - splagknizomai - literally, he “feels in his guts” for these people. Jesus’ compassion is so deep that he feels it right through to his liver and stomach and kidneys.

And what does he do? He snaps his fingers and makes fish and chips and tarter sauce fall from the sky?

Nope. He says, “YOU feed them.” Looking right at the disciples.

And they look at him, pretty incredulously, I’m guessing, and say, “Uh, Jesus, we’ve got nuthin.” 

And they back track a little bit - “Well, ok. Almost nothing. Five measly loaves of bread and a couple of fish.” So, in comparison to all these hungry people, we have what is close enough to nothing. It might as well be nothing.

The disciples see the face of God, they’ve been living with and listening to and following Jesus around for a few years now, and they still have nothing. Nothing enough to feed five thousand. 

Both of our stories today happen out in the wilderness - the wild “out there” where rebellion and wrestling with God happens. Where, as Jacob says “Peniel” is - where true seeing happens.

Psalm 78 asks, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” In the place where there’s nothing. Where nothing grows. Where nothing stays alive for long. Where nothing thrives. Where there’s nothing but searching and fear and brokenness and barren land? Where there is nothing but emptiness and lack? Can God spread a table in the wilderness?

This miracle story, the only miracle story that is included in all four Gospels answers, “yes.” Yes. God can spread a table in the wilderness. But not without us. Not without our nothing. Not without our lack and flesh and mess and limping hips.

Jacob wrestles with God, sees the face of God, and ends up with nothing but a bum hip.
He asks for God’s name, but instead, God gives Jacob a name - Israel, which means, “One who struggles with God”

“When you see my face,” God says, “you’ll struggle, you’ll probably fight, or argue, or look at me incredulously, and then you’ll walk away broken, limping, with “nothing” to offer.” And then God says, “ok, now, feed them.” 

Feed them from your lack.
Feed them out of your pain.
Feed them in the desert.
Feed them with your stories of heartache and hunger and feelings of rejection.
Feed them with the measly ration of five loaves and two fish and a bum hip.
Feed them with parsley stuck in between your teeth and with spaghetti sauce down your chin.

Feed them with your nothing.

Because we are the hands and feet of Christ.
We are the holes in his hands and his feet.
We are the broken hips and the bruised ribs and the bleeding temples of Christ.
We are his cry to God, “Abba, Father! Why have you forsaken me?”
We carry with us the stories of heartache and pain and grief that are the flesh and blood of Christ.
And we offer that Christ to each other. And it is the face of God.

And it is enough to feed five thousand lost souls wandering the desert, searching for some hope, some healing, some answers, some chance to see the face of God.
It is enough.
It is more than enough. Enough to fill baskets and baskets and fill to-go boxes to take home with them. 
Our nothing, when it is a part of the Body of Christ, when it is blessed and broken - yes broken - is enough.

That’s the resurrection. 
Jesus still carries his wounds, his story, his pain and his suffering with him after he is laid in the tomb and raised on the third day. The holes in his hands and his feet are still there. The wound in his side is still there. He’s not healed, but rather, made whole. Made complete. 

And so are we.

We want our need and our pain and our bum hips to go away. We want to get past it. We want to ignore that we were ever hurt. Or that we ever failed. Or that we walk with a limp. We want to be able to say that we can’t do anything because we have nothing.

But we are changed. We are different. Our name has changed. We have been marked. And we can never take it back. We’ve been given a whole pile of nothing, and then told to feed them all.

But. Jesus says, don’t wish the need and the lack away. Don’t wish for your struggles to vanish. That nothing is enough. Jesus wants us to draw closer to it. Live in it. Share it. That is wholeness. When you carry the scars around with you and you are no longer ashamed. When you can say, “come, touch the holes in my hands, place your hand in my side, see, I’m a little like Christ, I’m part of the body of Christ. And I’ve got a whole lot of nothing. But Jesus broke it and now there’s so much food. And here, have some bread.”  That’s wholeness. That’s what God calls us to. That is redemption and resurrection and freedom. 
The hilarious thing about my relationship with Dan is that it began after he saw me crying in a coffee shop. Twice. Both on account of books that I was reading at the time. It was so embarrassing. “Hey Jenn,” he’d come up to me. And there I was, tears streaming down my face and snot dripping out my nose and my eyes all bloodshot because of the Brother’s Karamazov, and because Madeleine L’Engle said something tender and sweet in one of her kids novels.

There I was. A mess in a coffee shop. Twice. Over a couple of novels. All full of body and skin and flesh and nothing.

And he called me up and asked, “Hey, do you want to go get some dinner sometime?” And I said, “Sure.” 

Thanks be to God.