Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Love Wins!

Wishing everyone a cheerful "Happy New Year!" doesn't quite feel appropriate this year. My heart is still heavy for the families of Newtown.  My musical colleague and friend, Jimmy Greene lost his daughter Ana Grace in this tragic massacre.  Despite the inspirational faith the Marquez-Greene family has demonstrated through this terrible ordeal, we know their adjustment and healing is only just barely beginning.  I pray for them several times a day.

The theme of Ana's funeral was "Love Wins".  I'm still wearing my purple bracelet with this inscription.  The Greenes referred to the service as a "home going celebration", as they know with certainty that Ana is now with Jesus, in a better place.  We also know that we are still here, in this flawed world --- a world that desperately needs our love to radiate.  Despite my sadness and deep feelings of empathy for the Greenes, I left that service feeling inspired, changed and wanting to do my part.  I resolve not to let those feelings dissipate as time passes. 

Love Wins

Like many people, I typically spend some time reflecting as I go into a new year, making lists of things I hope to accomplish. Usually this list pertains to my career in music, fitness and time management.  To list the gigs I aspire to play, music I hope to write, and solos I want to transcribe just seems like a trivial exercise this year.

Instead, I want to focus more on things of eternal consequence, rather than the ephemeral.  I want this year's resolutions and aspirations to reflect "Love Wins".  I want to show love in my life.  I want to teach my kids how to be caring, and demonstrate love and compassion in their lives.  I've got some serious work cut out for me here.

Reading and memorizing scripture is a first step.  This week my family, including our youngest, memorized Ephesians 4:32:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

My wife and I are also planning an alternative to traditional church, with a strong focus on building community and serving others.  We are calling it Acts of Mansfield.  Our first outing was singing Christmas carols with a group of neighborhood friends at a local nursing home.  Future events will be listed on the Facebook page we created, where we described the group as:

We are Bible believing Christians who don’t seem to fit into Christian culture. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we saw the need for meaningful, lasting change in our lives. We have this strong desire to “press in;” to embody what it means to show love and compassion in a more tangible way. So, we have decided to leave our church pew and we are choosing to ACT. Each Sunday, we plan to love God and love God’s people through acts of service.

Our hope is that you will join us and that our mission is contagious. All are welcome – believers, seekers, doubters – truly, come as you are. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world (Gandhi).
...and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. -Acts 1:8

This description may evolve over time. Who knows?  Maybe this idea will catch on and we will see similar groups pop up --- Acts of Chicago, Acts of Denton, Acts of Winnipeg, Acts of Scranton...  I hope as a society we can all embrace the power of love, and work together.  In honor of all of the victims of Sandy Hook, love wins.

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