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Followers

Stained glass depiction by Alfred Handel of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, New South Wales, Author Toby Hudson (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Our culture values leadership.  Leaders, we believe, are brave and independent.  We prefer to imagine ourselves that way.

Social media encourages this fantasy.  Our readers are deliberately characterized as “followers”.  We pursue such followers by all possible means, endlessly tracking the latest totals.  But we do not enjoy being viewed as followers, ourselves.

The reality, of course, is that most human beings are followers.  This is not a mark of shame.  Presumably, we were engineered to follow for a purpose.  What matters is the leader we choose.

“ ‘And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me’ ” (Matt. 10: 38).

Christians are invited to follow in the footsteps of Christ.  That is a call to suffering, not worldly glory.  But it is the highest calling of all.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4: 1-3).

The qualities involved are humility, gentleness, patience, and compassion.  For the most part, not qualities our society admires or rewards. Read more…

Homeless Teen Gives Back

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3: 17-18).

Estimates are that as many as 1.3 to 1.7 million young people experience one night of homelessness a year, while 550,000 are homeless for a week or more [1].

[1]  National Network for Youth (NN4Y), “How Many Homeless Youth Are In America?”, https://www.nn4youth.org/learn/how-many-homeless/.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

Muslim Believers

Suleymaniye Mosque, Turkey, Source http://www.flickr.com, Author Jorge Lascar (CCC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Christians  in America take for granted the freedom they have to practice their religion.  Elsewhere, however, those who leave Islam for Christianity often do so at the risk of their lives [1].

“Growing up in…Bangladesh, Fedu’s life was permeated by Islam.  His father was an imam…Fedu studied in an Islamic school, and…[himself] became a Muslim scholar and imam…[Then a Christian friend] gave Fedu a Bible…to read…Fedu at first dismissed the gift…but eventually he started reading…[and] comparing its teachings with those of the Quran.  The more he studied the two books, the more he began to doubt Islam…After becoming a follower of Christ, Fedu continued teaching at his mosque…When it came to God’s prophets, he taught that Jesus was above all and that He alone is holy.  Members of the mosque became increasingly aware of his Christian views, and one day…someone found Christian literature at his home…‘When they noticed I love Jesus and not Muhammad, they said my job is done,’ Fedu recalled…A group of angry Muslims destroyed Fedu’s pharmacy…Two of his brothers beat him for leaving Islam…[But] ‘I am going out and sharing my faith,’ he said.”

-“Friendship and a New Book”, Voice of the Martyrs Magazine, January 2019

Read more…

Risen!

“Angel in White Outside Jesus’ Tomb After the Resurrection” (c.1230), Mileseva Monastery, Serbia (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.  But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.  Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.  Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24: 1-6).

Our hearts go out to the people of Paris for the damage to Notre Dame Cathedral in this week’s devastating fire. May that beautiful edifice and testament to faith rise once more from the ashes.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

Josephus on Christ

“Christ Crucified” by Diego Velazquez (c. 1632), Museo del Prado (Accession No. P01167), Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, Old-100)

The works of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (born Yosef ben Matityahu) make several references to Christ and the origins of Christianity.

The section of text below is thought to include Christian remarks along with the original. Scholars, however, agree that Josephus provides verification for the crucifixion of Christ by Pilate.

“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.  For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly.  He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ.  And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease.  He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him.  And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.”

-Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

Courage

“Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane” by Giacinto Brandi (c. 1650), Pinacoteca Vaticana, Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, Old-100)

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22: 44).

Lawyers are frequently characterized as brazen or worse by the public.  Since they are regularly required to face fear, most lawyers have considered the nature of courage.  Some would describe courage as an internal state, i.e. the absence of fear.  Others would describe courage as action despite fear.

CS Lewis wrote in “Letters” on this topic:

“God could, had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape him…He chose to incarnate in a man of delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane. Otherwise we should have missed…the all important help of knowing that He has faced all that the weakest of us face, has shared not only the strength of our nature but every weakness of it except sin. If He had been incarnate in a man of immense natural courage, that would have been for many of us almost the same as His not being incarnate at all.”

Lord Jesus, You overcame the world for our sakes.  Yet You sweated blood at the Garden of Gethsemane contemplating Your suffering on the cross.

