Lest We Forget – Peace?!!

‘Lest We Forget!’ This familiar phrase echoes through our ears these days surrounding ANZAC Day.  Each year we hear the words, utter the words and embrace the words – ‘Lest We Forget.’

I remember those ANZAC Day ceremonies at school in days past, of marching through the city streets in the ANZAC Day march as part of a marching band and playing in various RSL Clubs for their local ceremonies.  The old veterans were always grateful and some laughed and joked with us.  The ceremonies, though, were solemn and faces were rigid with emotion and memory that I could never realise or understand.  The brief conversations rarely ventured into this terrain of war’s sad reality and pain.  I could read something in the faces, the gravitas of movement as they laid wreaths, placed poppies or recited the ode.  I knew the deep importance of the Last Post and Reveille, as our trumpeters rehearsed it for significant lengths of time, getting inflections and phrasing just right. The silence was deep.  Such was ANZAC Day and its ‘Lest We Forget!’

Let me confess, in what was youthful naiveté, that I was often left wondering what we lest forget.  Was it the men and women who died? Most certainly it was and I did think of these unknown men and women and wondered about their experiences, their families, their times.  Were we to remember the various historical situations and stories of warfare and Australia’s engagement? I think so and I heard some of these in school classes.  Was it the heroics or courage or mateship or other depth of character on display and exhibited through these men and women, young an old?  I think it was that as well.  My confession is that I wasn’t completely sure what it was I was to remember or how I was to remember it.  Was it for a moment in the deep silence or the sit with me through the day?  Was it a remembering that takes me further and infiltrates my broader living?  If so, how?

As I watched those old men and women ‘remember’ I knew they had a remembering that I could never have – I wasn’t there and I hadn’t lived through these times (and hoped there would be no repeat!).  I didn’t know the stories in my being and could only look on and listen, hear and hold these stories, people and events in a special embrace of respect.

I am still haunted by the question of what it is I don’t want, and should not, forget.  Each time I utter these words, I wonder and ponder, what it is I shouldn’t forget.  I look around at the faces and their poignant, remembering looks and try to remember these faces etched with painful remembering.  I think of the stories I’ve heard and the boldness of young WWI volunteers going off on the adventure of a lifetime that led them into a living hell.  I think of the stories and images of WWII and the desperate defending of Empire and world from the threat to freedom.  I think of the futility and horror of Vietnam in sweltering jungles with cursed chemicals and the emotional suffering of so many men and women returning to a vacuum of understanding or minimal acceptance.  I think of the peacekeeping forces and those who have been sent into Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a fight that isn’t really theirs and few of us understand. There is the professionalization of the armed forces in these times and the fighting through technology that has changed so much – including the language (‘collateral damage’).

I remember these things that are important but as I reach more deeply into my searching memory I remember simple words and stories of older men I have heard (my former neighbour, Les) – a few stories and then the vehemence of anti-war rhetoric.  I didn’t get this for a long time – didn’t understand. They wanted me to hear that war is hell and it should not be entered into lightly – if at all.  It ought not be glorified nor used for political or other advantage and I failed to comprehend this political talk in my younger years. These men spoke of peace, of living in peace because the alternative is to hellish to bear thinking about. As they spoke I could see them remembering behind the veil that closed over their faces and there were images that I could never know and of which they could never speak.  In their faces and their warnings, almost whispered in a despairing kind of voice, I heard the quiet and gentle ‘do not forget!’ They knew leaders could and would never comprehend, believe or respect their stories nor heed their warning – but would I?

Would I hear the call to peace?  Would I recognise that these men and women had gone to the edge, the very edge and knew how it all ended, this violent way of living.  They knew what happened when you push violence and conflict to its very limits – and beyond.  They knew what hell looked and felt and smelled like and it was, hell!  When humans push violence and conflict, power and abusive might to its limits, when leaders do not recognise the poverty of their vicious decisions, then ordinary people are sacrificed in body, mind and spirit.  The cost is very, very high.

That’s what I remember at the heart of this day of remembering.  This remembering comes on the back of my own memory of the central story of our spiritual tradition of faith – Easter.  This is a story of violence and power on raw display as it descends upon Jesus who holds onto God’s way of peace and love.  The powers of the world descend with all of their brutality and violent bloodlust on this one who called for and embodied peace in its profound fullness.  I hear the echoes of Jesus’ call for peace in the whispered cries of veterans who have suffered through hell on earth.

