At this Wednesday’s service of Holy Eucharist, I felt a bit down. The turmoil in the world felt heavy on my heart, along with certain pastoral concerns of parishioners. The Eucharist is always a joyful occasion, but sometimes it can help us connect with grief simply because we’re connecting with God. This was especially true for me after offering members of the congregation prayers for healing with the anointing of holy oil. As I walked back to the altar, I used the residue of oil on my thumb and made the sign of the cross on my forehead. I suddenly found myself choking back tears. It was brief. And I pulled myself together before turning to face the congregation for the post communion prayer.
Church is just as good of a place for crying as it is for rejoicing, for tapping into the presence of Christ within and letting God’s healing love wash over our wounds. We always seem to find God in the pain.
At next week’s “Third Thursday” we’ll be talking about what makes “Life Worth Living”. It’s a teaser for our small groups book study of the same name. While making my way through this most remarkable book by Miroslav Volf, I found a podcast during which Volf spoke of his father, who discovered God’s love in the hell of a communist labor camp.
Initially, the reaction of Volf’s father was to curse God for being so loving to him. He wanted to hate God through and through for his situation – to write God off completely – but then he couldn’t because he felt God’s love in his darkest moment. And his response was this: “How dare you, God? How dare you come to me when I am so angry at you?!” But there God was.
Feeling the glimmer of God’s love when everything is falling apart reveals to us the depths of our belovedness. It’s different than feeling God’s love when walking through a forest or celebrating a special occasion. It’s proof of God’s intense reality. It’s the assurance that the catastrophe surrounding you isn’t definitive of the world. God’s profound goodness that carries our lives is more fundamental than the difficulties (and sometimes evil) we face.
There are so many people around the globe experiencing an inner longing and rebellion against the world for being so crazy and messed up right now. Our sisters and brothers in the Middle East are certainly in this camp. Maybe you are too. May this rebellion be taken as a cry for God to respond to us with loving comfort. For our God is good. The Gospel is true. And this life of faith is definitely worth living.