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Chapter 1, Verse 20, 2009

2 Corinthians 1:20

‘For all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in him. That is why we utter the ‘Amen’ through him, to the glory of God.”

There are a lot of reasons to say “Yes” this week! Obama’s inauguration is by far the most notable – but it’s just one of the occasions to say “Amen!” The “him” to which St Paul referred was the Christ – not the president-elect. But through Barack Obama, and through the compassionate words and deeds of countless other human beings, the Christ appears among us now.

I have my own list of people who inspired a hearty “Yes!” from me this past week.

In “The Little Chapel of Silence” at USC, after our meditation group this past Wednesday at noon, a student shared the fear she experienced during the silence. “I’m so frightened… I realized this while I was meditating. I’m afraid of intimacy. I’m around some wonderful people lately, but I’m afraid to open up with them – because I’ve been so hurt by people close to me in the past. I’m so grateful I could meditate today – so that I could become aware of my fear, and get clear that I need to deal with it.” Amen!

I was visited by a scholar from British Columbia who admired the box of buttons on my desk. I happen to have a button-making machine in my office. I make buttons out of cool-looking images and catchy logos that I find, and then give them away to students and staff who visit my office. The professor picked one out and put it on her blouse, and then asked me if I could make her one with words she had come up with herself. I loved her logo, and quickly printed it and made a bunch of buttons for her. The logo: “I refuse to participate in a recession!” Yes!

On Thursday, we initiated a new speaker series at USC – “Medicine for the Soul”, a series of talks by medical professionals about the personal and spiritual dimensions of the healing arts. Our first speaker was Dr Rishi Manchanda, a young doctor specializing in HIV/AIDS treatment in a clinic for low income people in South Central LA. He told about a new element in the medical history that many doctors have introduced in clinics like his around the US. In addition to questions like “Do you smoke?” and “Do you exercise?”, they now ask “Are you registered to vote?” Over 30,000 people were registered before the recent election, as a result of this new practice. Amen!

Rishi also told about the patient he saw just before coming to give the speech. The patient was a young man with very low kidney function. Rishi had told him months ago that he needed to go on dialysis. But the young man was petrified at that prospect, and also was afraid of the financial ruin it would cause him, since he had no health insurance. Now his kidney function was critical, so Rishi admitted him to a hospital and got him a taxi voucher to get there. “If I was just following the normal protocol, my job would be done at this point. But if I’m practicing medicine the same way a person would maintain a spiritual practice, I have to do more. I have to call my patient this afternoon and make sure he actually went to the hospital.” Yes!

Today, at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, our granddaughter Rumi gleefully cavorted on “Shane’s Inspiration”, a huge play structure. A boy about four times her two years of age fell down and hurt his knee. She came up to him, tilted her head low to meet his eyes, and asked, “Are you okay?” Until that moment he was crying. But upon seeing a toddler trying to help him, he calmed down and said he was all right. Rumi then took him by the hand and tried to lift him to his feet. He stood up on his own and limped and then ran away. Amen!

Roberta and I watched the coverage of the train ride that Barack Obama made to Washington on his way to the inauguration. I found myself brimming with tears at the sight of the crowds standing along the tracks to watch his triumphal entry into the capital. That I lived to see this day! That American could show its true nobility by electing such a decent, bright, and caring person as its leader. Yes!

There’s growth, there’s change, there’s redemption… as people face their fears, refuse to be intimidated, ask new questions, walk extra miles, discover what it means to be compassionate, and act with hope…. Yes! and Amen!

Rev. Jim Burklo is Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California. This is crossposted from MUSINGS.


A friend to Adventists, when he was a teen Jim used to sneak into Soquel Campmeeting for the coeds and the veggie burgers . He is the author of BIRDLIKE AND BARNLESS: Meditations, Prayers, and Songs for Progressive Christians

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