Sometimes I wonder what happened to faith.
My own has morphed substantially, even in just the last ten years. This is undeniable, and I’ve stopped running from it. In fact, I’m feeling more congruous than ever at the moment when it comes to the mobius strip of my being: my insides matching my outsides.
But I also wonder about the Christian faith in particular. What the hell has happened?
Advent, with this beautiful story of Mary and Joseph being forced to travel to Bethlehem for political reasons found resonance with me when I traveled to Tucson back in 2008. There, as we walked through the desert in a passage often traversed by people immigrating without papers, we found a little pink backpack.
A little girl’s backpack.
We were setting out water jugs there in the desert so that, should a traveler happen upon it, they’d at least have some water in some of the most parched earth of North America.
We found something else out there, too: a water jug slashed all to pieces, the water long gone in the sands. Someone didn’t want a traveler to drink…
Now, I don’t know the particular faith background of whomever did that slashing, but just a few years ago when it was exposed that the government was keeping children in cages, forcibly separating them from their parents, I heard people of faith (people I know and love!) say, “Well, it’s their parent’s fault. They shouldn’t have brought them here…”
Pregnant Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for political reasons, and (if you trust the Matthew account), had to flee to Egypt due to violence and unrest…
I mean, look, this is Maria and Jose having to bring their children with them, forced by politics and persecution, to towns and over unfamiliar borders, and Christians shrugged when they were put in cages.
Defended the cages, not the people.
Saw the “faithful” response as guilting the people, not condemning the cages.
Saw the “faithful” response as defending anti-immigration rhetoric and policies, and not looking at the people fleeing political strife and persecution.
This is the damn story we’re woven into, and we don’t recognize it because we’ve divorced ourselves from the narrative.
In this season of watching, wondering, and waiting, I’m wondering a lot about my faith, and about the faith.
Beloved, what do you think happened?
I ask this as one would ask a good question around a campfire, late at night when the best conversations happen. Advent is a season for asking nighttime questions. I think it’s a safe season to do so because in this kind of nighttime we are unafraid, what with candles lighting our way and hope in our heart.
I have hope for the faith, Beloved; don’t mistake my questions for abandoning anything.
But I can hold hope and concern at the same time…
Today’s song to add to your Advent playlist is Over the Rhine’s “New Redemption Song.” Give it a listen:
Lord, we need a new redemption song
Lord, we’ve tried, it just seems to come out wrong
Won’t You help us please, help us just to sing along
A new redemption song, a new redemption song