Skies on Fire

15 03 2011

Sometimes it seems as if the sky is on fire…

Earthquakes…tsunamis…power hungry leaders…revolutions…bickering over millions while others just hope to make it paycheck-to-paycheck…cancer…nuclear meltdowns…hunger…addictions/unhealthy attachments…self-created delusions to cope with the failure of not living into who we were created to be. How can one hold all this? – so many questions to God…of God. We look to the skies – arms raised, and ask, “Why?” My hands have been lifted skyward many times. I claim this question too.

Many Sundays I pronounce the following benediction as our community of faith walks back into the world:

“And now go in peace, and as you are going, know this:

by the grace of God you were brought into this world;

by the mercy of God you have been sustained to this very moment,

and by the love of God, fully revealed in Jesus the Christ,

you are being redeemed, now and forevermore. Amen.”

(Bill Leonard – adapted from John Claypool)

Redeemed…to save…to restore…to bring back to wholeness. Is this taking place in our world…in creation…in you…in me? Within the events of this life – the good and the bad, is there hope for restoration…or at least to move toward wholeness? Where is God in all of this? Are we, too, a part of the restoration equation?

Being human…being one that has experienced – and will experience – pain and grief…being one who watches devastation beamed from across the world and in my community…and being one who has seen – and will see – the pain of others…I am thus invited into a deeper conversation with God – hard questions to ask…truth and reality become palpable…what is most important in life becomes crystal clear. What am I to do with this all? What am I to do with this question of redeeming?

My faith – my confidence in what I hope for…my assurance in what I do not see – awakens. It allows me to hear the whispers of hope within what I experience…in what I feel…in what I consider. It tells me that just as I am a co-creator with God, I am also a co-redeemer. I have responsibility to do my part in bringing about wholeness in this world – even when I do not understand…even in the shadows of what seem insurmountable odds. Why? Because I have been the recipient of grace…of forgiveness…of nurture…of encouragement…of a challenge to live into whom God created me to be – I’ve been offered and experienced restoration. And I want more – I want it for others…I want it for all creation.  So maybe I can help provide some sacred space for others to discover and uncover their gifts; maybe I can help open up space where nurture, encouragement, and healing can embrace another; maybe I can help provide holy space where another feels safe enough to risk becoming who God has created them to be; maybe I can help have faith for another when the other feels like their faith is a black hole – just like so many has done for me.

And where is God in all of this? Maybe we do not see God in the events of this world – the good and the bad – because we are looking skyward with our hands raised…instead of looking down. Maybe God is down – down in the muck of our living…in the debris of our lives and of creation…within the pain and horrors we experience. Maybe God is in the tears of the heartbroken…in the anger of those who stand against injustices…in the fear of those who are being abused…in the bewilderment of those in the wilderness…in the gaze of those who see – in us. If so, then, there is always hope…a light shining in darkness…the possibility of wholeness.

In the end, I still have deep questions. I do not understand it all…I never will. Many times it is as if my vision is veiled – “I don’t yet see things clearly. I’m squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.” [1 Corinthians 13:12, The Message] So I will rely on my faith…listen within for the conversations between my spirit and the Spirit…ask hard questions, risking a deeper intimacy with God…try to live into the Mystery of it all…and embrace hope as I ask for courage to do what I can to be a co-redeemer with the Creator.

 

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