Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nassau 2012: All the sad things are coming untrue

On my much needed day off yesterday, I took some time to think and write and debrief.  I know from past years that this process often takes weeks, but I'm off to Portland with another team on Sunday--so I'm praying God will give me favor in decompressing everything quickly.

I had the opportunity to speak to the whole Mission Discovery group (our students and three other groups from around the country) on Thursday night during our evening service.  I always like to claim Thursday night because for most of the teams, the week is over at that point, and students have just said their heart-wrenching goodbyes.  {{of course, our team worked an extra day this year, so my own kids weren't quite in debriefing mode yet.}}  I love to talk to everyone at camp about the Kingdom that has already been initiated but that is not yet here in fullness.  I love to tell them that when they feel knocked backward by the need they see in Nassau, they need not lose heart!

For part one of this year's talk, I borrowed from a sermon I heard recently by Mike Erre, my friend Emme's pastor in California.  It's called "The Cross-Shaped World," and I've listened to it six times over the past couple of weeks--it is so beautiful!!  {Listen here.}  I explained that on the cross, Jesus turned a Roman torture symbol into the means by which we are saved.  Paul writes: "Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15).  I told the students that so often, we mistake the gospel for only the thing we teach to unbelievers--when really it's the hope we have for every part of life!  But, I shared with them that the cross isn't the end of the story.  If it were, we'd all be pretty hopeless.  But there is a Day that's coming when our great Savior will ride in on his white horse and save the day (Revelation 19)!  He will make everything new (Revelation 21).  We celebrated this reality with an Ecumenical (there was another non-denominational church, a Chinese church, and a Methodist church with us) communion service with orange juice and Cheese Nips.  It might have been the most boot-leg communion service ever, but it was beautiful, and God was there.

Here's what I'm wrestling with upon my return:

Sometimes I have a harder time believing in redemption for my students than for those broken Haitian kids.  Our lives are so cluttered, here in the States where we play it so safe.  The Haitian kids with their grubby hands and bruised, bare feet have treasures that my own kids do not.  They are rich by comparison--they see fully their own need, and they know what it is to have that need met by Grace.

I hope that as my students process what they have seen, they will not be the same.  But I know it's a bold hope because I see the reality in my own life.  Ms. Moxey and Anna's kids and Pastor and Madam Joseph keep on challenging me.  My heart is filled, I pray for them, seek ways to better their lives, wait for next year, repeat.  But in the meantime, I still shop at the same stores, still eat the same rich food, still prioritize travel and leisure, still clutter up my life.  {{What would it look like to let go of some of that?}}

And I feel hopeless for my students because if their thick-headed teacher doesn't even get it, how will they, these walking paradoxes who are all joy and selflessness one moment and all sass the next?  They are mirrors--the same stuff that's in them is in me too, only bigger and worse because I'm really old enough to know better.

"All the sad things are coming untrue," Tolkien writes.  And I have to remind myself: that goes for the Haitian kids and their empty tummies, but also for my students in the hurt they face stateside.

It's easy to look at the Haitian kids and see that they are oppressed, by a government and a people that does not want them, by the forces of poverty that keep them bound.

{{But my students and I--we are shackled up with all this stuff, with our safety and our comfort.}} 

Those Haitian kids, in the immensity of their need, are closer to that Day that we are.  In their lacking, they can taste the abundance that is to come.  It feels far off to me, here in the States.  But in that little Haitian slum where God is so near, I can almost taste it too.

There's a land where our shackles turn to diamonds;
When we trade in our rags for a royal crown.
In that place our oppressors hold no power,
And the doors of the King are thrown wide!
Caedmon's Call, "Mother India"

No comments: