Within her tale of adding reconciliation to her annual lessons and carols was a challenge to the church: to come out of the hole of escapism and into “a place where we dive right into difficult truths.”
With hard-hitting candor, Pastor Nadia asked, “When we find ourselves in a world where we see up-to-the-minute images of human suffering...can we really afford quite so much sentimentality in Christianity?”
As we see bodies of child refugees washed upon shorelines, can we sit comfortably in our pews, not asking for any changes to our hospitality or political structures? When we know that innocent lives continue to be lost at the expense of keeping control of our guns for our own personal safety, does it make sense for us to gloss over the stories in the Gospel where Jesus proclaims peace over all things? Is Christianity about memorizing the most inspirational verses of the Bible, or is it about putting them into action to combat the injustices of our reality?
Skeptics might say that as a perimenopausal woman with a teenage daughter, I’m apt to cry at the slightest provocation, which may be true. But I believe something different happens when we expose our vulnerabilities in a community of faith.
A close friend told me her theory that we are being “seasoned” in church each week, preparing to be broken open in ways we cannot anticipate. So we pray the liturgy, sing the hymns, go through the motions. Yet this seasoning of our spirits prepares us to be tender-hearted, open to prayer working on us.
This makes sense to me. There are so few places where we can bring our raw emotions without a self-conscious need to explain or escape to the nearest bathroom, which happens when we get teary-eyed at work or in line at Home Depot. Perhaps church is one of those last safe havens, where we can cry in public for no reason.
Last week a friend who knows my dogs sent me a link to Wendy Francisco's wildly popular new song, "God and Dog" (more than half a million views at time of writing). G-o-d and d-o-G--two words, one kind of love. "They would stay with me all day; / I'm the one who walks away.