We take refuge in the healing words of God when, with intentionality, we practice the sabbath. Sabbath, more broadly, can include sabbath from community. Including church. It’s what I’m doing for the next couple weeks. One of my friends practices sabbath Sundays by merely drinking coffee outside rather than at the kitchen table. For me, sabbath means a return to Scripture.
I am going to Japan for the next couple of weeks. I am taking only my Bible (and clothes and meds and hubby). While I’m away I pray your mental health flourishes, that you will be kept physically well, and that you will be emotionally healthy. Feel free to explore the years of posts I’ve accumulated on my erinmichaelgrimm.com website since I won’t be writing from Japan. That is my informal, off-the-cuff mental health blog I’ve had for years.
Anyway, the Bible is the only book I’m taking to Japan. May it heal my heart that breaks as police and public relations deteriorate in Seattle (I wrote my thoughts on my education blog just yesterday).
The Bible holds the healing words of God, made manifest in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The healing words of God, let’s be clear, are Jesus’s words. They are not excerpts of hate taken out of their original cultural context.
Christ is Risen
The Bible teaches us what love is. It teaches that Christ is risen. Not only for us but also for our enemies, for those we despise and reject, for those we envy. It teaches us what the fact of the resurrection requires of us: justice, love, mercy, and charity.
I definitely still have a long way to go.
No faith is without problems. We are humans and not God. Yet this doesn’t mean we should stop trying. I try to remind myself of this as I encounter church wars in my church. The church I attend is very liberal. I attend because I want to call gay and trans people the siblings in Christ they are. I am more than happy to change my theology in order to do so. It’s what Christ would do.
Sadly, it sometimes takes refuge in bashing the conservatives and talking about the importance of abortion and LGBTQIA+ rights. That’s fine, but I want the Bible too. I want the healing words of God.
Can’t we find our identity in Christ and not conflict? Because the Bible contains homophobic and sexist passages, many of us liberals have thrown it out with the bathwater. Ugh!
By leaving the country I will practice sabbath while taking my Bible and finding a healthier way to call the Bible home. Hopefully I’ll become less obsessed with the United States while away. Us Americans of all stripes are often pretty self-absorbed.
Christ’s teachings have their origins in Asia, if you consider the Middle East Asia–which I do. From there Christ’s message moved down to Africa, only later entering Europe. We act in the United States like we are the true inheritors of the faith. As though we are its truest manifestation in the world.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There are also more Christians in the Global South than in anywhere else in the world.
When will we process this in the United States? We are selfish and reactionary pious folks on the one side; and brash, self-righteous, selfish, social justice advocates on the other. We all, regardless of political stripe, deny our complicity in our broken nation and world. Sometimes we see it, during “lament” hours at church. But we don’t integrate it into our posture in the world.
Asian culture is famous for its humility, deference, and sense of social responsibility. In Japan they care for their elders. I have a lot to learn from Japan. All of us Christians do. Japanese people, most without the Bible (“the healing words of God”) are more Christian in practice than Americans.
Although, maybe these are just stereotypes. I am about to find out.
Humility and Curiosity
We need humility and curiosity. (Thanks Donna for your comment about curiosity at the bottom of my post about Bible lenses last week!). This is not because humility and curiosity are the fruit of wisdom, which they are. It is because humility and curiosity marked Jesus’s life and ministry.
Jesus didn’t shame the people who wanted to stone the woman in adultery. He knelt down–a posture of humility–and then got curious: who amongst you has never sinned?
Maybe being in Asia will calm me down. We will be going to a tea ceremony. It is a holy process in Japan.
While I’m off, please consider reading the book of James, my favorite book of the Bible. It’s great! Practice sabbath on your own with the healing words of God by immersing yourself in the book of James. The very last part of my memoir features my translation of the first chapter of the book of James, actually.
Finally, definitely write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with thoughts on what you would like to see covered when I return. It may take a while, but I will personally respond to everyone I hear from. I promise.