Day One Day

I just saw a music video that involved looping. Now, while the music wasn’t my thing, one of the loops was. While setting it up, the lady sang into the mike the words “Day one” over and over, very close together. After a while, it sounded like she was saying “One day” and not “Day one” anymore. Something was fascinating to me about that.

Is she talking about the beginning of something, or she waiting for something to begin? Is it the present or the future she is talking about? And in a way, are they are the same?

It reminds me of the book “Be Here Now.” It is written in such a way that it also says “Be Nowhere.”

I often hear and see things like this. I often get an “echo” and receive multiple meanings of things. It is just how my brain is wired. Perhaps it is why I’m an artist. Perhaps I had to become an artist to process this phenomenon.

While it is unusual and I like it, it is also a bit of a juggle. I have to determine which experience that the world receives so I know what to share, and then study the experience that I got on my own and ponder it.

Sometimes looking at multiple sides of things is helpful. Sometimes it is confusing. Sometimes it is an amazing gift that opens doors in my head.

I think that this gift is part of why I can tutor people with learning disabilities. Not only can I “hear” what they are trying to say but can’t get out, I understand the multiple signals they are receiving.

We are just radio receivers after all, you know. Our senses are just receivers of information from the world, and from our Creator. Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste – all of these senses tell us information about the world around us. All of our sense organs are mechanical, physical things, though. And they are different for each one of us. No person sees the color we collectively refer to as “pink” the same way as another person. It is a construct we agree upon. This shade is “pink” but this one is “red” and this one is “mauve” and that is just the way it is.

But it isn’t.

We are faulty radio receivers. A tube is broken. The dial sticks in one area. The wiring touches in places.

What one person experiences through her senses isn’t the same as what another person experiences. We sometimes don’t realize that. And that is where the confusion starts. What I see and what you see isn’t the same thing. What we both talk about is something in the middle, something that we have agreed upon.

It is, in fact, something that doesn’t even really exist.

Sometimes we don’t even realize this. Sometimes we do, but we don’t realize that the “ideal” thing that we are talking about isn’t there, and we’d really be better off talking about what each one of us sees, really, right there in front of us.

If we can’t even honestly talk about what we see right in front of us, how can we even begin to honestly talk about ideas and concepts as vague as “equality” and “peace” and “compassion”?

But perhaps this is all the heart of compassion. Perhaps if we can just begin to understand that each one of us experiences the world in a different way, and that if we tap into that and share our collective and divergent perceptions we can create a unified whole in our heads. Perhaps if we work together instead of against each other – perhaps if we are patient with ourselves and with each other – we can actually start to understand each other and the world we live in.

One day.
Or day one.

Perhaps the future is right now.

Rules versus love.

Sometimes rules help. Sometimes they hinder.

There have been times where I have created a rule to help me on a project. This is useful when I have either no idea what I’m going to do next or worse, I have no idea how to start. If I’ve fun out of ideas for what to make in my beaded creations I’ll grab two bins and make up a rule that I can only make jewelry from those bins. If I want to write a poem I’ll pick a poem form like a sestina and use it.

Sometimes having a structure or a framework at the beginning is just the start I need to get things rolling right along.

But then sometimes a rule gets in the way. Sometimes the rule worked at the beginning but then no longer serves its intended purpose.

The goal is more important than the rule. If the rule no longer moves you towards your goal then drop the rule and either use another one or figure it out as you go. It is just like driving and then encountering a traffic jam. You need to get to your destination. Do you stay on the freeway, stuck in the traffic jam, or do you get off at the nearest exit and take the side road? If the situation is dire enough, you may even have to abandon your car and walk.

This is exactly what Jesus did when he threw away a lot of the Jewish rules of purity and separation. The goal is live in love. The goal is to show that love to God and then likewise to everyone else. He realized that a lot of the rules were no longer working. They were being done out of habit or even out of fear. But they weren’t getting people towards the goal. In some ways they were drawing people away from the goal because performing the actions had become the goal.

Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath. That was “work.” So he was breaking a rule.

Luke 13:10-14
10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight.12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!”13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God! 14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

Then Jesus immediately points out that there is another rule that allows for it.

Luke 13:15-17
15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?” 17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did.

When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, he broke a rule.

