On the Eighth Day

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Homily for 2nd Sunday of Easter, John 20: 19-31 

Sometimes you say to yourself: ‘the fire in me is going out’.  But you were not the one who lit that fire.  Your faith did not create God, and your doubts cannot banish Him.   Br Roger of Taize

At this time of year, my phone makes one glorious error,

an amazing mistake,

and it’s so beautiful that

there’s nothing I can do about it.

Every time I try to type the word ‘Resurrection’

my phone changes it to ‘Insurrection’.

Thank you, auto-correct!

This one blessed glitch covers a multitude of your sins.

Yes, I believe

in the Holy and Glorious insurrection of Christ our God

against the forces of hell and death,

against all powers that crush the poor,

against the demons of guilt and despair,

I believe in the Resurrection of Christ our God

And yes, I know,

that we pray this morning for the policemen gunned down in Paris, and for our sister and brother Christians in Cairo, blown up on their way to Church.

We’re used to weeping over such things.

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Cardiff stands with Orlanda, summer 2016

Over the last year, I’ve got used to going to Cardiff Bay for a rally or vigil to commemorate some senseless act of terrorism or cowardice.  When you go to such events, you get this powerful sense of people coming together from all backgrounds to show solidarity and support for one another.  A leader will always ask for a moment of silence, and we light candles, and the leader will tell us that love is stronger than hate, that light is stronger than darkness,

and it’s then,

that I always have a doubting Jesse moment.

Why should I believe that?

They’re beautiful words, but what makes them true?

It seems to me that,

in this world,

that kind of love is unwanted, out-voted or out-gunned.

Some tell me that absolutely nothing makes a universe.

Well then, maybe the sheer force of nothing

makes love stronger than hate

–  or maybe it’s the moon, or the stars, or the force of gravity

or enough likes on Facebook.

You see if you tell me, “I don’t believe in God’

I will say, ‘then in what do you believe?”

Deep in your wounded heart, it’s the silent voice of faith that makes you a rebel.   It’s the enduring memory of God that makes you rise again.

Those rallying words aren’t just pretty things to say.  They’re true, because Someone has made them true.  On Good Friday, Jesus took on the forces of psychic darkness;  He held in His hands all that hell and death could throw at Him.

He died

snd He rose again.

The Resurrection, the insurrection, has begun

and there’s nothing that hell or death or sin can do about it.

Sure, they’ll have theit moments, their appalling days, their savage little victories.   But on that Good Friday, on that bit of waste ground outside Jerusalem,

the deciding battle was fought and won.

The Day of Christ’s Resurrection, of Christ’s Insurrection,

shows us, in the flesh, what is, and what shall be.

So yes, there’ll be pain, set-backs and defeats, but there’s only one way this war is going to end.

Muslims and Christians
muslims at mass, France, 2016

Just like the disciples, we try to hide behind walls and bolted doors,

and the Resurrection just walks right in anyway,

‘Sorry, have I called at a bad moment?’

We try to shut God out.  We betray Him, we deny Him, tell Him that we give up on Him,

but

He seeks and He knocks, and He finds,

and His first words are ‘Peace, do not be afraid.  It is I’

We tell ourselves that we can no longer believe because of the agony of the world, and Christ our God holds out His hands and says, ‘Here are my wounds, Here are the nail marks.  Doubt no longer, dare to believe’

The Resurrection, the Insurrection, has come,

and it’s so glorious that there’s nothing that you or anyone else can do about it.  God will not take your no or your unbelief for an answer.   He has come, He has come for you.

Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις

I am the Insurrection, says the Lord.

I make all things new, beginning with you,

and starting from today.

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S Timothy’s Church, Eastertide 2017
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3 thoughts on “On the Eighth Day”

  1. I’ve never commented on a religious post before. I’m not a believer. I don’t know what I believe in.

    I’ve worked in war zones and I’ve seen a lot of evil. I’ve seen men women and children fighting against it. And I never saw God. Just us fighting each other in a fucked up universe. My friend has fought her entire life against chronic ptsd after abuse. She is never free of it, or the physical pain. Somehow she has a faith and she’s full of love. Another friend had similar life experiences. She killed herself. I’m not a believer but I’ve felt something sometimes. But what sort of a twisted God could let it go so wrong. The usual arguments. God like a chess master lol. Wicked laughter. One person, not another. Let there be war.

