#ShutTheHellUp: Day Three

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


Perish. Micah 4:9.

Callid’s words in the video above:

Micah. You ask me why I cry out loud.
Why don’t I put on a good face and prop up the crowd?
Why, you say, Can’t you just realize that things are getting better and have a little hope?
Your council is that I remember the glory of Zion and cope,
turning from the sight of now
to the promise of then
God, you say, has not perished and the time will come when
He will certainly deliver us.
But Micah, man, this news does crush,
It pounds and grinds,
And each cycle finds
More weight and burden that presses on us:

The stresses of lust.
The truth of power abused and revealed.
Covers blown once concealed.
Backroom deals and NDAs.
Nuclear weapons and trauma-laced days.

Do I hope beyond hope that someday we’ll see better?
I know I should. Write God some love letter…
But the fact is sometimes I feel like we’re in heaps of ruin out in open country
like stones have been poured down
and our foundations laid bare.

So, Micah… I hear you, I really do…
But right now there’s some stuff we’ve got to see through.

With the walls coming down maybe people will see
the American dream was built for me.
And if you aren’t quite this male or white or well
then this place can be horror, fright, and hell.

Micah, you asked “Is there no king in you?”
And brother, the fact is, the king’s in me through and through.

Too much desire to rule.
Too many kingdoms that need to be put down
given the civil unrest.
Too much power and too much beating my chest.
Yeah, that king is in me.
Captivity.

I’m trapped inside my need for power.
And when I don’t have it I use the King’s name.
Stake the King’s claim.
Play the same game.
Fan the same flame.
And call it destiny manifest.
 And so I confess.

So why do I cry aloud?
Because too many voices tell me to just stay proud.
To speak first and listen rarely.
To name it and claim it and stand squarely
in the middle of whatever space I want.
It’s mine if I’m here, and I’m here so I get more.
Whatever, whoever, any open door.

Have pangs seized me like a woman in labour?
No, no they have not.

Those cries yield life through struggle.
These tears are because I know I’ve smuggled
the words of scripture into my own pockets for my own use
like a thief I have taken the power they loose.

So here’s what I can offer, brother…
When that King in me perishes, or has repented
and when my life has turned from all that He represented,

Call on me then to talk of Zion;
of that land of promise and sweet fruit.

It is not until I am empty that hope will root.

And Micah, one thing more….
Many cry because they have been shot down or groped.
Many still remember the trees and their ropes.
Many have called out in the actual pain of birth
 their bodies full of power and grace.
 time bending to the pace
 of life emerging in flesh.

So before you go asking those questions to others
do some work and realize you are not the same as your brothers,
 your sisters, and those who labor out beyond our words.•

Micah, some cry because crying is right
given what happened that night.
And because by morning at dawn
the tears must be gone
so that breakfast can be made for hungry mouths and work can get done.

This world is nearly more than many can take.
But lives are at stake,
so they’ll rise and resist
and so I insist

Micah, come at me if you will,
but most others have already had their fill.

•It is important that those striving toward justice on all fronts recognize the need for categories that do not just easily split into simple categories. Yes, brother. And yes, sister. And yes to those whose gender doesn’t sort so neatly. There will always be people growing into who they were meant to be and ways of thinking that outpace the words we currently have. Our task is to learn, un-learn, and re-learn what we need to clear space at the table for any who want it.

About The Author

 

Callid Keefe-Perry is a minister within the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He is an organizational consultant, retreat leader, and teacher of discernment deeply influenced by both Quakerism and Ignatian spirituality. He is the author of Way to Water: A Theopoetics Primer, has been a public school teacher, is a performer and coach of improv theatre, and was the co-founder of a community theater in Rochester, NY. He currently serves as the Executive Director of ARC, an organization committed to supporting individuals and organizations whose work is at the intersection of spiritual and artistic practices, especially as they are done for the building up of communities and work towards justice. Callid brings to us a unique, powerful, visual and verbal take on #ShutTheHellUp’s third day.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Two

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


Defile. Psalm 79:1.

When I think about temples, my mind immediately travels to flesh and blood bodies as sacred temples, created in God’s holy and diverse image. Over the course of time, I think about how these temples have been named as marred and unholy.

I think about the cacophony of voices that claim a “Christian” faith, but have followed the unchristian practice of hammering nails into the vulnerable flesh of Christ’s body.

They are causing the outright harm of beloved people that are created as holy temples.

