Broken to be shared

 

The sun beat thorough the windscreen keeping me awake while I waited in the parked car for the school bell to ring. I work with Children and had to supervise this particular child’s contact with his brother. On the radio, the last minutes of the Radio play ended followed by the news. Most of what was being reported was innocuous and breezed from ear to ear without registering. This until the story I will focus on for this rant-ish.

Two clergymen were arrested for allegedly assaulting a series of young men. I turned the radio off. Tears rolled down my cheeks.

Context

I had just come back from a weekend away ‘Exploring the call of God’. There had been teaching on ‘calling’ – that deep sense of a specific direction within which to pour our passion. Mine felt like it was to be in the church, working towards healing and reconciliation by building gracious communities.

The tears fell because I knew that dysfunctionality wasn’t something that few suffered. Something only experienced by the impoverished. It is, in fact, something that everyone must deal with. The bible says that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God’. There are no exemptions made for neither pope nor murderer. We all bear the scars of sin and sinfullness and are all in fact working out our salvation in attempting to lean on the Grace of God through Jesus.

The tears fell because I not only empathised with the young men who were allegedly assaulted, but also felt a deep sense of sorrow for the clergymen. We are all victims of sin. It wasn’t into a glowing beacon of perfection that I was being called to serve, it rather was, and is a collection of Fallible men whose hearts are directed toward good.

Depth

Jesus took the bread, and broke it. If he didn’t break it, it wouldn’t be shared. Here we see the Son of Man, who yielded himself to being broken: the bread of life, exemplifying the heart of God while teaching the solution to the human problem. None of us are whole. The more we attempt to deceive ourselves and others into believing that we are whole, the more we break them. When we do not accept out brokenness and share our pieces, we break others by taking from them. The opposite to service is abuse.

For a Christian, the core is Christ. So unless you break and share, you keep Christ hidden within and stifle light from shining, not only into your life, but into the life of others. It’s like putting a cup over a candle, with no oxygen to burn, the candle dies out. Do not harden your heart, be bold, be strong, be free and vulnerable, let Christ out and watch him pour in.

For the Church as an institution, accountability is key. What price is being paid for the lack of accountability between these two men and their fellows. Being called to serve is being called to break even further. To open your hands, and heart, and mind to those you serve. Knowing our weaknesses, and having them known, helps protect the vulnerable world we work with, but also us from temptations that the world presents. Acting out of fear, folds away the hands of love.

Confess your faults to one another, and pray for each other that you may be healed

James 5:16

I shed tears because I knew that the story would be told every half hour for the next day, portraying the church as an unsafe place and tarnishing the good work of many great friends: fathers, daughters, sons and sisters to whom the call to serve is received. It is for these, equally broken but diligent in love, servants that I wept, praying all the while that their work would not be stifled or undermined.

I wiped my cheeks with a growing determination and a prayer for continued humility within me. For that hope in Love to increase so that when the time did come – if God willed it – I wouldn’t shudder and hide.

Healing

The church is imperfect. It has imperfect people within it. It needs your accountability – so ask questions of it. It needs your input – so ask how you can help. Most of all it needs the same forgiveness it preaches. These three things will ensure it continues well in its work of healing, one person at a time.

 

Mission: As fast as the slowest person

So I joined The 2012 yesterday. It’s purpose as an organization is to help train people across the spectrum – within London – on how to live out an expressive, missional Faith. For a moment after I read the website I asked myself whether that wasn’t the purpose of the church. Then it struck me, I had limited Church to a Sunday evening, and even worse: a building. The emphatic Yes from my heart and mind in unison assured me of this as the church’s place. Rather than a palace for the holy, the Church was to be the hands and feet, hearts and ears, instruments of hope within a hopeless world. It encouraged me to see, and hear, the passion that Church has to reach out to a society whose default setting is one of suffering, hopelessness and an overall rejection of faith and the divine. It is a true reflection of the incarnate way in which God intervenes and reminded me that we all started there; at the point of despair.

My thought’s stumbled through my memory banks, marching past the devoted boy busy reading through the bible, to the angry and rebellious teenager struggling to discover himself, and finally to the young man affected by a touch to the heart from a Love he had worked hard to pretend didn’t exist. This journey back was signposted by many good people whose reaction to their faith in a missional vein allowed me to rediscover the deep longing I had for God as well as the deep longing God had for me to know Him. I recall those two young men (boys then) who took their time and were patient with me as I (drunk) tried to ridicule them for this choice that they had made: to be out in the cold sharing their faith.