This week’s reading (John 20:19-31) continues to tell the story of how God’s power of love and peace overwhelms the deathly powers of the world and calls forth life, in the story we call resurrection.  Beyond locked doors and solid walls, Jesus emerges into a room of suffering uncertainty where people live in overwhelming grief and confusion.  He speaks of life and hope and breathes the Spirit of God into them, saying ‘Peace be with you.’  They are invited into the mission of peace on earth that is the way of God and requires all the courage, resilience and mateship (community) imaginable!  Do we hear the call of veterans to peace rather than sacrifice through war and violence?  Do we hear God’s yearning for peace and love over violence, hatred and war?

By geoffstevenson

Lured into the Mysterious Story – Easter

The story emerges once again on the annual cycle.  It has been quietly lingering in the background of life these last few weeks.  It threatens to explode out at times and other times silently creeps up ready to expose the frailty and vulnerability of life.  The story lurks there threatening to turn everything upside down in a world that worships at the altar of material prosperity,  almighty power and control over truth.  The story threatens to subvert reality and raise up the riff-raff of life whilst subverting the respectable.  It’s a bit like an ICAC enquiry that lifts the lid on lives held up as public examples, responsible and powerful but rorting the system for all its worth.  The little ones shake heads and wonder, powerless to change the system that is corrupt and unjust.  This 1st century story with 21st century themes!

The story emerges with a donkey ride into town, fun-filled crowds of innocent wondering souls.  The powers don’t much care until they realise there’s a barb in the bard, in the poetic storyteller sitting on the ass.  The sting in the tail is for them and he wants to shine light onto them and the powers – stupid, ignorant fool!  The story doesn’t register with most respectable folk filling the pews last Sunday morn.  It’s a lovely way to start this holy week, to sing joyful songs and to praise this king – and to be reassured he’s a king of the heavenly realms come to take us there!

As the week wears on and the story grows darker, this One will endure the scorn of powers rising up to full stretch to threaten and subdue.  They’ve had enough of wearisome troublemakers and this one will have to go.  The crowds love him, though, and they can’t make a move.  They’re afraid of him, not of his power or strength but of his pitiful, fantasy-filled rhetoric that stirs up false hopes and creates a longing in the pitiful crowd that will never be fulfilled.  The Romans will never cop this abuse or trouble and if the religious leaders don’t do something it will really get out of hand.  They are also afraid of losing their own place in this stratum of power and control – the status quo they’ve earned and cling to with religious zeal. They want to make the world right but need this power to do it – or do they?

The world grows darker, metaphorically speaking, as this week rolls onward and upward.  Jesus, the hunted, evades and sidesteps their traps and with each victory over his foes, the crowd grows more vocal and hopeful.  The week reveals a strange twist, an upside down revelation that the God-folk, the religious zealots and powerful leaders, are those who side with the powers of Rome!  These law-abiding, God-fearing religious professionals do the bidding of Caesar over and against the One who claims the voice of God.  It’s easy to call him a madman who is wrong in rhetoric, a fantasy-laden fool whipping up foment and false hope.  But is he?  His words have that odd ring of truth that flows out of the prophetic past of his people, of God’s way of justice for all and love above everything else. Anyway, they don’t want him and his ideas running amok in their world.

Modern ears often miss the deeper, darker tones of this plot, this story, this drama.  We think of him as heaven’s child here to do his bit in getting us into heaven – that’s it.  Mel Gibson took this to its full extent relishing in blood and gore to reinforce the suffering of God for you and me in our pathetic, alienated state.  He died, he rose and we’re okay – provided we do the works of this thin faith in believing the right things and responding in the right way.  In this faith there is no justice, only God’s supposed just hatred of the human race – well, love-hate relationship. This denies the power of the story that holds the world, the vulnerable, fragile world of God’s creation, in the balance.  Jesus stands before all the powers who threaten not only human life but the essential way of the world.  Before the powers that rule and dominate, justice is a flimsy veneer that surfaces when it suits and love is a weakness that becomes romantic mush lacking fortitude and courage.  Jesus stands for God’s Reign that threatens to return everything to its natural, created state and that can’t be allowed – for the secular or religious powers, the well-to-do or respectable.  It threatens the whole way of life and we can’t imagine a fair world in which the wealthy and powerful come down a few notches so that those on the bottom can come up and breathe for the first time in their god-forsaken existence.

