“Sometimes I struggle to believe…” / A.J. Hendry

I struggle with faith sometimes.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.

Sometimes I see the pain and suffering in this world, and I look at what I can only describe as the apathy of the church, and I just struggle to believe that God could be real.

That in the midst of this world’s suffering, we as a people could be so concerned with such trivial things. Judging each other for how we dress, how we speak, whether we swear, or drink, or are gay, or live with our partners. More concerned about whether one believes the correct thoughts correctly, and whether one says the right words rightly, than we are about the poverty, suffering and systemic oppression that exists within our community.

So yes, sometimes sitting in the four walls of the church I struggle to believe in God.

And then I step outside.

And outside, oh what a different experience.

Because, outside I cannot deny God’s existence; because I see her everywhere.

She is in the young women who fled from her partner, finally done with his abuse.

She is in the young man, broken and weeping, distraught at the harm his rage inflicts.

She is in the youth worker, shaken, yet standing. Who witnesses their suffering, and refuses to look away.

She is in the man lying homeless on the street.

In the stranger who gives him a smile, not knowing what else to do.

She is in the woman who just had her baby taken from her.

And with the social worker who now holds that baby in her arms.

She is in every tear that is cried, every cry of rage, every drop of suffering.

She is in it all.

It may seem strange to you, but it is with these people that my faith is strengthened.

With those who suffer, with the desperate, the outcast, with those who have been abandoned by society. They show me God. And it is amoungst them that I hear her voice most clearly.

Come, follow me. The words of the Divine Mother inviting me to join her in the work of healing and restoration she is doing in this whenua.

Her voice is clear.

Her voice is steady.

Choose Life, Choose Hope, Choose Love.

She calls us all.

To follow her away from stability, away from what we know, away from easy. Into that place where feet may fail, where fear surrounds,

I have wondered in recent years whether the manner in which we organize our communities are not the product of another time, a past era.

It is not unusual for people to feel jaded by the church, to feel that the church is not doing enough, not being enough, not loving well enough. It has become easier and easier in our culture for us to walk away. To throw it all in, to give it all up.

And I totally get why people make that decision.

Many people have been hurt, and let down by the church. Many more feel abandoned, and excluded by her. She could do more, she should be more.

But, sometimes in the midst of our pain and disillusionment we forget that the church was never that building, or that system, or that one community or denomination that hurt us. The church was always so much bigger than that.

And though our faith has caused so much harm, and though there are still elements within our faith that still do, our whakapapa is rich, and holds a long lineage of tupuna who have carved a different path.

In the service of Jesus, His disciples have built hospitals for the poor, challenged slavery, founded orphanages, stood against injustice, and suffered and died in defence of the poor, the marginalized and oppressed.

The church is not the building. The church is us. If you seek to follow Jesus, and are on board with the vision that he painted for this world, than you’re part of this crazy story.

If you feel like your faith is stale, like you’ve had enough, like you’re ready to throw in the towel, than why not listen for the voice of the Divine Mother, and allow her to lead you out of the church, and into the margins.

Because, that is where she is, and has always, been.

A.J. Hendry

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