Mark 3:1-6
Now He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a paralyzed hand. 2 In order to accuse Him, they were watching Him closely to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 He told the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand before us.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.5 After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

It was after this that the leaders started actively plotting to kill him. He hasn’t “worked.” He’s healed. They are missing the point of the rule. The rule of Sabbath is to heal us. This man was being healed on the Sabbath.

So the punishment for healing on the Sabbath is death? Seems a bit excessive.

The purpose of the Sabbath rules of refraining from work is to ensure that everyone rests. We all work too much. We all spend way too much time being human doings rather than human beings. If we don’t take a day off to rest we will wear ourselves out. The week is just like the day. If we don’t take time at the end of the day to sleep we get frazzled and frayed. If we don’t take time at the end of the week to rest we get unraveled entirely.

But the rules had gone too far. The rules were meant to keep the Jewish people mindful of their special covenant with God, and to make them mindful of their duty to God. Many times throughout their history they had collectively forgotten this goal and had suffered greatly for it. Throughout their wanderings in the desert large swaths of the Jewish people were destroyed by God for getting off track and out of line. Many of the Jewish rules for how to conduct your life were created to keep God’s wrath at a low simmer rather than from boiling over.

But Jesus came to point out that the rules were not only getting them towards the goal of loving God, but they were simply being used as a stopgap to keep God loving them. They didn’t get that if they showed love to God, then God would show love to them. They were acting out of fear rather than love.

Links. On ESP and Christianity.

I once was doing wire work at a friend’s house. We were in a medieval reenactment group together and I was making decades. Decades are like short rosaries. Instead of having five groups of ten beads, it only has one set. These were used during the Reformation by Catholics. It was a way of being true to their faith but doing it secret, because openly being a Catholic then was a ticket to jail or the gallows. Decades were small enough to be held in the palm of the hand. They could pray the rosary while they walked and not be obvious about it.

decade

I was Christian then, but not openly so. Now that I think about it, making decades was perfect for me. The symbolism is striking. I was practicing my faith but quietly. Being Christian wouldn’t mean a jail term or death, but it still wasn’t very popular.

It still isn’t. This is in part because of so many people who say they are Christian with their words but not with their actions.

My friend and I had not discussed our religious practices. We had discussed something else though – a sort of ESP that we shared.

She knew I was weird. I seem to remember she termed it being “eclectic” but I think “eccentric” is more fitting. I’ve always had an extra sense. I’ve always known and seen more than just what was on the surface. I’ve always heard the under-layer of meaning. It is why I tutor people who have learning disabilities. I can understand them when nobody else can.

She had this same sense. Hers was a little different, and she hadn’t acknowledged it as long as I had, but it was still there. Over time, we had shared many experiences about what we saw together, comparing notes.

She saw me making this decade, this symbol of faith. She saw how precise and exacting I was with the links. She knew from watching me that I’d done this a lot. My links are all equal. You don’t get that kind of precision unless you practice.

She looked at me and asked “How can you make something like this if you are eclectic?”

This was the moment. I could show her who I really am, or I could hide.

I took a breath in and prayed for the right words. I could alienate her forever, but I thought she might understand. I had helped them move recently and seen Bibles while I was packing. I knew I wasn’t going too far into enemy territory. But I also knew they weren’t practicing. If they had a bunch of pagan items around then I’d be even more worried about what I was going to say. I wasn’t going to preach to her, but I was certainly going to share with her some of my truth.

I looked up from my work and said “Nobody was weirder than Jesus. He walked on water, he made the blind see, and he brought the dead back to life.” I smiled and took another breath in, and waited for her reaction.

This opened her eyes. Shortly after that she and her family started going to church.

Loving Jesus and being weird are totally compatible. If you have an extra sense, an extra way of knowing, it is a gift from God. It doesn’t separate you from God. It is a way to know God. Using it in the service of others is a way to show love to God.

On Judas – forgiven, friend, follower.

It had to be hard to be Judas. He didn’t want to be the bad guy. There aren’t any saint medals for him. Yet if it weren’t for Judas, the prophecy wouldn’t have been fulfilled. Throughout history, Judas is known as the traitor, the betrayer of Jesus. We forget that Jesus didn’t condemn him. Jesus accepted what had to be done. If Jesus can forgive Judas, shouldn’t we?

In Matthew 10:1-4 we read
10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

But then read this – It wasn’t Judas’ idea to betray Jesus.

