Breaking Into Blossom: Light

Link above, just for your reference (if I still actually have readers that is!).

Things have been incredibly busy.  I started my doctorate this fall, was promoted to Assistant Dean, and decided to simply find a way to show up and make a place for myself in some incredible and very painful conversations about race and diversity on our campus.  Somewhere in there my wife was hired as a full time Hospital Chaplain and my son grew into an amazing, energetic little boy.  When the semester ended earlier this week I realized I was bone weary.  And, that somewhere in the course of the fall all of my very few close local friends had taken jobs in far away places without me having time to even consider the weight of that loss.  So, add lonely to bone weary and that’s right where I am.  Thankfully, rlg posted at exactly the perfect moment and at least I was able to feel a little less lonely.

Below is the reply I left to her original post.  It is something I had considered writing about here and seemed appropriate to share…

“We too have started attending church more regularly this fall. While I admit this hesitantly (as ordained clergy this is dicey territory) many days I don’t know if I believe in God. For years the themes of Christianity, particularly of sin and salvation have rung hollow. I just couldn’t quite figure out how these notions related to me, or really were helpful in any way.

After Ferguson it became clear that I desperately needed beloved community. As a family we needed church. And we were lucky enough to find an amazing, inclusive church home that is completely focused on justice. All of our pastor’s Advent sermons have focused on racial justice and she uses words like “transgender” and “racial reconciliation” from the pulpit. After one passing mention – most of the way down the page in a very long email – more than half the people in our congregation wore black on Sunday in solidarity with the African American churches in our community who were seeking support because black lives matter.

All of a sudden I find I don’t care if God exists, what I need is a community that has the language and tools to work for justice. In light of the things happening on my campus and in our country a bunch of theological concepts I had no use for suddenly make sense.  When I talk “privilege” I understand “sin” – something we did nothing to earn, that is invisible to us but that hurts us and society all the same. When I imagine “grace” I see dear friends and students who have gently corrected my poorly chosen words and sentiments – people who taught my sorry white middle class backside over and over again so that I could learn. When I hear “salvation” I think about the school where I work that is wrestling wholly and honestly with these questions and the students, faculty and staff who have opened their broken and battered souls over and over and over again to bring that change about. When I consider what the “kingdom of God” might look like I see a world where my son knows how to treat people with kindness because they are perfect, whole and beautiful members of the world.  A world where he is treated with the same kindness, a kindness so all pervasive that he never has to think much about it.

Church can be pretty screwed up, but when it is pointed towards justice and people are willing to be wrong/be changed it can be a tremendous place for transformation of self and society. It can also be a place of restoration when the weight is too heavy to bear. For so long I thought I needed God, but could scrap the church. I now find I am in a space where God I can take or leave, but I need the church like someone starving.  I was starving for sacred community and I had no idea. It is good to know that I am not the only one….”

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