This is about sacrifice, in case you’re concerned, but sacrifice in the name of God’s way.  It is sacrifice in its true sense, where humans sacrifice before God in penitence and praise for God’s grace.  God returns the sacrifice to them as a holy feast to celebrate their state of being loved and forgiven.  This is grace in the first degree and the way Jesus walked, into this grace-filled life of holiness and justice, of love, courageous and true.

Yes, it was human sin, brokenness, evil, call it what you will, that nailed him to the tree.  It was the violent evil that infiltrates human powers and human life emanating in blood shed and crushed bodies.  This violent evil is antithetical to God and the way of Jesus who stands in peace, shalom, for the world that God loves.  This dark day holds the passion of God as his one confronts the irresistible powers of the world who will kill him.  Love and peace are beautiful but seem no contest for violent power – spears and swords, nails and crosses (bombs and guns and nuclear weapons).  The powers flex their muscle and Jesus is dead.

The story ends there on a cross before the world.  The hopeful words and prophetic promises sounded fine in our ears but were fanciful and thin, the promises of one who had no power to act and enforce, who was gentle and proud but perhaps gullible or mad.  So death had its way and the powers breathed yet again. The religious leaders knew that there would now be peace for this holy festival.  They smiled once again and Pilate moved on, not a thought for this idiot caught up in who knows what and spreading absurdity that unsettled his people.

The disciples locked themselves in, huddled behind closed doors on that dark Sabbath day.  They were afraid, anxious, confused and grieving the whole event that had escalated out of control and buried their hopes and dreams in a stony tomb.  What now?  Back to the lake?  Back to where it all began – start anew?

The dark places of life are hard as we wait.  We wait in hospital rooms around the bed of the dying – ‘his/her breath go now and some say no.’  We wait in the doctor’s surgery as the clock hands move so slowly; we await the results of tests and fear the worst.  We wait and wait for all manner of news or events to take us up into their uncertain future.  We wait in this dark, liminal place where time stands still and powerlessness holds us in its desperate grip.  Courage fails and hope oozes away until there is nothing left except despair and loss.  Saturday is a dark place we all know and fear and hate – that silent relentless grief that seeps into our bones and holds us in cold helpless embrace. All is quiet, an eerie peace that is still and threatening, cold and dark – but also gentle and quiet, like the ye of the storm?

The woman treads the steps of grief and sadness at first light on the first day of the week, of a new world that will burst forth through their grief.  This faithful one overcomes fear and dread to honour the one she still holds dear, though none can fathom the events of the last days.  He still holds them in his powerful hope and they still need to believe.  They can’t yet let it fade or die – they simply can’t let it go!  To the tomb she wanders on one of those walks that no-one wants to make – the walk we walk when there is no other choice.  The walk that only we can make though everything in us cries out to turn around and go back – but we cannot.

Mary wonders, perhaps, how she will enter the dark tomb, the place that contains the pain and fear, the loss and grief.  How will she enter that place that is sealed and closed off to the world, the hiding place where we keep our deepest, darkest secrets.  What does she even want to do there, she doesn’t know but simply must be there with him, his spirit still hovering?

As Mary looks up she sees an open tomb and fears the worst – they’ve taken his body and the world starts to spin.  She runs to the men; Peter and John take off at a mad dash for the tomb and Peter rushes into the cool darkness where life has broken forth into a new world of eternal hope.  In the place of death are the signs of life; out of darkness shines forth light – but how? Where? When? Why?  The world is spinning once again.  They believe but don’t know what they believe – it’s only an empty tomb and what does it mean?  Mary wails in her distress as the spinning world turns faster taking her down into the vortex of confused despair.  The gardener materialises in her field of vision and through weary tears she reaches out in longing, asking if he has taken her Lord and friend.  ‘Mary,’ in a voice so gentle and familiar that she shakes her head, hearing things in her grief.  ‘Mary!’ It rings through her until she cries out, ‘Rabbi! Is it you?’ she wants to hold him but he isn’t in a state, a form to be held or grasped.  Spirit bodies in a flesh and blood world – how strange and confusing but hope-filled and life-giving.  She ran again to the men and told them she had encountered their Lord, the Risen One.  She sounded mad, deranged by the stress and sadness and grief ripping through this small community of his followers.  They help her and comfort her but she wouldn’t be comforted or stilled – she had seen him and these faithless fools better understand it, believe it! They didn’t.

