God is in the rubble

I don’t write with an audience in mind for this blog. It is just my musings in a public space. I am not a Theologian, so I hope I can do justice to the work discussed.

I have written elsewhere on the blog that I am angry with the church during the pandemic.

My faith remains as strong as ever but my anger burns brightly too. I am co-writing a piece on the Covid response and faith that will explore this.

I have also written on the blog about Lammas, and my need to ‘Let Go and Let God’. I never feel more connected to God than when I am with other people and/or immersed in nature.

Yesterday I felt grief wash over me for those we have personally lost during the pandemic including suicides and other preventable deaths. I drove to meet my friend and I walked for nearly 5 hours, soaking up the wisdom of the trees.

It was also the day after International Suicide Awareness day so I guess it was to be expected that I would feel emotional. Thinking back, it was also the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the 7th anniversary of the Manchester Dog’s Home fire, and my father died 19 years ago last month.

At Lammas I quoted the verse:

“Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,

All that dies shall be reborn.

Corn and grain, corn and grain,

All that falls shall rise again”.

A reminder of the constant cycle of death and rebirth. The woods in which this place was taken was also my dead brother’s favourite place on the Wirral.

Gemma at ‘The Dungeons’ Thurstaston on 11th September 2021.

It also reminded me of this poem:

“And they seem not to break; through once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground…”

Robert Frost ‘Birches’.

I often feel that I am not the ‘right’ type of person to be a Christian. Not good enough. Too messy. Too angry. Too feisty. I want to get rid of my wounds before I can feel right before God.

Today I listened to the Yoel Omowale podcast with Rev. Jarel Robinson-Brown called ‘The Church, and the Famine of Grace’. I strongly recommend you listen here.

Rev. Jarel speaks about the famine in the church for people who identify as Black and LGBTQIA+. This is a must-listen for thinking about Blackness and the church.

I found it affirming as a ‘messy’ Christian who does not see a lot of representation of people who I feel are like me in the church.

I also found it comforting to hear Rev. Jarel speak about the failure of religious powers to do the right thing or be accountable. This of course is the story of Jesus and his death.

Rev. Jarel speaks about wrestling with how he can’t reconcile parts of his identity with the church. Some things we cannot reconcile and do not need to.

I liked (and needed!) the reminder that we messy people wrestling with our discomfort are the very people that Jesus seeks to save. Just yesterday I had discussions with friends about the woman at the well.

I loved Jarel’s explanation of grace as being not just a doctrine but an embodiment. Jarel reminded us to think about who Jesus spent his time with and where he chose to put his body. Grace is the person of Jesus.

Jarel went on to say that God is as much in the place of our hurt and healing as in the place of wholeness and fullness. He quotes St. Augustine: “In my deepest wound I saw your glory and it astounded me”.

I felt this. It resonates with much of my own messy story.

Because if God is with me as much in my wounds as in my glories, He accepts me here and now as I am.

We live in dark times. We are in a global pandemic and an increasingly authoritarian state. Globally, people are more divided that ever. Online spaces have become hostile domains of divide and rule strategies to attack dissent.

I come back to the work of Christian Vicky Beecking:

“You make all things new, so take my ashes and make them something beautiful”.

For those who are feeling lost or stuck in the darkness, the light will come. People need people, and I pray that humans realise that divisions do not serve our neighbour and our community but only global elites and institutions.