The Good of Giving Up

LENT: Confessing Our Secrets by Aaron Damiani

March 15, 2018

From The Good of Giving Up In 2010, our family survived “Snowmageddon,” a blizzard that blanketed Washington, D.C., in thirty inches of snow.  It took several weeks for the city to clear the streets of the white stuff.  As a result, the garbage trucks could not drive into the alleys to collect the garbage cans.  For weeks, our refuse piled up, the cans overflowing with flimsy plastic bags containing dirty diapers and rotting food.  And because of the snow, we couldn’t take the cans to the alley, so the trash pile was right outside our door.  It became a feast for the rats and a scourge for the humans.  After a while, we began to dread walking outside our back door. One day it dawned on me: garbage collectors are my heroes.  I [...]

LENT: Receiving The Humility Of Christ by Aaron Damiani

March 8, 2018

From The Good of Giving Up You Are Beautiful. This simple message has blanketed the city of Chicago through murals, graffiti, large installations, and tiny stickers on lampposts.  As you get on the “L,” exit Lake Shore Drive, or walk through the Loop, you will eventually be reminded that you are beautiful.  When I walk my kids to the local park, we see “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” displayed in life-sized letters draped on the side of the gate. I cannot believe people went through all that trouble for me, and I’m flattered every time I see the message.  I appreciate the intention of the artists behind this campaign: “We want to make life a little better by grabbing strangers unexpectedly in the grind of their daily life, and [...]

LENT: Repeating History—The Right Way by Aaron Damiani

March 1, 2018

From The Good of Giving Up My friends Annie and Bill decided to do some bold decorating in their dining room.  On one wall they painted a mural of their family history.  I’m not talking about the history of just their lives, their parents’ lives, or even their grandparents’ lives.  That’s all included, but the mural also includes events from hundreds of years ago.  Messy situations, controversial events, blunders, swindles, and lynchings – stuff the rest of us would want to sweep under the rug, not display on our dining room walls. One panel shows Annie’s ancestor Jack Horner crouching in shame outside a beautiful estate he allegedly stole from a Roman Catholic bishop.  Henry VIII rewarded old Jack for his treachery, but [...]

LENT: A (Mercifully Short) History Of Lent by Aaron Damiani

February 22, 2018

From The Good of Giving Up Where did Lent come from?  How did it become recognized as the forty-day period of prayer, fasting, and generosity leading up to Easter?  And when we say, “Lent began as a practice of the ancient church,” what does that even mean? To answer these questions, I invite you to picture yourself in a thorny pastoral situation.  Imagine the Lord saw fit to answer your prayers for the unchurched, and revival broke out in your region of the Roman Empire.  Your church is deluged with new converts, and the nets of your ministry are breaking from the surplus of fish reeled in by the gospel.  People with broken pasts and no background in Christianity come readily to be filled with God’s love in Christ.  The poor [...]

LENT: Into The Wilderness by Aaron Damiani

February 15, 2018

From The Good of Giving Up We are not ready for Easter.  Not emotionally, not spiritually.  But we always seem to be ready for the trappings of Easter. For most Christians, Easter Sunday is a polite and happy occasion.  Families, including mine, dress up in pastels and bow ties for the after-church picture.  Children paint eggs, hunt for eggs, and consume Peeps and chocolate bunnies.  We eat brunch, including delicious ham, and then move on with our lives. Meanwhile, church leaders see Easter Sunday as an opportunity unlike any other to reach out to the community.  Easter is still one of the highest-attended services of the year.  As a local church pastor, I appreciate that people are open in a unique way on Easter Sunday.  And I [...]