Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bible Bechdel

By now the Bechdel test is a pretty familiar way to evaluate whether a movie or book is good for women.  Or at least is measures the presence of women in a simple test: There are two women with names who have a conversation about something other than a man.  I wondered about this test as I prepared to preach on Mary and Elizabeth.  I have made it my business to know women's stories in the Bible and there are many women whose stories are inspiring or heartbreaking, who were integral to the arc of the narrative.  But there were not so many women across the Bible who had relationships with other women un-related to men.  

The Bible is a product of it's cultural context and we get to hear a lot about men and all the stuff they say and do.   Frankly, maybe I should be a little surprised that there are any women in there at all.  As it happens the Luke story of Mary and Elizabeth just barely passes because the conversation has to do with the boy babies in utero.  Thanks to Google I didn't have to scan scripture myself.  (I appreciated both the post and the comments from this blogger).  There are only three.  Four if you stretch it to the apocrypha:

Ruth 1:8-17, 2:2.
Mark 16:3
Luke 1:42
Tobit 7:16

Ruth is a favorite of mine (I did name my daughter for one of the two women therein) and while ultimately Ruth and Naomi's goal is to get Ruth re-married, their relationship to each other is central.  In Mark the women at Jesus tomb discuss the problem of the stone in their way.  Mary and Elizabeth in Luke, and in Tobit a mother giving her daughter advice on her wedding day.  That's it!  

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Movie Review: Home

A race of aliens called the Boov invade earth, sequestering all humans to Australia.  One girl is left behind and she meets an awkward outcast of the Boov.  Together they find that they can help each other and the planet in her quest to find her mother and his quest to find acceptance.

First, I saw some interesting parallels to current conversations about race, about occupation and resettlement and with the refugee crisis and welcome of Muslim immigrants.  The Boov are motivated by fear.  They are fleeing from another alien who for a reason they don’t know is chasing them.  They seek refuge on other planets where they believe they can’t be found and terrorized.  The problem is that the way they do it is by rounding up all the people who currently live on the planet and settling them in one place.  With no attempt to build relationships with humans, both humans and Boov are fearful of each other, which means anger on the part of the humans and further (in this case humorous) security measures by the Boov. 

These dynamics are played out between the two central characters, 13-year-old Tip and a Boov named ‘Oh’.  (He got his name because people always groan when he shows up).  She’s both fearful and really angry that her mother has been taken away from her. And even though he’s not well liked by his fellow Boov because he’s sort of bungling and awkward, Oh is convinced that their mission is right and that his leaders know what’s best for them and for the humans.  As Tip and Oh get to know each other they realize not only that they don’t have to fear each other but that they can be friends.  As an immigrant from Barbados, Tip can finds she can relate to Oh; both of them are outsiders.  Finally understanding each other is what allows resolution as they bring this understanding to their two worlds. 

Home may be good way into talking about current issues when questions about refugees or otherness of all kinds comes up.  For example, “You know how in Home the aliens put all the people in Australia.  People have done that kind of thing to other people because we thought it was better for them.”  Or “You know how in Home the Boov were really scared, and that made them do things that we unkind to other people because they wanted to be safe?  Sometimes people act that way too.”

A second major pro in my mind is that there isn’t a lot of white skin in this movie.  The main character is a brown girl and the Oh and the Boov are an adorable shade of purple, which changes according to their emotions.  In fact people (and aliens) of color are the only characters with any dialogue.  And when does that ever happen in a movie that’s intended for a general audience and not specifically about a race-related theme??

Finally, no one is killed or has to die for there to be resolution.

Well, the acting is mediocre and if you don’t like Rihanna or her music, this movie isn’t for you.  I was a little surprised to find that Tip, who is acted by the Rihanna was better than I thought she might be.  But it’s definitely a marketing vehicle for her music, which is all over them place as a soundtrack.  I was not really impressed by Jim Parsons as Oh.  In part it was the awkward, slight yoda-esque alien speak.  And in part, maybe he’s just a particular taste.  I was a little annoyed.

I was also kind of weirded out that the central character is a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s acted by a woman and comes across as way older.  When you first meet her, she’s speeding off in a little red car and I assumed that she was a young adult for the first twenty minutes or so until she explicitly talks about being in 7th grade and girls being mean.