Everywhere I turn, I see the words that defile. I see actions that defile. Those in power have historically used words and have taken outright action to defile black, brown, indigenous, Jewish, disabled, and trans beloveds; those words and actions are amplified in this present day. Those in power who claim to follow Christ are laying Jerusalem in ruins. They are foregoing the inheritance that God has given them; they have ransacked the temple for their own gains. There are too many ways to express how those who claim to follow Christ have actually defiled the Savior’s very name and image.

“O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.”

Seeing these defiling words just not daily, but now minute by minute, are disorienting. The days and minutes are now stretching out to an eternity; my heart and my being are confused in this the midst of this disorientation. How can I keep up? Can I even keep up? I used to wake up reciting the words, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” As time progressed, it changed to “What the actual fuck is going on?” In these very recent days, it’s pretty much been, “Okay Jesus. Take the wheel.” The awfulness of what is happening in these days is enough to make me want to crawl back into bed and await the second coming of Christ.

I’m also noticing the defilement that has taken place within my own bones. I am angry. My anger is righteous and holy, and that anger serves as a spiritual gift to call out injustices taking place in the world. But I see defilement in my exhaustion, the lack of care I’ve given to this temple that God has gifted to me. The exhaustion comes as a brown woman living in a hostile environment that perpetuates a system of power and privilege that disregards my very existence and the existence of people I love, with that hostility causing a poisonous resentment in my own being. I’m tired of outside forces defiling and marring my body and my being, what I know God has created to be holy. I’m also tired of my own self-defilement, letting so-called “Christians” steal my energy and joy. It’s become unsettling and disorienting.

 

I then remember every year that the season of Advent stretches out time, and that in itself is disorienting. Beginnings become endings, and endings become beginnings. It’s the time of anxious waiting, watching, hoping, and praying for the vulnerable baby to arrive in a manger to take on our being and experiences. Yet it is also waiting for Christ to come again to make this world anew, to end this constant and violent defilement that takes place in these days. It is time to not just await that second coming that brings with it fullness and, dare I say joy, that has been made manifest in our midst, but also for us to live into that anticipation of fullness in these present days in a community of beloveds.

In this time of disorientation, I seek to reorient myself. I will reorient myself to find a rebellious joy. I will reorient myself, my time, and my being to anxiously await the arrival of a vulnerable child who will grow up to rebuke evil and death. I anxiously await the arrival of that child as a crucified and resurrected flesh and blood body who will reorient this world, who will rebuke those who take his name and defile it with grandeur and power that focuses only on the mighty.

May we all encourage one another to take on that rebellious joy and spread that joy to our communities. May we reorient ourselves to care for ourselves and to care for one another.

May we reorient ourselves over and over again to the one who, in the profanity of flesh and blood vulnerability, proclaims our temples as holy and rebukes those who have defiled God’s holy creation.

Defile. Psalm 79:1.

When I think about temples, my mind immediately travels to flesh and blood bodies as sacred temples, created in God’s holy and diverse image. Over the course of time, I think about how these temples have been named as marred and unholy.

I think about the cacophony of voices that claim a “Christian” faith, but have followed the unchristian practice of hammering nails into the vulnerable flesh of Christ’s body.

They are causing the outright harm of beloved people that are created as holy temples.

Everywhere I turn, I see the words that defile. I see actions that defile. Those in power have historically used words and have taken outright action to defile black, brown, indigenous, Jewish, disabled, and trans beloveds; those words and actions are amplified in this present day. Those in power who claim to follow Christ are laying Jerusalem in ruins. They are foregoing the inheritance that God has given them; they have ransacked the temple for their own gains. There are too many ways to express how those who claim to follow Christ have actually defiled the Savior’s very name and image.

“O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.”

Seeing these defiling words just not daily, but now minute by minute, are disorienting. The days and minutes are now stretching out to an eternity; my heart and my being are confused in this the midst of this disorientation. How can I keep up? Can I even keep up? I used to wake up reciting the words, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” As time progressed, it changed to “What the actual fuck is going on?” In these very recent days, it’s pretty much been, “Okay Jesus. Take the wheel.” The awfulness of what is happening in these days is enough to make me want to crawl back into bed and await the second coming of Christ.

