24 hours of politics and disaster and people trying to speak for God but instead painting a picture of what looks like a tyrant. I don’t know what to do when faced with this, don’t know how to reconcile the tensions of faith that seem so hard but that others seem to handle with unhindered ease. There’s too much noise and too many tears and more sound bites than any society needs.
But I’m sitting in my car, catching my lunch break, and all I can think about are stories, stories that I’ve heard since I was a kid, stories that tell me what God is like, when I listen.
And so I remember that, for all we discuss and describe and invent him, God seeks us out; he finds us when we’re hiding up a tree from hostile neighbours, when we sneak out to do our chores at the worst time of day because we’re avoiding glances and gossip. He stands in front of us when those who’d police our morality are getting ready to throw rocks at us; he turns and smiles at us when we’re creeping around behind him, terrified that a more direct encounter will reveal our shame and get us sent away.
He finds us at the dinner table, passing us the soup as we plan to betray him, washing our feet just hours before we screw up yet again.
He weeps at funerals and sorts out the drinks at weddings. He’s kind to children and doesn’t see them as an inconvenience, playing with them even if they’re snotty or clumsy or if they’re screaming the place down because their world isn’t quite right.
He supports prison visiting and feeding the homeless and treating the poor with love and compassion. He’ll face down an army of demons for the soul of one young man, and he’ll cause riots in temples because he knows the difference between going to church and going to God. He’s with us during storms, during fights, during sickness. He’s with us in the wilderness.
He lets his guard down in an act of self-sacrifice, laying down his life because life, love and forgiveness are more important that conspiracies and power and death. He becomes vulnerable to nails and spears, but in doing transforms an instrument of torture and oppression into a message of grace and reconciliation that leaves graves empty and the world transformed.
I write all this because it’s easy to forget when the world is full of placards telling us who God hates, when the Internet is full of tweets that express theology by sacrificing compassion. I write all this because churches cover up abuse and hoard wealth while people starve. I write all this because I fail to let all this change me and I need the reminder.
And when that happens I write it to rediscover his grace, to hear the good news once again: Christ is risen, and he is eternal, and his kingdom is built in our midst, so he can sit enthroned in a bus shelter if he so desires. For he is among us, our God and King, a crucified servant forever outside an empty tomb.