I’ve returned from a ‘self-imposed exile.’
I’ve had a lot to say because a lot has been happening both in the world (unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or wisely staying away from the daily news feeds I don’t have to go into it) and in my life. I’ve kept most of it to myself because it’s been too painful.
I recently lost a brother with whom I was getting re-acquainted after years of separation – we were on the most distant poles of political affiliation, but we were respectful of our opinions. His life, I won’t go into, but I wish I could have done something more to help him.
My life in the secular world has become bitter.
I’m no different than many people these days; it’s just that for the first time in my life what is happening is causing physical and mental pain that actually need medication. My strength is dwindling.
An acquaintance asked me recently, “You’re a woman of God, how does it happen that you lose faith and get depressed? How do you live in this depressed state? Isn’t God there to lift you up?”
And another person, a dear friend, said, “This time of year is when you’re expected to have all the answers and be smiling and happy, but you’re human.”
I’ve been pondering both of these comments and our world situation.
I still don’t have an answer, but I do know that God is sitting in the chair across from me, listening with iPad or Android tablet in hand taking notes, waiting for me to figure things out. I’m not the type of person who believes that if I ask God for a lottery ticket, it will miraculously show up in my mailbox. God expects me to go out and spend the dollar on the ticket if I really think I need that ticket. I know that dollar can be put to better use. The Lottery Ticket is a metaphor to take the initiative in all things troubling in my life.
Maybe this is my harrowing through hell. I’ve been descending circle past circle and haven’t hit bottom yet. Maybe I won’t.
I’m not expecting to wake up tomorrow and say, “There! I feel better! All gone!” What I have to do is keep talking to God while God takes notes and notes and once in a while smiles up at me to give me a sign that I’ve got a clue. What I do know is that I’m going to keep working through this. A glimmer of hope and then the light came through this morning. The light is Christ. The glimmer of hope is that despite what others may say or think, I can be political in my thoughts and actions.
‘Church People’ aren’t only supposed to love, or be nice, ‘Church People’ are called to show what the Kingdom of Heaven is that Christ proclaims and the Kingdom is what we are striving for our of our messy, confusing, sometimes ugly lives. Sometimes delivering the message is easy, most of the time it can be difficult. The message I’m getting right now from God is, “Don’t give up!”
This morning, the Light that is Christ shone on Saint Stephen.
Today’s gospel from the daily office tells of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, the proto-martyr of the church and a deacon. Today is the Feast of Stephen. After he had been seized by the elders and scribes, Stephen was brought before the Council and offered a lesson in Israel’s history that attacked the authority of the Temple, and for this, he was stoned to death, and the Jesus Movement had its first martyr.
I am a deacon, and it is my calling to preach and prophesy to a modern world. If ever there was a time in our history that we needed more of Stephen’s boldness it is now. Much of the anxiety I and others are suffering is the election of a man unfit to be President of the United States and concern over what his administration will do. There are calls for conciliation and giving the PE a chance. We’ve seen what he’s like and what he’s done – do you think he will change? I fear for the poor, the people of color, women, LGBT of our country, I fear for the working poor on the coasts. Contrary to what may be thought, there are poor, working class, white people on the west and east coasts, they’re not just in the red states.
I see God tapping on that tablet and nodding. Hmm. Maybe keep doing what you’re doing, Ellen, but take it slow, put on that armor of light, and do it for your brother, Stephen.
And Stephen the martyr and deacon. And all the Children of God.