I stumbled further into this sense of calling that I have felt to be involved in facilitating reconciliation between people and people but also with God. What would I, drawing from my own experience, as well as what Jesus said and did, put as the core of missional thinking. That was when this phrase emerged.

“As fast as the slowest person”

It stood as a call to never neglect the individual. This is a condensation of many things that I have been taught over the years like:

John Peters (St Marys London) said Church was a bi-product of discipleship (thoroughly paraphrased). The vision had to be people, and even more importantly, a person, in order for the edifice to stand. Looking at the bigger picture could at times make us forget the victim lying by the side of the road as we trudge on toward the temple (The good samaritan).

It made sense. The slowest person would ask the most questions, require the most patience and love. In actual fact, they would represent us, for even with the bible before us, God’s love demonstrated on the cross, his resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit we still have questions and the Father is ultimately patient.

I’ll stop here before this turns into a talk.

Be sure to check out the 2012website as well as adding @the_2012_ on twitter: join, share, and get involved.

 

Poetry 022: Dust

Dust

The first breath,
Accompanied by the tears
And the lament –
That ushered in the embers
Of a rotting life –
Set the tone (of atoning strife).
Like my father I refused
To embrace my looming death,
Assured that the life breathed in
Would stay.
A gloved fist int he air
Spoke of my debonair rebellion:
The fruit forbidden was mine to eat,
My complexion a feat placed
Against the lightly coloured rules
That blighted my background.
These feet –
that from the red earth arose –
Were determined to wallow
In the sorrow-free days that’d
Precede my return to the dust.

© Denis Adide 2012

Poetry 021: Unconditional

It is the wealth of continuity, un-assailed, unabated, unstoppable.  

Where can I go to hide from you?
You pursue me into the very depths
Of the heart I strive to keep away.
Where can I run? To whom?
Where is it that you are not?

The sweat on my brow testifies of you,
As I flee, it reminds me of why,
Bringing you closer as I try away.
The wind whispering past
Speaks of the swiftness with which
You overtake, overwhelm, overcome.

And even when I risk life itself to flee
The hope of freedom sets me back
Into the death of being loved.
Being Loved
Being Love
Being an Object of love,
Unconditionally.

© Denis Adide 2012

Poetry 020: Bathsheba

I have made a covenant with my eyes

Job

 

A few lines musing on the root of lust. 

It’s strange that I would wish I hadn’t
raised my head from the soft pillow.
For maybe I this madness wouldn’t
have ingested from the window.
In slumber I’d my thoughts so ardent
Kept concealed and winnowed.

And so I’ve lived in persistent fear
of that day when the Lord would come,
for the cool – once an oasis near –
now burns my parched tongue.
And his words – once songs to my ear –
the noose from which life hung.

If love lived in a hunger unquenched,
and lust was a drowning thirst,
Then merry many sweet fruits untouched
would have kept us with the first.
And the words he placed to stay the tears,
would have worked to stay the hearse

© Denis Adide 2011

Once he saw her, he was lost. Two people lost their lives, two had their lives changed and three relationships were broken. Bathsheba, like eve, is not to blame.

Addiction and Grace

Repression, then, in spite of its sinister reputation, is relatively flexible. It is workable. Addiction, the other force that turns us away from love, is much more vicious.

Gerald G. May MD Addiction And Grace

 

As reflected in my posts of late, the idea of being vulnerable and broken has been burning within my mind and heart. I have been contemplating the effects of denying my own brokenness on my relationships and the expectations I have within them. By relationships I also refer to the one I have with myself. The questions regarding how I interact with myself, treat myself, apply also to the way I treat others. This is because the command that I feel my desire leads me to try and follow is that by Jesus to us to try and love our neighbor as we do ourselves.

I have therefore been forced in a way to confront my own desires, both the deep inner good ones as well as the deep inner bad ones; the kinds that lead to my diceitful and selfish choices – choices that I knowingly make and even desire to make. This contradiction is a reflections of my own brokenness and unless I face them and begin that first journey of self acceptance, there would be little success in my attempts to love others or even accept being loved – especially by myself. Odd to think that unless I see myself for what I am, warts and all, I am bound to constant self-deception which weakens rather than strengthens.

