Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: bridge

A Day in Duck, North Carolina

The other day we drove down to Duck, North Carolina along the Outer Banks to visit with some friends who were vacationing there. We were reminded of how close we are to the Outer Banks and that we should take more advantage of it being so close. We had a fun day.

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What I Do on Wednesday Nights

For many people, Wednesday night is church night. I don’t spend my Wednesday nights in church, but I spend it where we have church.

Nestled in the a nearby neighborhood, behind a strip mall, are two houses where those with and without disabilities live together. Sheltered by the tall tress on the hillside, this little community seeks to eliminate the stereotype of people with disabilities.

What I Do on Wednesday Nights - L'Arche

http://www.larchebrm.org

Every Wednesday evening, I take some time to sing, ponder, and pray with the L’Arche community in Lynchburg. L’Arche – The Ark – is a community home for intellectually disabled individuals. There are 135 L’Arche communities in 36 countries around the world.

Drawing on the Biblical narrative of Noah and the Ark, L’Arche is the place where those with developmental disabilities go to be safe from the storms of life. In 1964 the Canadian humanitarian Jean Vanier founded L’Arche. He was deeply troubled by the institutionalization of people with developmental disabilities, that too often resulted in isolation and loneliness. He invited two men with disabilities to live in his house and he called it “L’Arche.”

The L’Arche community in Lynchburg has welcomed me to join them on Wednesday nights for their Spiritual Life Night.

We sing a lot. Each of the core members have a favorite song that we try to sing. But we also teach a few new songs every once and awhile. Most recently we had a Christmas Carol Sing-along.

What I Do on Wednesday Nights - L'Arche Worship

We take a few moments to recall a Biblical story and talk about it. Then we each share a joy or a concern. Sometimes I pray, and sometimes the core members take turns praying.

And the night is not complete unless Gordon sings a song.

What I Do on Wednesday Nights - L'Arche - Gordon sings

Some people can’t believe that I do this as often as I do. When I was first asked to consider leading Spiritual Life Night, I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure. But every Wednesday night, when I’m sitting with my friends and singing and praying together, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

I see it as fulfilling my call as an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. The deacon is called to Word, Service, Justice, and Compassion. The image most often used to describe the ministry of the deacon is that of a bridge. The deacon is a bridge between the church and the world. All this happens at L’Arche on Wednesday nights.

There are places in our society where the core members are not treated like adults. They are spoken down to. They are looked passed. L’Arche creates a community where these things do not happen. A community where they are valued and loved. And I have the honor of being a part of this community.

Jesus Said: Cloudy Vision

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. (Matthew 5:9; The Message)

Jesus Said - jasoncstanley.comAbout a year ago I got new glasses.  When the nurse gave me the new frames, and I put them on, I was surprised at how well I could see!  It was only then that I realized how cloudy my vision had gotten. At first it was hard to imagine that my eye sight had changed so much. It was crazy to think that before the new glasses, my vision was cloudy at best.

The Greek word used for peacemakers means something like “doers of peace.”  Peace—this spirit of not competing or fighting with one another—whether that be among nations, among siblings, or among church members—is something we “do” rather than “possess.”

Scholar Douglas R. A. Hare reminds us that being a peacemaker does mean one lives in peace or dwells in the fruits of peace, but rather means that one is about “the hard work of reconciling hostile individuals, families, groups, and nations.” There is a difference between those who are peacemakers and those who are peacekeepers. Keeping the peace is keeping everyone happy. Keeping the peace is walking on eggshells, being careful not to offend anyone. Peacekeeping is not speaking up and standing up for what you believe it.

Peacemaking is hard work. It is the work of standing up for what is right. It is the work of being courageous and bold to stand up and speak for the voiceless. Peacemaking is about truth-speaking for the sake of reconciliation.

Cloudy Vision - jasoncstanley.comBut, cloudy vision prevents us from being peacemakers.  We must learn to look at others through the eyes of God.  This is the lesson which Bruce in the comedy Bruce Almighty (2003) learns.  In order to make peace with his girlfriend Grace, he has to learn to look at her through the eyes of God. Instead of building a wall between himself and Grace, Bruce is able to build a bridge where reconciliation could be possible.

Martin Luther King, Jr. longed for a day when children of all colors would join hands—a day when we look at each other through the eyes of God and see each other as members of the same family. And through that vision, we will be willing to do the hard work of peacemaking.

German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a sermon said, “The forgiveness of sins still remains the sole ground of all peace.”  Forgiveness is hard work.  How is forgiveness needed to make peace in your life? 

Pray:  Open our eyes, Lord, to see as You see.  And, Lord, give us a forgiving heart.  Amen.

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