How to put into words the weekend? How to accurately phrase an experience where you just had to be there? How does one describe the dawn or the dusk, the sweeping vistas of the prairies, the snow capped mountain peaks? Are there possibly enough words to describe the transcendent moments we experience, when it’s all about the goosebumps rising, the cheeks wet, the movement of the Spirit? What words can explain the grace, mercy flowing ever so freely upon each and every body present in the soaring cathedral of Saint Mark’s Episcopal in Minneapolis? What words can claim the experience, the absolute conviction of Truth and Love conjoined, arching and flowing ribboning in and through our bodies?
Why Christian? The conference I attended this past weekend employed many diverse female voices to answer this question. In light of current events in and around our world, when Christian has been and continues to be associated with war and violence, exclusion and appearances, racism and xenophobia, sexism and anti-LGBT, why do we continue to admit to Christianity?
Why am I a Christian? Why do I hang onto this religion? Why do I participate in certain spiritual practices? Why do I choose to worship God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus?
I discovered this weekend the redemption of a decade-long effort to reconcile my Christian belief with the actions of many Christians. All of the questions, the angry rants, the half-baked ideas whispered from the corners of my mouth to avoid discovery, the frustrated car rides after church, the dirt-road yelling on a run. The good Christian girl set aside, no longer an asset or necessary.
Fear replaced by defiance.
An underground of sorts has formed, a people wrestling and seeking…demanding a Christianity that can address the people who are woefully being ignored. All of it nailed to the cross this weekend, in a response of Me too. All of us here, doing the same thing. Here’s our attempt at the answer. Here are our fumbled offerings, our grasping for words to make sense, our seeming failures transformed somehow into this thing that might actually be working. Here are our exhausted hearts and bodies, our ideas, our harebrained notions that have resulted in love and beauty and grace in the most unassuming places. Here are the things I used to think and the way I used to live and here is how Jesus has brought life after death, after destruction, after hopelessness.
The sacraments, the tradition, liturgy. Communion. The person of Jesus, Love. Jesus as Bread, embodied, eaten. Bread that sticks in my teeth, chunks of mercy served warm, a morsel of great hope – hope for me, hope for the church, hope for the world.
Music. The rise and fall of voices, in four-part harmony reaching high into the vast, arching ceiling, flowing. The closed eyes, uplifted faces glistening with grief and grace, confession and repentance, self-righteousness replaced by humility. Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace. Streams of mercy never ceasing , call for songs of loudest praise. New life burgeoning forth from old – old benches, old floors, old plumbing renewing into a movement of unpretentious holiness, rough-hewn hearts softening from the old words, the old hymns, ancient text, through love.
Love. Love showed up. Love deposited Himself central in our gathering. We sang Love, we listened to Love, we partook Love dipped in wine. Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven. We feasted on Love and departed in Love.
Why am I a Christian? Because Love said: I want you to be with me and I want to be with you. Love came to me, to us, to this world as a squalling infant of questionable status and unrefined origin into oppression and fear and greed. Subversively, Love said Follow Me. Lay it all down and follow me. Love was mocked, bloodied, a refugee, abused. Love knows.
I am a Christian because this Love was embodied and knows suffering, not just my personal woundedness, but Love redeems the suffering of the world, Love redeems the fear dispensed by the powerful forces. Love calls out the mighty, the proud and gives hope to the weak, the humiliated. Love sees starvation, thirst, sweat-drenched, shivering and provides a way. Love beckons Trust Me. My ways are not your ways.
Love gives hope. Love ushers in a new day, over and over and over again. Love takes our notions and ideas, love reveals our humanity and calls us out while redeeming all things at the same time. Love, in the moment of our surrender provides breadcrumbs of persistence, justice, freedom, renewal, ultimately filling our broken spirits, our empty cups.
Love sees. Love knows. Love invites. Love comforts. Love compels. Love encourages. Love frees. Love listens. Love questions. Love understands. Love grows.
The Love of Jesus is far beyond complete understanding, but as we practice receiving Love for ourselves and in turn, giving to another we get glimpses. Glimpses of the wild grace, the abundant mercy, the unabashed pardon propel us toward more and more and greater.
Jesus is why I am a Christian. I am beyond grateful to the women that introduced me to Him this weekend.
It was beautiful. Better than perfect, it was good.
If you’d like to learn more about Why Christian? visit #wx2015 on Twitter. Many were diligent to Tweet the best parts. If you are curious, for more information check out the website.