October 05, 2013
Written by Steven Liechty

Donna Schaper

"Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak." - Ephesians 6:10-20

A young woman in our congregation asked for an appointment with me.  When she arrived, she immediately popped this question: "Why is my mother getting a tattoo?"  I had such an urge to be flip and to tell her that aging is not easy, that sagging skin sags a spirit, that these are spiritual problems.  I decided instead to say what I learned in seminary to say: "Tell me more."

She talked her way into understanding.  She figured it out on her own.  She got a glimpse of her own boldness. She overcame being an ambassador in chains, one who knew she had something to say but didn’t know what it was.

She had something to say to her mother, which was not so much anti-tattoo as it was pro-Mom. When her mother realizes that her daughter understands whatever it is that mother is saying with the tattoo, all will be well.  The daughter especially will be well as she understands that the mother understands.  Chains off.  Messages exchanged.  Gospel realized.

Gospel is when we say yes to each other, the way Jesus said yes to all we are—wounds, tattoos, aging, all and more, all chained up, yearning to be free.


O God, help us find each other.  Help us look for each other.  Help us understand each other when we just don’t get it.  Unchain your ambassadors.  Amen.

About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Grace at Table: Small Spiritual Solutions to Large Material Problems.

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