John 13: As I Have Done to You

KATHERINE ASHBAUGH | GUEST The Feast of the Passover has arrived, and Jesus knows his hour has finally come. Having loved his own in the world, he will love them to the end. We enter the scene of John 13, where Jesus and his disciples are enjoying a last meal together. Celebration abounds, friendship and feasting too. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, is present, as are the rest of Jesus’ faithful disciples— the men he has allowed to walk and watch his ways. Men, who have been fed by the Bread of Life, with fish and loaves and with words powerful to save, strengthen, and encourage. Men, who have witnessed and performed miracles in his name, bodies healed, and sins forgiven. Men, who have confessed, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-9). And Jesus is present at the meal. The Lamb of God. As the action begins, we learn that Jesus knows his Father had given him all things, and so with purpose he rises and moves towards each disciple, tenderly washing their feet. One after another, first the washing and then the drying, with a towel wrapped around his waist. The process is physical, messy and wet, refreshing and warm, and utterly confusing, as Peter makes clear when his turn arrives. “Lord, do you wash my feet?” (John 13:6). “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me,” Jesus replies (John 13:8), so in characteristic form, Peter enthusiastically requests a full washing, his hands and head as well.

John 13: As I Have Done to You2022-05-04T00:45:25+00:00

What’s a White Church Lady to Do?

I’m no expert on race relations. Far from it. But I am experienced in messing up when it comes to race. As a white woman who spent most of her life in Mississippi, I should have been prepared for God to expose some blind spots. After all, for years He’s continually peeled back layer after layer of how I selfishly see the world around me. First, He started by letting me see other people at all. When I was young, He pointed out the girl who did not quite fit in at elementary school. As a shy adult, I felt Him urge me to go up to a church visitor and introduce myself. After I recently moved to another state, He forced me to be the new person, understanding what it feels like to be unsure of social cues, blushing when I stood alone at a church event, or dreading more small talk while hoping it would yield a friend I could share a cup of coffee with. Lately God is peeling back another layer, showing me how I don’t love my black neighbors well. Wanting to Help Weeks ago, I watched the news of George Floyd. I heard the helicopters swirling over nearby protest marches. News like his death had bothered me before, yet those stories seemed to be just that, stories that happened “somewhere else.” The coverage of George Floyd’s death felt different. Instead of my usual reaction of thinking wow, that’s terrible or talking about it with my husband after work, I felt restless and like I should do something. But I didn’t know what. God gently peeled back to the next layer of sin—my lack of empathy. He convicted me to check in on my black friends. And, I felt ashamed I did not have many black friends to check on. One friend was back in Mississippi. We had served together in church ministry. After I moved to Texas, she checked on me if she heard of fires or storms happening in my new home state. I asked myself now, why was I not checking on her in the wake of all this? Our friendship had included talking about race in how we did church ministry, but I had not connected the dots of thinking of her in context of the national news. As a mother of a black son. A wife of a black man. The things I would do for any friend— call, text, write, give space to process, make banana bread for— did not occur to me as it would if my same black friend had suffered a miscarriage, gotten a cancer diagnosis, or lost her mother. I did not understand how the knee on George Floyd affected my friends of color. I was a fool for not seeing it. It would be unloving to not reach out. Then, I went to fear. What to say? What if I made things worse? I had not read enough books about race in the church. I regretted my failure to educate myself, and I felt painfully unprepared to love my black friends....

What’s a White Church Lady to Do?2022-05-05T00:27:01+00:00

Palaces of Cedar: The Sweet Fragrance of Love and Sacrifice

Last spring a group of large dudes who have come to be known as The Big Guns built some raised garden beds in our backyard. I love to garden, and this project felt like a big ‘ole sloppy kiss from the Lord right on my cheek. The vegetables, the teachable moments, the vegetables that teach me in moments…our backyard is becoming a full heart kind of place for me. And an unanticipated bonus of this whole yard project: the smells. Now, granted, I have a very sensitive smeller, so maybe this won’t apply to everyone…but the smells, the smells…they are getting me. I *adore* the smell of a freshly pinched tomato sucker. And bitty E tells me blooming bee balm “smells like cleaner.” (Still not quite sure what that means.) The dirt, even some of the fertilizer (that’s weird, right?), my herbs…I love it all. But there is one smell that is getting me good. We used 4x4 cedar posts to construct the raised beds. While The Big Guns were here, they went ahead and cut the remaining posts to construct an archway over our fence gate at a later point in time. (Sometimes Big Guns tire of carting around Heavy Electric Saws.) Those cedar posts have taken up residence in our garage, just to the side of my car. And they have lit up our garage. Previously the garage smells were not of such a nice variety. Yes, on occasion, based on perfect weather conditions and zero humidity, the garage would smell pleasant. Like a garage should. However, we live in the deep south. Like, put on your diving gear deep. And we have a diapered toddler. So most days our garage smells like hot trapped trash. Enter cedar posts, stage right.

Palaces of Cedar: The Sweet Fragrance of Love and Sacrifice2022-05-07T23:54:27+00:00

Redemptive Relationships: Refusing to Let False Narratives Rule

KRISTEN HATTON|CONTRIBUTOR We hadn’t seen each other very much lately, or even texted in our usual way.  I knew we had both been busy, so I hadn’t thought much of it. I have lots of friends I don’t see very often because of proximity, different life stages or work schedules, but we always pick right back up as if no time had passed. Assuming the same would be true with this friend, I had looked forward to seeing her at an event later that week. But the big hug and incessant catch up session I expected didn’t come. Instead my presence was barely acknowledged. Not knowing what to make of her icy reception, I pretended not to notice, opting instead to keep trying to get the conversation going. I kept asking questions hoping to make things feel normal, only it was never reciprocated which left me hurt and confused. Back home, later that night and into the next day and week, I kept replaying this whole scenario in my head. But the longer I dwelt on it, the more my hurt turned to indignation and I became convinced of my own narrative. Of course, at this point I didn’t know what was really true, but it didn’t matter. I felt justified in thinking how dare she be mad at me for not texting or calling her, when she hadn’t reached out to me either. Ironically, in the same way I felt like she wanted me to “pay” some consequence for something I knew nothing about and I now wanted her to pay. For I deserved a better friend than what she’d shown me! I know I’m not alone in this line of thinking even though we usually don’t tease it out.

Redemptive Relationships: Refusing to Let False Narratives Rule2022-05-08T00:05:05+00:00
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