Luke 22:1-6
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Did you catch that? In verse 3 – “Then Satan entered Judas…”
Imagine Judas. There he is, possessed by this crazy feeling. He wasn’t himself. He wasn’t thinking straight. Here he was looking for ways to betray his friend, his Savior. This wasn’t like him. He had to feel really strange.

Jesus knew what was going to happen. It was foreordained. Jesus didn’t blame Judas at all. Jesus accepted what was going to happen. He felt sorry for Judas.

Matthew 26:20-25
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” 23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

Jesus knew, and forgave Judas. Jesus calls him “Friend” – not enemy. Judas did what he was called to do.

Matthew 26:47-50
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.”49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
Jesus called Judas “friend”. Not enemy. Friend. That is really important.

Jesus knew it had to happen this way. He didn’t fight against it. He knew that the Scripture had to be fulfilled. So Judas isn’t the bad guy. He’s just an actor playing a part. God is the director.

When the soldiers come to arrest him, one drew a sword and cut off the high priest’s ear.

In Mark 14-48-50
48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

Here’s another take on the same story proving that Jesus knew things had to be this way. This is at the same point in the story, where the high priest’s ear was cut off. Peter leaps to defend Jesus by pulling out his sword.

John 18:11
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Just after Jesus is taken away, Judas realizes the error. He didn’t think Jesus was going to be killed. He thought he’d just make a quick buck and make the authorities happy. He kills himself. This fulfilled a prophecy is fulfilled, and is yet more proof that Judas was simply acting under the will of God. He wasn’t acting under his own power.

Matthew 27:1-10
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

It was prophesied. It had to happen.

Jesus didn’t have a problem with Judas. He didn’t blame him. Jesus prayed for all his disciples, including Judas, on the night he was betrayed.

John 17:6-18
6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Before this, at the Passover, (The Last Supper), Jesus says this to Simon (Peter) in Luke 22:31-32
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus wasn’t against any of them. Jesus loved and prayed for them all. He gave all of them powers. He didn’t want to divide them.

How many of us would be willing to be used like Judas was? We think we are in control, when we forget that it is always God who is in control. We are the clay in the potter’s hand.

Isaiah 64-8
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

We aren’t in charge. We never were.

Judas wasn’t the bad guy. Judas was fulfilling the role that God gave him. Jesus calls him “Friend”. Jesus didn’t hate Judas, and neither should we. If it weren’t for Judas, Jesus would not have died the way he had to die – and remember he had to die in order to be raised from the dead.

Jesus was the sacrificial lamb. Judas just led him to the slaughter. He was fulfilling the role that was assigned to him by God. When he realized what he had done, he killed himself. He didn’t mean to – he was being used.

Let us forgive Judas, and be more kind to people (and ourselves). We never know who is doing the will of God, unbeknownst to them or us. Let us be the kind of disciples that are willing to follow God, even if it means our own destruction.

It takes two to tango (sluts and studs)

What is the deal with demonizing women over sex? It is the girl who “puts out” in high school who is slut-shamed, while the guy she had sex with is a “stud”. It is the single mother who gets attacked by society – not the guy who left her.

It takes two to tango.

It makes no sense that if it takes two to have sex, one should be praised for it and the other should be attacked for it. Guys can’t get a “good” reputation unless they have sex with girls who get a “bad” reputation because of it.

This is totally illogical.

Let’s think about what happens if she gets pregnant. You’d think that a single mother was the worst member of our society by the support she doesn’t get. She at least chose to stay. In a way, she couldn’t leave. She’s the one who is pregnant. She can’t leave the situation as easily as the guy can. She can’t pack up in the middle of the night and get out of town. But she chose to stay the course. She chose to try to handle the situation on her own.

She could have had an abortion (also demonizing her in our culture). She could have chosen to put up the child for adoption (possibly the only socially acceptable way out).

But no matter what, she is considered damaged goods from then on. Whatever choice she makes she is considered lesser.

The guy? He’s free to go. Nothing on his record. Get out of jail free, and in fact, he might even have a reputation as a “bad boy”, which conversely is a good thing. Way too many romances are written about the “bad boy” as a desirable thing. Way too many women read this perverted “script”, which is even more strangely, written by women. Women are teaching women to seek their very undoing.

