America #2

Last night, I read this article in the New York Times about Walter Scott. Scott, a 50 year old black man in South Carolina, was shot in the back by a police officer who claimed Scott had taken his stun gun in a scuffle occurring after a traffic stop. The article was disturbing. The video unspeakable.

*****

Dear America,

I am learning this new condition:
waiting in the flickering light
of television’s images of the dead;
the crying mother, daughter, or spouse
of another black man law-lynched.

It is a nightly anticipation,
the result of a force-fed diet
of truth, or the shock of a
different reality, or the descaling
of once-blind eyes, whichever.

And so, should you become
convinced in the pride of your
most exceptional dignity,
turn your eyes to your veins,
tap them, bleed them dry, test,
and know this:
your father is violence,
and your mother fear.

 

 

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Marriage Letters: On New Seasons

On the first Monday of each month, Amber and I are writing marriage letters to each other. Sure, there are qualified experts who’ve written well about marriage, but we’re writing into our marriage. Read here, then jump over to Amber’s place to read her Marriage Letter.

*****

Dear Amber,

The Dogwoods are blooming. The scarlet cardinal and his muted bride have returned.  The stone’s been rolled away by the rebirth of perfect light. This is the shape of the changing season.

It’s Eastertide, and the darkness of the harsh Lenten season has lifted, bringing the tender tingle of morning’s cool resurrection air with it. Each Spring brings with it the hope of new life, and the seedbed of that hope is found in our work. We’ve been cultivating hope over these last few weeks, I having moved crossties until my forearms burned, and you having worked the soil with a tiller.

Last weekend, I took a break from the heavy lifting, sat under the pecan tree and watched as you made the rows straight. You wrangled two different tillers–a smaller one, which was a dog-cussable joke of a machine, and then a larger cultivator, one which begged you to hang on for dear life. Up and down the rows you went, and I smiled. As the wise book says, it’s a wife of noble character who “sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” (Prov. 31:17) By all indications, I’ve married a noble woman.

Amber Tiller

It’s not just the garden where we cultivate Spring’s new life. Spring springs eternal as we explore what it means to work in the fields of the local church. When I outed my want for a quieter space of communion last Advent, you nodded in quiet agreement. We’d both been asking whether a more liturgical space might be better for the rhythm of our family worship, and turns out, this was a good and right inclination.

Megan

We are a group not much bigger than the disciples before Pentecost, and though we miss our larger extended family across town, this smaller group has become our immediate family. The twenty of us (give or take) meet, and we daydream about serving each other and the community. We gather for meals and evening prayers. We enjoy each other.

Table

This has been our home throughout this Lenten season, and you’ve taken to considering them in your morning prayers. You pray for growth–not the kind that leads to a packed house (necessarily), but the kind that leads to new life. You’ve spoken the words “rest,” over the community, too, prayed that our congregation might wear an easier yoke. You’ve read scripture over us, bowed before the altar and spoken the words of Isaiah with trembling lips. This, too, is a strong sort of work, I think. I watch you, along with the other women in our congregation, and I think–these are women who set about their work vigorously; their arms are strong for the task.

I’m thankful for the shifting season, for springing green of new life all around. I’m thankful for our little garden and our tiny congregation. This has become our “blue true dream of sky,” and though we toil under the Ozark sun for it, we find ourselves sinking into a more restful rhythm. This is becoming the rhythm of our marriage, too. A little toil, a little rest, a little springing of new life. It’s the little that adds up over time, that piles atop itself until it is what some might call abundance.

Thank you for working these fields with me. Thank you for exercising arms that are strong for the task. Thank you for walking with me through every new season.

For everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes,

Seth

*****TINY LETTER SIGNUP*****

In the most recent Tiny Letter (my once-a-month, insider newsletter delivered straight to your email), I’m discussing the artisanal theology and the Fayetteville Hipster. It’s a little bit snarky, a little bit graceful, a little bit introspective, and a whole lot of fun. If you sign up today, you’ll receive a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song “Train Wreck.” It’s a song I wrote about pain, loss, and the love of God.

