To be perfectly honest, the past few days have been pretty exhausting. Partly that’s because the week began with a mis-launch while kite-boarding that left me getting dragged 50 metres in a move technically known as “doing a snow-plough”. I wasn’t hurt (memo to anyone interested in the sport: always wear an impact vest), but I still can’t clear my throat without getting sand in my mouth, and my back and shoulders feel like I’ve been a volunteer for students of the Charismatic Christians Amateur Chiropractors Association (Motto: “Crackin’ Bones Anyways the Spirit Lets Us”).
Which combined with the fact that my company is in the process of launching a new project that's more work than I could have dreamed possible, and the sleep-deprivation which all new parents whine about, hasn’t made for the easiest Holy week.
In all honesty too, the current lunatic rhetoric flying around the denomination I love has also been taking quite a toll: the sheer vitriol spouting from the orifices of people who should surely know better (how can anyone possibly spend that much time reading the bible and still miss the point so totally?) can grow wearying.
Good Friday had the bright point of my being asked to preach somewhere which must remain nameless: I explained to the Rector the risks he was running by asking me but he was adamant – which has touched me greatly. I’ve only preached on one other occasion since my breakdown and divorce, and the fall-out from that was substantial: naturally none of the complainants were in the slightest bit interested in what I’d actually said.
Still, even though more of than a few of the congregation recognised me from days long past, and were wonderfully supportive afterwards (never underestimate how many people here in Sydney don’t support the Matthian's gospel of exclusion), by the end of the day things were still feeling a struggle.
Saturday wasn't any better. “God” I was thinking by the afternoon, “if it’s all so important to You, fix things Yourself. Find someone else to bang their head on this wall – I’m tired of caring about everything.”
Mrs. Caliban (who’s tremendously insightful when it comes to such matters) surprised me with a bottle of cheap red and a bag of potato chips, which did wonders to improve things. Until there was a knock on our front door: it was the young couple from two doors up. They’d baked choc-chip cookies and were distributing them through the street as Easter presents.
They’re lovely people, who never complain when our dogs bark at their cats, and are always ready to stop and chat. They're certainly not what Sydney Evangelicals would describe as "Christian", nor do they attend any church, but they're always warm and welcoming, and a joy to meet. And they realise that Easter is a time of celebration in a way few church people I've ever met can comprehend, and were determined to share this joy with their community.
Not only were the cookies absolutely delicious (as is evidenced by there only being one left by the time I thought of taking a picture), but they whole incident completely lifted my spirit.
Their act of genuine friendship reminded me that Christianity really is something to celebrate: that humanity has been intrinsically changed by the incarnation of a God who died and was then resurrected, irrespective of how we may choose to understand that event. Just because the many of our society's religious elite choose to subvert that message into a means of alienating and rejecting others doesn’t mean the God who sings can be silenced. While the Pharisees are busy closing one gate God has already danced through another. And thus will it ever be.
So with the warm taste of chocolate in my mouth I resolved to keep blogging, and speaking out, and annoying the crap out of those who’d see the Gospel of Christ subverted into something which denies God’s power to forgive. To carry on just the same as most of you do: the strength and wisdom of so many of you who comment here never ceases to leave me humbled.
No matter how dreary the struggle may at times appear, the Spirit still moves across the land and waters: touching whoever has ears to hear, blessing just as the lesbian couple two doors up in turn blessed us, and empowering others just as these two “unchurched” women brought my family the most powerful (and sweetest) Easter sermon we’ve ever experienced.
Christ is Risen.