Today’s Word from Karl Olsen…
Psalm 27:13 (NIV)
“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
I’ve been spending time on the border lately. Actually, I’ve crossed several borders this year—Israel/Palestine, British Columbia/Alberta, Nevada/California, Canada/US, rooftop/ground, stranger/friend, sane… well, you get the idea. All kinds of borders! Sometimes the differences from one side of a border to the other were pretty clear. When I crossed from Nevada to California, all the slot machines disappeared. And after I got off the ladder, it was clear I was no longer on the roof!
But mostly, at the other borders it was harder to notice the differences, except sometimes for the signs. The land, the sky, the buildings and the people were largely the same, one side to the other. It was we, the people, who managed to create some stark differences. Sometimes those differences seemed welcoming, sometimes not.
The gravel to grass… that was just the other day, as I was working on widening our gravel driveway, and discovered that when we intended the gravel to be on one side of the line and the grass to stay on the other, it seldom worked as planned. I had a hard time discerning just where the dividing line between grass and gravel actually was.
It got me thinking about other borders and who made them and how we figure out who should be on what sides. Ukraine and Russia—there’s a border issue! Pastor Jim mentioned weary travelers at our borders in his sermon last Sunday which caused more thinking. Jesus didn’t seem to worry about borders much—remember the Samaritan who was totally out of his circle–totally in the wrong place? He was of great service to his unknown neighbor.
Rev. Julia Lambert Fogg, Ph.D. is a religion professor at California Lutheran University and the author of “Finding Jesus at the Border.” She says, “the Bible says a lot about immigration, migration, divided families, geographical, ethnic and religious borders and boundaries. In ‘Finding Jesus,’ I write about God’s incarnational commitment to cross the existential border between the divine and human. God literally becomes human to accompany us in our humanity and, in that act, shows us how to also cross borders to accompany our human neighbors on their journeys.”
She continues, “We follow a God who migrates. God [who] leads people out of slavery to cross deserts; Jesus leads people from the rural life of Galilee to the big city for profound prophetic and [saving] work; God calls, sends and accompanies prophets, judges, apostles and disciples to meet and engage other cultures and peoples; God moves people like Paul, Ruth, Rahab and Phoebe across borders to build communities of care and compassion.”
“Communities of care and compassion”…I’d say that describes Trinity Lutheran Church—you! And hopefully me! Us! We have reached out in so many ways to so many communities, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and many others, locally and far away. Blessed to be a blessing!
I spend time thinking about these issues, knowing that a few paragraphs will not solve or settle these complex situations. But I’m given hope by Jesus, the border crosser, the shepherd, the savior, who is so much more welcoming than I feel sometimes—but I can always hope! Glad to have Jesus showing the way.
Of course(!), there are always songs that help us out as we figure out how to draw borders, or circles, to keep us in or out… or them in or out… and give us hope for a better way.
Follow this link for Carrie Newcomer, one of our congregation’s friends, with Room at the Table.
And then, a song from the other side of the border, by a Canadian, Gordon Light…Draw the Circle Wide. My version can be found here:…/trinity-music/
Enjoy the music. I’ll let you know how my grass and gravel border issue shapes up. I think it’s a long-term issue. But, I have hope!
Blessings and good music.
“Draw The Circle Wide” by Mark A. Miller and Gordon Light. © Abingdon Press.
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