Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Over the summer, both our cars were stolen from right in front of our house. First our Scion xB was stolen. Great little car. Gets great mileage. It was stolen on the first day of my summer intensive class and I ended up getting to my own class very late. We ended up finding the car parked a few blocks away from our home. Since we had already filed a police report, I had to wait by my car for the police to come and release my own car back to me.

If you have ever had a car stolen or your home burglarized, you are familiar with the sinking feeling you get when you realize that something has been stolen. It is not merely the sense of losing property, but more the deep sense of being violated. Someone has invaded your personal space and property. We were, however, very thankful that we got our car back without any major damage to our Scion.

So I went and got Clubs for both our cars, changed the locks on our house and added an alarm system for the house (ridiculously overpriced for what you’re getting and they don’t fulfill their incentive offer. Never trust ADT, but that’s another blog entry). The need for the home security came from my wife’s bike being stolen from our backyard about a week after the car was stolen. The second year in a row we have had a bike stolen in Chicago on Father’s Day.

About a week and a half later, I’m at a conference in California when my wife texts me that our minivan has been stolen. Again, our car was directly in front of our house. I rush home (paying exorbitant fees to change my flight by one lousy day). The car was recovered with some minor interior damage. So now, our family is on edge. We have had two cars stolen as well as a bike – our sense of security was shattered. We became a bit more suspicious of our neighbors and began to discuss what it meant for us to live in an urban context. Other questions came up as well. Why do we pay such high taxes and get ridiculously inferior public education? Why is there only one beat cop for an area covering about one square mile? We began to cast suspicious glances at the youth in our neighborhood. We were facing the reality of life in the city.

A few weeks later, I found myself in an inner city church on the West Side of Chicago. This was really da hood. Not the urban oasis that my family lives in. Sure, we live in the city, but despite the rash of thefts we still live in a fairly safe part of the city. The church had just wrapped up their worship time and opened up the floor for prayer requests from the congregation. I seriously considered asking prayer for my family as we were worried about having our two cars and a bike stolen from our house.

The first person to share was a fortyish woman who asked prayers for the children of her community as they returned to school. She talked about how this past year, in her neighborhood, they had seen a high number of youth who had been shot and killed. Another parent stood up and asked prayers for his neighbor who had lost a teenage son to a shooting during the summer. Person after person stood up to ask prayers for family members lost to violence and testified to violence that occurred right in front of their home. This is real life in the city. There is nothing romantic or exotic about it. It’s just real life. In my self-absorbed concern over an inconvenience, I forgot that there is genuine pain and suffering in the real life of the city.  I join with the prayers of many families and individuals who seek the peace of the city.

To learn more about efforts to bring peace to our city, see: Chicago Peace Campaign

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Father’s Day has always been a bittersweet holiday for me. For most of my life, my father was absent, having abandoned our family when I was in elementary school. Father’s Day as a child was a painful reminder of what was missing in my life. But now, as a father of two wonderful elementary school-aged children, I enjoy the sweetness of Father’s Day. I enjoy the hushed voices of my kids trying to hide their Father’s Day present from me. I enjoy the sweetness of knowing that I’m not missing out on the best years of my kids’ lives. But I must admit that in my most vulnerable moments, I allow my earthly fears and anxieties get the best of me and I wonder, given my history, am I going to be a good enough father?

One of my favorite passages in scripture is Matthew 1. I love the genealogy of Jesus because it reminds me that the Messiah himself comes from what could be considered an embarrassing lineage — questionable parentage with a history of violence, infidelity, and just downright sinfulness. Yet, at the end of this embarrassing lineage is my Savior, who in his birth, life, death, and resurrection is able to transform shame, guilt, and embarrassment into honor, forgiveness, and joy.

Father’s Day reminds me that my Heavenly Father is a source of grace, faithfulness, and covenant loyalty. And that I’m also called as his son to be a source of grace and faithfulness. My father passed away more than six years ago. He suffered a stroke and lingered in a hospice for about a month. He was unable to talk during his last month of life, but during the last days of his life there was genuine reconciliation and restoration between my father and me. Extending forgiveness to an absentee father allows me to enter into my own role as a father with greater freedom and grace.

Father’s Day also reminds me of the very serious calling to live into fatherhood as exemplified in the scriptures. I’m indebted to many “fathers” in my life. Many have served as father figures to me in many different ways. So now, I strive to be a good father to my own kids and a father figure to many of the fatherless in my community. I’m challenged more and more each day by what that actually means.

There are many questions about the appropriate ways that churches can and should support the state. There are many arguments for and against the support of the government’s agenda (whether coming from the left or from the right) by the church. But when the vision of the government and the vision of scripture align, then we can wholeheartedly agree to support the good efforts of the government. One of the key efforts of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives is to support responsible fatherhood. That sounds like some thing I can get behind, no matter what my political leanings.

Happy Father’s Day.