Posts Tagged 'resurrection'

Flying through the Air Like Wonder Woman and Super Man! Paul, Jesus, and the Lost Vision of the Roman Empire’s Past, Present, and Future on the Road to Damascus

The following is a short story written for my “Who is Jesus?” class at Wycliffe College. The assignment was to write a fictional story about Jesus based on what we know of him from the book of Romans. Yeah. Insane task. I rolled with it. (10 min read)

“They deserve death,” said Saul to the Roman soldier, “and THAT is why we are going to Damascus today. There is a group that meets in a freed Jewish slave’s home tomorrow night. Rumours are there will also be Gentiles there too, with other Jewish traitors, eating what they believe is the ACTUAL body of Jesus, who they are calling Lord and Messiah. Cannibalism and blasphemy!”

The Roman soldier straightens and nods, and turns to gather the supplies they will need for the long journey ahead.

“We leave immediately,” says Saul. “Bring with you several other Roman guards. We want to put the fear of Adonai in them.”

Soon they are walking along the long, bumpy, dusty road to Damascus. Saul and his soldiers and followers and women travellers begin to squabble about how exactly these Christians should be tortured and killed this time.

“Crucify them!” shouted a Roman soldier.

“Torture them first, though!” a woman yelled.

“No, these deserve to rot in a Roman prison for their crimes!” Saul yelled.

“The emperor should not pay for THAT!” said his companion.

Suddenly, the sky darkened, lightning struck, and blinding light flashed immediately in front of Saul.

He dropped to his knees and buried his face in his hands.

He heard a loud booming voice come from a shining male figure in the sky, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Saul looked up, shaking and terrified, through his fingers, to see a plain looking Jewish man that seemed to be glowing. He was wearing an old torn tunic, with brown skin, dark eyes, and thick beard. The only things that was remarkable about him – other than the floating in the sky and glowing thing – were the tears of compassion in his eyes.

“Um, do I know you?” Saul asked.

The man replied with a slight smile, “Soon enough.”  He reached out his hands, palms up, which Saul immediately noticed the bloodied holes in them. Paul looked shocked…and then he put two and two together, and….there was a long pause.

Too long.

Paul was looked as though he were doing mathematical equations in his head, really complicated ones, and his eyes were jumping right and left. A Jewish man? Who’s been recently crucified? Floating and glowing in the sky? And asking, “Why are you persecuting me?” When I’m on the way to torture and kill a bunch of disciples of Jesus?

They both looked each other, the floating Jewish man with eyebrows raised and nodding. They both blinked.

The Jewish man finally blurted, “Saul, get there faster!”

“JESUS? Jesus of NAZARETH? What the—?” Saul exclaimed.

“Yes. I am who you say,” Jesus replied.  “Now we don’t have a lot of time, the Father has only given me 15 mins, so we need to get right to it. You’re a grumpy one Saul, hell bent on killing and torturing the least of these, my persecuted sisters and brothers, and you’re on the wrong path. I’m here to take you on a journey. A journey to the past, present, and future of the Roman Empire, for there are some things you need to see.”

“We’re – what? What about Damascus? And my fellow travellers and Roman guards?”

“They won’t even know you have left.”

Saul looked around and realized for the first time since the flash that everyone seemed to be frozen – they were stuck in position. And so were the birds and the animals. This was really messed up.

The next thing Saul realized is he was flying through the air, with Jesus of Nazareth of all people, flying like Wonder Woman and Super Man towards the heart of the Roman Empire – the city of Jerusalem. And they are headed straight for the temple.

When they arrived, they remain floating in the air while they can look down on someone – it’s a younger looking Jesus! Unrolling the scroll of Isaiah, and starting to read, “Today, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has called me to preach Good News to the poor…”

Saul suddenly realized what was happening. He had ACTUALLY travelled back in time to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry that he had heard so many different versions about. And he noticed that nobody could see them either.  This was too much.

Immediately a montage-like vision flashed before Saul’s eyes, but he realized he was actually zooming through time with Jesus and saw, in the flesh, like an out-of body experience: Jesus’ baptism, the dove descending and the voice of Adonai, saying “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.”


Jesus telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Jewish peoples’ enemies? Gentiles? And friends? The loving and just neighbour in the story when the Jewish leaders rush past the dying man?