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There is no Easter Friday

There are some churches, I have heard, who have opted for Friday and Saturday Easter services. This, I suspect, is to make space for this weekend’s capacity crowds, or to facilitate more convenient Easter brunches. I’ve been thinking about these services, though, and I can’t shake the notion that without commemorating the climax of crucifixion, or the tension of death, the Gospel’s plot is flat. Discounting death and lament neuters the resurrection.

There’s no such day as Easter Friday or Easter Saturday. Without the lament of death, or the stench of the grave, there can be no celebration of resurrected glory.*

*This is not to say that those who regularly meet on Fridays or Saturdays should be ashamed of celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Nor is this to say that those who celebrate a strict Holy Week should take pride in following rote tradition. Instead, the point is commemorating each facet of the Gospel story with intention.

*****

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him,they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him,wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Question: What do you see in the Cross of Christ?

*****TINY LETTER SIGNUP*****

In the most recent Tiny Letter (my once-a-month, insider newsletter delivered straight to your email), I’m discussing the artisanal theology and the Fayetteville Hipster. It’s a little bit snarky, a little bit graceful, a little bit introspective, and a whole lot of fun. If you sign up today, you’ll receive a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song “Train Wreck.” It’s a song I wrote about pain, loss, and the love of God.

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Tell Me About Your Church

Subscribers to my monthly Tiny Letter know this explicitly, and some of you may have gathered this implicitly, but Amber and I have made a shift in the last six months. I won’t spend too many words discussing it here, but know this–we’ve moved from a larger non-traditional Bible church to a much smaller Anglican church.

It was an organic transition, one not born from angst, disappointment, or bitterness. Instead, it was a change that was a long time coming, one birthed out of sobriety, study, and a the unmistakable Spirit wind. It was a change that was–in no small part–birthed from our family’s need for quieter spaces of communion. Our children love the rhythm of the liturgy, and enjoy worshiping in a smaller congregation. They are learning the power of hearing Scripture and sacramental engagement.

Not to state the obvious, but I recognize this: there are all sorts of churches for all sorts of people. Some enjoy the raucous, loud sort. Others prefer the house church gathering around the communal potluck. Some enjoy the organ-and-hymn Baptist service, while others prefer the metaphors of the liturgical service. No matter your preference, though, I’d like to spend some time today discussing the church–specifically, your church. Would you join me?

Jump over to my Facebook page today and tell me:

1. What kind of church do you currently attend?

2. What do you like about it?

3. What is it about your congregation that makes you sing?

There are all sorts of churches for all sorts of people. Some enjoy the raucous, loud sort. Others prefer the house…

Posted by Seth Haines (Writing) on Wednesday, April 1, 2015

*****TINY LETTER SIGNUP*****

In the most recent Tiny Letter (my once-a-month, insider newsletter delivered straight to your email), I’m discussing the artisanal theology and the Fayetteville Hipster. It’s a little bit snarky, a little bit graceful, a little bit introspective, and a whole lot of fun. If you sign up today, you’ll receive a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song “Train Wreck.” It’s a song I wrote about pain, loss, and the love of God.

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Once Upon a Christ (A Palm Sunday Reflection)

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. We began the service outside, crying “Hosanna!” and waiving palm branches in an empty parking lot. We continued the liturgy inside, engaged in a responsive reading that culminated with the people–with me–yelling “crucify him!”

That service gave birth to this poem.

*****

If once upon again, a Christ came
on a donkey’s colt over river bridge
and into marketplace, capitol square,
or the enormity of Sunday’s sanctuary,
would the rows ring with Hosannas,
the joy of prophecies personified?

                       Or

would there be only dry dreams
of fading green palms waiving in
the brittle memories of old men,
and the fading leaves of recorded myth?
Would the ghosts of fickle faith
hush or be hushed, know their hushing?
Would the powers, politicians, priests
mock their ancestors’ fear-filled charge?
“You see that you are gaining nothing.
Look, the world has gone after him.”*

*John 12:19

*****TINY LETTER SIGNUP*****

In the most recent Tiny Letter (my once-a-month, insider newsletter delivered straight to your email), I’m discussing the artisanal theology and the Fayetteville Hipster. It’s a little bit snarky, a little bit graceful, a little bit introspective, and a whole lot of fun. If you sign up today, you’ll receive a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song “Train Wreck.” It’s a song I wrote about pain, loss, and the love of God.

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