Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sex, Love and Wholeness

We are doing a Sermon on the Mount worship series at Peace with various members writing devotions each week.  So, of course, I wanted to write something -  that was until I was assigned Matthew 5:27-32, which includes this nugget - "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."  Well, that's some serious shit.  I was given a couple of resources on the theme of looking, loving or lusting, but I found them to be kind of weak when compared to this text.  I finally opted for what I think is a more direct approach.

Day 1 - Adultery & Divorce
Read Matthew 5:27-32. What is your gut reaction to this text? For me, it starts with guilt because my focus immediately goes to the "divorce" section. I'm divorced. What does this mean for me? I find there are generally not many words of comfort for the divorced in the Bible. My next reaction is anger because as a female I don't like reading this patriarchal language where husbands seem to have all the rights. Did you also feel some strong emotional reactions to this text? Why do you think Jesus uses such strong language and disturbing imagery around the subject of adultery & divorce?

Day 2 - Betrayal
Sex is the ultimate intimate act with another. As such, it can also reveal our most vulnerable selves to another. When one experiences betrayal and/or abuse associated with this act, gut wrenching emotions, spiritual and possibly physical damage will surely follow. I think this must be why Jesus treats this subject so harshly. The consequences of heading down the path of adultery and unfaithfulness are destructive to all involved. Read Lamentations 1. Have you ever been betrayed? What did it feel like? What lasting effects did it have on your life?

Day 3 - Evil
It doesn't seem like any rational person would argue with the concept that faithfulness is good and betrayal is bad. So how come our actions are often in conflict with our reason? This is where evil enters the picture. Evil is not rational. Read Mark 7:1-23. Jesus reminds the teachers, the crowd and his disciples that evil resides in everyone. We cannot blame outside influences for the existence of this evil. What outside influences can do is make it very hard for us to overcome our resident evil. Consider how the values of our culture and the portrayal of sex and love in the media might influence your resident evil.

Day 4 - Love
Many people spend their lives "looking for love in all the wrong places". With so many false ideas and images about sex and love out in the world, how are we to recognize the real thing? In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul does a beautiful job of describing what love is.
"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Read the rest of 1 Corinthians 13. How is this kind of love possible? Have you seen or experienced this kind of love in the world?

Day 5 - Wholeness
Read Matthew 5:27-32 again. I wonder if Jesus uses such explicit language about losing body parts not only to capture our attention, but also to indicate how it is our thoughts of betrayal that begin the damage within us. Maybe it is not really the act itself that gets us in the end, but the way we let our hearts become twisted and broken with thoughts of adultery, indecency, envy and pride. Read Romans 8:31-39. Paul's words remind us that nothing can separate us from the love of God and that is where we need to turn to find forgiveness, reconciliation and a path to wholeness.

Friday, January 01, 2010

adventures in dog-fostering

I read about fostering a dog for the holidays from the SPCA and convinced the family this would be a good deed we could do since we had no plans for the Christmas break. I didn't really know what to expect, but fostering Gobi has been a great experience!

Our adventure began December 18, 2009 when Xander, Freyja & I went after school to pick up the foster dog. There were several dogs to choose from, but after checking them out, we were drawn to the shy hound. He was shivering when they brought him out to meet us, but it did not take him long to warm up to us. Then we brought Freyja in for a meet & greet and they did well together. By the time we left, the car packed with dogs, humans & crates, the predicted snow was really coming down.

It took us over an hour to make the 15 minute drive to Pantops, but it was on our treacherous neighborhood road that the Charlottesville Snowpocalypse finally caught up to us - both of our cars wound up in the ditch. Luckily, dogs & humans were fine and we walked/slid the rest of the way home.

We found Gobi to be a very sweet and sometimes silly dog, who listens well and plays very nicely with our family.  He really enjoys going on walks, climbing snow drifts, barking at deer, chasing Freyja around the house, fetching tennis balls and snuggling on the couch.

Gobi does suffer from separation and stranger anxiety.  The separation anxiety was pretty severe at first as he would thrash and whine when left alone, but now he is taking some anti-anxiety meds and we have seen improvement every day -  especially at night when he goes into his crate.  He did not have many opportunities to meet new people - we really did have a very quiet holiday, but he did warm up pretty quickly to a friend of Xander's that visited one day.

Our adventure with Gobi is ending  on Sunday, when we take him back to the SPCA.  We hope that a family will soon discover the love, laughter and adventure that Gobi can bring into their life too!