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Words seem abstractions, until we act in the ways we can

"Unemployment,” “health care,” “war” and “the deficit” are among the words bandied about in media and among politicians in these days. These words, nouns, are abstractions as folks with opposing ideologies argue in Congress.  They are words “made flesh” in our families and our lives, in our faith communities and among our friends.

While sounding like insoluble problems—states of being—they represent heartache, hopelessness, fear, frustration, struggles and suffering.  They are about lines, applications and suspicions.

They mean some giving is down and other giving is overflowing as people care.

They mean waiting, often for someone else to make a decision.  They mean waiting and giving voice.  They mean waiting and praying.  They mean waiting for God to break through like the sun forming a starburst through snowflakes.

Life seems topsy turvey.  It’s not about Afghanistan or the deficit or health reform or jobs.  They are interwoven, but those who talk about them act like we must choose one.  That mentality comes out of a blindness to what is common sense to see:  People are losing jobs because of rising health care costs.  We are fighting a war that skyrockets our deficit—defeating most of us on the home front regardless of what happens on far-away battlefields.  Unemployment creates more people willing to volunteer to go to war.  The deficit is driven by the lack of health care reform.

Those who stake their ideological split between public and private often, like Congress, are on the taxpayer’s payroll and benefit from government (public) health and retirement plans, plus private corporate contributions to sway their votes.

Empire traps people in power, inviting them to urge those out of power to blame themselves and expect to suffer.  Jesus is not of empires that enslave.  Jesus calls us to wake up from our false arguments that keep us apart.  Jesus calls us to love one another.  Jesus came, comes and is coming to bring us truth and life.  God cares.  God hears our cries.  God loves us.

Meanwhile, the message of Christmas may be lost in holiday-season worries about economic recovery.  Actually, if we shop for lots of gifts, give generously and flow our money into the economy, we’ll feed a recovery.

Into this mess of greed, empire, militarism, families out in the cold, God came, God comes, God is always coming and God is present.  God is with us.  We are not alone. 

Are those just words?  How are we putting flesh onto those words?

Some faithful folk are serving soup under the freeway or in a former parsonage. Some hand out thousands of pounds of food to thousands of people.   Some host farmers’ markets in church parking lots. 

Some are teaching new and old generations to integrate human rights into their lives.  Some keep alive hope, knowing that political and spiritual walls fall.  Some inspire others through different styles of worship.  Some share their stories to encourage each other.  Some create educational opportunities here and abroad. 

Some open their church doors to house homeless people.  Some build low-cost homes with sweat equity.  Some develop affordable housing. 

Some knit and quilt.  Some recycle clothing.  Some employ teens silk screening T-shirts. 

Some listen on the phone to an unemployed family members’ worries about food, housing, children, flu and futures. Some question, trust, wait and pray.

In the midst of the hustle of the season, of time with family and friends, may we see God in our everyday stables.

Mary Stamp - Editor


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