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May God make us angry

March 14, 2011

Our poor children were born to type A parents. If that weren’t enough to make our own home on the higher end of the intense scale, our middle child has a first born personality, while our oldest is your typical boy who can’t stand to be beaten by a girl (including his Mom!) Translation: the topic of anger in our house is usually covered as one of us yells over the ruckus to stop being so angry! We use the word frequently. It is an attitude we are all working on improving.

So, for our season of Lent to begin with a prayer that God would bless us with anger was shocking to the kids. As I read it aloud, Ella (said middle child) in particular recoiled in horror. “Why would we pray that?”

We needed to define the words: “May God bless you with anger. Anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.” But thankfully, we had already established some context. Three years ago, upon discovering the hideous world of slavery, including child labor exploitation in the cocoa industry, I dragged the kids to several grocery stores to leave a letter with the store managers and intentionally buy and try fair trade chocolate.

Building on their memories of the forbidden child-made candy, we were able to talk about exploitation and freedom. Even better, we were able to discuss God’s anger at such injustice in his world and that it is okay, perhaps necessary, for us to be angry at these things too. Why?

So that we will become workers for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.

After I read the Franciscan Blessing and we got over the shock, our conversation was quick. They absorbed the idea that this is what we would be doing as a family this month, swallowed the idea of anger and tears, and went back to their pizza, insisting it was time to turn on the family night movie.

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