The Cross is Not Enough.

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I’ve sat in churches for the best part of ten years hearing the same rhetoric about the meaning of Easter. It goes a little something like this:

“Jesus came to earth to die on the cross to save you from your sins and he rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven.”

Usually this is followed by a bunch of cheering.

Can I be totally honest with you? I never got what was so great about that. And please save me from every possible angle at which you can come at the penal substitution theory. I’ve tried to get excited about them all. (And Failed)

At the risk of being named a total heretic, I been left scratching my head about why that would be enough to save us. Why would we get excited about a man being beaten, tortured and nailed brutally to a cross 2,000 years ago in order to save us from sin? To many people I’ve spoken to, it seems a bit barbaric for that to be the entire basis on which one would base their faith.

Friend. If the cross gets you excited and you “get it”. I am so happy for you. But you must understand that for many people;

The Cross is Not Enough.

If you look at the death and resurrection of Christ as an isolated incident (As we often do) then you are missing out on the whole, beautiful, life changing point of God’s love.

Because isn’t that what Christ was here to demonstrate? The love of our Father God? I don’t know about you but I have never met a Father who required one of his children to die a horrible death in order to accept the other son/daughter again.

I’ve come to a place where I believe he came to earth to show us something that was already abundantly true. I reckon he came down because religious people of the day were just getting it so terribly wrong, turning his word into a rule book that was impossible to adhere to. When you look at the whole story leading up to the life and death of Christ. You see a God who relentlessly pursues those made in his image only to be rejected over and over again. Yet he never gives up. He never did. And he didn’t need Jesus to die to accept us. Jesus’ death on the Cross is a graphic reminder of what we have done to God and still do to God everyday.

As Richard Rohr puts it “The Cross is a Mirror”. We murdered his love, we hurt his creation, we hurt one another, we start wars in the name of imaginary borders, we build walls, we create clubs with impossible rules and regulations. When he came to Earth to show us a new way, we religious folk didn’t like it. We were threatened, we got jealous. He wasn’t what we expected. So we murdered him the most brutal way possible.

And yet.

This one event has shaped history forever and captivated millions of people to follow the way and teachings of Jesus.

To me this makes more sense then penal substitution ever did. Yes the scriptures written around that time suggest penal substitution is central but remember this is because that is how a sacrificial culture would have understood his death. The Lamb of God = The Passover Lamb et cetera. But it’s not the entire picture like we have tried to shove down peoples throats ever since. 

Jesus did not come so that people could get into some heavenly Kingdom, He came so he could show us what the Kingdom looks like. And it is is ALL inclusive.

The last thing we want to do is create another “Who’s in and Who’s out” culture that Jesus constantly crticised. Language like “Saved” and “Converted” and “Became a Christian” can be so very dangerous. It suggests that an individual created in the image of God, loved by God since before they were in their Mother’s womb is somehow incomplete without “being saved”.

I knew about Jesus and God ever since I was 7 years old. I knew the general gist of the whole deal. Hearing the ol’’ “Jesus Died on the Cross for you” was not the thing that captivated my heart.

I had a divine revelation of the Love of God when I was 19 in my spirit and through the Love of his followers. My eyes were opened. “I was blind, but now I see.”

God’s people demonstrated his unconditional love to me when I felt completely unworthy and like life was not worth living. 

I was already loved beyond comprehension as God’s child.

I just couldn’t see it.

I think that’s what breaks God’s heart the most. When his children can’t see how much he loves them. And I am grieved to see well meaning Christians in past times and present preventing people from people seeing God’s love. I haven’t come across too many LGBTIQ people who can say they have felt the Love of God inside a church building.

Friend, you are apart of the story of God’s love. Yes, Easter is a part of this story. But it didn’t stop there. It continues with us as we breathe in his love as unconditional, no strings attached, as we love and hold our children, as we hold each other, as we reach out to those who need us, as we laugh, enjoy and live life as a community.

The Cross is Not Enough.

But Love. Love is enough.

Gem

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centre

The edge of life

The edge of holiness

A thin moment

A kiss and a whisper in the dark morning

And I lie there

as the sun lightly kisses the earth

that life is not found in bigness

it is found in each moment

but will be open to it

Open enough to drink it in?

Beating Breathing Heart

human pain

I’m apart of human pain

Of suffering and fear

Of dust and dirt

Of laughter and tears

Relentless striving

The heartache of existence

I’m apart of it

My heart opens and closes

Beating

Breathing

A living thing

Broken

over and over

And yet it still beats

And loves again despite the risk

Arms flung open

Another wound expecting

Constant healing

hope resurrecting

I’m apart of the broken hearts that still beat

I’m apart of it all

I am human

I’ll always choose to be human.