I’m also noticing the defilement that has taken place within my own bones. I am angry. My anger is righteous and holy, and that anger serves as a spiritual gift to call out injustices taking place in the world. But I see defilement in my exhaustion, the lack of care I’ve given to this temple that God has gifted to me. The exhaustion comes as a brown woman living in a hostile environment that perpetuates a system of power and privilege that disregards my very existence and the existence of people I love, with that hostility causing a poisonous resentment in my own being. I’m tired of outside forces defiling and marring my body and my being, what I know God has created to be holy. I’m also tired of my own self-defilement, letting so-called “Christians” steal my energy and joy. It’s become unsettling and disorienting.

 

I then remember every year that the season of Advent stretches out time, and that in itself is disorienting. Beginnings become endings, and endings become beginnings. It’s the time of anxious waiting, watching, hoping, and praying for the vulnerable baby to arrive in a manger to take on our being and experiences. Yet it is also waiting for Christ to come again to make this world anew, to end this constant and violent defilement that takes place in these days. It is time to not just await that second coming that brings with it fullness and, dare I say joy, that has been made manifest in our midst, but also for us to live into that anticipation of fullness in these present days in a community of beloveds.

In this time of disorientation, I seek to reorient myself. I will reorient myself to find a rebellious joy. I will reorient myself, my time, and my being to anxiously await the arrival of a vulnerable child who will grow up to rebuke evil and death. I anxiously await the arrival of that child as a crucified and resurrected flesh and blood body who will reorient this world, who will rebuke those who take his name and defile it with grandeur and power that focuses only on the mighty.

May we all encourage one another to take on that rebellious joy and spread that joy to our communities. May we reorient ourselves to care for ourselves and to care for one another.

May we reorient ourselves over and over again to the one who, in the profanity of flesh and blood vulnerability, proclaims our temples as holy and rebukes those who have defiled God’s holy creation.

About The Author

Tuhina Verma Rasche Pastoring Lutheran-style in Silicon Valley. (Un)Intended disruptor. Loves/ freaked out by Jesus. Indian-American living life in the hyphen.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day One

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


“Woke” AF. Mark 13:37

Today begins Advent, the season of preparing for not just the Christ child in the manger, but also the second coming of Christ, come to reconcile the world into the fullness and God intended God’s original creation to be. Today also begins #ShutTheHellUp, the digital discipline as we await the arrival of Christ. In this waiting, many of us are realizing that in these days, the world is not as it should or could be. These are the days where we express to powers and principalities that their time is nigh with the arrival of Christ; that they will shut the hell up and be shut into hell on that day and time for which we long and wait. Here is the explanation for this year’s Advent digital devotional. Here is the video of what it could mean for those in power to actually #ShutTheHellUp.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Today’s featured voice is Joshua Serrano. He is the father of two boys, who teach him levity. He serves as pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in San Carlos, CA. In his spare time he likes to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, read, and watch unnecessary amounts of television.

I’ve known many children who have a hard time making it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. Heck, I even have a hard time now. I’m not as young as I think I am. Minutes seem to lasts hours and hours seem like an infinity as my eyelids get heavier and heavier. Sleep calls to me and beckons that I just shut out the world and close my eyes. But then I wake up on the couch having slept through the ball dropping on television.

It’s hard to keep awake sometimes, especially when it matters the most. It’s hard to keep awake especially when tribulation is on the horizon. Not the kind of wakefulness of trying to not sleep, but the kind of wakefulness that comes with opening our eyes to the world.

Tragedy is everywhere. Looking for it is not required, it will find you. Eventually.

When I found out my cousin died in a motorcycle accident I was awakened by my father crying, something I had only seen once before. He was screaming the word “NO!” over and over again with tears spilling from his eyes. I walked around in a a dream-like state after that. It felt like the moments in bed where I am not fully awake but I’m not asleep either. I didn’t quite know what was reality. Was I dreaming? Was I awake?

So many people walk around in a dream-like state when tragedy strikes. It seems that when reality seems most harsh we have a tendency to not accept it, disengage, and remove our embodied selves into a disembodied mode of being.

A couple years ago I felt like this when going through a divorce.

Some of the best advice I received was from a mentor. I told him that I felt like I was walking around in a trance, like I was dreaming. “Son, you’re going to have to be ruthlessly present,” he said. We sat in silence for a minute while I processed what that meant.

I began to call myself back into my body. Sometimes when grief overtook me while I was in the shower I would say to myself, “You’re taking a shower right now. That is all you’re doing.” When I was eating and thoughts came flooding in like a tidal wave I would say, “You’re eating right now.” I tried to stay in the moment to fight the dream-like state that would come. I was keeping myself awake and present.

