I was at clergy conference Monday through Wednesday this week. We were inspired by Lisa Kimball, the director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary, we received concise, useful information from our Diocesan staff, we broke bread together, we played together, we laughed together, we prayed together in a surprisingly, unplanned diversity. Regardless of language to the contrary, we enjoyed each other. Without overdoing it, it’s like we were walking past the massive polished blocks of the Temple reveling in its glory. That got me to thinking how we, how I, would respond if our Bishop told us it was all going away.
Beneath Jesus’ apocalyptic warnings, beyond his naming the risk of being associated with his name, even beyond the assurances that God knows every hair on your head, this week’s Gospel is teeming with dissonance. The over whelming joy of being at the Temple in the grandeur of God’s presence is smack up against the abject terror of your trusted leader viscerally tearing it all away. I lived on the Alabama Gulf Coast just as it was fully recovering from the damage of Hurricane Ivan, some years before, when the Deep Water Horizon blew up in 2010. The emotional dissonance of recovery right next to disaster shaped every conversation, every action, every hope, every prayer; before ~ the tangible effects of the disaster. It’s different than the terror of the event itself, not like the people of the Philippines mortal struggle after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. What I am drawn to ponder, is the dissonance between glorious anticipation, smack up against, shattered expectations.
What I am drawn to is this raw emotional scrape. I am drawn to the interaction of this scrape and faith in God, trust in God. And for some reason I’m to stay here. As much as I want to, I cannot run off to the promise of a new creation, from Isaiah, nor, the God is our stronghold … our defense,from Canticle 9, not even Paul’s admonition to not be weary of doing what is right. There is something transformative in this moment, and discerning it means living in the scrape-faith juncture.
Perhaps tomorrow will bring insight, wisdom. Then again, tomorrow is perhaps.