A series of meditations in 2015, by the Rector, Staff, Parishioners, and Friends of the Parish.
After our liturgy yesterday, Jeanne Bishop talked about her journey from discovering her sister and her sister’s family had been murdered to forgiving the perpetrator. It was one of the most powerful stories I’ve heard anywhere, let alone in a church setting. Jeanne’s insistence on not staying in her pain and anger and instead exploring where to go from that place of devastation is beyond remarkable. She describes being led, over time, to where she is now. So many individual conversations and encounters contributed to moving her to where she is now. So many times she was defiant about staying where she was while at the same time leaving just a mustard seed’s worth of space open for God to break in. Part of the telling of her story emphasizes the importance that any conversation can have at any time. We will always be found by God if we leave just the slightest amount of room for the Spirit to come in…and there is no telling who will be a vessel of that grace when it comes.
As we reflect on her words today with our emphasis this Fall on thanking God in all things, a question occurred to me. It’s so clear that God is working in Jeanne as she lives out the words of Jesus from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Given that we can see so clearly that she has used this unspeakable tragedy for a very great good, is it possible to thank God for this horror?
This is where clear thinking and the practice of our faith are so vital. We can never thank God for such an event. Because God is eternal and limitless, we can, however, thank God for what we do with the tragedies of our lives. I’m reminded of Joseph’s words to his brothers at the end of Genesis: “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.” Joseph, and Jeanne, and you and I, are not expected to thank God for the horrible things that befall us. We are, however, given the chance to discover how God can use even tragedy to bind us deeper to the Kingdom. We are invited, while we are still here in this world, to that place with God that is beyond the limitations of earth, to that place where God’s will is always done, a place where God and God’s love reign. God the Father went through the same thing when He watched his Son get nailed to a tree. Can we give thanks for the Crucifixion? Of course not. But we can give thanks that God’s presence didn’t end there. We can give thanks for all that has happened in Christ since. And we can learn to trust that presence more each day in whatever form that presence comes in.
Questions for the week:
Where in my life do I act is if I don’t need God, that I have this area ‘under control’? What would I have to experience to let God in, even if just a little? What would I lose if I let God in? What would I gain?