A Break Up Letter 

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Dear Certainty,

You are a deceptive type of friend to have. You seem really safe, you seem really reliable. You have all the right answers. Something to blanket myself with. I needed you in a time of vulnerability, of shaky faith. You served me well in those early years. But now you have become a foe, always letting me down. It seems the inner critic, the self appointed judge and you are having coffee more often than I thought. But enough is enough. I am writing this as my formal notice of the termination of our relationship. I want to tell you that although you seemed useful in some small way, you alienated me from the people I ought to love most, my relationships suffered because of you, because you needed to be right, because you were so black and white about everything. You marred how I saw the world and humanity, you convinced me of utter depravity and so I saw people with grey tinted glasses. You cost me many years of my life, many thoughts of worry that were not mine to think, many misguided agendas, many efforts to convince people of your conclusions, talking at people rather then listening to them. You kept me far away from my new friend, curiosity. Curiosity was a threat to you, you were so jealous, so afraid of new possibilities, so scared that your truth might not be the only truth. So you put up a shield rather then opening up your arms. Your ways were never gentle, your thoughts never kind. It left me so confused and doubtful, conflicted between my heart and in my mind. But I guess in a way I have reason to thank you. Thankyou for pushing me to point of breaking, thank you that I have seen the narrow path that certainty leads down, thankyou for helping me to see how ugly, unwelcoming and unhelpful you are in a world that thirsts for unconditional love and acceptance. My eyes are truly open and my grey tinted glasses have broken under the weight of divine love. I now see humanity so differently. I see all the beauty and all that is holy everywhere, not just in the bubbles you have created.

Certainty left me blind but now, I finally see.

I hold it all lightly. I listen to people who see things differently to myself, I hold it with dignity. I let go of the burden of agenda, pressure to convince people, that there is one true way. I am free to listen, to enjoy, to laugh, to love with each human in my path. I am so glad we’re not together anymore. I am now free and free indeed.

I am not certain of anything now except for one thing:

That Love always wins.

Kind Regards,

Gemma Uren

11pm

 

sadness

I crash into you again

writhing with the pain

clawing down the sides as I

fall into your tunnel again

Things had been so good

When I wasn’t looking

it pounces

A thief in the night-time hour

The infinite

sadness

consuming me

Like I’m lost

blind

The scared little child takes over

Falling deeper ever deeper

I cannot see him

I black out in fear

and the sadness becomes me

“I’m sorry”, I whisper

as he pulls me out again

“Look at me! Look me in the eye!”

I gasp for air

breathing in the reality

I came out of it again

“I’m so sorry”, I whisper

“I’m so sorry.”

Lent took my Gilmore Girls

This week marks my one year anniversary as a practicing Anglican.

I remember nervously walking into the small chapel early Sunday morning in 2016, not entirely sure what on earth I was doing there.

All I can say is that I followed my curiosity.

And what I have found is a truly beautiful, life giving, healing community and a spiritual practice that nourishes me.

Not to mention it’s a mere three minute drive from my house!

But enough of that.

We’re here to talk about…

Lent (Latin: Quadragesima: Fortieth)

Being in the charismatic stream of christianity for so long, the liturgical calendar was foreign to me and seemed a bit unnecessary.

These days I find deep, spiritual food in a traditional practice. It’s funny how things change. It’s funny how I have changed.

Lent is a 40 day observation in preparation for Easter beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Palm Sunday. People can give up rich foods, luxuries, television, alcohol and whatever distracts from seeking God’s face. Its a time to become quiet and to seek a deeper connection with the divine.

Pope Francis aptly articulates the heart of Lent when he says:

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”

This past year for me has been a year of loss, of starting again, of letting go of dreams, of grieving what was and things I am waiting for.

It’s been really hard. And I have found myself staring at a screen a lot medicate my own pain and to feel as if I’m connected in some way.

Praying, meditating or any serious spiritual practice has fallen by the wayside. I’ve had a deconstruction experience with faith so I’ve deliberately kept myself from being zealous in any spiritual discipline.

Come to think of it I’ve actually stopped being zealous about most things.

My bible has been sitting on the shelf in true “backslider” fashion for six months *shock horror gasp

In saying that, I now have a deeper faith than ever before.

But my heart longs to become quiet again. To learn how to sit with myself without constant options to distract, to numb myself from my own reality. Maybe I could try to trust God to hold me again.

This year I’m giving up social media and television. This is going to be an exercise in being brave.

I feel scared to just sit with God and myself again, I’m scared I might come away empty handed. I don’t want to force things anymore.

I don’t want to twist God’s arm into giving me my wildest dreams. I’d like to learn how to humbly accept and be thankful for the blessings in everyday.

This morning at 7am, arriving bleary eyed with my husband, we received ashes upon our forehead with the priests refrain over us “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

We then sung these words

We offer you our failures, we offer you attempts, the gift not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt. Give our stumblings direction, give our visions wider view. An offering of ashes, an offering to you.” -Tom Conry

Are you doing Lent this year? I’d love to hear what your intentions are for this very special season.

Be free my friend

x Gem x