Relentless Solidarity

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One of the lessons I’ve learned again during this year is that life is short and unpredictable, and we need to make the most of every moment we’re blessed with. This lesson hasn’t been taught through close personal tragedy (though there have been tough times) but through news from friends and their tragedies. A number of friends & acquaintances have been diagnosed with Cancer in recent years, many this year. Some have been successfully treated, others are in the midst of their treatment, and some have been taken all too soon.

Coping can be difficult. Whether you have a personal faith in God or not, whether you are the one receiving the diagnosis or you’re the one supporting the person with the diagnosis – it’s tough. There are often too few words of comfort to offer – and sometimes just being there is enough.

A friend, fellow Baptist Minister and member of my sending Church, preached a sermon recently which contained a very personal reflection on his own journey these last few months, which mirrors many I know of too. It was not just a personal message, but a message of hope in adversity, and a message of the relentless solidarity offered to us by God.

To quote a favourite line from Four Weddings and a Funeral: “Perhaps you will forgive me if I turn from my own feelings to the words of another splendid bugger; this is actually what I want to say“. [if you can’t watch the video right now, there are some key quotes below]

“we are nowhere promised that [the Christian life] will be easy, but we can hold firmly to our faith even in hard times, certain that no upset in our circumstances, no matter how grave, changes the truth of what God has done in Christ and is doing through His Church”

“the statistics suggest that no-one should be surprised by a Cancer diagnosis; one in two of us will encounter the disease at some point…”

“Cancer found me coasting complacently through life […] paying lip-service to a living faith but in reality living as though my will would be done and God were just a benevolent bystander”

“truly we do not even know wat will happen tomorrow; in that sense none of us is ever really out of the woods, maybe we are just blessed with clearings in the woods where the light floods in and life flourishes. But I now know from experience, and I encourage you to believe, that even when the woods are dense and the darkness seems to dominate God is with us, He is with us and He calls us even there to be a light in the darkness”

“our faith insists that no amount of ‘not good news’, however personally terrifying, can alter the fact of the Good News of what God has done in Jesus”

The reason the darkness may be faced and lived in is that even in the darkness there is one to address. The one to address is in the darkness but is not simply a part of the darkness. Because this One (God) has promised to be in the darkness with us we find the darkness strangely transformed, not by the power of easy light but by the power of relentless solidarity.” Walter Brueggemann

Spirituality of the Psalms

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