The night drew down upon them holding their confusion and despair in its silent grasp, subduing them further in their grief.  Behind the locked doors and solid walls these people held one another and sang the sad song of love turned to grief, of hope lost. Not all were there. Thomas, for one had ventured out, perhaps to shake off the mood and kick-start life again?  Suddenly, a voice, an apparition for that was all it could be, materialised before them in this darkened room of grief.  It was his image but how could that be?  He stood there and offered peace and blessing.  It was him but it wasn’t – alive but no longer frail flesh but eternal One in the mystery of life beyond death and all that might be.  He offered peace and blessing and a mission for the world.  Life burst in like light as he breathed God’s Spirit of life and hope into their vulnerable souls defeated by this strange week.  Into bodies and spirits dry and cold, he breathed life and hope and the fire of love’s lively existence.

This was a new-old power released once again into the world.  The powers won the battle but love conquered all and life that yielded to death lived again in newness and truth and hope for all.  They tried to hold onto this one before them.  They wanted him to stay and be there forever, to hold onto this moment and never let it ride onwards or upwards into new adventures.  They wanted him beside them, agitating them, consoling their failed attempts or fearful lapses.  They wanted him but all they could have was God’s Spirit within – it was, after all, the only thing they ever would really need.

He disappeared from sight beyond the locked doors and solid walls of the room they hid within. What to do now?  What to make of this mysterious, wondrous experience that can’t be grasped or contained in mere words?  How do we think of this God revealed in strange ways and mysterious wonder beyond words or thoughts, gentle and soft, all love and shalom, peace deep within?

There’s the ancient Jewish tradition, well more than a tradition, a way of understanding the Divine by recognising we can’t understand.  The Divine is held in the silent space, the open canvas, the musical staff yet to be written.  One cannot utter God’s name because it is holy but more than that, the mere utterance defines and reduces infinite mystery to human knowing.  God is always beyond our thoughts and abilities to place God in a box, known and anticipated, understood, neat and tidy.

The powers that day thought that God’s way could be stopped with an easy, violent death.  For the powers, death and violence is the final statement, the truth that all temporal power seems to believe.  Jesus, the gentle one bore this powerful assault and the gentle Divine heart that bears all suffering held this one in deep grace and gentle peace.

How do we name this mysterious, wondrous love?  Do we tamp it down with definition and theological tomes?  Do we literalise and control the way the story sounds or explain it away from our self-interested perspective?  Or, do we allow the mystery to gently settle upon us in the midst of lives lived?  Do we surrender to love’s gentle way and follow the peaceful one in courageous pursuit of the dream of God that gently unfolds as we walk in this faith?

The story lures us into lives of open trust before the fear of the world, standing with the One who walked this way into the hope-filled reality of God’s dream for the world – for justice, peace and love.

By geoffstevenson

Standing Against the Powers!

When you take on power, to say something about it, reject it or laugh in its face, you better beware.  As the Star Wars series reminds us: ‘The Empire Strikes Back’!  Those who take a swing at the powers, whether personal, at work, the wider community or international politics, better get ready for the reactive force that is most likely stronger and more violent!

When media personalities are questioned or challenged they fight back and use all the power of their personality and popularity to reduce their foe to a quivering wreck.  Think of how Alan Jones or Ray Hadley and others respond to criticism or challenge.  Rupert Murdoch takes the rejection of his views and desires seriously and pours scorn upon political parties that don’t give him what he wants – the full power of his media empire lines up behind him as a terrifying force.

When whistle blowers blow the whistle it is an alarm that triggers a response of powerful abuse that isolates, ridicules and rejects the whistle-blower.  They are ostracised, alienated and abused for stating a truth that hurts the institution or organisation and the powers don’t like it!  When you take on the powers, they will strike back!

When an employee stands up to a boss who is unfair or unscrupulous or shows them up to be incompetent, they better have another job option!  When an employee confronts, challenges or exposes the boss to ridicule they will probably encounter abuse, harsh treatment and be sacked for their efforts.  I have known several who have suffered tremendous psychological and emotional stress because the powers of the workplace do not take kindly to being shown up as hypocrites, incompetents or unfair.

When an abused spouse reacts to the abuser it is never pretty.  The abuser comes back with more powerful abuse.  The physically abusive husband lashes out all the more, subduing his wife/partner with violence and terror.  The more she tries to confront or do something, the worse it gets – until she leaves (why is it that the person abused has to leave??).  The child who is abused receives severe warnings and heaped up guilt if they say anything and the threats or abuse piles up.  Any reaction brings on more serious abuse and the cycle spirals out of control.