The cons that I saw in this movie didn’t bother the kid I watched it with.  In fact, she thought it was hilarious and is always partial to movies with girls at their center.   The slapstick of Oh’s uncontrollable tentacles, the a car powered by slushees, the misunderstanding that results from a character being unfamiliar with earth and encountering things for the first time are kid-pleasers. (Drinking motor oil instead of juice? So funny).  Even preschoolers who wouldn’t get any of the message-y stuff will like the bubblegum colors and humor.  And older kids might actually learn a little something.  It’s probably not one that will be on heavy rotation for me, but I recommend it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Christmas Tree Blessing

I've really enjoyed Traci Smith's Seamless Faith for it's everyday suggestions about how to incorporated conversations and easy rituals into family life. The following is a seasonal example as we approach Advent and the annual installation of Christmas decorating:
This tradition allows families to bring a moment of spirituality to the secular tradition of decorating the tree. Try having a different family member read the blessing each year.

Designed for All Ages

Time Investment: 1-2 minutes


1. Blessing (printed below)

2. Christmas tree (before decorating)

3. Manger scene/crèche scene (optional)

How To:

1. Before the tree is decorated, gather everyone together around and read the following blessing:

God who created the bird in the air, the fish in the sea, the stars in the sky, and the trees in the ground, bless this tree as we decorate it and make it a joyful symbol in our home. May its branches remind us of the shade and shelter you provide for us and for many creatures. May its trunk remind us of your strength. May its light bring us peace. May we remember your gift to us this season, the gift of the baby Jesus. Amen.

2. Optional (see note below) – After decorating the tree, set up crèche or manger scene below the tree.


In the United States there seems to be a sharp division between secular Christmas traditions (the tree, the stockings, Santa) and Christian traditions (the manger scene, attending church, singing Christmas carols). As the tree is the focal point in many homes during Christmas, blessing the tree and setting up a manger scene under the tree (as opposed to gifts) can highlight the Christian significance of the day, something culture has lost sight of.


· Print the blessing on an ornament and say it as the ornament is hung on the tree.

· Write a new blessing each year and collect them from year to year.

· Cut down your own tree and say this blessing before the tree is cut down and brought home.

· Adapt the language of the blessing to the age of your children or your own traditions and culture.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Around the Thanksgiving Table

Gratitude is kind of becoming a thing, but just because something’s trendy doesn’t make it a bad idea.  A regular practice of gratitude, as with any regular practice or spiritual discipline, begins to shape our outlook on the world.  As Douglas Wood writes in The Secret of Saying Thanks, a picture book about gratitude:
“The more we say thanks, the more we find to be thankful for.
And the more we find to be thankful for, the happier we become.
We don't give thanks because we're happy. 
We are happy because we give thanks.”

Carolyn Brown, from Worshiping with Children, who I’ve mentioned often as a great resource, suggests that just as we plan for and prepare our meal on Thanksgiving, we should also consider preparing for a time of giving thanks as we gather.  While we are together with our families or friends, we have an opportunity to use a little time before, or along with, or even after our meal, to be intentional in naming our gratitude.  Some of the suggestions below are Carolyn’s and some are mine.  Maybe you can use them or maybe they’ll inspire you to come up with your own thanksgiving tradition.

·         One person says a prayer they have thought about in advance expressing the family’s gratitude in words and ideas that will make sense to and include all the people at the table.
·         Invite the people coming to the meal to prepare a few sentences or short prayer about their gratitude and have a ‘round’ of prayer.  If you hold hands, the pray-er squeezes the hand of the next person when she is done.  Conversations among family members as they prepare these prayers can be more important than the prayers themselves. 
·         If you haven’t had time to prepare, or want to be more spontaneous, ‘popcorn’ a prayer around the table.  Including a corporate call/response after each gratitude like, “For all I’ve said and so much more…” “…We give God thanks,” can invite everyone to participate, even if each person doesn’t have something personal to add.
·         Sing a Thanksgiving song together as your prayer.  If it will be a new song to some at the table, practice it together (maybe at meals?) earlier in the week.  Print a copy of words which children have decorated at each plate.
·         Brainstorm a list of the blessings of those at the table.  Then sing the “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” as your Thanksgiving prayer
·         Use a psalm of praise like Psalm 126 or one of the lectionary’s other suggested texts as your thanksgiving prayer.
·         Decorate paper napkins with drawings of things for which they are thankful.  Or create a place card for each person at the table with a drawing or words of thanks on it.
·         If you are well known to each other around the table, offer thanks to others at the table, or to God for the people around you, being specific about what things you are grateful for. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

To Remember is to Work for Peace

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day in the United States.  I grew up in Canada, where my experience was with Remembrance Day, also celebrated on November 11.  Similarly, it is a day to celebrate and give thanks for those who gave their lives in war, particularly in the World Wars.  In Canada it is traditional to wear a red poppy as a sign of remembrance and respect.  You may have noticed these poppies if you've been following the recent news of the Canadian elections; all the newly elected officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are wearing poppies.