Keeping awake is hard when I don’t want to accept the reality of the situation.

I can’t tell you when I woke up. In fact I can’t tell you that I don’t sometimes drift into the dream-like state again, because I know I do.

I can say that I have woken to the needs of others in my life. I have accepted the responsibility and complicity in my divorce. I feel more present to people, especially to my children. I feel like I have my body again.

And yet, in the midst of this never-ending tragic nature of the human condition, there are some of us who are held captive by hope. We are a resurrection people. New life resides in our bones. As sure as Mary was pregnant with the baby Jesus, we have to keep awake to the new things that God is doing in our world and in our lives. Keep awake! Don’t drift off into sleep. Look for what God is is doing in the world.

When I speak of hope, I’m not talking about the Pollyanna kind of hope or the masking of pain or the downplaying of tragedy. I’m talking hope where life springs from death. Hope creates new life, imagines a better world, and speaks into the void that would try and make us nothing. I’m talking about the kind of hope that springs from the pain of having to face injustice day in and day out.

I believe in the kind of hope that walks right up to the devil and demands that he shut the hell up.

My dear family of God, when Jesus commanded his disciple to keep away in Mark 13:37, he was commanding them to look forward to his return. My hope is in his coming again.

 May this Advent keep us awake and hopeful in the one who was, who is, and who is to come. Amen


About The Author

Tuhina Verma Rasche Pastoring Lutheran-style in Silicon Valley. (Un)Intended disruptor. Loves/ freaked out by Jesus. Indian-American living life in the hyphen.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 11 of 11

Don't Get Frustrated If Everything Doesn't Fall Back Into Place In A Moment.

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

“ Look at how we honor those who have practiced endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job. And you have seen what the Lord has accomplished, for the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” –James 5:11

If you've been sick with HIV, the physical turn-around can happen fairly quickly with the new combination treatments. But the emotional, spiritual and practical adjustments can take awhile. And some physical symptoms may take longer to resolve than others. You may have been through several big battles due to HIV, and you may feel fatigue from the fight. Many of us want it back the way it was before HIV with simply the wave of a fairy wand!

First of all, life will never be the same for those of us who are now living through HIV and AIDS. We've lost too many good people before the advances were made; we have too much accumulated grief.

Those of us living with HIV will always have to pay special attention to our medical needs. Even though we've experienced healing, we haven't been cured. Nevertheless, by the grace of God, and the miracles of modern medicine, many of us will live with HIV well into our senior years, if we are diligent in caring for ourselves. Our experiences with HIV and AIDS have hopefully taught us and helped us grow.

Secondly, true healing can take a long time. It doesn't all happen at once, with the snap of your fingers. The timing is in God's hands, not ours. In any one day, we can do a lot towards finding a job, or getting our finances in order, or taking good care of our bodies, but at the end of the day, there may not be anything more you can do until tomorrow. At that point, we can give it to God, and trust in God's compassion. God loves us and is doing everything possible to help us, to strengthen us, and to continue to heal us.

“We’re praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God; by being strengthened through his glorious might so that you endure everything and have patience; and by giving thanks with joy to the Father. He made it so you could take part in the inheritance, in light granted to God’s holy people.” -Colossians 1:11-12 (CEB)


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 10 of 11

Incorporate the Lessons of Dying Into Living

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

“Who lives their life without seeing death? Who is ever rescued from the grip of the grave?”  -Psalm 89:48 (CEB)

“Up to this very moment we are hungry, thirsty, wearing rags, abused, and homeless.” -1 Corinthians 4:11 (CEB)

Live what you learned when you thought your time was short. For example, many of us, in living with the potential imminence of death from AIDS, learned to be truly present to the present moment. Remember, death can still happen at any minute.

None of us, HIV-positive or not, have any guarantees that we will be alive tomorrow. Facing death can snap you to attention, and make you understand and embrace the importance of staying in the moment. Don't lose that gift now that you're going to live. This is just one of the valuable lessons that can be applied to your new life.


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 9 of 11

Deal With Your Fear of Aging

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

Remember that David died “at a good old age.”

“He died at a good old age, having enjoyed a full life, wealth, and honor; and his son Solomon followed him as king.” -1 Chronicles 29:28

In old age, the righteous still produce fruit.

“They will bear fruit even when old and gray; they will remain lush and fresh 15 in order to proclaim: “The Lord is righteous. He’s my rock. There’s nothing unrighteous in him.” -Psalm 92:14-15

 Even to your old age I will carry you.

