At a number of services this Easter I have heard preachers say that we can only really experience the joy and amazement of Easter having lived through the horror and darkness of Good Friday.
There is something very obvious and true about this thought, but also something that we find so hard to grasp and experience. I feel like I am boardering on the pious when I say that good things often come from bad situations - but it is often the reality and certainly has been for me. It is certainly true that I can only appreciate the brightness of these moments having lived through the bad times. I also feel that I want to be very careful not to undermine the experience of those who never seem to get beyond the dark times - times when the light seems so dim it is barely visible.
It is a simple reality, yet also hard to accept, that life is made up of the two - light and dark; times of extreme joy and peace, and times of terrible personal pain and confusion. As with most things in this life of faith, we are left on the fence between these two extemes. I very carefully say that I am thankful for the darkness, otherwise how could I experience radiance?
This Easter has been particularly powerful and meaning for me this year. These past few years have been extremely difficult - certainly some of the darkest times of my life. Good Friday has lasted for far longer than normal - leaving me vulnerable, exposed and laid bare for all too see.
My rather public breakdown had many causes - not least the constant struggle to unite church and sexuality. I am very clear that I mean 'church' and not 'faith'. The pain of loving the church's potential and yet being so hurt by it's failings is, at times, unbearable. My desperate emotional attempt to leave the church and to hurt myself was the physical expression of the emotional tension - remain in the church and be hurt vs leave and find peace.
This is a stark reality and one that is uncomfortable. It seems so unfair to say that the church has hurt me, when I have and continue to be, so cherished by friends and loved ones who are some of the most honest christians I know. And yet there is a pernishous thread, an invisible undercurrent of tension. Ultimately it is this - how do we hold together the opinions of those who's faith is homophobic and biblically based and those who are accepting and biblically based, and how in all of this, do we stop those who are Gay or Lesbian from being torn apart by this tension.
We cannot underestimate the depth of this darkness; its lonliness, its potential to undermine the most stable and confident of people. Equally, we can underestimate how difficult it is for the church to see the light - to experience and accept the joyful and profund love that is the Gay community.
There are so many candles out there! So many churches and christians who are loving, compassionate and accepting of all God created difference, and whilst we rejoice in these moments of amazing ressurection, we must also remember that countless other enlightening gay christians feel stiffled and voiceless.
The pain for me, is that it is one thing to be accepted, it is quite another to be free enough to speak openly about my sexuality and the wonderful things it brings to my life, my loving and my minsitry. 'Accepting' is all to often limited to 'tolerating'.
Light in Darkness.
It is present. I should know!
The problem with the light is that it exposes all that hides in the dark.
I can and will no longer accept all those things that have made me feel small and afraid.
I will no longer hide in the hidden spaces of Christ's Church - spaces where God's people are only allowed to seek wholeness rather that to grasp it with both hands, spaces where God's people cannot be honest about their pain and joy without being told that it is too uncomfortable to hear.
If this sounds like anger - then good - because that is what it is.
Unsupressed and joyful loving anger; born from confidence and a passion that God is love and that God's church is a place where all are welcome!
I thank God that I have found such suffering in the Church - because I now burn with the passion of all that the church can be!
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Good Friday has not disappeared - but it shines with inestinquishable blaze and exposes all that cheapens and darkens our faith.
God bless you all this Easter