The symbol comes from the poem "In Flanders Fields," by John McCrae.  It speaks of the poppies growing between the cross-marked graves of soldiers killed in the trenches of WWI Belgium.  It's a poem I copied and decorated with red poppies along with "Lest We Forget" posters. I actually gave this very little thought as a child, but now revisiting it, I realize that it calls those who live to ‘take up our quarrel with the foe’!

It is appropriate to remember deaths as a result of war.  It is in fact important to remember: war kills.  Our remembering should be an act of saying ‘no’ war, to loving our enemies, to reconciling rather than to continuing the ‘quarrel’! Jesus' way is the way of peace and we, his followers, remember so that we can work and walk in that way.  Mennonite Central Committee Canada has for years been offering red poppy-alternate buttons for peace-minded followers of Jesus to wear.  They are a witness and a reminder of exactly this call on our lives.  “To remember is to work for peace.”

Many schools have assemblies that offer stories about war 'heroes', or invite military recruiters to make presentations during this week.  What alternative narratives are we offering?  What peacemakers can we remember who worked during times of war or who make peace in our communities?  What stories can we tell and celebrate?  Who are the people in our lives and in our families who have said no to violence and embraced peace instead?  What small acts of peace-making can we do this Veteran’s Day?  

Check out One Thousand Acts of Peace for small acts of peace you could do this day and ever day.  And this video from MCC Canada.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

I can barely handle it

I spent too much time looking at pictures this morning. I found I could not stop gazing at the joy and beauty and tenderness captured by Jim of our blessing service for the children of the congregation. They are indeed all of our children. My absolute favorite pictures are those of people delighting in the children in their arms who are not their own. I can barely handle it, you guys. This is what I’m talking about when I say you are saints! We bear this beautiful gift and joy together.

Yet even as we dwelled in and cradled the sweetness of new life, we began to understand that we are also holding the tenderness of great pain and grief. Lives have been lost this year, my friends. People we love are no longer with us. It broke my heart. You broke my heart. Each poem, each name, each candle and the knowledge that there were poems, names and candles unread, unsaid and unlit in folks who stayed seated. I can barely handle it. We bear this terrible weight and sorrow together.

I am so grateful I can barely handle it. I bless you. I bless you. You have blessed me so much.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

All My Saints

I have been so grateful for the people in my congregation as I parent.  This week I offer this letter of gratitude and confession:

Saint With Slightly Bent Halo, Richard Kirsten Daiensai
November 1 is the day the world wide church celebrated All Saints.  This day began as a day in the Catholic church for all those who have feast days – the ‘big S’ saints – and evolved as the church evolved beyond Catholicism to a celebration first of all the baptized– the ‘small s’ saints – and further to recognize either all true believers (living and dead) or even to a celebration for all whom we particularly remember who have blessed and influenced us to further the kingdom of God. 

In our worship this year we are recognizing All Saints Day and in that context bringing infants to be blessed and dedicated to the care of God of this congregation – their cloud of witnesses.  And let me tell you, friends, you are my saints.  You are my saints because of your sincere prayers and love.    You are my saints for your graciousness and understanding.  You are my saints because of how you respond in times of need.  You are my saints because of meals delivered, prayers said, hugs offered. You are my saints because when my child is melting down at ten o’clock on a rainy night at Camp Casey you hold my baby, pack me up and get me on the road home in record time.

Nadia Bolz Weber writes in her new book Accidental Saints,
"It has been my experience that what makes us the saints of God is not our ability to be saintly but rather God’s ability to work through sinners.  The title “saint” is always conferred, never earned.  Or as the good Saint Paul puts it, “For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).  I have come to realize that all the saints I’ve known have been accidental ones – people who inadvertently stumbled into redemption like they were looking for something else at the time, people who have just a wee bit of a drinking problem and manage to get sober and help other to do the same, people who are as kind as they are hostile.”
I confer upon you, followers of Jesus at Seattle Mennonite Church, the title of saint, for you have indeed willed and worked for God’s good pleasure – or at the very least have pleased this humble servant of God.