With You beside us, whom should we fear?  Grant us the courage to speak up for what we know to be right – whatever the odds, whatever the consequences.

Amen

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

A Human Face

“Face of Christ” by Rembrandt (c.1650), Source Flickr (PD-Art, Old-100)

San Diego University has established a digital archive of letters from refugees held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, while requests for asylum are processed [1][2].  Such detention can last over a year.

The detainees come from Cameroon, India, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, and elsewhere.  They describe torture, rape, sexual mutilation, honor killings, and vigilantism in these countries of origin.

The letters by detainees speak of loneliness and the pain at separation from children.  They report harsh conditions in detention – poor food, soap and shampoo that cause the skin to itch, and chronic cold.

The letters put a human face on the men, women, and children the Trump Administration has chosen to demonize.  Even without them, however, Christians should be able to recognize the face of Christ.

” ‘… for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 35-36).

[1]  New York Times, “ ‘A Light for Me in the Darkness’:  For Migrant Detainees, a Bond Forged by Letter” by Liz Robbins, 2/7/19, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/us/immigrant-detainee-letters.html.

[2]  The archive can be found at https://digitallibrary.sdsu.edu/islandora/object/sdsu:OtayMesaDetentionCenter.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

Grass

Unmowed grass, Author Natubico (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass…and it was so” (Gen. 1: 11).

Grass covers a quarter of the earth’s landmass [1].  Forming the basis of our food chain, grass (which includes cereal crops like rice, corn, wheat, and oats) feeds more wildlife – not to mention livestock – than any other plant.

Though human activity has greatly reduced habitats worldwide, grass still supports the migration of countless wildebeest, antelope, gazelle, snow geese, and starlings.

Developing from a secure part at the base of its shaft and able to repair itself quickly, grass can survive both frost and wildfires.  Grass grows on East African savannahs and Arctic tundra, its roots helping to protect soil from erosion and replenish nutrients.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84: 11).

Everything in the natural world points us toward God.  Just as grass sustains God’s creatures (ourselves included), so does His grace support and sustain us.  We draw our life and nourishment from Him, whether we recognize and acknowledge that fact or not. Read more…

The Confession of St. Patrick

“St. Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland”, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Macon, GA, Source Flickr, Author Andy Coan (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

  1. I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful…had for father the deacon Calpurnius…a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age.  I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people…
  2. And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that…I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.
  3. Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven.
  4. For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father, who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe.  And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds.  And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us…

Read more…

Hidden Obstacles

Physics classroom, Lake Howell High School, Author Steevven1 (CC Attribution 4.0 International)

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy” (Prov. 14: 31).

An interesting book called Bridges Out of Poverty by RK Payne, et al, explores the hidden obstacles that keep people in poverty, including the values with which children in poverty are raised.

Contrary to the assumption of many better off, the values of the poor are not frivolous.  Nor are they intentionally self-destructive.  They stem rather from survival techniques which go unrecognized by the middle and upper classes, and are often counter-productive toward upward mobility.

The goal of the book is not to criticize these values but to identify them, so that government agencies and others can relate more effectively to those struggling with poverty.

What Bridges Out of Poverty has to say about obstacles to learning is particularly striking.

Survival

Basic survival is a driving force.  Is there enough food for another day?  This urgency places the focus on the present.  The future may never arrive.

Chaos

Life is chaotic for the poor.  Situations constantly arise over which they have no control.

Planning, scheduling, and prioritizing are not, therefore, taught.  As a result, children cannot follow directions and cannot fully complete tasks at school.  This can be remedied.  But learning new skills takes time.

Language

Language itself can be an obstacle.  According to Bridges Out of Poverty, those raised in poverty use casual language almost exclusively.  The formal language used at school and work may be completely unknown to children and adults alike.

Catholic school teachers, for instance, tend to speak as if school were a shared experience.  “We must pay attention” or “We must study”.  Public school teachers create more verbal distance from their students.  “Which of you can answer that question?  Anyone?  You there.”  In college, teachers are likely to speak in an even more detached manner.  “One must be prepared.  One must study.”

All this is foreign to the poor. Read more…