In discussion with a close friend about these conflicts within me, the ideas regarding addiction and repression in respect to sin were brought up and he recommended Gerald G. May’s Addiction And Grace which I have just started reading. It is very insightful and one chapter in has opened my heart to thoughts I had denied within myself. The nature of addiction is still far from my understanding. The nature of love, however, is much closer and I think is the driving force on this journey.

Lets see where it leads.

Happy New Year to you all.

 

Love came down

“The truest gift is that of fearce, undying, unconditional, and preemptive love”

So, last night as I sat with my wife, her mother and brother, unwrapping the presents we had got each other, I cast my thoughts back across the afternoon. We had sat together and read from Luke 2 after which we sang a few carols and finished with a prayer.

Over the verses concerning the birth of Jesus, I had poured many times before; so too had I sung the carols time and time again. There was however, something quite different taking place. In this intimate space, where I was part embarrassed by the sound of my voice joining the harmonies filling the room, the canvas of monotony was lifted and fresh meaning began to emerge from the verses and the lyrics.
 I was overcome with a deep sense of appreciation for the expression of love shown to me by the Father through – and by the Son. The sense of celebration transcended the Gifts underneath the tree, sailing past the feeling of belonging : as I was gathered with family, and resting on a Spiritual awakening: that the gift was to my heart and soul. The birth of Christ became a tangible, as well as a Spiritual, joy.
Opening my presents, I was surprised at the way in which my wife and her family surpassed my expectations. They had given me far above what I deserved and it made me feel equally loved. It was here that the other verses i had forgotten began to pour past.

because He first loved us

love is itself. It is an action and not a response. It is not something that can be cultured or grown, love comes complete and whole. What we mostly mistake for love is intimacy, which takes time to grow and develop. You need intimacy in order to express love because intimacy is the currency of relationship. Love is as love is; a thing with no beginning and no end. It is a space with no boundaries; infinite and incomprehensible in its totality. It emerges – reveals itself – leaving us to react to it with our actions. You cannot show love without its revelation to you; thus the verse.
As I pondered this, the next verse flew by…
for God ‘so’ loved… That He ‘gave’
Generosity  is love’s character. The only thing that proceeds from love is an act of giving. Love gives. A wise man once said to a group of boys, of whom i s one, that love in action is ‘sacrificial giving of what the subject needs, not what they want’. This rings true with sentiment that withholding for a time falls in the remit of love’s generosity. For God so loved the world that He gave… Not only did love act, love sought to get intimate with us so that we may understand it, enjoy it, relate to it, and share in it – with it. (Something worth chewing on)
‘no greater love has a man than this, to lay down his Life for his friend’
This final verse led me to the conclusion that the generosity that love displays is a total one. That is, one that asks for handing over of what is most delicate and precious. Love shared its life – the soft inner part of itself – with us.
How fearce, how free, how complete, how compelling. Death was not the only purpose, He was born to live, to be learnt, to be doubted, to be trusted, to be embraced, to be denied, to be seen suffering, to be seen hungry, to cry, to be human. All so that Love could be understood.
Merry Christ Has Come!

Poetry 003: The Proposal

The proposal

She took the rose I gave her, tied the stalk with a silk string
And hung it from her windowsill to dry;
Its petals still accented by the scent of early spring.
She smiled. “These flowers, my love, tell a lie,
For they do not have the life to which they cling,
Their crimson clothes for affection die.”
Slumped I stood, “What a reply!”,
And couldn’t tell her I’d bought the ring.

© Denis Adide 2010


Proposing

In my experience so far – which I don’t think differs from any – I have been victim to the strange way in which men and women, in speaking the same language, misunderstand each other. Thinking on this pointed me toward the fears that I had – and still do have – about openly expressing how I felt to a woman. How everything they did or said affected what I was about to say. The proposal is such a story, where love – and the celebration that it should carry – is lost in the vacuum of things either unsaid, or misunderstood. It is a solemn poem that like the hidden ring, speaks of concealed emotions and thoughts lost on the threshold of commitment because of fastly fading sentiments that are as dead as the flowers. Love, more immortal than the dying plants or the fears that hamper, is sorrowfully lost in the small moments. This poem is for all the men, who like me, never reached the height of romance in their proposals. It is a word to our respective women: our actions will never fully incapsulate our sentiments, bare with us.