Mary sitting at Jesus feet, Martha insisting she stops acting like a man-disciple and help her clean, and Jesus saying “No, Mary has chosen what is better.” Women? Disciples?


Jesus teaching about the cost of following him, “So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

“Whoa, what? GIVE UP all my possessions? Doesn’t Adonai give wealth to those who are blessed?”


The crucifixion. Jesus being whipped and tortured. The thief who surrendered to Jesus’ mercy. The Roman Centurion who said, “Surely, this man, is the Son of God.” Jesus, the son of God? Not Caesar Augustus? All emperors of Rome claim to be the sons of the gods when they die.


Mary and the women running into the empty tomb. The empty tomb? Oh, Jesus, his disciples stole his body and have claimed he rose from the dead. And… here he is! Alive and flying beside me!

Good Adonai, this is all so shocking! This changes everything!!

“Jesus! You are Lord! You…are Adonai! You are the Messiah! You actually resurrected! Which means you have beat the Roman emperors at their own game! You alone are the Son of the One True God! Have mercy upon me!” Saul fell on his knees and wept at Jesus feet.

“Saul, rise, your sins are forgiven. Soon, you will be given a new name, reflecting your new identity, called ‘Paul’. You are deeply beloved by God, and God has chosen you to proclaim the good news that I am Lord, that I am Adonai, throughout the Roman Empire and to the ends of the earth.”

“How can this be Lord? For I still don’t understand. I have so many conflicting thoughts and emotions! And I have been so foolish.”

“You have not been chosen because your character or beliefs or actions or your writing ability or following of Torah have been pleasing to God. You have been chosen so that God’s glory may be revealed in you and your gifts may be used to be a blessing to others. We need you, Paul. We need your courage, your passion, your zeal, your empathy and pastoral heart, your education, your skill at writing (even though –I’ve seen your work, and we gotta work on it being a little less contradictory and confusing, let’s find you a tutor soon. I’ll delegate that to the Holy Spirit, she’s great at precision and clarity).”

“So…you need me, to do what, exactly?”

“Come, follow me.” Immediately Jesus and Paul were flying through the air again, through several flashes of light, and this time it was towards the neighbourhood in Damascus, where the Jewish Christians and Gentiles he was planning on raiding were eating together.

As they descended upon the home, Paul heard singing. And as they flew in through the window, he saw, that they were singing praises to Adonai. And they were pouring over the Scriptures, and then teaching and arguing from them.

“You gentile believers, you must follow Torah! You cannot worship Adonai in the Gentile way. You must be circumcised!”

“No! Jesus welcomed the Canaanite woman! The story of the good Samaritan! If Jesus were here, there is no way he’d make us all be circumcised and follow Torah!”

Oh, dear, Paul thought.

“Exactly,” Jesus said. “We need you Paul.”

“But, I don’t understand what this all means myself!”

“Well, THAT will become obvious to everyone. Just, well, all you need to do is tell everyone about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“The what – the gospel? No, no, the only “gospel” in the heart of the Roman Empire is the gospel of Caesar Augustus! Peace and prosperity come through the blood of Rome’s enemies! Pax Romana will bring flourishing for all, he says. Everybody knows that.”

Jesus replied, “I alone bring peace, but a peace through the shedding of my own blood while everyone didn’t get it, and were still rebelling against God’s new work. And of God’s Kingdom, there shall be no more division between slaves and free, male and female, Jews and Greek, rich and poor, for all will have all they need to flourish within a community of wholeness, of Shalom.”

“So, if you Jesus, are Lord, this means Caesar is not. And the ethos of the violent, oppressive Empire is not your ethos.”

“For it is written, your ways are not my ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts.”

“This is really dangerous, Jesus! The Roman Empire – the soldiers – they are going to kill us!”

“They might. For all who truly follow me will anger those you have a vested interested in maintaining their power, which we together will threaten. And soon, Paul, you will be baptized, a sign of dying to your old life and being resurrected into your new. All who follow me will follow me into death and resurrection.”

“Death…and resurrection? All of us?”

“Those whom are given the gift of faith -fidelity to my gospel story- will follow my life, my death, and my resurrection. Come, for there is one final thing I will need you to see.”

