I don’t mean to be insolent – I hope you will see that.
We all are storytellers. These stories carry us through the night. By stories I mean the constructed narratives of meaning that keep us from despair or desperation. That they are stories has less to do with whether they are true than place us a characters within a scene that helps us make sense of life. We have faith that the narratives we clothe ourselves with, will fill up the longings, doubts and foreboding that creep in again and again. We can never be truly certain that the stories we tell ourselves go the way we tell the ending. Even so few of us keep our stories to ourselves we make big and small efforts to have others accept these tales we have adopted. Foreboding likes company.
Lately, I have struggled with how pretentious ‘church’ can be. It bothers me to see how trivial minutia get undeserved attention. My son pointed this out today as we sat in church in San Jose. He figured that if the whiners in church could spend a couple of Sundays in this church – they might not complain about music, noise, money, blah blah blah.
This church sang out loud. perhaps three minutes of the whole service was spent with the blaring piano and the song leader and the congregation all on the same key. It seemed that the more off key they were the louder the lifted their voices in search of the that unity – it got very loud. We don’t need to begin to talk about tempo.
A more devoted display of faith in the Christian narrative I have rarely seen if ever. And if there ever were a people who might be able to question the rational logic of their choice of narrative – it would be these. They claim that Jesus walks beside them and then spend the night waiting for the their pre-teenage boy to come home. The boy bound and gagged all night long finally arrives at home while the father has been out searching all night and day. If Jesus is the strength they claim why did he not prevent this trauma? In fact should it not be possible to see more evidence of Christ’s help in making these believers lives better? If anyone should have a reason to doubt their faith story it would be these. But you can’t chase these people from their faith.
It is not that these people have a more pure unadulterated faith – that they have found some secret to spiritual truth that most closely resembles the child like faith that Jesus described. No their faith is not uncomplicated. And although one might deduce from the intensity of their cried that their faith is certain – they would have to admit (as much as it might sadden them to do so) that they could not be – not completely. Nevertheless it is unshakeable.
It seems the faith narratives that we trade in – in North American churches are so accessorized that we lose sight of real reason for faith in the first place. Faith is not meant only for our own comfort. What these people have in greater supply than we do is that their faith not only holds them through the night but it extends to hold others through the night.
And these nights here are not our nights…
So bring on the GOOD bedtime stories…