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privilege has its consequences

In high school I walked the halls freely. I was a good student; everyone knew that. Student government president, valedictorian-to-be. Hall passes were required to walk the halls, but I didn’t need one. Everyone knew I was doing school business or a teacher’s business. No one would stop me. I was above reproach. Until…

Until one day a teacher — a shop teacher or a vocational skills teacher, one I barely knew — stopped me and asked for my hall pass. I was incensed. How dare he? I would never be skipping class. I was on my own recognizance. Free this period and had important work to do. And I didn’t have a hall pass.

I was incensed. to be asked. to follow the rules. everyone else had to follow. for the safety of our school.

This teacher was not deterred. Everyone in the halls needed a pass, no matter who they were or where they were going, no matter what business they were doing. He sent me back to get a pass and I complied. Grudgingly. Angrily. Seething against the wrong just committed against me. I was above reproach and he should know that. I was entitled to special privileges because of my good behavior, because of the trust I had earned, because of the reliability I had demonstrated.

No I wasn’t.

Today I read that some members of Congress are refusing to walk through magnetometers (metal detectors) upon entering the House Chamber. Something I must submit to upon entering secure buildings, museums, houses of worship, national shrines, and government buildings all over the world. To walk those hallowed halls I need a hall pass. Some members of Congress don’t think they need one. They have never been asked; now we’re asking and they’re crying foul. I am beyond reproach! Going about the nation’s business! Have important work to do! You have no right to stop me!

They are incensed. to be asked. to follow the rules. everyone else has to follow. for the safety of our democracy.

A small price to pay, really. But a hard lesson to learn. I’m feeling particularly grateful today for that teacher who taught it to me when I was young. It’s so much harder to learn when we’re older and there’s so much more at stake.

“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11
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Dismounting

Lord, bring me down off my high horse

to mingle with the crowd;

for they will teach me

to follow you completely.

You are there among them,

riding on a donkey,

on the colt of a donkey.

Up here, I’ve just been making

an a$$ of myself.

A curious thing happened to Joseph on the way to divorce

So much.
So much casting shame and guilt.
So much accusing of conspiracy and falsehood.
So much indicting for behaviors unbecoming and deeds unwelcome.
So much righteous indignation.
So much misunderstanding.

And yet…

cimg1472This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1: 18-19)

Joseph, the faithful, had every right to cast out his young bride-to-be, who apparently, was not. And yet… he grew curious about how this came to be. He questioned how it may have come about. He deliberated on the action he was about to take. He wondered if there was more to this story than he yet knew. And then,

an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-22)

Who am I falsely accusing?
What conclusion am I jumping to?
Where have I misread, mistrusted, and misunderstood?

How, in my righteousness, which I have called faithfulness
have I hurried to divorce – even quietly –
rather than consideration, consolation, provision?

Where, in my failure to be curious,
have I rushed to the … and now!
rather than abiding in the … and yet?

Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.

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