They shot up into the air again, and headed west….way, way, west. Past the Great Sea, and past some land filled with barbarians, and finally past a big, big, big…Great Sea-like body of water that went on and on forever.

Flash! Flash!

The clouds departed, and Paul stared in shock at the madness that was before and below them. There was a great, big, city, made of metal and glass, with smoke and haze and noise rising, and tall skinny buildings that he had never seen before, and zoom! A giant metal bird just roared past them! And just below them, was the largest green statue…of a woman! Holding a torch and a book! With a crown! What kind of crazy pagan goddess is this??

“Where…are we? When…are we?” asked Paul, in a state of shock.

“We are in the heart of another Empire of the 21st Century.”

“What? 2000 years from now?”


“What does this have to do with anything?”

“Come down, and see.” They descend in the middle of Times Square, New York City.

Paul looked around, wide-eyed, and the giant screens of giant people smiling, and laughing and hold something called a big mac, with yellow golden arches above it. “I’m lovin’ it.”

“WHAT. THE HECK. IS HAPPENING.” Paul was freaking out.

Jesus replied, “Empires never changed. Just like the Roman Empire that declared Pax Romana built on the blood of foreign enemies, this Empire, of something called Globalized Consumerist Capitalism, is declared to be the Pax Americana, the “end of history,” the one great economic and political system –neo liberal democracy – that will bring people out of poverty and will bring freedom and prosperity to the world. Except it is also built upon the blood of their enemies.”

“Who are their enemies?”

“Well, all Empires are the same. When I was born, Herod was threatened, and carried out an infanticide, and we fled as refugees to Egypt – which is ironically where the Jewish people were freed from.”

“Was there an infanticide here?”

“There was, and there is. All Empires, when threatened, sacrifice children for the sake of the good of the Empire.”

Paul’s eyes widened.

Jesus replied, “Let me show you.” Another montage-like vision occurred.


Indigenous peoples, women, children, men, running for their lives. Being slaughtered. Children kidnapped and take to residential schools as the final solution to the “barbarian problem.” Empires never change.

Jesus looks calmly at Paul and says, “in this land, salvation is for all who have faith, first for the Indigenous peoples, and then, for the Christians.”


African children of God, stolen from their and forced into slavery, for the good of the economy that could not survive without it.

Jesus says, “Salvation is for all who have faith, first for the slaves, and then for the plantation owners.”


Children dying in school shootings. The NRA declaring a “war on freedom by the elites who want to take away our rights as inheritors of the Empire of Freedom and Democracy.”

Jesus says, “Salvation is for all who have faith, first for the children of the Florida school shooting, and then for the NRA.”


Muslim women, children, and men, and their families – being torn apart for the “protection of the Empire.”

“Salvation is for all who have faith, first for the Muslims, and then for the Christians.”

“Whoa…So, wait, Jesus, if you are Lord in this place, who is the Emperor who is not Lord?”

“Well, here, they would call me President, or CEO, for this is who they get their marching orders from. I offer a differing vision of flourishing, and just like some Jewish people want to go back to the Glory Days of Torah, and Make Israel Great Again, well, I have a different vision of human flourishing, and it comes by following me and living my ways and living into the truth that I died and rose again. They will have access to my gospel, and Paul, they will have your letters, too.”

“My letters?”

“Yes, you will write many to the believers around the Empire in Rome, and in Thessaloniki, and in Galatia, and Colossi and many other places.”


“And they will also have the Holy Spirit. It is the only way they will be able to live out this path.”

“Holy Spirit? Inside…us?”

“Yes. Paul, it is time. You must go back and stop persecuting me, and my Body, and start telling the story of my good news, my life, death, and resurrection.”

In an instant, Paul was back on the road to Damascus, on the ground, his travelling companions and Roman guards all around him, looking around, confused. He tried to open his eyes, for it was dark, but then he realized that the problem was with his eyes.

“Take me to Damascus.” Paul whimpered to the women that had surrounded him to help him up. “The plans have changed.”


God doesn’t promise us a Rose Garden (but flowers will bloom through the cracks)


Being woke is exhausting.

As a feminist, labour rights activist, and sexual assault survivor, who also suffers from chronic insomnia, this past week felt particularly depleting.

