The truth is we may not recognize him. He may come to us in distressing disguise. Can it be that Christ comes into our midst along inner city side walks, and back allies, evening disguised as our guest?That ragged alcoholic, or addict with a hacking cough. Is he Jesus? That woman lugging all her worldly goods in two large green garbage bags. Is she Jesus? The urine soaked addict swearing his head off at you. Could that be Jesus?
If any thing I've learnt after years of "trying" to be a christian...it is that it's far easier to worship Jesus...following, do I really. I follow from a comfortable distance. Following closely, is to risk encountering him in disguise.
More than forty some years of sermons, of reading stacks of books on emerging and missional christianity, CARTS has changed my faith forever. I stand in the debris of rubble and deconstruction. Everything is still there, but, what was once neatly constructed is very messy.
The rubble of my faith, is much like the landscape we navigate each Sunday in the courtyard of Victoria Cool Aid Society’s Downtown Community Center.
I am more acutely aware of human fallenness and brokenness. I see the shards, the sharp pieces of a broken society; sex trafficking, addiction, exploitation, hate, injustice and indifference.
You add it all up, and it’s a pretty dark and grim picture. One has to continually clean their rose colored glasses to catch those rare glittering moments of optimism.
I’ve always been a huge believer in kindness, still am. There are moments when I to am mean, selfish, self righteous, self absorbed, wounded, sick or damaged...my kindness comes across as celebrating the Eucharist, or communion with moldy bread. The courtyard makes me acutely aware of my own rot, that I am as needy as everyone who comes through the line.
I’m pretty good at kindness, but I know I am as sick and twisted as the next guy.
And, yet my belief in God’s unconditional love and forgiveness remains undiminished. In fact it has grown.
Specifically, the grimmer the picture when it comes to humanity, the more radical and unconditional is my vision of the love of God. What happens every Sunday is like this cosmic eclipse of redemptive imagination. As darkness seems to grow in one direction, it appears to grow brighter and brighter in the other direction. The deeper we go into the pit of despair of broken lives the greater the scandal of God’s all inclusive, unconditional and never ending love and grace.
Morally and theologically my faith is becoming one of deepening contrasts. Darker night. Brighter light. It’s this sharp line between despair, brokenness and grace that has transfixed me.
Time, and time again this is the line Jesus seemed to find himself. That liminal space where his parables, like an earth quake fractured people’s landscape of certitude about God, good and evil, right and wrong, black and white. It was here where is actions blinded people, where peoples perceptions were revealed to them as illusions. People had to be blinded to see, and become deaf in order to hear.
It’s our prayer each week that CARTS is this line of contrasts, where people are blinded in order to see and experience the radiant beauty of God’s love for them. Where the are momentarily deafened from the haunting lies in their heads to hear the words that they are, “ God’s beloved child.” If we have done that, we have truly served God and man.
Compassion isn't just about feeling the pain of others; it's about bringing them in toward yourself. If we love what God loves, then, in compassion, margins get erased. 'Be compassionate as God is compassionate,' means the dismantling of barriers that exclude.
Gregory J. Boyle
We are a local Victoria, BC charity dedicated to fulfilling our mission: