Sunday, March 20, 2016

children. palm sunday. campaign.

My camera was acting up today. I need to get it serviced. It was being stupid. When people were sitting still, the picture was fine. But if anyone was moving, the picture was disproportionately blurry compared to the amount of movement.

We were trying to take pictures of the children at church coming down the center aisle. They were wearing makeshift costumes, waving palm branches, laying a path for Jesus with cloaks and more palm branches. As slowly as they moved, not one picture turned out clearly.

Still, everyone smiled and laughed.

Because this year our donkey’s name was Jahliyah Garcia who lives just up the street. She had on fake fur and tie-around ears. The fake fur was grey and puffy and the ears were more like a sheep, but she still did a good job pretending to be a donkey.

Little Lily was scheduled to be Jesus this year but when the time came she would not get on the donkey without her little sister. Lily kept hugging and hugging her until finally little sister Soleil became Jesus.

Yes, Jesus this year was a girl. And two. Not white. She had a pretty dress on underneath her costume.

I think that is why we were all smiling. There is something right about it.

I think the pictures of the children turned out blurry because that is how it would have happened in Jesus’ day, if they had had cameras. Everyone craning to get a picture of their new King, but the kids running around, defying capture by the shutter. The kids appear as blurs to everyone and no one notices their presence the same way no one notices their new king riding on a donkey instead of a horse and the same way Jesus blesses the pesky kids who keep getting little blessings spoken on them when the rabbi has more serious things to do like rout the Romans and create a platform for change.  Select a slate of governors, enlist an army and address the nation. Attend the debate, schmooze the lobbyists, stump before the primaries, garner the nomination, and meet with the ghost writer.

Play your cards right, Jesus. No time for missteps.

And certainly no time for children.

Yes, yes we know Passover is a time for family but let’s get real, there’s no time for that for you this year, Jesus. None of these silly games, hiding the afikomen. Besides, we’ve no money to spare when the child finds the hidden bread and returns it for redemption.

We must get on with business. 

That is why I think the children are blurry in the pictures.

Nevertheless, they are clear enough—and present—so you can still see their happiness, powerless as they are.

I wonder: are we happy to be powerless? In an election year?

Pray it would be so.

Yesterday I had the privilege of officiating a baby dedication ceremony. Little Frankie had just turned one on Thursday. What a precious family! I’ve known the Mom and Dad since 2003 and I had the joy of dedicating Frankie’s older sister Evelyn a little over two years ago, too.

At Frankie’s ceremony, I told a story to him and the other children there. It is a story about life, how it is rough sometimes but happy other times. The story has objects that go with it: a two-textured bag with burlap on the outside and soft silk on the inside; there are six odd wood shapes inside the bag, purple on one side and white on the other side. When the odd shapes are put together, they make another odd shape: a cross.

The story says that in life the sad and the happy come together—but that is good because that is what makes joy. You can’t ever pull the two sides apart but that is good because that is what makes joy.

The story, I told the children, is an old story. It’s older than Mom and Dad, older than their mom and dad, which is saying a lot. In fact, it is so old, we often forget when it was first told.

Never mind: because it’s old, we need to be soft and gentle with it. And the kids knew to be gentle with this story about life. They get it.

I am struck now that I told that story yesterday and today is Palm Sunday in a season that has been dominated by stories of political posturing that is anything but soft, gentle and humble…anything but the way of Jesus. But the kids get it.

I do pray our leaders see that--even as they talk about our children in their campaigning, I pray they learn from the way of children and the way of Jesus with children.  

This morning, I received this message from Frankie’s Mom.

Good morning, friends!

Here is a conversation I just had with Evelyn. She was in the living room with Ari & I was in the bedroom with Frankie.

Me: Evy, do you want to come say good morning to Frankie?

E: In a minute, I'm doing something.

M: what are you doing?

E: i’m being very soft because because it's very, very old.

M: are you putting together the puzzle?

E: yes. It's joy.

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