Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Church of Blessed Brokenness

To begin -- my mea cupla (or lack there of):
Everyone knows I lack the discipline to blog in any sort of metronomic fashion. When I have time and something to say . . .

Last week or the week before last I listened to a conversation between the guys of the Pulpit Fiction podcast (for those who looked up Ezekiel 25:17 and were sorely disappointed) and the writer Peter Rollins about his new book The Divine Magician. I am intrigued and I cannot wait to read this book, or better yet to listen to this book. I will not allow myself to start another book until I finish When Helping Hurts, but I can totally listen to an audiobook.

Within this conversation, Rollins said something that has been eating at me since. To paraphrase, he asked, what if we ran our church like an AA meeting? I have discussed this idea with some folks already, but it's still bugging me. What if? What if we really did this?

In AA you begin with your brokenness. We do the same in Celebrate Recovery. I am Celia. I am a believer in Christ. I am co-dependent. We begin with our brokenness; we own it. I have made decisions I am not proud of. I have committed actions that moved me farther from God and damaged me and my relationship with God. But I am no longer who I was. I am begin made new by a loving, healing God, and for that, because of God's restoring love, I worship a living, loving God, who is still healing me. I worship a God who is moving me piece by piece, cell by cell, atom by atom into God's kingdom, where I will be fully whole and healed, where I can fully love the Lord my God with my whole heart, soul, and being, and I can truly love my neighbor as I love myself. In God's kingdom, God not only heals my brokenness but uses it for the healing of my other brothers and sisters.

What if, when we gather together for worship, we practice living the healing God is doing within us? When we gather for worship, what we do is practice fully living in God's kingdom. We can be ourselves and be loved for who we are without any pretense, and we can love one another without any barriers. Worship becomes practice, and the more we practice living this way, the better we get at it. It becomes a real habit. Worship as pedagogy for life in God's kingdom, worship as pedagogy for receiving and giving God's healing.

Perhaps this is God's plan. Perhaps this is how it can happen that God's kingdom with come on earth as it is in heaven. Rollins also discussed this reality that seems to be for us (humanity), that is our inability to be okay with not being okay. Think about it. When our friends are hurting, it is our nature to try to to cheer them up -- 'oh! cheer up! It will get better.' We seem to be uncomfortable with sadness, with grief, with anger, with what we classify as negative emotions. It is as if we have to pretend these are not real. We are so uncomfortable with these "negative emotions" that we will do or say anything to avoid them, even temporarily, and even if what we do will only temporarily remove pain but will enable and even sustain the cause of the pain. We would rather pay a utility bill for someone than get involved the messiness of another's life that contributed to the poverty that created the need in the first place. In writing a check, have we actually healed someone?

Reality is that we live in a world where war seems more common than peace, where children go to bed hungry. We live in a world where spouses abuse spouses, and the earth itself seems to have had enough of humanity's abuse. In short, we live in a broken world. We have to learn to be in our sadness, in our brokenness. When we are grieving is the friend who tells us "this" was all part of God's plan and we should be happy for our loved one who is with God now, or is it the friend who sits with us in silence and allows us to cry who offers real healing? If we are unwilling to acknowledge this sadness, this brokenness, how will we ever see it healed? I we cannot acknowledge our brokenness and practice receiving our healing, will we ever allow ourselves to be healed? Can we really receive God's salvation, if we cannot acknowledge our sin?

It is in our brokenness that God begins our resurrection. I think Rollins may have actually changed the direction of where I will begin my dissertation. Maybe, maybe not, I will have to read the book first.