For those who doubt

The scene where Thomas asks, "Are you sure this is sanitary?"

The scene where Thomas asks, "Are you sure this is sanitary?"

For those of us who doubt, we have it hard. We want to believe, but we also enjoy being skeptical and explorative. We don’t want to answers to come quickly, because we like discovering the beauty of the cracks and crevices.

James says that the doubter is “double-minded and unstable in every way,” “like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”  Well, that describes me pretty well, so what do I do?

Enter the creative/literary beauty of John’s Gospel, a book that is boring if interpreted literally but wonderful if experienced as metaphor.

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

It’s necessary that we leave our privilege and safety to feel the wounds of those crucified by an unjust world. For me, I feel called to put my finger in the mark of the nails, because when Christ appears in the flesh, I am humbled and amazed. I see God anew.

In this Easter season, I hope that you ask to see the wounded body of Jesus, for if you do, whether it be in oppressed workers, or in immigrants threatened with deportation, or in marginalized glbtq folk, you will be struck by the presence of a living God who dwells in the struggling lives of the disinherited.

You will be given a resurrection in which to believe.

Haves and Have-Nots on Telegraph Ave

Tonight, I took my youth group on a stroll down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. We’re having an all-church retreat this weekend, but we’re not really ‘retreating’ anywhere. The economy is hurting folks, and schedules are tight, so we’re having our programs at the church itself. It’s pretty fun, actually. There’s a different feel to gathering at night for worship and fellowship than there is when gathering in the morning, like usual.

So, what’d we do on Telegraph? First of all, I let the kids know that we have a budget as a youth group, but I wanted them to think about what they would do with money at their disposal. Some usual stuff was shouted out (going to see “Watchmen,” buying a new pair of converses, etc.), but then I we tried to think more constructively. How do we help those who are in need?

After all, Telegraph doesn’t really look like this anymore:

An old postcard of the intersection of Telegragh Ave and Bancroft Way. Where's the American Apparel store?

An old postcard of the intersection of Telegragh Ave and Bancroft Way. Is that the American Apparel store on the corner?

Today, it looks a bit more like this:

Telegraph Ave during a street fair.

Telegraph Avenue during a street fair. Vendors are usually parked on the sidewalks instead of in the street (and mostly during weekends).

However, the above picture is from during the day, and I can’t find any good photos of the night scene. There’s a great book by Richard Misrach called Telegraph 3 A.M.: The Street People of Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, California, which came out in 1974. (Used copies run for hundreds of bucks.) This next picture is from that book (I think), and some of the same kind of folks (but a little grungier—gutter punks) still hang out on the sidewalks, sitting on the ground, eating Blondie’s pizza and playing their guitars. Some of the youth talked to these kids, gave them a couple bucks, and bought one girl’s self-published zine. Afterwards, we bought some cheap postcards at this same corner (Haste and Telegraph, in front of the old Cody’s Books), and then we got Yogurt Park and pizza before heading back to the church. A good time was had by all.

Street Musicians on Telegraph Avenue in 1974. Photo by Richard Misrach.

Street Musicians on Telegraph Avenue in 1974. Photo by Richard Misrach.

Get out of the city

“For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

Hebrews 13

We must leave our exclusive cities to encounter the stranger.

What will our sacrifice be? We will bring the things we have to share into the sanctuary? Or will we take it out of the gates, to share with the one who suffers?

Some cool quotations that rock my socks/mind

Here are cool quotes that are awesomely intense. I love to be challenged by ancient wisdom and prophetic voices.

“Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you”  – James 5:1-6

“I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.” – Socrates, Apology

“Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.”

– Tao Te Ching, 9