Christianity in the New Reality

Oh, Reader, I could use a whole lot of Jesus right now.

It’s been a hell of a week for Americans—for the world at large, really, since America has had nearly 100 years to wrap its long fingers around the limbs of every other country.  I have been disappointed by my country quite a few times, but this is perhaps the first time I’ve been frightened by and for it.  The reckless foolishness, the open childishness, and the marginalizing endangerment of the new administration—in only one week!—are exhausting.  My spirit hurts, my heart hurts, my body aches from marching around Washington, D.C. to remind the world and myself that I matter because I am a woman, not in spite of it.

And I won’t lie, being in seminary is not making it easier.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I attend a pretty liberal divinity school—far more liberal than I am, in some areas.  The anger and the pain of the students here feed mine such that we all starve from them, our very souls gnawing at empty insides because we see only that which is cruel, that which is unmerciful.

I do not know how to recharge from that.

dscn2067Because I do not believe that I, as a Christian or as a faith leader, can walk away from this.  A family member called me out earlier this week in accusation that I wasn’t preaching love, kindness, and forgiveness because I went to the D.C. march and am unapologetic about my reasoning.  But what is love that does not pull the loved one away from evil?  How kind is it to avoid confrontation such that others are harmed because of my unwillingness to speak?  At the end of days, how do I ask God to forgive me if He has to say, “I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me“?

I’ve no intention of turning this blog into an activist space in terms of recruiting you to do anything, Reader; I have other spaces for that, and I hope you do as well.  Nor do I particularly want this to become a conversational space about which politician we dislike this week, not least because I am tired of having those conversations without the benefit of looking people in the eye and saying their real names.  For me, this blog needs to remain a place in which I catalog and describe the God-shaped space in my life and how that shifts and shines.  Heaven knows I need to be more aware than ever before of God’s constant Presence.

But I challenge you and I challenge myself to bring faith into all of our conversations in this new era.  Who is starving, physically and spiritually?  Are we contributing to their inability to be filled?  Are we ourselves, we God-made vessels of the imago Dei, trying to survive on not enough?  Who is parched, and how can we offer both water and Living Water that does not drown and does not cause further thirst?  Who is strange to us, and how do we welcome them?  How do we welcome the parts of ourselves that we cannot yet face because we have bifurcated our own souls, our families, our friends who are too “other”?  Who has been stripped naked, who stands in the harsh light of this day without rights, without safety, without hope, without love, without kindness?  Who is sick, who is trapped in prisons of their own making or of ours?  Have we gone to them and called them by name as children of God?

In the least of these is God.  In the greatest of these is God.  In the average of these is God.  In us is God, for in Him we live and move and have our being.  How shall we act as though this is true?  How shall we move forward as those who have claimed and been claimed by Jesus the Christ?

From wells of worship that never run dry, though we may feel as though there is only dusty earth at the bottom.  May God stand with you in the days ahead, Reader.  May we both recognize Him as He does so.

Help me understand your orders. Then I will think about your miracles.  I am sad and tired. Make me strong again as you have promised.  Don’t let me be dishonest; have mercy on me by helping me obey your teachings.  (Psalm 119:27-29, NCV)
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4 thoughts on “Christianity in the New Reality

  1. Sheila Bigelow says:

    Ah, Christiana, my soul aches for you and for myself.  I am so proud of all you who marched.  My niece posted a picture of the march, superimposed by the words, “You think you waste your time?  Here are all these women marching for rights they already have.”  Or something like that.  I rarely respond to her or her father’s posts, because I know we disagree, but I did comment that many of them were marching for those who do NOT have those rights.  And personally, I think the rights of the rest of us are pretty tenuous right now. I drive the Syrian kids to their tutoring sessions fairly frequently.  Their English is such that we have real conversations now:  Do Christians pray?; How do Christians pray?; the downside of long days–think of Ramadan in July in Michigan.  And so on.  (I really don’t know how the earlier “sentence” should have been punctuated; forgive me, dear editor.)  Anyway, transporting them, even though at an inconvenient time, brings joy to my heart.  May your heart also find joy and hope, even in this time of darkness.  (I am rereading the Susan Cooper “The Dark Is Rising” series for a reason.) In the meantime, keep being the change you wish to see, and keep on marching!  Love you.  Sheila

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  2. These are exactly the right questions to be asking now, I think. If we focus too much on the fear and doubt and rage of those around us — no matter how well-founded those emotions may be — then we will starve spiritually, and so will those who depend on us for sustenance. We, too, may fear and doubt and rage, but we must deliberately lift our eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh our help.

    There is One who has seen all this before.

    Many times.

    In one such moment of terror :”After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the GOOD news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the GOOD news!'” (Mark 1:14-15).

    That word repent (metanoeite) is surprisingly cognitive. It means to change how we think, how we perceive. We’re being called to do that now, more than ever. Some people are letting this situation overwhelm them; others recognize themselves as pilgrims, and nothing along the way can impede their progress.

    Remember who you are.

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