My friends over at the Presbyterian church are doing an Advent activity called the Blessing Bag to help them notice where God is active in their daily lives. They have a bag of questions and each day they are encouraged to pull one out and reflect on it. The questions are things like:
“Something that happened that I’m really grateful for is...”, “Where did God show up in my day?”, “I felt joy when...”, “Something I think made God happy was...” I love this practice and am going to be very interested in hearing their responses to it.
But I am sitting today in another place. What sits heavy on my heart this morning is the things that I think perhaps are making God sad on this Monday of the second week of Advent. I could not write last night. I sat in front of the computer for a very long time wrestling with my commitment to blog daily in Advent. I'd had a lovely day. Full of churchy and life-y things, our service, some errands and shopping, a choir rehearsal, a church women's party. All of them satisfying and good in their own way. But over it all these sad stories of violence and hurt done in and around church and religion kept creeping in.
In my own denomination, a diocese has turned their backs on the rest of us. No longer willing to do the thing we are most about, hold the center in dialogue. The people my heart goes out to the most in all of this are those who do not agree with this choice but whose voices could not carry the day. Voices crying in the wilderness.
While this is deeply wounding, it pales before the violence of gunshots and people dying at the mission center and church in Colorado. At the mission center it was young people mostly, learning to do mission work. Shootings in church settings are always so heinous to me...the one place it seems we might feel safe...God must be saddened.
And even as I write that last sentence, I wonder at myself. For even within our churches we are guilty of inflicting damage and keeping them from being safe places. That too is on my list of things making God sad today. In our own community a misguided minister is doing a great deal of damage by his behavior. He seems to feel it is acceptable to lie and misrepresent himself to infiltrate groups of vulnerable people in order to then "share his message." He has outed some young GLBT students on a video on his blog, resulting in at least one of them having insults shouted at him from a passing car. I watched the video. It is ugly. Full of entrapment and lies and bad theology. In the comments he writes about it on his blog, he talks about them as the "little fishies biting." It's clear that he enjoyed himself. This is spiritual abuse. It makes me angry and sad for those exposed. God too, I think.
My heart is heavy on this second Advent Monday. We are a world in need of saving, a world in need of light. O come, O come Emmanuel.......