When powers on the world stage are attacked they rage and bring out military might and force that makes all quiver before it.  ‘Shock and Awe’ was what it was called in Iraq.  The nation shuddered beneath the power of the US and its allies who thundered through their land overwhelming the flimsy military that the Iraqis were able to assemble.  When you meddle with the powers, the powers come down upon you very harshly.  It is a sobering story and one that repeats multiple times daily throughout our communities and world.  The powers stand tall with the pretence of fearlessness but of course they do fear.  They fear the unknown, the little ones who seemingly have nothing to lose, who are fearless and bring others on board.  The US reacted with angry terror at the Wikileaks articles that questioned their integrity and sense of justice.  They went all out to get the authors and those who leaked information out of the way, locked behind bars and out of sight.  Sometimes truth hurts the powers and they cannot live with the light it shines in their face.

This is the story of what we call Palm Sunday.  In it we hear varying accounts (this year Matthew 21:1-11) of Jesus entering Jerusalem a few days before he is crucified.  He organises a donkey, or in Matthew’s case to emphasise the point, a mother donkey with her baby.  It is a comical story of this peasant, country hick rabbi from the hills of Galilee coming into Jerusalem, the Holy city!  He rides along on back of donkey to the cries of the peasant crowd who variously wave palms or lay down garments as a carpet for his journey.  They cry out ‘Hosanna’ which means something like ‘save us’.  They enter into the joyful, hopeful spirit of the occasion – and they knew exactly what it was about!

On the other side of the city, entering through the Damascus Gate, was the party of Pilate, the Governor under Rome.  He came in with legions of soldiers on horse-back.  He rode in power surrounded by the most powerful symbols of his might as a warning to Jerusalem to behave and be quiet – or else!  Jesus’ entry is a parody, a lampooning take on Pilate and Rome.  He is laughing at them!  They believe themselves all-powerful and worship at the feet of Caesar, almighty saviour of the world, or so they proclaim.

Jesus comes in peace on an animal that is as lowly and gentle as can be found.  He comes waving in welcome and joy at the gathering crowd and invites them into the way of God.  He comes proclaiming that God, not Caesar, is Lord and that the real Kingdom belongs to God, all-powerful.  He comes to spoil the party of Rome and challenges their might, their gospel, their way.  He stands against their violent oppressive ways and is a voice for those who have no voice and no hope.  This whistle-blower for God turns up to lampoon the deadly serious show on the other side of town!

The next day he takes his actions into the Temple and disrupts the whole place.  The Temple ought to be a place of refuge, peace and help for the poor and lost but it is a place of injustice as the leaders collaborate with Rome make life harsh for the peasant poor.

After these confronting actions, Jesus has roused the powers.  The Temple leaders have the most to lose it seems and want him silenced.  He has unleashed voices of hope and people hover around him as he teaches and confronts the powers further.  They are torn in this holy week but want an end to this nonsense before Rome’s brutality comes down upon them.  They act and he is arrested, tried by night and taken into the palace of Pilate – no large crowds of ordinary people, just the small rent-a-crowd mob who do as they’re paid to.

When you mess with the powers they come down hard but the fearless ones invested with God’s gracious peace and inner strength stand strong before the world with its injustice and violence and stand for peace, for truth, for love and true freedom – for all.  This is something of what Jesus did and what his followers today do at their best – confront the powers of injustice, of hatred and abuse in the courageous power and love of God.

Will you join Jesus’ way?

By geoffstevenson

Come Out and Live!

I read a story again this week, one I’ve read and pondered before.  It is a tough and confronting story that rankles and disturbs my 21st century sensibilities.  I want to know what it means and to explain it away because it is about death and life and what happens when there is an illness in a community and they call on the Galilean miracle man to come and restore but he is too late.  There is now death but not only death – 4 days of death so that his spirit is gone and nothing can be undone because death has spoken.

I know this feeling in my own life, the place where death silently lurks and intrudes and illness turns malignant until life breathes its last and there is nothing but earthly remains and grief.  I know the feeling of watching one loved, fade into that place of mystery leaving me behind in confusion and loneliness – and fear.  I know it in my own life and in others’.  I know it in the faces of those who have come to funerals I have conducted. We wrestle with the place of death and wish, somehow, we could turn it around, rewind the film, restore the life of one we have loved.  We want to reverse the process of life and cling to a mortality that is precarious and unsure.

