Last night was heavy. There is unknown that is reaching into our community in ways we might not know for awhile. For some, this is an outcome which seems distant. For others, it is an outcome that affects people we know, love and call friends. In all of this we seek a method of understanding and framing our questions, cautions, worries, anger, concerns, or relief. It would be easy to attack the political system, blame the outcome on the media, or any other host of excuses. The reality is, the people have spoken and we, as Christians, are left wondering where God is in the midst of this outcome.
I found myself tonight turning more and more into the face of Jesus and asking how this could happen. As I wrestled with the implications of last night I was reminded of the Benedictine concept of community, that is love in tension, so wonderfully communicated by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE). In the fifth chapter of their communal rule of life, the brothers remind us of the Challenges of Living in Community. They remind us "in John's gospel the community of disciples is portrayed as a circle of Christ's friends, abiding in him in obedience and love, depending on the Advocate who leads them together into the truth."1 In a world after last night, where is the sense of God or Truth in any of this?
We believe as Christians that our role in the world is in the continual work of the kingdom in our midst. This is never easy and rarely self-evident, especially when we see ourselves in the circle of friends affected by, rather than outside current circumstances. In the section of the Gospel that opens this letter, we are given a clue about how we may process these events. Christ is asking, pointing, us into a deeper relationship with one another through the Father and sealed with the Spirit or Advocate. We can choose to place blame for this outcome, or we can choose to see ourselves in the other and seek a way forward to healing and health. This seems like a momentous task, but with Jesus in our midst anything is possible.
This section of John is the place in which Jesus is getting ready to leave his disciples after Easter and ascend to heaven, something that creates a lot of anxiety for them. Jesus gives his followers everything they need in the gift of the Holy Spirit, to be with and in them at all times. How close we are to the turmoil of a post-resurrection band of apostles as we begin to take stock of the emotional and interpersonal toll of what's just happened.
God is in the midst of this moment friends, just as God remains present for the disciples in the Spirit after Christ ascends. We are not alone in this. God is, as the Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist reminds us, calling us to the deeper questions of how we will be pastors, agents, and lovers of the broken and wounded in our world. God is calling us anew into a deeper relationship with him through prayer and listening. Indeed this is what obedience means: to listen deeply. The world needs us to listen deeply right now. To pray, question, wonder, and wrestle in love. God needs us, just as much as we need God.
My door is always open, my phone is always on, I am checking emails, and my kettle is always boiling for some tea. I am here for you. When you need a space to pray, wrestle, give thanks, cry, or work out God's plan in the midst of this outcome, the church is here for you. The most important thing in all of this is; God is here. God loves you beyond any possible measure, and God is asking us to love in His name while a world makes sense of itself.
Pray, talk, listen, and pray again. God is here. God is in this, God is with us. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Jesus.2 I am praying with you for a world that needs prayer today. Pray for healing.
With deep love through Christ,
St. Anselm's Anglican Church
1 Society of St. John the Evangelist, The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, Cowley Publications, USA, pg. 10
2 John 14:1
these lands upon which we worship as the ancestral, cultural, traditional and unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people from time immemorial.