More good news related to being messy

 

Ever since the birth of this blog nearly six years ago each discovery of Christian content elsewhere—stuff that also emulates the tone Messy Jesus Business aims to assert—has been a little thrill for me.

And by “tone Messy Jesus Business aims to assert” I mean that in this forum we (myself and the Rabble Rousers) try to ruminate on the hard, uncomfortable aspects of Gospel living. It is messy, challenging and intense to struggle for social justice and the protection of the most vulnerable. It is confusing and complex to live a Spirit-filled life working toward systemic change, to fill our lives with works of mercy and simple living. There is no tidy and straight-forward way to contribute to the coming of God’s reign in this broken world. In fact, we experience union with God in the chaos and suffering, among the poor and the despised and the least and the little ones.

Here is a small sample of Christian blogging gems from around the web that express the spirit of Gospel living as being real Messy Jesus Business:

For the Church by Midwestern Seminary’s “The Messy Christian Life.”

The Blazing Center’sChurch is For Messy People.”

The Gospel Coalition’sI Come Messy and Ashamed” by Christina Fox.

Gospel Centered Discipleship’sMessy Discipleship” by Jake Chambers.

Monadnoc Bible Conference’sThe Gritty Gospel” by Roy Baldwin.

One of my favorite group blogs, The Mudroom, contains excellent stories and reflections related to Gospel living in a tone that fits with their tagline “making room in the mess.”

And I found the editorial “Becoming a ‘messy’ church under Pope Francis” in a 2013 issue of National Catholic Reporter. It addresses the effects of Pope Francis’ comments at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro:   

“I expect a messy World Youth Day. But I want things messy and stirred up in the congregations. I want you to take to the streets. I want the church to take to the streets.” 

Apparently in the UK, entire churches aim to be together in a way that honors the mess of Christian living. This approach is called “Messy Church” and is a program of the Bible Reading Fellowship. 

Plus, there are entire books (which I have yet to read) that seem to focus on the fact that living the Gospel is just messy and tough:

Messy and Foolish” by Matt Warner

photo credit: http://messyandfoolish.com/

Photo credit: http://messyandfoolish.com/

Messy Spirituality” by Mike Yaconelli

photo credit: amazon.com

Photo credit: amazon.com

With so much affirmation and encouragement, we can continue on our journeys with hope and joy for it all inspires a new beatitude: “Blessed are the mess-makers for theirs is the Kingdom of God!”

Messy spiritual allergies

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com
http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1380930

Much like a food allergy, I’ve found that something just isn’t sitting right with me and the Church. My experiences in spirituality, what I find inspiring and comforting, just don’t make sense with Mass anymore.

Imagine writing that on a religious blog. Eesh.

So what do you do with a troubling spirit or food allergy? You find the source! You put it all to the side and slowly, ever so slowly, you sip each aspect. Let it sit and ruminate in you. See how you react—see if your soul sings! Or flops.

My process is both arduous and lazy. I’m finding I lack discipline when I don’t fear the wrath of God so much. But I am approaching my delicate questions with sincerity and a quiet determination to resolve them.

Do I know Jesus as a person? And Mary? The Bible tells me certain things, but what were they really like? Ohhh, I love Catholicism and its myriad of prayer styles. This will help me.

Are you still Catholic? Yes. I may not be making sense of my devotion at the moment, but I am aware of other religions and can at this point absolutely say “Yes.” I am trying to be Catholic.

What do you miss of Mass? The community, the ritual, and perhaps the discipline (although I’m not a fan of being judged for not partaking in certain disciplines). This all or nothing approach really wounds people.

Why are my most spiritual experiences considered sins? Ah yes, there it is. There’s the allergy—my Church wound. I haven’t balanced this one out yet. Still working on it. It’s probably the hardest to reconcile.

This is a long, long process. But honestly, it feels right. I can’t explain it. I get little nudges every now and then to continue on it, so I am, and it’s healing. I’m healing my Church wound. This is hard for me to write about, so I hope it’s received in understanding. But I happen to think that with so many people my age choosing to not tie down to a religion … this might mean something. So, I thought I would share.

Emily Crook, a good friend of Sister Julia’s, says the only appropriate place to put this mess is Messy Jesus Business! It’s not possible to contain all the holiness that goes on in this place, but with this blog, it’s at least easy to read and enjoyable to view. We hope you like it! 

breaking up with Jesus is hard to do

“Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire…”  – Malachi 3:19

“… they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”  — Luke 21:12-20

Sometimes I just want to quit, because it is so hard, but then the words of the Bible sting me.

When I contemplate these scriptures, I feel like Jesus has me tucked me under His arm and is saying: “I need to know, are you really willing to die for this? How serious are you about doing this for me?” I wince. I whine that I’d rather just keep still, praying and adoring his awesomeness. Certainly, that’s the main job of some of us who are in this Christian life. But, it’s not my main job.

No, it seems that I am designed to be an action girl. I can’t say I am totally eager. Jesus can seem like an annoying friend sometimes, who is constantly demanding my attention. I roll my eyes. We argue. I remind Him that I already publicly proclaimed my devotion to Him when I agreed to be a Franciscan sister and enter my community at just 24 years old. And then I did it again when I was consecrated to Him when I made my first vows in July of 2009. These actions have totally messed me up already. I wanted those “yeses” to be good enough because they were pretty big deals. As I say all this, Jesus nods and smiles because He already knows.

For some reason Jesus (with the Father and the Spirit) keeps asking me to do more. I am so confused and resist out of disbelief.  I try to sit down and pout. I try to kick and scream “No! Leave me alone!”  After I calm down, I simply and awkwardly stutter “uh, uh, um, no, I can’t.”   Jesus laughs and reminds me that we’re united and I made vows to obey Him. I sigh and remember why I agreed to be dedicated to Him. (I like the way He sees things and His love is totally divine!)

Jesus wins the fight, of course, because, well, when it’s the Creator of the universe insisting it’s pretty much impossible to turn away.  Even though I am irritated I am still totally enamored by Him—just like I was all the other times He called me.  His power is fierce and I fall head over heals all over again.

So, I give into the demands, which are actually quite gentle. I know deeply that His ways are best; they are best for me and for the Kingdom. God can use me to help the Kingdom come, and I believe that a better world and church are possible.  I want more people to take Jesus seriously and be totally messed up by His love like I have been.

I know it’s going to be a lot of work and I am totally terrified. I know I can’t do it, really, but I know that with great grace from God, it’ll happen. I’ll try to add a voice to the song of creation that calls forth newness. I pray that I’ll be an instrument that the Holy Spirit blows through and the music is in harmony. I pray to be empty of my pride, sloth, lust, anger, and greed so that the song from my soul is in tune.  Somehow Jesus brought me into this conversion, and I seem to have said yes again.

With great trust, I let Him hold my hand and lead me into working with The Living Word. He’s called me to write. I’ve said okay, so here I go, because although it’s uncomfortable to cooperate with Jesus’ demands, it’s worth it.

Like the scripture says, I know I may be hated by all because of His name, but I decide to persevere anyhow. Persevering shall secure my life. I believe, in fact, that following His way will give me- and others- more freedom to live life to the fullest.

Plus, breaking up with Jesus is hard to do.  And, I didn’t really want to.