Megan has a piece of artwork in her office entitled “Saint with slightly bent halo,” (bad photo above) and friends, I feel my own halo is more than slightly bent.  It is mighty dinged up.  By God’s grace I trust that I too am still enabled by the Spirit to work for God’s good pleasure.  But the dual call to both parent and to pastor has at times been really difficult and even painful as I have rarely felt fully able to give myself to either one.  I bring my little one to be blessed in this congregation with great joy this All Saint’s Sunday because you are indeed my saints and his.  And yet you will likely not see either of my children often for a while after that.  I have kids – both of them, but maybe especially the elder – who right now need way more than I can offer them and still be present my a pastoral role on Sunday mornings. 

I pray with hope that at some point in the future I will be able to be in worship and at other events of the church with both children in a way that will be an experience that honors all of us.  And I ask that you will continue to offer grace to me, offering pastoral leadership in the area of family ministry even while my own family can’t accompany me.  May we with all of our dinged up and dented halos receive God’s blessing as we seek to do God’s pleasure.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What do you want me to do for you?

This week we’ve been preparing worship with the story of Bartimaeus, (Mark 10:46-52) a blind man who wanted to get to Jesus but was shushed and pushed aside by the crowd.  Children and youth most certainly know what it feels like to be shushed, told to wait because more important people are talking, instructed to get out of the way because they’re too small, not significant.  When this happen to Bartimaeus, he is not deterred, even though the crowd is “sternly ordered him to be quiet.”  I cringe thinking of the way I may sometimes have been overly ‘stern.’ But unlike a frustrated parent or teacher who has had enough of interruptions and begging, Jesus turns toward the nuisance. 

“What do you want me to do for you?”  Jesus gives Bartimaeus agency and Bartimaeus receives sight.  And then he becomes Jesus’ follower!  

It can be really hard to listen to children when they are being ‘pests’.  We teach them that to be respectful they need to be quiet.  I ran into a funny video this week in which three parents talk to each other as if they were talking to children and the first 10 seconds hilariously illustrate how ridiculous it would sound if we shut down another adult for inserting an opinion or response.

Okay, I’m not saying it’s bad to teach respect.  But I had a bit of a ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk’ moment with the text.  When he is given agency and a voice, Bartimaeus becomes Jesus’ follower.  He makes a choice toward relationship with the one who listened.  That’s certainly what we want with our own children and what we want in their relationship with Jesus and their faith.d their faith.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Inside Out

You may already have seen the newest offering from Pixar.  Like almost all Pixar movies it’s really well done and the media loves it.  There are some good reasons for that.  It’s colorful, fun and funny.  There’s great voice acting and casting.  (I’m a big fan both Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling.) It appeals both to little ones and to parents.  But more than that, it’s central message is about the importance of acknowledging all of our emotions, not only the ‘good’ ones.

Inside Out takes place mostly inside the brain of a girl named Riley and centers around the personification of 5 emotions: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear (pictured above).  For all of Riley’s 11 years, Joy has been used to being the centrally experienced emotion, but as Riley goes through a big move, other emotions come into play.  Suddenly there’s a shift in which emotions are at the helm, and which emotions are coloring Riley’s memories.  The feelings need to re-establish a balance and they learn how important each of them is.

I love all of this about Inside Out.  When our SMC children were doing the Circle of Grace curriculum, they learned that our emotions are signals from the Spirit.  Paying attention to what we’re feeling is an important way of hearing God speaking to us about what we’re experiencing.  It helps us understand how to respond to others and to situations.  Tiffany and Kyle have always begun their Sunday school lessons asking the children in their K-2 class which ‘color’ (feelings fit into several color categories) best fit them that morning.  This helps the children find their place with each other and with their teachers. God has given us feelings to help us experience the world and be in relationship with each other.  Finally, as the parent of a school-aged daughter I loved that there is a girl (who is not a princess) at the center of this movie.  God made us male and female, but boys are over-represented in popular media.

The questions I had for this movie come arise out of having the emotions placed literally at the helm of Riley’s brain.  They control her responses.  It makes for some great comedy but  seems to take away both awareness and autonomy from Riley or other characters whose ‘control centers’ we see glimpses of.  Maybe that’s the reality for and 11-year-old – a non-awareness of emotional responses – but I’d like to think that as persons we have the choice, even though we’re burning up with anger, to respond with gentleness, if not joy.  It also seemed to me that even though the characters discover a new kind of balance, it comes down to Joy being the centrally important character and our goal should be to be happy in the end. 

