How this Grace thing works (2)

Guitar Study 1

(Photo credit: fmerenda)

There is a new worship service at church. It kinda hurts and feels good at the same time because it looks a bit (and feels a lot) like the kind of worship I used to go to before. The formula is familiar: worship songs, fast fast fast, LOUD, slowing… slow, slow building up to fast again. There are a lot of words about love: I could sing of your love forever, More love, more power, You’re rich in love and you’re slow to anger/Your name is great and your heart is kind. The band are good (my partner is there, I can see how she is reading the room, connected with the Spirit, her fingers are fast on the fretboard). But I am anxious, vulnerable, my heart in my throat. I want to run away. My stomach twists.

What if, what if, what if God really does search you out, and know you? Run, run, run, flee from that Presence. Who can stand in front of God and live? Especially me.

I escape to the kitchen at the back, for water. I find another fugitive in there. We sip, we pause, not saying much. When she goes back to the room I find the corner of the dark kitchen, blindly. I actually open one of the cupboard doors to make the space even smaller, a hiding place. And I cry between the cupboard door and the bin from the bottom of my gut, silently. I don’t even know where it has come from but I know enough to recognise shame when I see it. And I know while I am here, unseen, unknown, I cannot defeat it. I know I must walk back out. I must be seen, known. I must choose not to be safe, alone, detached.

When I fling myself out of the door I have missed the reflection although I caught snatches of it from the hiding place: God’s love is bigger, stronger, it lasts forever. The music has started again. I find my seat. Is it too much to ask for the love to have skin on? Perhaps I should try to picture some mystical blue light, entering my soul…

As the tears threaten again, I am embraced by the friend sitting next to me. God’s love has skin on. God’s Spirit breathes as she prays for me. It is safe.

When I kneel down, Brother Jesus’s presence is in the hand of my Pastor who holds my shoulders, His voice is in hers: I’m here, it’s ok.

When I get up again to sing another sister holds my hand and we stretch our arms up together and God’s presence isn’t in aloneness, it is in togetherness.

Afterwards, I am sitting on the floor which is scattered with cushions and I begin pulling  some around me. My sisters help, building a wall of cushions around me until I am surrounded and I can lean my head on the top one and peep out. Giggling, they come one by one and fall onto my nest of cushions until we are all lying around, talking about how we should all go out together to eat sometime.

In the end, love isn’t a mystical blue light, it is the solid arms of a friend. Grace is not an untouchable concept, it is the sisters who build you a nest out of cushions, higher and higher until you feel enclosed and safe and warm.

This song, all of it:

More Posts on Middle Ground:

How this Grace Thing works (1)

3 thoughts on “How this Grace thing works (2)

  1. Neil Hawkins says:

    I am confused. You are gay, but, a Christian. According to Judeo/Christian scripture, homosexuality is an abomination. I’m an atheist, I suppose. I’m not really that struck on labels.

    First and foremost, you are a human being. Therefore, you have the human right to be exactly who and what you are. The fact that you are gay is of absolutely no consequence to me. But, come one, love! The religion that you hold so dear hates you, and others like you.

    There is no God, no Satan, no angels, nothing like that whatsoever. Isn’t time you let go of that Bronze Age Bullshit?

    • Hi Neil, thanks for your comment. I can’t help wondering if you read the post you are commenting on? If you did then you will have seen how churches can be inclusive, tolerant, safe friendly spaces for gay people. There are many Christians who believe that the Bible does not truly condemn homosexuality and who act accordingly. I don’t know if you have looked into Scripture (why would you, as an atheist?) but it is not at all clear that “homosexuality is an abomination” in the Bible. I would be willing to give you some reading recommendations if you are interested. Above all this, though, I find my faith to be as important a part of my identity as my sexuality, and I find it strange that you can be so accepting of one but not the other. I also find is strange that you are telling me that what I am is somehow “not allowed”.

  2. Tim says:

    “Grace is not an untouchable concept” – Great point, Charlotte. thank you for the reminder of the reality of God’s grace.


    P.S. Contrary to Neil’s uninformed assertion, true faith does not promote such hatred. Here’s one of my takes on it all.

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