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Geez: harsh, God, harsh!

"Hard Path": artist Fritz von Uhde
Today's readings are harsh. We've got Amos prophesying about God crushing His enemies into the ground, the Psalmist stating, "Hey, you who never think of God? Remember this!" and Jesus telling His followers to get moving and let the dead bury the dead - no time to hang around and mourn.

Clearly, these are not the sweetness-and-light (lite?) verses of the Good Book.

Actually, I think these passages are all about the same thing: staying focused on Truth. God is clear in that first, terrible and sad, reading from Amos: His people have sinned against Him. They've chosen to trample the weak underfoot, profaning the holy and generally forgetting everything they've ever known to be good, holy, just and true.

The Psalmist picks up the same theme: "Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, Though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?"

Finally, there is Jesus, who reminds us that following Him is a harsh and lonely path. We will have no place to lay our heads, no time to mourn our losses. There is work to be done.

Generally speaking, this is not what we want to hear. We'd prefer to hear, "Hey! Great job! No worries! Keep doing exactly what you're doing, and just coast along."

I have a nephew, Joe, who suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was 11 years old, in a car accident that also killed his mother. Joe still suffers memory loss, a limp, and limited use of one arm. While he's an adult now, he won't ever drive.

He has managed to graduate from college. He's also walking across the Unites States right now with a pro-life group.

Yes, he's walking across the continental United States. WALKING.

Because he fully understands the pressing need to call attention to life issues in our nation. Because even though he has some limitations, he knows his value, and the value of all human life. Because he knows that one must, under the harshest of circumstances, be faithful to God. He knows that Jesus sometimes calls us to get moving, leave everything behind and follow Him, in truth. Even if it means putting one limping foot in front of the other.

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Crossing Guard

I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.