It’s exhausting to endure misogyny, sexism, and disrespect on a daily basis. It’s exhausting to take on the emotional labour of educating those in power about their privilege.

It’s exhausting to be re-traumatized every time you find out that another seemingly woke person you looked up to is really just another man who does not respect women or understand consent.

It’s exhausting to have to explain to people who just don’t get it, why them defending this man hurts you.

It’s exhausting to know and love so many marginalized people who are struggling, or who have died. Or been deported. Or completed suicide.

For those of us with layers power and privilege, it’s exhausting to realize how complicit we are IN ALL THE SYSTEMS.

But my experience, as a white cis woman with loads of layers of privilege, is nothing compared to what many of you in this room, have experienced.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to feel marginalized and impoverished on the land that your ancestors have taken care of for thousands of years.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to experience explicit racism in a community that is supposed to stand for truth and justice in the name of Jesus, and then be silenced for it.

I can only imagine it would be exhausting to speak truth to power, and then be told to be quiet because that particular powerful person donates to your organization or funds your job.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to be excluded from your community and branded a heretic because you have decided to be brave and come out as your truest, most beautiful self.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to be sick all the time, or struggle with mental health issues. Every single day.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to have to fight for places and spaces to be accessible to those with different levels of abilities.

Being woke is exhausting.

And you know what else is? Getting your heart broken. It is deeply painful and disorienting. It feels like a death.

But isn’t it just the same thing? Whether you fall in love with a person and a dream of a future together, or fall in love with a group of people, and the dream of the coming Reign of God, together– and things don’t turn out the way you had hoped, it is life-draining. And you just want to be un-woke, and un-heartbroken, and crawl into bed, and go on a permanent nap binge.

I have serious bear-envy this time of year.

The words of Shad, the Canadian rapper, ring true in this instance:

Sometimes I just wanna play some shows, make some dough
Take it home, lay in my bed, and stay in my safety zone
But Cee-Lo said it best
I know too much and I owe too much to let it rest
Heard a voice say hey
You never question when you get the blessings
So don’t get vexed when your life is stressed
And I promised I’ll be with you no matter what the issue
But there will be some issues to address
Listen to the lady in the dress

 [Deb sings the hook:]

I didn’t promise you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gonna be some rain sometimes


Indeed, there’s gonna be rain sometimes. And when it rains, it so often pours, doesn’t it?

The good news is, friends, that we are not mere utopia-chasers, we are disciples of Jesus Christ. And as we follow him on the road towards Jerusalem, as we read about in the passage this morning (Mark 10:32-52), towards the center of power that is going to condemn him – and us, mock him – -and us, spit upon him – and us, flog him –and us, and kill him – and us –Jesus is walking ahead of us, the disciples who are amazed, and afraid. Jesus is walking ahead of us.

Jesus is walking ahead of us. We are not alone in this. You are not alone in this.

To those of us who resist this- and are saying “really? Is our fate really the same as Jesus fate? Can’t we just be loved and respected and admired for using our gifts, and have great responsibilities and power to affect the future of the church- and the future of the world?”

You might recognize yourself- as I do- in the question of James and John. “Can we sit next to you in your glory?” They were basically asking if they could be his closest advisors in his new regime that they expected to come soon, after he overthrew the Romans.

Talk about not listening! Jesus *literally* JUST said that he was going to suffer and die.

In response to James and John, Jesus asks them if they can drink the cup he is to drink and be baptized in the water he is baptized in – he is asking if they will be willing to suffer as Jesus soon would.

They answered, still not really getting it, that of course they would be able to. And Jesus confirms that indeed they will suffer like he will, and they will. As will we all if we are truly following Jesus’ alternative way of being in the world.

He sums this way up when he says:

Mark 10: 42“You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

This is an invitation to imagine a new style of leadership “from the bottom up”.

Ched Myers says that, “Jesus role reversal between the “great” one and the “slave” is a direct attack on the status hierarchy of the ancient world. This completes Jesus’ challenge to conventional understandings of power: personal, social, economic, and now political. The alternative Way is embodied in the Human One, who proposes to overturn the debt system once and for all by giving his life: a servant who will “buy back” the lives of all who are truly enslaved.”