So women are taught over and over to seek something that isn’t good for them. Go for the “bad boy”. Go for the one who will love you and leave you. Well, there might not be a whole lot of love there. Sometimes he isn’t Mr. Right, so much as Mr. Right Now.

This is the modern witch trial. Any woman who deviates from the norm, from what is expected, is seen as evil. She isn’t burned. But she is essentially excommunicated. She is excluded from society, is seen as lesser-than. Her value as a woman, as a person, is lessened.

And the guy’s value is increased.

Something is profoundly wrong about this.

If it takes two to do the deed, how come there are two different results? How come one is attacked for it and one is praised for it?

The Future is Now. (the bud is the blossom)

We are currently taught that Jesus will come again. We are taught to wait for the future. We aren’t taught to be thankful for the now.

Jesus tells us that there will be no more signs in this generation except the sign of Jonah. Many people take that to mean the fact that Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, and Jesus lay in the tomb for three days.

Or did he? If he died on Friday afternoon and arose from the grave on Sunday morning as we are told, that is hardly three days. It isn’t even 48 hours. But I digress. Perhaps that is part of what is going on. I feel we are being distracted from what is really important.

What if the sign of Jonah is when people learn to be thankful for what is happening right now? Not when we are freed. Not when we are healed. Not when we reach the Promised Land. Jonah gave thanks while in the belly of the whale. While standing in the middle of a bad situation he praised God. Then he was released.

How often did Jesus tell people that their faith has saved them? Simply by seeking him out, they were healed. His healing of them was to let them know that they were forgiven their sins. We are all forgiven. We are all called to forgive. When we forgive others, we are bringing forth the same healing. Our weakness causes us to seek wholeness, and from that we gain the power to help others.

God is the great “I AM”. Not I was, or will be. Think about the idea of God being the Alpha and the Omega at the same time. Our human brains can’t really comprehend that. We can barely handle paying attention to right now, but that isn’t due to our capacity. That is due to our culture.

We are taught that happiness is to be found in the past or in the future. We are taught to focus on the “good old days” for how wonderful they were. We are taught to look forward to the future for when things will get better. The problem is that the good old days weren’t really all that good when we really think about it, because we weren’t even fully participating in them when we were living through them. We were thinking about the past and the future then too. We miss quite a bit of what is actually happening all the time. When we finally get to the future we won’t be happy then either because we are going to be doing the same thing. We’ll think we were better off “back then,” and that we will be better off “soon.”

There are a lot of modern thinkers, artists, creators, and dreamers who believe that there is a change coming. They are talking about a shift in consciousness that is about to occur. They look forward to this new era of peace and enlightenment.

I am telling you that the bud is the blossom. The seed is the fruit. I am telling you that the fact that we can see the goal means we are there.

We have changed. We are conscious of what our responsibility is. We are awake. Not all of us, no. But enough to have generated enough momentum.

We need to see how things are changing around us. How people are waking up.

We need to focus on what is going on right now that is right and good and joyful and keep doing it.

Do not give any energy to what is broken. That is what it wants. The more we focus on “if only” thoughts, the less we are focusing on building up what is going well.

Oprah says what we focus on expands. There is a lot of power in remembering this. Choose wisely.

On communion for non-baptized people.

I was talking to a friend a few months back and I decided to mention that I’m opposed to people having to be baptized before they get communion.

To say he was opposed to my idea is putting it mildly. He strongly feels that people must be baptized before they get communion, and anything less is fraud. He got a little hostile in his response, and very defensive.

He compared it to when his sister got a mail order ministry certificate and a journalist press pass. She didn’t go to school for these things, so she is saying she is something she isn’t in his opinion. To him, to take communion without being baptized is to say that you are a Christian when you aren’t.

Who would be hurt by a non baptized person taking communion? Who is defrauded? What would be taken away from a person who was baptized if a non-baptized person took communion? And what is the definition of “Christian” – someone who has had the sacraments, or someone who acts in the manner of Jesus?

He got really angry about this topic. I’m starting to learn that anger is a sign of fear, and of a sign of feeling a lack of control.

I wonder what he was so afraid of. I wonder why he feels a need to control who gets communion. Perhaps one day I’ll ask. Perhaps one day I’ll be brave. I’m not sure how to explain my view on this so I’m still working it out. It has taken me several months of working on this to get to this point. I probably have more to say on this subject later.

