Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: a hope and a future (page 1 of 18)

Looking in empty places

In John’s gospel (chapter 20), within 2 paragraphs of Mary Magdalene finding an empty tomb, Jesus’ first words to the group of the disciples.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Why in my 37 years of Easter morning services have I never known what specific directions Jesus gave the disciples? I got the “go and make disciples” messages, and the running to the empty grave and even some stories about not recognizing Jesus on the road. Never once did I know that we had this Forgiveness Mandate put upon our lives.

Previous to Jesus’ announcement, forgiving only happened at the Temple. (Remember that passage where the religious leaders accused Jesus of heresy because he forgave the sins of the man on the mat? “Only God can forgive sins,” they yelled.) To achieve forgiveness status, you showed up at the temple with the appropriate size of bird or mammal, along with a tithe (and remember, the Pharisees were tacking on a tenth of mint and thyme because they were High Achievers). You paid your dues for having Psoriasis to the Temple system and moved on about your life.

And what about when you kept having to give and give to the Temple System because bad things kept happening to you? Like when you spent 3 months locked in your house because your 4 small children caught every bug and virus known to the local school system? The message was clear: You’re not blessed. You’re not on God’s good side, so give a little more.

Those without had even less. Unless you count the heaps of guilt and shame they carried around with them.

Jesus’ message of new life: We the People can forgive. You’re not tied to a suffocating system anymore.

God gave the temple as a means to serve the people. God gave processes, not because he needed the smell of burning heifer to create happiness in heaven. God didn’t need another dead dove or spotless ram from your field. God did, however, need people to walk in a sense of freedom.

And in the absence of a system which restored people to fullness of life, Jesus handed the task to the people. Regular old carpenters and farmers and guys who liked to fish on Sunday.

This passage resonated deeply with me, not just because of the weight and the task ahead of us (ahem: me. I cannot tell you the last time I went around sprinkling forgiveness into my conversation. Who am I to forgive you? That shall remain for another blog.)

My circles include plenty of people who have no use for church. And it turns out, Jesus gets that. It’s no secret the way religion can – and has, or does – participate in the power structures of society.

Now, I’ll stand by the local church. And, I know that if there’s any means of forgiveness and restoration coming from these walls, it’s not because God favors the building or the system: it’s because I’ve happened upon a group of people who love God and are participating in the great command of issuing grace to one another from a great bounty of love.

If you’re home on Easter Sunday morning, perhaps feeling a tad guilty for choosing chocolate bunnies and hard boiled eggs over organ hymns or even rock guitar versions of songs of jubilee, then I see you. I get it. And it’s okay. If the system has failed to bring you peace and forgiveness, then that’s the fault of the system. And more accurately, it’s the fault of the people who proclaim a message and then fail to offer it’s generous benefits to everyone.

What we’re all looking for doesn’t come from a system, it comes from The Spirit – which resides in the people. We fail the world when we try to systematize that which can only come from contact with the living God.

I’m walking away from this passage this morning less with a mandate to “invite someone to church” and more to walk alongside those who need to see and hear and know and feel what it is to live in forgiveness and freedom. They will not find what they’re looking for in a church if they cannot find it in the person who invites them.

Visit me elsewhere:

Who tells your story?

In case I didn’t shout it from the rooftops of social media enough, I married the best of husbands, best of men. He sent me to see Hamilton – I flew out the day after Christmas.

The number one question asked to me is, “was it worth it to see it live?” I mean, if you’ve listened to the soundtrack, you’ve heard 99% of the show. Nearly the entire thing is in song (as is Rent, my other favorite musical I sing to people ad nauseum).

The staging is fantastic and the movement of the choreography makes it worth the ticket price. There’s a hidden character that I’m grateful I read about before I went. The piece is so layered and brilliantly woven that,  as impossible as it seemed to me – having heard and dissected the themes hundreds of times before seeing it – I walked away with a better grasp of (one of) the true questions the story was out to reveal: Who tells your story?

It’s easy to sing, but watching Eliza walk across the stage and explain to the world that she chose to write herself back into the narrative broke me. She told his story, because of love.

Hamilton wanted to Live Big. “Don’t be surprised when you read about me in your history books.” His sense of limited time and limited life drove him to produce and work and drive and create and make change. In the words of 98% of pastors of today, he wanted to “make an impact”. The thought of his legacy drove him toward Bigness.

Yet.

The masses never truly told his story. Wall Street only speaks his name when the news crews are around covering a broadway play. Banks pay little tribute to him. The crowds rarely tell the story, the truest story, the story that captures your heart and not just your numbers.

But Eliza. Eliza. (Yes, I just sang that.) She tells his story. His writings, his soldiers. His heart.

We can do Great Things in this world. We can be World Changers. A Founding Father. A Global Economy Infrastructure Creator. All awesome, much needed. But that doesn’t give you your legacy.

Your love creates your legacy.

Hamilton was far from Perfect Husband (and the show is clear on that one), but he loved his wife and family. And that’s what I packed into my bag to bring home from NYC. You can do everything short of becoming President, and if you don’t love well, it’s not a great story. You can do big, great things for the masses, but if you can’t love the people under your roof, your story is mostly reduced to numbers.

Can I be real a second? Just a millisecond? Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second? 

This is hard for me. In the thick of it – convincing toddlers to quietly go (back) to bed or teaching for the 8 millionth time to put things away and treat our things with respect – it seems petty. Miniscule. After the 78th time of interrupting my attempts to put dinner on the table to intervene in a nerf gun war gone awry, I’d much rather turn my attention to the bigger battles of society. Truthfully, I feel like I might make more progress dismantling the patriarchy than my feeble attempts to keep a floor without socks strewn about everywhere. (WHO is wearing all these socks?!)

At the end of my days, even if I manage to cure world hunger, the millions of people fed won’t have my story. It will be told by those who I tuck in each night and by the one who always checks to make sure nothing is in the washing machine. The people who share my table and the deep center of my heart – they will tell my story.

Hamilton convinced me to fill the pages with material for them to tell the best story possible.

Visit me elsewhere:

The Birthday of the World

The Birthday of the World

(as told by Rachel Naomi Remen to Krista Tippett in Becoming Wise)

In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. In the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. The wholeness of the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.

Now… the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. It’s a very important story for our times. This task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew. It’s the restoration of the world.

And this is, of course, a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born. We are all healers of the world. That story opens a sense of possibility. It’s not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It’s about healing the world that touches you, that’s around you.

 

Visit me elsewhere:
Older posts

© 2017 Michele Minehart

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