amy courts: en route

Waiting for “Even More”

Because our pastor was meant to be filming a movie (in which he plays a hairy hobo, no less) in snowy Montreal over the weekend, our new church in Minneapolis featured a guest speaker on Sunday, Steve Wiens. I wasn’t particularly excited about it until I realized a) we’d already heard him speak when we visited Church of the Open Door (and he’s good); and b) we’d already heard this message too (it happened to be the very same he’d given back when we visited, and it’s also good). Some people might scoff and say something about “the pastor who recycles his sermons…” Those people can shut it. Because this sermon deserves to be given – and received – over and over.

Based on Matthew 1:18-25 (with a little bit of Genesis 37 sprinkled in) and titled “Considering the Even More,” it’s all about the Joseph’s: Joseph, husband to Mary, step-father to Jesus, and a guy who probably said “You have GOT to be kidding me!” when he first learned of Mary’s “immaculate conception”; and Joseph, son of Jacob, who was sold by his brothers into slavery, endured years in prison under the false accusations of Potiphar’s wife, but somehow ended up right-hand-man to Pharaoh and The Guy Who Saved The People from Death By Famine.

It’s about how each of them, in otherwise paralyzing circumstances, were able – by grace alone – to pull back and ask, “What can’t I see? What don’t I know? What might God be doing here?”

I’ve mentioned this before, but names are significant, especially in Scripture. I only came to realize the power in my own son’s name, Elijah David – which means “The LORD is my God; I am His beloved” – after he was born. Not insignificantly, the name Joseph means “Yahweh Adds” or “Even More.”

Most of you know that after Elijah was born, I nearly bled to death and the bleeding was only stopped by removing my uterus. And thus, I can’t ever have any more babies. I am, by some odd flip of the coin, the one in 110,000 women who suffers such severe post partum uterine atony as to indicate emergency hysterectomy.

I have asked too many times, “Why me, Lord? Why not one of those crack head baby mama’s from the ghetto who has nine kids and counting? Why remove the possibility altogether, leaving no room to hope?”

I don’t know the answer to that question and I’m not sure I ever will. But, after hearing this sermon twice now (and I don’t believe it’s by accident), I’m inclined to think that’s probably the wrong question.

Instead, I am reminded to consider the Even More.

…To consider Joseph son of Jacob, who could have wallowed or taken revenge but chose instead to believe that Yahweh Adds, and in so doing “saved many lives,” including those of his brothers whose jealousy drove them to do the unthinkable.

…To consider Joseph husband of Mary, who could have abandoned her to the law and seen her, his pregnant-by-someone-other-than-him betrothed, stoned, but chose instead to consider the Even More that God was up to and in so doing NAMED the Savior.

And I am compelled to consider our own situation: What if, by allowing this certain tragedy in our lives, God is somehow saving more lives? Perhaps we are meant to parent some of those nine-kids-and-counting who would otherwise be fatherless?

I can’t say it enough: I don’t know and can’t begin to imagine what plans He has conceived and intends to birth in and for us.

But I know, because of Elijah, that The LORD is my God. And I know, by the Joseph’s, my God is the God of even more; He is the God who adds, who ever gives even when He takes.

And I can therefore anxiously await Even More.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout generations.” > Ephesians 3:19-21 <

A Summation of My Post-Election Feelings
November 5, 2008, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Culture, Faith and Faith Life, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I wrote the following in a note to a family member, but thought it appropriate to post here as well, in hopes that it makes clear why I have a little more hope today than I’ve (not) enjoyed over the last eight years.


What excites me about the prospects with Obama in office – and intrigues me about the widespread fearful response of so many Believers to his election – is that the system which so many call and fear as “socialist” (implicitly evil and utterly wrong) is actually the kind of community living Christ Himself designed, sanctioned, and ordained for the Church. What we see happening in Acts 2 is exactly that: socialism, if not communism, even. The equal distribution and sharing of all wealth, goods, and property among all people so that no one is richer and thus more significant, or poorer and thus less significant.

As our Nation has progressed in its Capitalist ventures and ideals, we’ve watched a new sort of caste system develop in which the rich get richer (not because they’ve *actually* worked harder, hand-to-steele, but because they’ve lied better, and climbed ladders of people, stomping on others to get to the highest seat where they enjoy great power and wealth but little responsibility) while the poor are brushed aside as unwanted and unworthy, because – for having lost a job or been unable to find one in our “great” economy – we’ve deemed them lazy freeloaders.

I’ve watched a system develop in which – and have even heard dear friends and family say, no holds barred – those who can’t afford things like basic health insurance don’t actually *deserve* it.

I’ve heard health care called a privilege of the wealthy rather than a right afforded to all humans by virtue of breathing.

I’ve heard conservatives rail on about the evils of abortion as part of a so-called “pro-life” community, and yet once the mother does right by carrying to term and having the child, she – and her newborn – are left to fend for themselves, vulnerable to judgement and condemnation when they seek the government aid they need to fill their stomachs and keep a roof over their heads.

I’ve heard pundit after pundit, friend after friend, Christian after Christian, call on those kids growing up in violent, drug-ridden neighborhoods to “buck it up and do something about their situation because it’s their American right and ability to do so,” but unilaterally deny them every opportunity to rise above circumstance. From refusing them proper education to condemning them for their parents’ or neighbors’ sins. We call them out of the life of poverty and crime we’ve abandoned them to, refuse them aid, and then condemn them for continuing the only cycle of life they’ve ever known. As if, put in their situation, we’re certain we would know exactly what to do and how to do it (and have the confidence to achieve it).

Suffice it to say, I’ve watched – horrified – as Christians talk about “christian values” and yet refuse the most basic of rights, like medical treatment and food for the belly, to those they deem unworthy of receiving. It’s especially sickening when these are the very same people Christ deemed worthy of the goods and commanded to provide.

But what I see in Obama’s platform and policies is a return to caring for the least of these – a return to treating the least as the greatest and issuing value based on humanity rather than wealth – as Christ commanded. I see a Leader who could, potentially, turn our Nation’s attention and provision to global atrocities, an ever-growing sex trade, and genocide being perpetrated the world over, rather than allow us who have the money and power to help to sit idly by. I see a Leader who is respected by Foreign Leaders and Dignitaries and can, potentially, dig us out of our international grave. I finally see hope for an end to these wars which have cost us so dearly in soldier lives.

More importantly, I see a Nation of people – and the Church, more significantly – learning to give selflessly for the sake of another, without passing judgement. I see all people of all backgrounds and all economic statuses finally being treated (and cared for) as equal human beings, created by God for His spectacular glory. It has been the Church’s duty thus far, and we have failed so miserably! Perhaps now, whether out of anger to a new kind of government or out of simple necessity, the Church will finally do what has been ours to do all along, so our government doesn’t have to!

I have great hope both in our Nation and in the Church. And while I’m not holding my breath for the Nation, I would for the Church.

But only if the Church actually starts *acting* (read: loving and serving) like the real, Christ-ordained Church instead of like selfish, petulant American children who don’t want to share what God has graciously provided.