Good Friday: Denial and Grace in Crises

Before this night is over Peter, you will deny me three times,

In fact each and every one of you will deny me before the end.

Not me Lord, I would never deny you.

The absolute horror of what was going to happen could not be fathomed by the disciples. It was too a deep a hole for them to see. Death, betrayal, denial and damnation were unthinkable. After all they had faith, and they had Jesus. What else would they need?

Denial is very human. It’s how we handle some of the world, it’s one way to fend off PTSD.

What are you in denial about right now? Here, in the middle of a pandemic, what is too much for you to take in?

Remember that even the disciples had trouble processing it all. Remember that only Christ and God can hold the enormity of the tragedy that is taking place. And Jesus requested the presence of these fumbling disciples in Gethsemane to pray. And after they messed up not once, not twice, but three times, but Jesus did not send them away.

We will not be sent away, and our presence is necessary.

Give yourself the grace you need to pray, be in denial and present in whatever strange combination exists within your soul, and remember you do in good company.

More Pandemic Prayers and Resources

Faith and Doubt

Faith and Doubt

If you read the about me statement of faith, you will see that I don’t believe everything all the time (technically I think that’s impossible). However, I stand as a Christian and trust that God fills those gaps for me (partially thru the church). Here is a post about a pastor who is wrestling with belief/doubt, and faith and what atheism means. It raises good, complicated questions about how pastors and churches should be looking at faith…

 

“I was trained to believe that there was no hope outside the Cross. That people are constantly looking to fill the God-shaped hole inside of them. That we are all looking for a Savior. I am not so sure about that anymore. Sure, some people are. Others are content to live in the moment, find happiness where they are, and simply be. Wherever I come out, it will not be the reformed charismatic pastor/theologian I once was.”

Faith

Faith is work, its communal, its varied, it contains all our varied beliefs and doubts.

Belief is us reaching towards God

Faith is God reaching towards us

In order to have faith, you must have community. Its different than asceticism or belief, it is more than the individual spirituality.

Spirituality is how we practice our beliefs.

Faith is RELATIONAL, its about our relationship with God and therefore is about our relationship with each other.

Our relationships with one another help us to understand God- hence God gives us Faith.

 

Have Faith!

When your heart is breaking….

Yesterday my heart broke….It was a difficult day with sad decisions and a good look at how temptation effects our lives….

Isn’t it interesting how it is easier to believe and remember evil than good? (for more on Good and Evil look here)

If you preach a sermon 90% about gospel and 10% about sin, most people remember the sin portion.

Why is evil so much easier to connect with? I think some of this has to do with our insecurity. Ted talk The Power of Vulnerability tackles this issue with storyteller/researcher Brene Brown.

In fact a lot of people I know don’t believe in Hell (Christians obviously included)…

So why then are the “less happy” endings more believable??? Why is it that “truth is hard” is the “real world” mantra

I don’t think life is shit and we struggle through it the best we can. I don’t think life is brutish, nasty, short. I think there is MORE than that.

But when my heart breaks, when difficult decisions are made, when people don’t show love and care towards one another, when people-hate-the-sin-not-the-sinner, when they fall back on smile-Jesus-Loves-you, when they use religion (as the TED video says) to provide answers instead of exploring faith), when people struggle with addiction, when parents don’t take good care of their children….

When these things happen, when its clear that the world is not perfect because of our self doubt, it is important to remember Jesus made us and loves us exactly the way we are…

Jesus believes that we are equipped, as those made in God’s image and as co-creators, to spread the good news…

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How do we know this? Because Jesus spent time as one of us. Jesus went to the desert and endured the Devil telling Jesus …you are not good enough, you are not a success, you can’t help in God’s work, you need (food, drink, success, fame) Me, the devil, to get there…Matthew 4:8-10 (Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”). And Jesus says, no, the way is through love and God, its through knowing myself as an intricate, important and beloved part of God’s plan and I don’t need to be perfect/in control/married/successful/rich to do that…I just need to be grounded and centered on God (Matthew 4:10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.) Take that evil. Yes, evil exists, yes life is difficult, no I don’t think we have to accept the chains of temptation, we don’t have value our “Success” the way the world does. Instead we can depend on God (we don’t need to dull the pain or even control it), we can know Christ has been there, understands that we stumble and loves that about us, because we are stumbling on his path, we are doing the best we can, and we are created in his image. We participate in Lent, so that we can participate more fully in Easter–we participate in Lent, because its a part of life, but we also participate in it so we can acknowledge that EASTER wins!!! All the time, everytime (even during Lent, Easter creeps through on Sundays!!!) Easter like Christmas, needs to be lived (see my post on Being Christmassed for more)

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Please note: I discuss heartbreak and difficulty as a tangible part of life (for more look at Anne Lamott’s thoughts here)

BUT: The Good news has written the ending for us, and we can Participate in God’s Celebration…we don’t have to just watch or hum along to God’s Concert–we can party and scream all the words<<——–THIS IS THE MESSAGE, try to remember this, don’t walk away already forgetting the good news

Good News: Jesus is the Savior

Better News; So you don’t have to be (subtext you get to help!!)

So the hard decisions were made, I am continuing to pray, to live into hope, to put into practice God’s love and care and to trust that my participation although it feels small is important and that the love I show has had meaning…and really knowing that heals my heart even as its broken (just as God heals are brokenness in a broken world)…I wonder if this is how Christ feels when he makes loving and difficult decisions on our behalf…Good news JESUS is the savior….Jesus loves ALL of us, no matter what. Amen.