Baptism is a public declaration of membership into the Body of Christ. Communion is remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made and it is reuniting with him, so that he abides in us, and we in him. It is reuniting to the vine, as we are the branches and we cannot bear fruit if we are not connected to the life-giving vine.

If people can be baptized as infants – this decision is made for them – then why do others have to be baptized to take communion? Baptism is a passive action in denominations that allow infant baptism. Communion is active – you have to intentionally do it. It is something that can’t be done to you or for you. I feel like the very act of wanting to take communion means that you were called to it.

There is a Christian author I like who is named Sara Miles. Her parents are atheists and she was raised to be highly skeptical of organized religion. Sara decided to walk into the church near her house one Sunday. She went in, participated in the service, and when it was time to take communion, she did so. This was a church where you have to get up to go get communion – it wasn’t one where the plate comes by you while you sit in your pew. You have to make an effort. She felt called to take part in this sacrament.

When she took the bread and the wine, she got “it”. She got it harder than people who have been raised in the church. She got it harder than most people who go every week. She met Jesus there at that altar rail, and started a food bank. She realized that it is all about feeding people, about taking care of people. That it is all about love and healing and compassion. Nobody is turned away, and nobody has to “prove” that they are poor. Anybody who wants food gets it, and it is real food, not canned.

Here’s the point. She wasn’t baptized. She continued to go to church for a year before she decided to get baptized.

What if the minister had said beforehand – by the way, you have to be baptized to get this? She most likely would have stayed in her pew, feeling like an outsider. She wouldn’t have had that conversion experience. The food bank wouldn’t have started.

Part of the reason you have to be not only baptized but Catholic to get communion at a Catholic church is the idea of transubstantiation. Transubstantiation means that you believe that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus. The problem is that the majority of Catholics don’t even understand this or believe this – but they still get to take communion.

But forget it if you are from another denomination. I wrote a local Catholic church once and asked if I (at the time an Episcopalian) could take communion there. I was sent a link that explained that because of “the sad divisions” in the Body of Christ, only Catholics could take communion at a Catholic church. The part that drives me up the wall about this is that it is because of rules like this that we have “sad divisions.” Get rid of the rule and stop being sad.

Look at the story of the loaves and fishes. Jesus blessed what was offered, and broke it, and it multiplied. This is a miracle, but it is also real. It is to show us to not be stingy with our gifts. The same message is throughout the Gospels. Give what you have away. Don’t hoard it up. Let your gifts (which are freely given to you by God) be multiplied and then give them away.

God gives us what He gives us because he wants us to give it away to others. It isn’t for keeping. The light of a candle is not diminished by sharing.

So why has the church put a rule on who can take communion? How is the church hurt by a non-baptized person taking communion? Let’s turn that around and ask what is the harm in refusing communion to someone who isn’t baptized? Everything.

We are called to welcome the stranger. We are called to build bridges, not walls. Anything we do that excludes is bad. We are to gather up the lost sheep.

I remember one time I was on a road trip with a boyfriend. We were both kind of hippy-looking, with long hair and tie-dye t-shirts. We stopped at a truck stop to get something to eat and to use the bathroom. Out of the blue, a huge gruff man came up to us and told us that we weren’t welcome there. He was a customer, not an employee. He made it very clear that we weren’t part of the mix of people he expected to see there.

I feel like we are doing the same thing to people when we say they can’t take communion unless they are baptized. We are saying that we are in a special club and it is very nice and you can join too but only if you do it our way. We are in, and you are out.

I don’t want to be part of a club that does that.

I feel that if a person feels called to take communion, they should take communion. Who are we to stand in the way between a person and Jesus?

Now, it isn’t like they check baptism records at the door. It isn’t like there is a mark on you that lets others know that you are part of the club. There isn’t a secret handshake. So you could take communion and not be baptized, but that isn’t the point. The point is that officially, you aren’t supposed to. And that is hurtful.

And it isn’t Christ-like.

The Christian church has to stop acting like it is part of a special exclusive club where we’ve won the game of musical chairs. So sorry – we’ve got it and you don’t. Too bad.

That isn’t what this faith is supposed to be about at all.

If church isn’t about love, and I mean real, deep-down, honest to goodness nonjudgmental welcoming love, then it isn’t really what Jesus died for.