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How Long...

By Bryan Clarke

I have more and more lately seen my life as the title of book - The Story We Find Ourselves In. Especially with the times of loss it has seemed like a script I could never have written myself and I wonder how could I even still be here with so much brokenness. Sam says it well:
Frodo says: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam responds: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
For many they don’t hold on to this hope. Rather the world remains in darkness and today (mourning loss of a student) we have chosen to simply sit in the darkness, with sackcloth of mourning so to speak, without the comfort of Sam’s words rather sitting in a very dark story especially for the family of Evan Tran, who took his life this semester.
Others hold on to other versions of Christian faith which jump to the end of the story and don’t dwell in the hard places. All is good in the world, or so they tell themselves and yet miss the pain of those around them experiencing the bleakness of the story.
Others hold a version of faith that is based on being a good person and religion upholding good people yet when suffering comes this version is very difficult to find solace in as the brutality of suffering attacks where one thinks it shouldn’t.
In a way Nietzsche was right one version of God is dead, or should be. A version of faith that is Stoic. A version of faith that can't be real or authentic. A version of faith that must be right. A version of faith that Luther calls a theology of glory unwilling to see through the lens of suffering, especially a dying Messiah.
Dawkins says he could never believe in a God that would condescend to our level. The Psalmists open a different path allowing us to question and lament the brokenness of our world and the Gospels show the Son coming and experiencing every bit of our humanity. Jesus’ full humanity was all that kept me through my own darkness, because he has tasted every ounce of grief.
In my experience that is the only God I could turn to, the fully human God, the Jesus fully human who really knew and knows my grief, who heard my cries, who collects my tears, who can handle my screams, whose screams also echoed in our world when he came as one of us. The irony of song What If God Was One of Us, is in scriptural narrative God did become a slob like one of us. Became the weak and suffering fool and scapegoat. Jesus is the picture of what Paul says about strength made perfect in weakness. Jesus' strength in weakness absorbed all the violence like a sin eater, like a true death eater as his weakness swallow’s death in mysterious victory. So our refrain today for people in deep turmoil of life. How long... (11/30/2015)

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