Monday, November 15, 2010

Adoption and the Art of Salsa Making

I'm adopted. I was adopted when I was only a few weeks old. (This means that I was hand-picked! Look what you're parents got.) I just so happened to be adopted by the two best parents that anyone could ask for.

I am no fan of abortion. However, I fully understand that it will never be criminalized again. Plus, even if it was, it simply wouldn't work. Anyone with means would make their way to Canada or Mexico and just give a boost to their medical economies. The rest would go into the back alleys where nothing good would result.

I am a BIG fan of adoption. (More on this is a bit.)

Last night I was given an early Christmas present. I went to a concert of sorts. At Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove, the "Love tells the Story" tour was stopping by. The author, Donald Miller, came with a group of his musician friends to speak and play. Miller told some stories about his book, Blue Like Jazz, being turned into a movie. He also spoke on the story of God's love for people...and how most people sadly reject that love.

The musicians were Sandra McCracken, who reminds me of Emmy Lou Harris. The second was her husband, Derek Webb, who was about as avant guard as you could get. Then the Robbie Seay band led worship. It was like a strange combination of U2 meets Alt-Country with Techno thrown in for good measure. (For those who assume that church & worship should be hushed and somber affairs with dour & serious expressions plastered upon the faces of the parishioners, you would have been quite disappointed.)

There was a mother not to far from my seat who had a new born with her. The music was LOUD! The baby smiled the whole time. After the show, I informed the woman that she was the coolest Mom in the whole world. (Not counting my Mom.)

One of my hobbies is making salsa. In case you are curious, I am exceptionally good at it. (That's not bragging. It's merely an objective fact.) Normally when I make a large batch of salsa to can, I will name it after students of mine...and put a super-cool, neato, "Boss," groovy label on it, complete with their picture. Since I am not teaching at the moment, I decided to make batches in honor of my favorite Christian thinkers & philosophers. I have Rob Bell's Raspberry Chipotle, Rick McKinely's Cigar Roasted and Donald Miller's Sexy Carrot Salsas...and I DID manage to make cool labels for them. (I have 3 other styles, but I haven't decided who to name them after just yet.)

I had planned on mailing some of the jars off to these folks. However, Don Miller attends Imago Dei out in Portland, where Rick McKinley preaches. So why not kill two birds with one stone? I brought a jar for Miller and another for McKinley. I wasn't able to deliver them personally. But I was able to attach a note explaining the whole thing, and it was given to him by the staff.

If he ever figures out that it was me, that's fine. If not, that's fine too. My Christmas presents for friends and family are covered. Woot!

Donald Miller and his family were abandoned by their Father when he was a child. In effect, that would make him one out of 27,000,000 other kids in the U.S. who are growing up without a Dad around. That is a very vulgar statistic. But the sad fact is that there are a huge group of men out there who are not even remotely living up to their responsibilities as men. (In my biased opinion, a man that walks away from the family that he helped to create is not a man at all.) However, instead of playing the role of perpetual victim, Miller decided to do something about this situation. This organization works with numerous churches across the country to place MEN with boys who have been abandoned by their own Fathers to act as mentors. (Not so different from the Big Brothers/Sisters outfit.) In this particular instance though, it is a Faith-Based organization. They wish to take seriously God's command & insistence that HIS people, who are called by HIS name are to care for the widows and orphans.

Yesterday morning at Living Waters, we had some folks from the Minnesota Heart Gallery come and make a presentation before the service. This is another Faith-Based organization who works to find decent families to match with older kids for adoption. You can go to their website to find out more information.

The statistics for older kids up for adoption are not pretty. First off, you have to understand that most of these kids have been removed from their biological families by the courts. (I can only imagine what the home situation was like for this to be the result.) There are over 300 teens in Minnesota up for adoption every year. Those who are not adopted face incredibly stiff odds for success later in life. It makes you pause to think about how a society achieved a situation like this.

Adoption is a beautiful thing.
I am a testament to what a loving family can do for an adopted baby.

In the world in which Jesus had his earthly ministry, the less-than-gentle hand of the Roman Empire ruled everything. 9 out of 10 people were essentially day to day, hand to mouth. The early church made a name for itself by caring for the poor & marginalized in very difficult circumstances. It was not unusual for infants, especially baby girls, to be abandoned in dumps, garbage heaps or by the side of he road. The first Christians demonstrated their belief in the power of Jesus' resurrection by actually practicing it for themselves. They had the peculiar habit of rescuing these abandoned babies and taking them home to raise them.

The Romans had an interesting concept on adoption. It was not unusual for adults to be adopted. (At least with in the ranks of the well to do.) With the adoption came all of the prestige, power and wealth of the adopting family. Needless to say, the poor were rarely adopted.

"Praise be to the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy & blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be ADOPTED as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." Ephesians 1:3-6

"And you also were included IN Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel (Good News) of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory." Eph. 1: 13 & 14

Can you imagine what it must have been like for a poor, everyday, working man or woman to hear that such an option was freely available to them? What must it have been like for someone to realize that they could be adopted and made a son/daughter of the most powerful being in the universe...with all of the prestige that went with it? Furthermore, they would have understood that once you said "Yes" to this deal, you would never, ever be abandoned. Once you are in THAT family, you will NEVER be pushed out.

This is the story of God's love towards the humanity that he created. It is Grace...a completely undeserved gift that he chooses to offer to anyone willing to take it. You DID & DO nothing to earn such a gift. It is freely offered to you because Jesus did all the work to make it possible. He offers it to you through his blood. The Triune God, the creator of all thing seen & unseen, the Holy One, desires and aches with all his heart to have you as his child for ever and ever. No wonder the word "Gospel" actually means "Good News."

I told you, adoption is a beautiful thing.
It's even better than Salsa.

Last night at the show, I heard a couple of artists I had not known before. The first is a woman from Tennessee named Sandra McCraken. She's a bit on the Folky side. She had a female guitarist with her that I can't recall. She used some good echo & reverb on her instrument that made me think of Emmy Lou Harris being backed up by Buddy Miller. Here is an acoustic version of a song she played.

Her husband is Derek Webb. He is a bit of thorn in the side of the Christian establishment. (Which certainly makes me a fan.) He was pretty "Out There" as far as music goes. He likes to use abstract art & photography to illustrate his music. He sang a song titled "Wedding Dress." In it, he blasts himself for the cheap way that he often treats Jesus. I found myself identifying a good deal with this song.

He also has a purely instrumental CD out that he wrote for each verse of "The Lord's Prayer." Very interesting stuff.

The guy leading all the music acts & such was Robbie Seay. You might be familiar with his song, "Rise," which was used for a time as the American Idol intro. He's always good.

Anyway, on a side note; He had this little guy as his lead guitarists that night with this really big beard. Honestly, I thought it was a fake beard at first like one from "Oh Brother, where art thou?" He made me think of what Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top would look like after a wash and then a long spin in the dryer.

The video is just a slide show, but the music is good.



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