I don’t think my reservations would get in the way of this being a worthwhile movie to see – especially if you’re looking for an air conditioned way to spend a few hours with kids.  It’s fun and it does help to talk with kids about the feelings that their experiencing.   It gave me the opportunity to ask questions like, “So when X happened, which character do you think was pressing the buttons in your brain?”   I also wondered in conversation what other emotions might be there or how other emotions might look. 

I have heard from parents of pre-school children that they don’t ‘get’ this movie the way older children might, but it’s still enjoyable strictly from an interesting-stuff-is-happening level.  So go see it and when you do, tell me what you think!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Talking to Kids About Tradegy, Talking to Kids about Race...Again

We know that incidents of violence against our brown and black brothers and sisters are not novel events.  Nor, sadly, are acts of violence in which one person takes multiple people lives.  But as media and the public become more alert to racial motivated violence, we begin to more and more see the evidence of it as we scroll through our social media, listen to the radio or watch TV news.  Our kids are there, in the background or the foreground, paying attention.  When we ourselves feel helpless and defeated (or is that just me?) what can we offer our children? 

There are a couple of helpful places to go to help children process tragedy and violence they see and hear in the media, including PBS kids.  We often go there for kid-safe video content but they have other helpful resources as well.  The article linked above, which was written after the Connecticut school shooting is helpful in many of its points, including modeling assurance, taking action and paying special attention to children.  But its first point speaks to assuring children that incidents of violence are isolated and rare and based on my own experience I would nuance this point when talking with children. 

Our home was victim to a random drive-by shooting in May.  We literally dug a bullet out of the wall of our front porch, several inches from the window to the kids’ room. It’s pretty hard in that situation to say, “You’re safe.”  Although we did say, “You’re safe now.  Some members of our congregation were at or near SPU a year ago when that community experienced a shooting on their campus and are feeling deep resonance with the members of Emmanel AME.  I think we are all becoming aware that we can’t tell children, “This will never happen to you.”  We most assuredly can tell children, God is always with you and God’s love will never leave you.  We can also assure them of the love of their family and community.  And yes, while incidents like this do occur with seeming frequency, they are indeed very rare and very unlikely to happen to them.  Carolyn Brown does a nice job of naming some important points in talking with kids about tragedy from a faith perspective at Worshiping with Children.

Psalm 23My go-to site for thematic literature, Storypath, has some specific recommendations following the Charleston shooting.  I always find excellent recommendations there for books that help parents talk about scripture and about hard issues in age-appropriate ways.  One of my favorite book suggestions from that site is a setting of Psalm 23 by author Tim Ladwig (book image left).  The pictures in the book follow a child in her joys and fears, through her urban neighborhood to the words of the well-known Psalm.  I also found an absolutely lovely video that has the images from this book set to music.

Story path also has a bibliography of resources to help talk with children about racial inequity and white privilege.   This may be the most important part of the story to talk to about with children.  Color blindness is not a thing and we need to educate ourselves about how people are treated differently based on pigmentation.  I blogged about this during the Ferguson protests at  There are also links in those posts to resources on how to talk with kids about race.

It is heart wrenching to keep hearing of people whose lives are taken or whose bodies are battered because of skin color or ethnicity.  May we who are people of privilege have the wisdom to know how to use it and to hold that privilege with open hands and hearts.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Color of Lent

The other night, for bed-time reading, I was handed My First Message open to the crucifixion story   and told, “Here, read this.”  While it not unusual that the reading choice would be Bible stories, the choice of content was unexpected.  Usually we either skip right over the crucifixion in favor of the more happy and appealing resurrection story.  Or we just skip adult Jesus altogether and read about the annunciation and the nativity. Baby Jesus is so cute and the angels are so beautiful.

I was grateful.  Our usual mode for Bible story reading is the usual mode for many church-goers: we have a big festival at Christmas to celebrate and adore the baby Jesus, skip over his life and (maybe especially) his death to celebrating his resurrection with all things spring: new life, growth, color.  Reading the crucifixion story together was an opportunity.  We talked about Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, the way he loved the criminals who were crucified with him, that he was crucified because his love was threatening to people with power – that he hadn’t done anything deserving punishment.  And we often talk about what it means to follow Jesus.  This story and the conversation about following Jesus were an apt way to begin thinking about the following Jesus into the season of Lent.

We often think of Lent as a time to follow Jesus into the wilderness.  We think of the asceticism, the sparseness, of letting things go and giving things up.  We associate Lent with fasting and prayer and renunciation.  Although the liturgical color of Lent is a rich purple, if Lent were to be characterized by any color, it would (in my mind anyway)be the gray of the ashes we are marked with on Ash Wednesday. 