“The fact that the male followers of Jesus are clueless here makes it all the more significant that Mark begins and ends his story with WOMEN who demonstrate the quality of servanthood Jesus is advocating for. Perhaps Mark is implying that in a patriarchal system only women are fit to exercise leadership??’

Things that make you go hmmmm…

Now, this doesn’t mean that women should REMAIN lowly servants of the rich and powerful men, and it is important to distinguish that the kind of servanthood Jesus is advocating for is not being a lifeless doormat – but that we ALL ARE CALLED to an equalizing, generous, pouring out of oneself, in love and compassion for the flourishing of all around us – especially those who are most marginalized– it is this posture that is the most fully human.

But if you are already doing this, and denying yourself and following Jesus and pouring yourself out for others – and this has depleted you, you might resonate more with Bartameous, the blind beggar who cries out to Jesus for healing and indeed receives it.

To those who have lost their way, who cannot see, who are sick, or weak, or broken, exhausted, drained, wounded, or burned out,

Jesus says to you, “Come to me, all you who are weary with heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Follow me, and your faith will heal you.

Whether that is incremental renewal, or rest, or whether you will be healed on the day of your death and resurrection, healing and renewal is in your future. It is in mine.

Betrayal and mockery and being spat upon and death was not the end of Jesus story.

And it is not the end of ours.

We sit in the tension between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Between oppression and freedom, between suffering and healing, between exhaustion and renewal. We live in Holy Saturday. And every good and just and beautiful action is a foretaste and foreshadow of the coming Reign of God – resurrection –  that is in all our futures.

As Anne Lamott says in her book Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair, “we are not served by getting away from the grubbiness of suffering.” She continues,  “we have to stand in the middle of the horror, at the foot of the cross [like Mary], and wait out another’s suffering where that person can see us….To be honest, that sucks. It’s the worst, even if you are the mother of God.”

But then what? Lamott continues:

“Most of us have figured out that we have to do what’s in front of us and keep doing it. We clean up beaches after oil spills. We rebuild towns after hurricanes and tornados. We return calls and library books. We get people water. Some of us even pray. Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent, the valuable, it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice. The equation is: life, death, resurrection, hope. The horror is real, and so you make casseroles for your neighbour, organize an overseas clothing drive, and do your laundry…we live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky.”

As exhausting as my week was, it ended on Saturday – the Holiest of Saturdays – with me at the Toronto Women’s March. I was dancing in the sunlight with girlfriends and 4000 magnificent women and allies. It felt very much like a rebirth, like practicing Resurrection.

I slept like a baby that night.

May God give us all rest, renewal, and resurrection hope.


Life, Death, Resurrection, Hope: An Epiphany Sermon

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.       For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;                                    but the Lord will arise upon you,                                                                                              and his glory will appear over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Change is hard.

Not to mention disorienting, sad and fearful. So often in life we think we some things are unquestionably constant, and certain, and it never even occurs to us that it can be different than they are, and then a piece of news can hit you, seemingly out of nowhere, like a bus, and suddenly, the world seems different and you don’t recognize your life anymore, and so you might as well go dye your hair purple! If you can’t fight it, might as well embrace it with something that makes you inexplicably happy, right?

This is literally what happened to me over the Christmas break. So, I am no stranger to these feelings. About a week before Christmas, a relationship that was very significant to me, and that I was very grateful for, and certain it was heading in a particular direction, suddenly ended. I did not see it coming, and was in shock, and was instantly propelled into a very deep and devastatingly painful place of darkness.

And in that darkness I had a choice to make. I could do what I have done in the past in moments of relational grief, which was stay in bed for a week with a tub of ice cream and a bottle of wine, re-watching Love Actually a million times, or, I could do what I’ve done at other times and become bitter and angry and write very nasty emails to this person and rant to my friends about what a horrible person this is.

Believe me, these are the things that I wanted to do, but I know from experience that those choices for me, only makes things worse. I’ve heard it said that in moments of pain, you can turn bitter or better. And if you turn bitter, you are wasting the pain. So, I decided this time, not to waste the pain. But to face it, and sit in it, and allow Jesus to carry me through it, and give my friends and family the opportunity to love and care for me, in a way that they did and has brought us closer together.

So this time, I followed the path that the Magi took, towards the Light, which always leads to God’s Very Real Presence, to God With Us, otherwise known as the baby Jesus.

