Lorna Koskela sees hope in the midst of the storm.
This year started so well – but about a month ago it started to crumble. Or so I thought. Certainly life took an unexpected detour.
Today I'm wrestling again… and like Jacob I don't want to let go until God blesses me. Shut doors can be an answer from God, I know (though the way they are shut might not be!), but now having finished (and passed!) my MA in theology (Leadership, Renewal and Mission with Emerging Church) at Cliff College, I'm trying to find out what doors are open/opening and what it is that God might be calling me to do.
I'm very excited by the fresh expressions of church that are emerging – even here in Finland – and that we as Christians are wrestling with both theological and ecclesiological questions in our quest to find out what the church means in a 21st century context, and what it means to be – and make – disciples of Jesus Christ. Indeed it's the whole question of growing as disciples that excites me most.
At the end of 2009 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said that the church needed to 'go through the door' and take its message out to places where it hasn't been before.
It's a real call to be incarnational isn't it? To be interested in people, their lives, their stories, their successes and failures, and to be 'Jesus with skin on' with those with whom our lives intersect.
Right now in me a storm is raging. It's not an angry one but it is significant, I think. It's connected with what it means to be the body of Christ, the church. Mark 4 tells us about the disciples' anguish at Jesus sleeping through the storm. When a storm is raging in our lives – when we are at a crossroads as I am right now – it's easy to think that God isn't present or concerned, though our theology (and previous experience of God) might well tell us otherwise… and to be honest it can be pretty lonely when we wrestle with deep questions can't it?
I really like what Maggi Dawn writes, in her Lenten book Giving it Up, on storms:
Not all stories of suffering have a happy ending; we can't assume that if we have faith in God everything will turn out right. In Job's story, God didn't turn back the clock and restore what Job had lost, but He did restore him to peace and prosperity and a new future. In this story (Mark 4) we do see Jesus restoring peace and bringing His disciples safely to shore. It would be over-reading the story to interpret this as a promise that God will take care of all our troubles for us, but we can learn that He is with us in difficulties, brings peace in the storm and guides us into the future.
That applies not only to me – and you – on a personal level, but also, I think, to the church on the onset of post-Christendom. And it gives me hope in the midst of the storm.