"How am I gonna be an optimist about this?"
That's the perpetual question I have in my calling to be part of the church, to be faithful to Jesus, and reclaim the title "Christian" from all the negative connotations it brings up in peoples' minds!
When I look around and see the walls keep tumbling down of the movement that I love, grey clouds rolling over the hills, bringing darkness from above and it all looks a little bit hopeless, what am I going to do!?
But when Pompeii by Bastille came on in the car today, it was a different line that really jumped out at me:
"Oh, where do we begin, the rubble or our sins?"
I think the problem is that a lot of the time we begin with the rubble. We begin by looking at the destruction that has been caused or the havoc that has been wreaked, and we start by sifting through the debris.
Particularly with church life and church history I think I'd be right in saying that we have often spent a lot more time trying to fix what we have ended up with rather than challenging the root cause, the neglect, the abuse, the culpable actions that we as a people of faith have inherited the consequences of and often benefitted from.
And when we start with the rubble we can regularly discover that if we close our eyes it almost feels like we've been here before... like nothing's changed at all.
Wherever I have seen the courage to deal with the sin, the disturbances of Shalom that are as a result of our action or inaction, the courage to address the sometimes missing image of God in our collective experience and expression as disciples, the willingness to hold up our hands and be held accountable for our shortcomings, THAT is where I have seen change. That is where I have seen growth. That is where I have seen God moving and breathing.
I've never been to Pompeii, but it's a place that friends have been. It appears to be a place that is resigned to the history books, lost to rubble, damage and decay. Bits still stand out to remember what was once there before the destruction, but it's lost to life.
I wonder if the church will end up the same way?
I wonder whether we'll insist on carrying on starting with the rubble and ignoring our sins?
I hope I see the day when I can close my eyes and it feels like we've changed for the better, and we discover something new.
If you'd rather listen and come to your own conclusions about the eclectic mix of songs I worked through in Lent 2023, here's the Spotify Playlist!