Monday, September 11, 2006

There goes my hero....

This afternoon while I driving home from work I glanced at my watch. 5:15pm. Dad will be home and hopefully not too fair into his afternoon nap. (Being an introvert and an 8th grade teacher is an exhausting combination). Dialing home, I smiled to hear his surprised, "Hello?" Apparently I didn't interrupt naptime but did disturb him from his crossword puzzle. He'll make a great grandpa one day.

I asked him how school was today and he said it was a little somber since he taught about 9/11 today. His current 8th graders were in 3rd grade when the terrorist attacks occurred, so their memories are scattered at best. Too young to personally connect with the date now pregnant with meaning for older Americans, they listened to Dad explain the heroics of those on board Flight 93. Men risked their lives to bring that plane down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania rather than in a government building in DC or New York. As he held up the Flag of Heroes, an American flag where names of fallen 9/11 rescue workers in red form the flag's stripes, the spoke about what it means to be a hero.

I remembered a conversation in our worldview class last year about heroes as we struggled with an assignment to write a one page paper on our personal hero. Many of us had a hard time identifying "a person who lived their life in a way we'd want to emulate." By the end of the semester most of us had written on a family member or close friend. Few wrote on a nationally recognized public figure. John Cunningham, our teacher, pointed out the shift from public to personal in our generation. It seems Dad has picked up on the trend as well. He quickly distinguished between a celebrity and a hero with his students and explained how a football player's actions on the field are not heroic, although they may be admirable. What he doess off the field may (or may not) make him a hero. Dad and I agreed that kids are less likely to choose a public figure as a hero because the minute after they are exalted by the media for their public actions that benefit the common good, they are likely to be slandered for an element of their private life that is less than heroic.

Or worse, the media continues to exalt a great athlete for his prowess on the field, choosing to ignore or overlook the minefield of a personal life unworthy of exaltation. This disconnect has taught our generation to be cynical towards public figures. Their once "heroes" carry reputations tarnished with allegations of rape, excessive partying, and other evidences of inconsistent lifestyles. So what pictures does that paint of "goodness" for this generation?

I think it's twofold. First, "goodness" is only a shiny door on a closet full of skeletons. No one can possible be really good in this world (which is somewhat true-- Romans 3:23 all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God). So they view people with cynical eyes, always waiting for the other shoes to drop.

The second impact is it teaches that a mess of a private life can be ignored, even excused, if your "greatness" can be exalted publicly. Greatness-- in music, athletics, fashion, even business-- has replaced goodness of character and heart. The modern teen longs for greatness... and why not? If you're "one of the greats" you can get away with anything...

Or can you?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Sometimes when I am praying and trying to figure out how to think about God, I ask for a picture... I am a visual person and having some sort of image to guide my thinking or to refocus me is so helpful. This morning I was so thankful for how God speaks to us through what we see everyday-- children laughing (and crying!), the sun rising one more day, rain washing down on everyone without showing favor or restraint... and then through Oswald Chambers I got another picture of how God works.

John 7:37-38 says, "If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within."

Every river finds has a greater source in the ocean, but the rivers, creeks, and streams touch parts of the land that the ocean itself doesn't reach. They are meant to flow out of the ocean and into the land... it takes time for them to carve their beds around rocks or even underground in order to reach the dry parts of the land, but they find a way.

The church where I work, Trinity Presbyterian, is studying Acts right now in an effort to figure out what it really means to be a church for this city and for the world and the resulting question for me is what does it mean to live a Christian life as part of that church? In his sermon Sunday Greg asked that question... does it mean to be nice to everyone? does it mean that I should just avoid doing bad things and live a good life? Is that all?

This is a big church... but sitting out here at the end of Fontaine Avenue it's not going to reach all the places and people that are thirsty. So what does it mean for me to be a part of this church? I know it means that God has sent me to live in a certain area of Charlottesville... I've been praying about it since early last year and He just opened doors and hearts to allow us to be on Short 18th Street downtown... so now what? I dont know specifically... I (for once) have no plan or timeline laid out... all I can do is ask that I will be like those rivers flowing out of the Source and trying to reach dry land.

Most of the time I just think like an (almost) 23 year old girl going about her business each day... but I'd like to think more about what it means to be a part of His business. What does it mean to be a Christian?

"It's understanding that the Spirit has come to reshape our
understanding of what it means to follow Him in the world, to send us to places
we didn't intend to go, to love people we did not intend to love, to bear sorros
we did not intend to bear. But we do that to honor God and for the good of the
world." -- Greg Thompson "The Spirit of Hope"