I see death written in the eyes of people who fear death and seek to escape it with every fibre of their being.  They hide from it and escape into realms of fantasy or escape, addictive lives that run and run – to outrun death?  But these lives are they alive?  Do we fully live when driven by fear and confusion?  Do we fully live when life is governed by fantasy or escape?  I have learned that there is a hard way of life that leads to life and it takes us through a recognition, a confrontation with death – our own death! The movie, ‘Bucket List’ reveals the freedom of those who face death and accept it, who will not let it hold them in its grasp, who will not die before its power.  When they are stripped bare of the pretence of the living and face the deep reality that they are dying, they choose to live and experience fullness of life. It is a risky embrace of everything their dreams are made of and everything they never believed to do.  It confuses family and friends who cannot accept the living in their midst and revolt against their living even as they die.

I read this story in the Gospel of John (11:1-45), a weird, strange story of Lazarus who was sick and died and was raised to life after 4 days in a tomb, stinking and rotting and I thought, ‘What on earth does this mean??!!’  Who raises dead bodies to life and what kind of science is this?  They tell me God can do anything but does God do anything, everything?  They told me that faith is necessary to understand this story but what is this faith to which they refer?  Is it mindless belief that never questions, doubts or delves?  Is it faith that lets stories be true back there but not here and now?

I have stood before death beds where the devout, more devout than I, have prayed their hearts and souls out for ones they love.  They have prayed with faith and certainty and deep hope but death has progressed and surrounded this one and they have passed from life through death to life in some other realm or place we name but don’t understand.  Death seems to win and we don’t understand – it happened back then but not now???!! How does a man get raised to life after 4 days in a tomb?  What does it mean?  They told me not to ask these questions but simply believe but what am I to believe?  What did John believe all those centuries ago?  Is this a history lesson or a new science or something else that I don’t understand?  What do I do with this?  What do I do with this??!

I read around the story, seemingly in circles, until at last I was confronted by a strange image – Lazarus is me!  Lazarus is also you.  Whatever else John might be saying and whatever strange happenings may or may not have occurred the questions of why, how and what happened are distractions from the truth that I am Lazarus and so are you.

In the midst of my life there is the brokenness that invades my being.  There is the malaise of body, mind and spirit, the distractions that drive me away from ‘me’, the ‘I’ that I am and one whom I am created to be.  Life has a way of asserting itself upon my being and feeding me with all manner of temptations and seductions of body and mind and ultimately spirit.  They draw me into different places where I am distracted or ambitious or fearful or craving release.  I choose that which looks good to me and satisfies the physical urges or needs even when they are not good for me and my body.  I become stressed and anxious and agitated of spirit because balance in my being is not there.  Noise in my world – the iPod, the iPhone, everything ‘i’ or noisy or a screen with information and escape – takes me away from myself until I forget and feel good for a moment or two.  Still I hunger and thirst inside for something else because nothing satisfies my being except the authentic life to which I am called.

The tomb of Lazarus (whose name means ‘God is my help’) is our tomb, protecting us from a world that is harsh and hard but strangely that tomb is the world and life is really lived beyond.  Lazarus is dead and wrapped in grave clothes and I am Lazarus.  There is weeping outside and a tear-filled voice of authority and power, a voice of life calls Lazarus out!  The voice, tear-filled and strong calls to you and me – ‘Come out!’ Will we come out into the brightness of light, the light of God that invades us and sears into our being life a cauterising surgical laser piecing through dead or diseased tissue?  Will we endure the confronting challenge to live?  Would not Lazarus be more peaceful in the quiet darkness of death, a relief from his pain and illness?  Would we not prefer to live in quiet oblivion, using painkillers and escape to exist in a fantasy world of make believe?  Do we want to encounter this God who challenges death and speaks life into hopeless despair?  Sometimes we like our hopeless despair. Why else would stay there so long and so often?  Who really wants to be raised, stripped bare and to have the bright light of God shine upon us?  Who wants to live before we die, to find a few moments of inspired life, God-given and deep, profound and wonderful?  Who wants to enter into this God-space of love-embraced life and live it?  Like those inspired souls who have been embraced in eternal love and give everything they are for God’s Reign!

By geoffstevenson