“Listen to me, house of Jacob, all that remains from the house of Israel who have been borne by me since pregnancy, whom I carried from the womb until you grow old. I am the one, and until you turn gray I will support you. I have done it, and I will continue to bear it; I will support and I will rescue.” -Isaiah 46:4

In Biblical times, heroes like David were said to die "in a good old age". This was a sign of their heroic status. People respected those who had lived many years.

Today, in some cultures great value is put on youth, to the detriment of older people. A number of people fear growing old, because of what it can imply: losing some of our physical abilities, or our youthful attractiveness, for example.

But consider the alternative. There are countless numbers who would have given anything to grow old, but they died before combination treatments made HIV more manageable. You have the chance to see what's around the corner yet.

Get to know some older people. Find out how much there is to love and respect in them. Learn to see the beauty in wrinkles or white hair! Make friends with seniors. Find out for yourself what the positive sides of growing old can be. Consider it an investment in your own senior years.


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 8 of 11

Make Plans For The Future

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

Surely you have a future, and your hope will not be cut off. -Proverbs 23:18

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. -Jeremiah 29:11

 It's not only important to make plans for your financial future, it's important to make plans to enjoy life. Live your dreams! Many of us who have faced death had a long list of "If only's": ("If only I'd seen Tahiti," or "If only I had been kinder" etc.) Now you have time to make those "if only's" come true! You've got that second chance!


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 7 of 11

Resolve Financial Problems

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

"The scripture says, Don’t put a muzzle on an ox while it treads grain,[a] and Workers deserve their pay." -1 Timothy 5:18 (CEB)

"But we desperately want each of you to show the same effort to make your hope sure until the end. 12 This is so you won’t be lazy but follow the example of the ones who inherit the promises through faith and patience." - Hebrews 6:11-12 (CEB)

Some people may let their financial house get out of order when they're chronically ill, thinking "what's the point of even balancing the check book?" Now that you're going to live, it might be time to clear up any financial problems.

A number of people have accumulated too much debt. If you're in this situation, take one step at a time in resolving debts. If you're having trouble with your debts, find a reputable financial counselor or a debt manager. Such a person will be able help you plan how to resolve your debts.

Start a retirement fund. Start saving money. If you have viaticated your life insurance, you know how valuable financial assets can be in an emergency. It's time now to create new assets.


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 6 of 11

Get Back To Work

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.  -1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (CEB)

You may have been unemployed for one reason or another while living with HIV, and now you're finally getting well enough to hold down a full-time job. Some people can't wait to get back to work. But for others it may be difficult to give up the unemployed lifestyle.

There are decided benefits to working. It can do wonders for self-esteem. It feels good to work, to feel purposeful, to earn one's own way.

If you're thinking, "not in my line of work", then this may be a good time to pursue that alternative career you always wondered about. Seek out employment, vocational, or career counseling.

There is value in working.


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 5 of 11

Continue Taking Good Care of Yourself

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

1st Corinthians reminds you that your body is a temple.

Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? -1 Corinthians 6:19 (CEB)

No one ever hates his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it just like Christ does for the church -Ephesians 5:29 (CEB)

Even though you may be feeling well now, your body needs more than ever to be "nourished and tenderly cared for". You may have been through a number of battles with HIV, and your body may be recovering for quite some time yet. Good nutrition, exercise, massage, whatever you can do to make your body feel loved and well-cared-for is more important than ever.

It's important to keep doing the work of healing, even after you feel well. There's always more to heal, and we can create the conditions for God's healing power to continue to work in our bodies and souls.


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 4 of 11

Reach Out For Help!

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. -Psalm 121:1-2 (CEB)

First realize and acknowledge that it isn't easy making the transition from chronically ill to chronically alive! Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many trained counselors, clergy, and therapists who are helping countless people through this transition. There are many issues to sort through, many challenges to confront. You don't have to be alone in getting your life back in order.

And don't forget that God is with you through all of this, and can always be trusted with any concerns or problems you may have. After giving God thanks and praise, it's good simply to ask God for help through the next day. God will always be there with you.


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 3 of 11

Take Required Medications With Discipline. Don't Stop!

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

"Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves."  -1 Peter 1:13

Many of the current medications require strict compliance. Your survival may depend on how well you are able to follow your physician's directions. If you stop taking one or more of your medications, that may stop the effectiveness of all the antivirals and protease inhibitors. Make sure you learn all the facts about your medication from your health care provider or pharmacist.

