Syrian Refugees

A man once asked Jesus who his neighbor was, and Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, the man who stopped and helped a stranger in need. Today I am still asking who my neighbor is, although I know the answer, because I don’t like the answer and I am trying to get out of loving particular neighbors.

I’ve been trying to get out of loving Syrian refugees, not because I don’t want them here, I think they should be here but sometimes I let some of the fear and the hype get to me. I’ve tried staying silent rather than talking about the situation because I “didn’t want to get involved” but I’m sure there were many people who didn’t want to get involved when pregnant Mary was looking for a place to stay and birth Jesus.

I am supposed to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. I’m supposed to love my neighbor as myself. If I were a refugee, I’d want doors open to me and my children. Doing justice means not remaining silent. Loving mercy means seeing these people as human too and being compassionate to their predicament. Walking humbly with God means trusting God with this mess. Loving my neighbor as myself means that I have to care.

And on Sunday I’ll kneel and confess that I have not loved my neighbor as myself, I’ll strive to do better because that’s what repentance is. On Sunday I’ll be getting confirmed, which means a renewal of the baptismal covenant, and when the Bishop asks: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” I’m going to reply with: “I will, with God’s help.” Then he’s going to ask me: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” And again I will reply: “I will, with God’s help. (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 417).

I’m supporting the refugees because I believe it’s the right thing to do, it’s loving my neighbor as myself, and treating others as I would like to be treated. That’s what I’m called to do as a Christian, and I will, with God’s help.

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The Sacred and the Profane

CHOPPED TOMATOES

I’m learning that food is sacred, which is a relief to me as someone that struggles with eating disorders. If eating is sacred, then maybe there’s some help for me in overcoming my struggles which have seemed relentless lately. Maybe if I can change my attitude regarding food and actually believe that it’s sacred, I can get through this.

‘In the Biblical story of creation man is presented, first of all, as a hungry being, and the whole world as his food.’ (Schmemann, 2000, Kindle location 80 of 2220). Schmemann then goes on to say:

Man must eat in order to live; he must take the world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood. He is indeed that which he eats, and the whole world is presented as one all-embracing banquet table for man. And this image of the banquet remains, throughout the whole Bible, the central image of life. It is the image of life at its creation and also the image of life at its end and fulfillment: “…that you eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom.” This is what happens when we partake of the Eucharist, we are eating spiritual food, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Schmemann, 2000, Kindle location 85 of 2220).

Hunger is part of the human experience, it’s something we are supposed to feel. Hunger is also part of the Christian experience. There’s a reason I was craving the Eucharist even before I knew what it was I was craving, it was because I was hungry for Jesus and didn’t know how to fulfill that hunger. Sara Miles explains that the need of the Eucharist is the same sort of craving as we feel when we feel physically hungry (Miles, 2007, p. 60), and I know that when I go to partake of the Eucharist it doesn’t matter if I have just eaten or if I haven’t eaten yet…I feel physical hunger and thirst for the Eucharist, and I feel full when I’m done. It’s a sacred meal and it gives spiritual nourishment.

Maybe if eating is sacred then I can connect with God instead of the food that I crave. Maybe instead of eating a bowl of ice cream or half a bag of chips I can pray when I have those cravings. I guess that means I need to do a fast of sorts. You are what you eat is true in the profane as well as the sacred. It’s why I’m so large in real life. It’s why when I started partaking of the Eucharist weekly, I began to thrive spiritually because I was finally being fed with the body and the blood of Christ. As I consume Jesus I become more like him because you are what you eat. As I consume more food than I need in order to try to comfort myself; I become bigger because you are what you eat.

Maybe, just maybe, the sacred can overcome the profane.

References:

Miles, S 2007, Take this bread: a radical conversion, Ballantine Books, New York.

Schmemenn, A 2000, For the life of the world, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, New York.