So, at the advice of our dear Curate Philip Josseyln-Hamilton, I went to Saint John the Divine’s convent, for prayer, reflection, and to meet with a Sister, a nun, for spiritual direction and guidance. (OK actually, I spent ONE day in bed with Netflix and icecream, but THEN I got outta bed!)

The convent was a very nourishing and healing experience. The Sister looked into my eyes and said to me gently, “I know this is hard, and you are confused and scared and angry, but you won’t always feel this way. Everything will be ok. God loves you so dearly. And God is closer to you than the tears on your check. Let him carry you now, imagine him holding you in his warm and loving embrace.”

This was very helpful, but in my grief I said, “But I want to know why. I am so confused. Why would he do this? And maybe it’s my fault?”

And she said, “There will come a time when it will be helpful to ask those questions, and see what it is you can learn. But now is not that time. Now is the time to allow Jesus to embrace you, and take comfort in his whisper, “Everything will be ok. I love you.”

And this I did. Every time since then I felt the urge to question, or to analyze, or to rage, I simply returned to the image of Jesus holding me, telling me, “I love you. Everything will be ok.

And then she said to remember the second greatest commandment, which is to continue to get out of yourself, and love thy neighbor as yourself. And so, she said, at this time of year, which so much need and pain, who can you serve and love?

So I called my friend at Romero House, the refugee welcoming community in the West End of Toronto, and asked if they had any practical needs I could meet. They did. And so my parents and I decided to forego the stocking stuffers this year and pool our money into buying 17 pairs of winter boots, snow pants, and mittens for newly arrived refugee children. So we went on a Value Village splurge, which was very fun and awesome especially because I racked up lots of VV points so I got 30% off!

It was absolute elation to shop for these, and to tell the staff at VV who they were for, and then to deliver it to the kids. And scientific studies have confirmed this truth, one secret of those who are happy is they volunteer. They help people who have been hurt in similar ways to them, and by giving, you receive so much more in return.

I decided the next day to make my mother’s birthday the best one that she’s had, so I planned a surprise for her. And the next day I offered to fold bulletins for the church. And on Christmas day we volunteered again with Romero House, for their Service of Peace, hanging out with the refugee kids, and it was awesome.

And I got to tell you, by no means did the pain and grief disappear. It was and it is a times, still difficult. But my focus on the Light, on being purposefully aware of God’s loving embrace of me, and then allowing my community the opportunity to embrace me, and then turning around and embracing those around me, God’s Presence became very real, and it was like wearing a new pair of glasses. Everything seemed just a little bit clearer, my problem was put into a wider perspective.

It didn’t mean that I was suddenly cured of grief, and I continue to grieve and I know in the midst of my confusion, more shall be revealed.

But that’s the thing about Light. So often we are not given a blazing Sun that Illuminates Everything We Want to See. More often, when we are on dark, winding paths, and we do not know where it is taking us, the Light God’s presence provides is more like headlights, illuminating just enough for us to drive around just the next corner.

As Anne Lamott says in her book Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair, “we are not served by getting away from the grubbiness of suffering.” She continues,  “we have to stand in the middle of the horror, at the foot of the cross [like Mary], and wait out another’s suffering where that person can see us….To be honest, that sucks. It’s the worst, even if you are the mother of God.”

Presence and solidarity with those who are suffering, without any cute platitudes like “God’s plan is perfect” — which only makes things worse — is hard, but it’s so essential and a good place to start.

But then what? Lamott continues:

Most of us have figured out that we have to do what’s in front of us and keep doing it. We clean up beaches after oil spills. We rebuild towns after hurricanes and tornados. We return calls and library books. We get people water. Some of us even pray. Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent, the valuable, it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice. The equation is: life, death, resurrection, hope. The horror is real, and so you make casseroles for your neighbour, organize an overseas clothing drive, and do your laundry…we live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky.”

And I’m reminded of the words of the iconic Canadian poet Leonard Cohen, “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

And so, I encourage today friends, if you, or someone you know are in a place of shock, grief, confusion, sadness, or darkness, remember that “The Lord has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”

Let us take our cue from the Magi, who followed the Light, and found that it led them to the Light of the World, God With Us, the One who can–and will–bring a sustaining and life-giving embrace of warmth, love, and hope.


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