And yet, this year – year B of the three cycles of the lectionary – is markedly colorful.  It begins with the multi-hued promise of God to Noah and all creation that God will be present in covenant relationship.  That God’s mark of covenant would be the rainbow, a reminder to God like a string around a finger, that God will never again visit such destruction on the earth and that ‘every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth’ is included in covenant with God.

In fact the whole season of Lent is an assurance, turning our usual idea of Lent 'Upside Down and Inside Out'.  Using this theme throughout our Lenten worship, Sunday after Sunday, we hear that God’s covenant is for God’s creation – and for us, God’s creatures.  We will hear after the rainbow promise the covenant and promise to Abraham and then to the Israelites, a covenant written on our hearts, a promise that in love, God “did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”  The story of Jesus as we follow him to the cross and through the cross to Easter is the story of the new covenant, in which Jesus gave his very blood in an act of love that exposed evil and pointed to the triumph of life. 

That doesn’t seem gray at all!  That seems exciting, bright, vibrant.  An upside-down notion of victory - that violent death would lead to new life.  We in turn are invited to turn ourselves around, toward the God who love us and all creation so fully that in spite of the many times that humanity has failed, turned away, God continues to turn toward us.

I feel personally an extra turning upside down of Lenten seasons past.  Two years ago, I felt thrust suddenly and painfully into the gray wilderness of Lent after experiencing a miscarriage.  So it is feels wonderful to me to be anticipating new life in this season, that Lent is a time of waiting with joy.  And it seems right and good that date given for the triumphant entry of the little one we wait for is on Palm Sunday. 

This year, by all means, offer something up to God for Lent in an act of letting go and fasting.  But consider taking up something that will color your Lent experience.  Pray in color, create something, plant something new, take pictures, visit galleries, get to know the colors and cultures of God’s people.  God’s colorful promise to all creation is still alive and growing and waiting for us to  be drawn in and turned inside out.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

What's Your Superpower?

What would your super power be? 

On Sunday I preached about the kinds of power we admire and long for, the kind of power of which we are in awe.  Superheroes capture many of our imaginations.  I am learning a lot about Rogue – the one from the X-Men – these days.  I’ve always kind of liked Rogue, at least as she’s portrayed in the movie franchise (I’ve never really been into comics) but having a child obsessed about something brings a new level of knowledge.

Rogue’s power is enviable in that she can adopt another’s power at a touch.  And yet she, understandably, also sees this as a curse.  It drains anyone she touches of their power and sometimes of their consciousness.  She can’t control it.  It robs her of intimacy even while it gives her great strength.  In the power Jesus wields, again and again we see him offer his power of healing to another.  Instead of taking from another he transforms what is broken, withered, captive into something whole and healed and free.  He’s the anti-Rogue.  Except that if one definition of rogue is “Not controllable or answerable; deviating, renegade” well, maybe Jesus and Rogue have something in common after all.

He is in control of his power to heal and offer release, however Jesus is certainly not answerable to any earthly authority.  His is a ‘new teaching’ and its author is God alone.  When we’re asking each other, or when we’re talking with our children about what power they would like to have consider that we already have power at our disposal.  Ok, it’s not a superpower maybe.  But we do have the power to heal, reconcile with and free each other and so do our children.

As I think about our power to heal, free and reconcile I’m reminded of the Circle of Grace teaching that the children are learning.  Central to the understanding of their Circle of Grace is knowing that all around them, the Spirit of God is empowering them to know themselves and use their feelings and intuitions as signals to understand their environment.  As children – as any of us – become more in tune with our senses and feelings, as we understand those around us we are empowered to protect ourselves and those in our midst.  It’s no force field, but it is powerful.

Powerful Graphic Resources you are interested in the direct intersection of faith/ethics and graphic novels, you may want to check out one of these resources from our library:
Pax Avalon, about a peace-making superhero with the power of God on her side.  This graphic novel written by Reese Friesen  chronicles  the city of Avalon is under siege and in her heart she knows that violence is not the solution.  There’s a trailer on YouTube here.  There is at least one further addition to the first novel in the series and a web comic that will be the forerunner of a third.

Radical Jesus: a Graphic History of Faith is by several authors and illustrators. Menno Media calls it “A compelling, graphical rendition, Radical Jesus tells the story of Jesus and his social message, not just in his own time, but also through the Radical Reformation, recent centuries, and our own time.”