My wife Cynthia was back in prison this weekend, working through a program called Epiphany, with the young girls incarcerated. She told me she counseled with one young lady whose story was horrific - all the abuse she'd been through and the things she'd done. The girl looked to be in her early 20's, but when Cynthia asked the girl's age, she was shocked to hear she was only 16! That's the age of our daughter, who this weekend, as a Certified Lay Speaker, filled in for Cynthia by preaching at her church.
I really don't know what to do with this juxtaposition. Of course, I can be grateful, for being born into a lineage of grace, and being able to pass that on. And I can anguish in prayer, along with Cynthia, for the young women who have little idea what wholesome love is like; who don't know they can trust a Heavenly Father to love and forgive them. But the starkness of contrast between the lives of two 16 year olds leaves me longing for God's Kingdom, where two girls, living in worlds so different, can know the same life-giving grace of God they desperately need.
Then add this to the weekend. One of the ladies in my church, who is fiercely angry about the pews being removed from the chapel, called to say she wanted to drop by the house. She came to the door and handed me a copy of the new book about Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light. The Private Writings of the "Saint of Calcutta" edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk. She said that she heard it had just arrived at the book store and since I'd mentioned it in a recent sermon, thought I'd like a copy.
This is the inscription on the flyleaf; To Stephen (and Cynthia), in Christian love (in spite of our disagreements), then,her name. We have distinctly different views of the church facilities. She wants to preserve the historic, Gothic character of the facilities, and I'm more concerned about adapting the rooms to present and future usage. We have our differences, but are bound to one another under the same discipleship, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. It is rare (unfortunately) to serve among people who keep their dissatisfaction focused on the issues and don't personalize the conflict, who can demonstrate love while disagreeing. Different we be, and yet the same, sinners being redeemed by grace.