Robin Anne, a friend of God
Grace and Truth: A word from pastorsby Isaac Villegas
Robin died of pneumonia in the woods behind Wal-Mart. She lived in the forest for the past decade, but it wouldn't be exactly true to say that she was "homeless." She called the forest her home. She turned the woods into her dwelling by hanging pictures of her family on the trees surrounding her cozy tent.
I can't say that I knew her well. We mostly chatted about the weather. I ate lunch and talked and prayed with her and the other people who wandered out from the forest to meet us near the highway every Wednesday.
At her memorial service, I learned a lot more about Robin.
Doug stepped up to the pulpit first. He's a retired man who regularly brings food for our Wednesday meals. He spoke about Robin’s selfless concern for her friends. Every time Doug would see her, Robin told him about someone else who needed care. She seemed to keep a list: Francis and Don need a new tent, Karl needs a sleeping bag, Cliff needs a few dollars, check in on John because he is depressed.
Karl also took a turn at the microphone and told stories about how Robin always took care of him even though she didn’t have much. She would give her few dollars away if Karl said he needed it, even though everyone knew he was a drunk.
The folks that spoke during the memorial service painted a portrait of Robin as one who glowed with Christ’s gentle love—a warm fire in the forest, a friend of God.
According to First John, to be a friend of God one must learn to abide in the love of Jesus: "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them" (1 John 4:16).
I think Robin was one of the beloved friends of God. She knew what it meant to abide in God's love. She knew what John knew, that God's love is something we do with our bodies; it has more to do with lifestyle than emotions. We love God through what we do for one another.
"Beloved," John wrote, "if we love one another, God lives in us" (4:12).
God's love is played out materially, with our stuff. John has strong words for the rest of us who don’t share like Robin did: "How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?" (3:17).
At the memorial service, friends testified to Robin's generosity. She shared everything with friends and strangers. And that’s what it looks like to dwell in the depths of God's love, to be one of God’s beloved. Robin's generous life echoed First John's gospel of love.
John uses the Greek word "agape" where our translators write "love." But agape means so much more than what we usually think of as love.
Dorothee Soelle, the German theologian and activist, helps us see the profound commitments involved in agape.
"The best translation of what the early Christians called agape," Soelle writes in The Mystery of Death, "is still 'solidarity.' "
God's love is solidarity. Agape as loving solidarity is what we learn through the incarnation of Christ. Jesus is God’s love manifest as solidarity.
As John says, "God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him” (4:9). Solidarity is simply the movement of God becoming human in Jesus Christ: "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" (4:2). After all, Jesus is called Immanuel, God with us.
Solidarity is the shape of Jesus' life of love. He lived among his beloved. And so did Robin. That's what it means to be a friend of God, one of the beloved.
God comes to us when we follow Robin’s wandering path into the forests behind Wal-Mart—or wherever the lonely hang out. We befriend God when we draw near to God's children, our sisters and brothers, friends and strangers. Love happens when you let a stranger call you a friend.
Isaac Villegas is pastor of Chapel Hill (N.C.) Mennonite Fellowship.
- The show will go on
- Veiled and free
- Fishy tale
- Practicing first family
- Simply put
- Learning to fly
- Laborers in the vineyard
- After the annunciation - poem
News stories, digests and Meno Acontecer
- Web exclusive: Advice from an admirer
- Two-hundred attend Rosa's memorial service
- Immigration task force calls for May 1 vigil
- MVS and Selective Service sign agreement
- MMA's new name: Everence
- Breaking news: Bethel receives Mabee challenge grant for building renovation
- NEWS ANALYSIS: Church planting is local and organic
- Joe Rosa found dead by apparent suicide
- Franconia Conference names steering committee and review timeline
- Mennonite Church USA receives $3 million surprise
- Decade-long church building project comes to a close
- EMM's David Shenk films video course
- Longtime editor looks back on rich experience
- Spanish-speaking pastors connect with seminary
- Mennonites address child abuse
- Executive Leadership welcomes new staff, roles
- How to be a peace-oriented family
- Stutzman installed as executive director
- Health-care providers learn of 'Googlies'
- Two hundred gather to 'affirm the faith'
- News Briefs - April
- Decade to Overcome Violence continues
- ¡Bienvenidos al Meno Acontecer de abril, 2010!
- IBA entrena tutores en Iglesia Manantial de Vida
- AMBS gradúa estudiantes en Dallas
- IBA Intensivo en Agua Viva, Omaha
- Se reúne la Junta de Directores de la IMH
- Pastor A. Mendoza licenciado, hno. Bodden ordenado
- Del Concilio Hispano de Lancaster
- Una carta personal de Tony Brun ...
- De nuestros lectores y colaboradores ... Conclusión
- Robin Anne, a friend of God
- Historical dimensions of the missional church
- First things first: Pray for everyone
- Our marvelous bodies
- Mennonites and the arts
- At peace with war
- The prodigal son—with a twist
- April reviews
- Find films that challenge stereotypes
Births and Marriages
- Where is the outrage?
- On playing the national anthem
- On playing the national anthem II
- Richer for diversity
- The push and pull of faith
- Satan has an easy time