And just because you're feeling well, doesn't mean you don't need the medications anymore! It may very well be these treatments are the reason why you are feeling so well. If you go off the medications, complications can be very seriou


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 2 of 11

Be Grateful

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

A common question these days is, "OK, I'm going to live... now what do I do?" Here are ten suggested steps, based on my own experience of surviving AIDS.

Be grateful.

"O Yahweh my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed meO God, you raised my soul from among the dead, and restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. Sing praises to Yahweh, all who are faithful, and give thanks to God's holy name." -Psalm 30: 2-4

Give God thanks and praise! Celebrate life! Remind yourself every day that you're going to live, and that this is not only a good thing, it's a miracle. You are God's precious creation, and you deserve to live. Make a habit of daily counting all the good that has happened in your life. Don't just pray when you need help, but give God thanks and praise daily for all your blessings. After all, you're going to live! You've got a lot to be grateful for. God is a God of life.


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Facing Life After Facing Death: Day 1 of 11

So You're Going to Live: Facing Life After Facing Death

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters (also posted on The Body)

" ... free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death."
-Hebrews 2:15

Are you one of the many persons living with HIV who are undergoing a profound change in your condition and your life expectancy? Do you care for someone going through this? With the new "cocktail" therapies, many who once were "terminally ill" are now looking at the prospect of living a long and healthy life span. This is an answered prayer! It is hope realized for those who can afford, access, and tolerate the treatments.

But many people have mixed feelings about their new hope of living long and well with HIV. This is a surprise to many who experience it, and to those who love them.

There's an expectation that people in this situation should be relieved, grateful, and joyful. While many do feel this way, the reality for some who are suddenly facing life after facing death is a deep depression, profound anxiety, or simply fear.

If you're in this situation and feeling this way, you're not alone!

There are any number of persons living with HIV/AIDS who, believing their lifespan was about to be cut short, sold their life insurance, quit their jobs, went on disability, maxed out their credit cards, and made their "final arrangements." The prospect of turning all this around, and getting back into life can be quite overwhelming, and can have a strong emotional impact. Some people, in realizing they are going to survive, are amazed at how much they had grown to accept their imminent death.

Having faced the prospect of dying from AIDS, Kaposi's Sarcoma and lymphoma back in the early 1980's, I can relate to these feelings. My KS and lymphoma went into remission in 1985, and I started really getting well in 1986. (For more details on my story, see Column #1: "Why I Have Hope.")

In spite of the joy I felt, the prospect of recovering was pretty frightening!

I was pretty well prepared to die: after all, back then there were no treatments, and everyone I knew died from AIDS within a year or two. I made my final arrangements, traveled around the country saying goodbye to dear friends and family, and bought a few things I'd always wanted and never felt I could afford.

I remember actively letting go of life. I accepted my growing dependency on those who were doing my shopping, cooking, and housecleaning. I let go of career plans and ambitions. I even felt somewhat relieved that I would never have to face the challenges of aging. I certainly stopped worrying about investing in a retirement fund.

Then I got well. And while there were times I felt euphoric and blessed, there were many times when I felt overwhelmed and depressed about the huge changes that were happening in my life.

I became depressed by what getting well again would mean. I suddenly had to do my own shopping, cooking, and housekeeping again. I had to get my career jump-started after 4 years of unemployment. I went through "survivor's guilt",wondering why I was spared when so many others died. To top it off, some people were actually angry with me, as if they'd done all their anticipatory grief work for nothing!

It took a full year before I pulled out of the depression. It took me even longer to trust that I was going to live, that there wasn't a time bomb inside me ready to explode. Recently, with the promise of the new treatments, I've decided I can trust my wellness, and I've started a retirement fund!


About the MCC Church

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change,  aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been  on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide.

MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice including but not limited to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 11 of 11

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The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)


Day 11: Self-control

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others… So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. -1 Corinthians 10:23-24 & 11:20-21 (NIV)

The last of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. We are not to live according to our impulses and desires, but instead to consider others’ needs. That is not to say that all of our desires are wrong or bad. But we do not give in to our desires a way that is harmful to ourselves or others. In 1 Corinthians Paul writes that he has heard that when the Corinthian church came together to share the Lord’s Supper – which used to be an actual meal and not just a piece of bread and a sip of wine (or grape juice) – some were bringing food just for themselves and eating and getting drunk while others went hungry. Their lack of self-control was hurting the body of Christ.

