I don’t see why it should have to hurt. I don’t know why we keep on hurting each other; why we choose sin when we could choose life.
That childhood ritual of knocking on air:
“We need somewhere to stay”
“I’m sorry, we haven’t any room”
The perpetual searching for succour, connection, support, encouragement, life.
Even for the messiah – especially for the messiah – we have no room at the inn; space only for those who can afford to pay. How much less comfort we give to each other, to our brothers and sisters, our tribe, our kindred, to those made our blood family by rebirth in Christ, to those who need us.
God, cast out, from the very beginning. This is perhaps the flipside of the story of the fall, as well as that of the crucifixion: we chose our Godforsakenness, because we thought we knew better than God. Because we were afraid of our own fallibility; because we did not dare to be vulnerable. So instead we become the aggressors. We tear at every strip left hanging, we dart our blades into every chink, we defend every gap because we know how exposed we are, because we know how villainous we are – because we know that we would attack those gaps, given the chance. It is our fear of our own sinfulness that makes us believe we have no choice, that leads us to choose sin when we could choose life. If only we could allow our armour down just a tiny little bit – just take one small risk, make ourselves vulnerable to one other, maybe to God.
No room at the inn. No room at all, until that one person, maybe beaten down with guilt, maybe harangued by his wife, maybe sympathetic, maybe exhausted: that one person who chose to risk just a little, made space for the Other, the one who wasn’t like him and who couldn’t afford to pay, who would seemingly never reciprocate.
And in that moment, we learn. In our giving of ourselves, we take more than we know. The gaps we expose allow into us the love that was always within us, but that we resist so strongly and disappoint so frequently.
And so we are faced with a choice after all: forgive, and risk, and love – or defend and attack and die.
We are called to forgive, not because it lets other people off the hook, but because it causes us to risk. In forgiving, we expose ourselves and become vulnerable. Perhaps this is the angle I’ve needed into the crucifixion: God risked everything by becoming vulnerable in Christ. God allowed Godself to become exposed to us, and modelled for us the truth of life, the bread of life, the living water, the light of the world: that we must love. It is the only way we can live. Without love, we have no community, and without community, we cannot grow. We become isolated and frozen and then begin to shrink, until we are gone.
It is only when we expose ourselves to risk that we can afford to grow. It is only when we allow ourselves to be challenged, to be changed – when we welcome in the Other with all that is different and scary about them, and allow (force?) ourselves to forgive their differences and thus to risk being changed by what they teach us – that we are forgiven, and allow (force?) ourselves to be loved.
God, thank you for your help. Thank you for showing me: I need to forgive.
I need to forgive those who have taken so much from me: those who have taken my love, my resources, my hopes and dreams; even those who play me – or the system – deliberately. I need not only to forgive them but to thank them, because they are the ones who have allowed (forced?) me to grow. The pain is a sign of the growth. This is our curse, the consequence of our fallenness: that in pain we will give birth, and that through painful toil we might eat.
Perhaps I do understand, a little, why it hurts, why we make those choices. It’s just so very hard to face the light sometimes.
Abba, please forgive me, as I force myself into the space where I forgive others. Help me to love them, and us to love you.
Think I’m going to go and read 1 John….!
Not that one…but then again.
I’m finding I have a quiet space inside. I shall endeavour to take it outside of this small sacred space we’ve made.
It lets me into the silence.
The silence this morning took me…to forgiveness, to richness, to abundance…
as I found within, the well. There it resides, and I believe we all have it.
And the wonderful, wonderful thing:
It is a well of living water. It is abundance. It lives and enacts abundance. The more we draw from that well, the more I draw from that well, the fuller it becomes. The more I take, the more I give, and the more I give, the more I take. The only sin is not to live in this abundance: any life has life in it, and therefore draws from that well. It is the putting on of the lid, the guarding against scarcity, that dries the well and empties the heart.
There is richness indeed, if only we dare to spend it.
I hadn’t reckoned on the damagingness of the silence; of the obligation to mind silently the things I have seen which I wish I had not seen.
It isn’t safe to trust anyone; I feel bound to loneliness. I feel as though my life has been stolen by what has been done, and no-one in all the world knows it, or else it is invisible to them. So it must be with God that I wrestle, or my inner soul. I need to work these things out because they are tying me, are draining me, are pulling me back and keeping me away from and out of love.
So now we have named them, we can see what they are: they are Evil. They are Deception. They are Untruth.
It’s good to have found the ground on which to stand. Now, of course, I must forgive. Is it ok to be angry first? Do I have to be angry first?
And I’m back to the same question: if we forgive without recognition, without “justice”, we are not safe from future attacks, so then we build protections and barriers and soon we are the perpetrators of these Sins and others are building barriers against us. So how does forgiveness work, actually? I don’t think I understand.
- Maybe I should just share my outpourings with God rather than trying to share with another person/people? Seems like such a waste. Actually, these are the things I have to offer – these are me – these are what makes me me and special and to stop me, to take them away, is wrong. So how to make it something constructive rather than a bind, a burden?
- A church with closed doors is no church at all – is worse than no church. It misrepresents the Kingdom, and it damages the children of the family of God. Close the building, or open it: don’t guard it closely, hold on to it, revere it. It is a place. To open a space to God and then shut the door is profoundly wrong.
- I’m suddenly using much more language of morality, of black and whites. Actually, there seem to be black and whites where there were not – there are firm lines, now, where previously everything was always in question and shadow
- What can I do? How can I make it better? I have no doubt that I have a ministry of some kind, I just don’t know where to find it
- “This space is sacred” means “this space is/belongs to/comes closer to/improves access to/is a conduit for God”. That means it has to mean “come in, be welcome, share, and live”. That is what church is. It means come find God here. It is inherently invitational. Or else it is false – without the invitation, God is absent/withdrawn/blocked/resisted.
- My stream-of-consciousness sometimes (often!) feels like to much for me to live alone. Where does “life in all its abundance” fit in? We are always so much less than we are – we know we use only a tiny portion of our brains, for instance. How do we be more? What’s holding us back? Weakness of the flesh? Brokenness of society? Lack of willingness, courage, urgency? Or overwhelm, perhaps?
- Where am I bound? To what, to whom, am I bound? Am I bound? Do I bind myself out of choice? Are there responsibilities I must accept?
- Where is love? What does love mean?
- Do we simply need to claim our inheritance? To call an angel sister or brother – does that mean I am become kindred with them? Is that what imago dei means – that we are all as close to God as we are willing to allow ourselves to be? That resonates: the more we can forget our fear-driven learning, the closer we can become to our pre-Fall state, as it were, the more freedom there is (and God lives in freedom), the less brokenness there is
- Is it brokenness that binds, after all? Are we free other than in sin? I think Paul did say something along those lines…!
This blog post belongs after another one that I haven’t written yet. My thoughts are not yet sorted enough, so I’m just posting unsorted for now. I am newly resolute, though, even if I’m not as tidily sorted as I was!