    Your honest with your doubts. I respect that. And I can see sense and logic in your position. I could believe in a God who made something beautiful and when we fucked it up got in there with us like a team mate. Wtf are you doing? Well you’re not going alone, I’m coming with you. Yeah, I could believe. Because if he sorted it out we would be no one and nothing. That’s what we do in a conflict zone. We stand in the fucked up bits and we get hurt too because we are trying to help or at least to be there. We stand together. And there’s got to be something that calls that out from us.

    Insurrection. A God who gets down and dirty. I was talking with my friend about the violence in that idea. She said that there’s a violence in light, that God blows dark to hell. I get that one. I like a God who wants us to grow up. Who insists on being bloody minded. Who walks in there with us whether we believe or not. Who’s been there taking the hits. And offers hope maybe a way back through. I think it’ll be a long journey for me to believe. But this holds a lot more water for me than the usual fluffy stuff.

    Against the demons of despair. Perhaps say one for me

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    1. Harriet, thank you for such an honest and from the heart response.

      First up, I’d say that even if you don’t or cannot believe in God, God will never give up believing in you. It’s never going to happen. The rage and compassion you feel in the face of suffering is the presence of God in you, aching in you and through you at what it sees. And no, such experiences can’t just be written off as neural circuits and chemicals firing in the brain. We are soul.

      God as a puppet master or chess player or inventor of suffering to test us or teach us something – nah, me neither. Christians believe that the deepest revelation of God is given not in words but in a body, in arms and hands nailed apart on a cross. God is Crucified Love. Christ shows us. To not believe in God is to not believe in this God (who, in any case, will never give up believing in you).

      I know that suffering can make faith in God really hard. I don’t pretend to understand it all. I know that a large part of it is our own stupidity – what Christians call ‘original sin’ and what the Christian writer Francis Spufford calls the HCtFtU factor in us – our High Capacity to Fuck things up. A-hem. Yeah. That. the HCtFtU factor. We’re full of it. All of us. Me especially.

      But it’s bigger than us. The New Testament pictures our world being caught up in a cosmic war zone: love is at war with hate, life with death, heaven with hell, the demons with the angels. It’s a confront that spills into everything and gives us a clue about why creation itself is beautiful but wounded to the core. We live in an amazing but damaged reality that does not reflect all that God wants it to be.

      Yes, insurrection is a violent image. Archbishop Oscar Romero once talked about the ‘violence of Love’ – in his case, a non-violent ‘violence’ that stood up against death squads in El Salvador. I believe that’s a part of what Christ brings to us in His resurrection, Love’s rebellion against slavery and cruelty and injustice and suffering (especially in its religious guise) – and death and every kind of hell. To believe in God is to become a rebel, to join the resistance, to want His Kingdom to overthrow the kingdoms that boss things in this world. It’s sedition. In His Kingdom Christ says the gentle are going to rule the world. I’d be a Christian just for that.

      I do understand the protest of atheism, I really do. But I just can’t believe that nothing made everything, that if you leave nothing all to itself one day it’ll start existing as a universe, shining as a sun, blowing as a wind, singing, dancing, doing the dishes, writing internet posts – God or nothing. I choose God. No, I can’t prove that. But there it is. I reckon many people have said ‘yes’ to God, and love and act and feel with God and for God, and don’t even know it. So, say one for me : )

      And, once again, thank you!

      Like

      1. Thank you for replying to my comment, and for taking mine seriously. I wrote it and then wished I hadn’t. I’m glad I did now. Thanks for taking the trouble.

        The God I don’t believe in believes in me is a hard one to take on for people who don’t believe or don’t know they do. But maybe I’ve always looked for God without seeing him. Looked in the wrong place

        I like what you say about my rage and sadness being God working in me. I’ve talked about this with Tor and I see what you mean. It’s a hard line sometimes between what’s God and what’s us F***ing stuff up though. I’ve seen enough people think they’ve a God given right to something that’s clearly evil. Tor, who’s got more right than lots to speak about this as I guess you know, says the key is in the stillness. I’m working on it.

        And a war between the Light and darkness. That’s an old idea to me but looking differently fits what you say about freedom. Not so much collateral damage. If God really gives us freedom then yeah I suppose we will FiU (F*** it up). It’s easy just to blame it back onto him, but it doesn’t really make sense if you do. You’ve made me look at things more differently. I like your honesty and realism. It’s an ongoing journey but I’ll carry on reading your posts and I know this is under my skin now.

        Cheers

        Like

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