For those of us who have struggled with addiction, self-control is a tricky thing. Any recovering alcoholic knows that self-control in the sense of will-power just isn’t enough. Myself, having seen both sides of an eating disorder I know that too much self-control can be as unhealthy as not enough. When I was starving myself I was extremely self-controlled, but I wasn’t serving God any more than when I was overeating. And in Alcoholics Anonymous, I’m told, they speak of how someone can be a “dry drunk” – no longer drinking but not having dealt with their issues and unhealthy behavior. Other addictions, too – to sex, perfectionism, drugs, codependent relationships, etc. – can’t be cured by just having more self-control. Real healing must take place, and that is almost always a long process, with steps forward and backward.

But self-control is important, and Paul has given it a place of importance at the end of the list of the fruit of the Spirit. As we remain in Christ and as the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness grow in us, we begin to bear the fruit of self-control as well. We stop and think before we act on an impulse to take something we want. We take a deep breath when we feel angry, and do not strike out with our fists or our words. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” We don’t take the opportunity to cheat on our spouse with the attractive stranger. And we look for this quality in Christian leaders as well.

D.L. Moody said that self-control (temperance, in the King James Bible) is “love in training.” If we practice self-control on a daily basis it will become a habit. Just as we train our bodies to run a race, we train our minds and our hearts so that when we are faced with a challenge we will be ready.

What are some ways you see the fruit of self-control in your life? Are there areas in which you wish you were more self-controlled? Are there perhaps underlying issues that need to be addressed in order to effectively practice that self-control?

Thank you for walking through these eleven days with me. I pray that they have given you encouragement and hope, and empowered you to love God, love yourself, and love others, and continue to produce the fruit of the Spirit, as you were created to do.

In Christ,
Jessica Kantrowitz
Boston, May 29th, 2017


About The Author

Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 10 of 11

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The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)


Day 10: Gentleness

“Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.”

-Matthew 12:15-21 (NIV)                                                            

The Greek word, prautés, is translated in Galatians 5:23 as gentleness, but its meaning is somewhat different than what we think of as gentleness. When we think of a gentle person, we might think of someone soft and meek. But prautés means strength that accommodates to another’s weakness. A good image might be a mother tiger gently catching up her cub who has wandered away, in jaws that could easily crush it, and returning it to safety.

Just as with the other fruit of the Spirit, gentleness is a quality God exhibits towards us, as described in the verse above, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” God’s strength could easily hurt us, but instead God is gentle with us. And we are called to be gentle with others.

Gentleness can diffuse potential conflict and effect peace: Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” It is the unexpected response when someone is angry and expecting anger in return. Gentleness recognizes the weakness in others even when they are aren’t showing it, and treats them tenderly. Gentleness provides space for healing.

Like love, we can only be as gentle to others as we are to ourselves, forgiving ourselves for our weaknesses and gently redirecting ourselves when we make mistakes and wander off.

Can you think of a situation in your life where a gentle answer might turn away wrath? How can you respond gently when in the past you have responded harshly? Can you think of a time when someone’s gentleness to you has led to healing?


About The Author

Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 9 of 11

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The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)


Day 9: Faithfulness

 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.  But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”  Matthew 25:14-23 (NIV)

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

In this parable the servants are charged with their master’s money while he is away. When the master returns and sees that the first servant has made use of the money entrusted to him, he comments him for being, “good and faithful.” A faithful person is dependable. You can count on her to fulfill her commitments, and to do what she says she will do. She uses the resources she was given to do the job she was given to do.

In this story the word talent refers to a unit of money, like a dollar. The English definition of a talent comes from this parable, and is based on its interpretation: We are each entrusted with our skills and abilities to use them to do Christ’s work in the world until he returns. In fact, our very lives are gifts entrusted to us by God. Mary Oliver asks in the poem The Summer Day, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

What does it look like to you to be faithful to God with your life? What tasks, assignments, or responsibilities has God charged you with, both in your current situation and further ahead?


About The Author

Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 8 of 11

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The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)


Day 8: Goodness

“I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” -Romans 15:14 (NIV)

The Greek word used here, agathosune, is only found four times in the New Testament – Gal 5:23, Rom 15:14, Eph 5:9 and 2 Thess 1:11. It is used in the Septuagint, the Latin translation of the Old Testament, but is not found in any known secular literature. It connotes the idea of generous kindness, which goes beyond the requirements of justice. One scholar observed that this is the antithesis of envy, which wants the good things others have for itself. (See Ronald Fung’s commentary on Galatians.) Goodness also carries the sense of morally upright – honest, reliable, ethical.

In the passage in Romans, above, goodness is given as a qualification for teaching others. Notice the NIV translates adelphoi as “brothers and sisters” – and I would add non-binary, agender, gender-fluid – all siblings in Christ are qualified to teach each other, not just pastors or those ordained by the church. But we must make sure that we are qualified to teach, and that those we are learning from are qualified. Are they demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, including goodness? Are they honest? Are they generous? Do they (or their policies) extend care to the poor beyond what they are obligated to by law? Or do are they envious, wanting to keep as much as they can for themselves and their own families, and teaching this avarice to their followers?

What do you think of when you hear the word goodness? Who are some people you know who demonstrate that quality? Are you producing the fruit of goodness in your life?


About The Author

Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 7 of 11

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The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)


Day 7: Kindness

 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love.” - Ephesians 4:29-5:2 (NIV)

The Greek word used here, chréstotés, encompasses the meanings of the English kindness and gentleness. It is love in action, serving others in concrete, practical ways. Just like the other fruit, God models kindness to us (Eph 2:7, Titus 3:4) and we are to show kindness to others, as well as to ourselves. In the passage above, kindness is contrasted with rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice, and unwholesome talk. It is an attitude of the heart, manifested in words and actions.

There is a saying, “Practice random acts of kindness,” and in that spirit people will do things like paying for the coffee of the next person in line at a Starbucks drive-through. There is nothing wrong with that, but we should also look to practice very specific, well-thought out acts of kindness. These start with paying attention. Look carefully at the people around you, and see what their needs are, and consider if it is in your power to meet those needs, fully or partially. Some may need words of encouragement or a listening ear. Some may need financial help. Some may need help with cooking, cleaning, or childcare, help fixing things around the house, help getting their technology to work properly.

We all have something to offer. As Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I often feel discouraged because I see so much financial need – my own, my family’s and friends’, and the world’s, and wish that my health made it possible to work more hours to contribute to that need. But then I remember that my deep gladness and my gifts lie in reading, studying, and writing, prayer and meditation, gentle listening and encouragement, creative problem solving, and introducing people to each other. So I try to show kindness to others in those ways.

What are your gifts, and your skills, and how can you use them to show kindness to others? Can you think of specific needs in your community that you may be able to meet? Are there ways in which you are being unkind to yourself?


About The Author

Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 6 of 11

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The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)


Day 6: Patience

 “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” - Hebrews 6:12 (NIV)

Again, as with love and peace, there is a three-fold sense to patience. We are called to be patient with God, as we wait for God to complete God’s work on earth and in our own lives. (Hebrews 11:13) We are called to be patient with each other. (Ephesians 4:1-3) And in order to be patient with others, we must also learn to be patient with ourselves. In all of this God sets the example by God’s patience with us. (Romans 2:4, 1 Titus 1:16)

Patience is perhaps best personified by a mother with a young child. She teaches him the same thing again and again, she does not lose her temper and yell at him when he forgets, is silly, or even deliberately does wrong. She knows he isn’t perfect and that he is still learning and growing. Even though the people around us are grown-ups, we are all still imperfect and in the process of learning and growing. This can be incredibly frustrating. People in general can be incredibly irritating (myself included). It can be hard to have patience, especially when it feels like people should know better. But while anger begets anger, patience encourages growth, in ourselves and others.

One way to engender patience toward others is to pray for them. It is harder to be annoyed with someone if you are actively praying for their welfare. Another way to find patience is to breathe. When we are frustrated or angry our bodies react – our blood pressure rises, our heartrate increases, and our breathing becomes shallow. Taking deep, slow breaths will counter the physical manifestations of our frustration which will help to calm our spirit as well.

Removing yourself from the situation is also a valid option, whether it is just walking away for a few minutes, or making life changes so that you don’t have to be around people who bring out the worst in you. Don’t forget, though – people are everywhere, and the people in your new job or church or living situation have the potential to be just as frustrating as the ones before. Patience is only truly perfected by practice, and that means sometimes being around people who try your patience.

Think about a time when you made a mistake, or acted immaturely or unwisely, and people reacted with anger and judgement. Can you imagine how much more helpful it would have been if they had been patient? Then think about someone you are having difficulty having patience with. Can you extend them the same gift? Or would it be best for all concerned if you took time apart – a little, or a lot of time?


About The Author

Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.