April 23, 2019

Sundays in Easter: The Very Good Gospel (4)

Walk in the Park. Photo by David Cornwell

God is our home, and from birth to death, the whole of our lives is a journey to return home.

• Lisa Sharon Harper

• • •

On Sundays in Easter, we are hearing from Lisa Sharon Harper about The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right. Her book is about the fullness of the good news that Jesus lived, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven to give us. Harper tells us that God’s good news is about shalom, the opposite of our often “thin” understanding of the gospel.

In chapter four of The Very Good Gospel, to illustrate the concept of shalom with God — the most fundamental relationship in need of restoration — Lisa Harper tells her own story of conversion and the ongoing healing of her relationship with God.

Until the end of the American Civil War, slaves were not permitted to legally marry. So rather than conducting a typical marriage ceremony, men and women who vowed to love, serve, and protect each other till death, the master’s whip, or their sale made them part signified their commitment by jumping over a handcrafted broom. On one side of the broom, they were single; on the other, the two became one in the spiritual realm. I’ve come to refer to the night I walked down the aisle at the church camp meeting as the night I jumped the broom with Jesus. That night Jesus said, “I love you, Lisa. You are worth pursuing. I have pursued you across two thousand years. I broke the barriers of time and space to be with you again.” That night I said yes to Jesus. I dropped my well water at the altar, and Jesus’s living water began to trickle up from my soul.

…My problems, issues, and brokenness weren’t all taken away that night. But something real— something transformative— had happened at the altar. I entered back into relationship with God through the person of Jesus. In the decades since August 21, 1983, God has revealed the presence and impact of broken relationships in my life. God revealed a deep sense of self-hatred and shame as well as broken relationships with men that stemmed from childhood abuse. God revealed a penchant toward overconsumption and a disregard for the rest of creation. God revealed hopelessness for the healing of my fractured family as well as the reality of my social, economic, and political status as an African American in the United States and within the evangelical church. God also revealed my American privilege on the global stage.

The revelations came slowly as I was able to handle them and with guidance from others who had trod the paths before me. In the chapters that follow, I will share some of what God has shown me on this journey. With each revelation, God has given me light, healing, and redemption. The healing has come in God’s way, in God’s time. And thirty-two years later, I am still waiting on God for some of the most stubborn brokenness in my soul and life to be healed. Meanwhile, I partner with God to bring healing to some of the most broken corners of our society and world.

Comments

  1. Susan Dumbrell says

    I have difficulty relating to this comment. It seems from a wide angled, distant view – problems of race relations, misogyny and other issues,

    Christ did not separate wife, husband, bond, free, master, slave etc etc into different categories.
    All are equal for His Grace.
    No cutting corners and pushing ahead.
    Stop splitting hairs.

    I think I miss the boat on this post.
    Sort me out.

    Our Gospel reading at Church today was from John’s Gospel and the Vine, of which we all are equally branches of the vine. From this we are all able to bear fruit.
    .
    As I say I missed the boat.

    Susan

    • Perhaps if you had grown up black, abused, and bullied in the U.S., as did our author, you might understand her inclination toward seeking social justice.

    • @ Susan, if you didn’t understand what the author was saying, then why comment. She is sharing her unique journey with us – a journey that as a white woman living in Australia, requires of us to read, absorb and learn. No doubt some of our indigenous people could relate quite well to this story, perhaps if we look at it in this way we might begin to understand. Her story is of God’s unending grace in her life, and her journey to live as best she can while He does the repair job. Her commitment to social justice is commendable, after all she could’ve just sat back and said “I’m OK” and enjoyed the quiet life.
      Christine

    • Christiane says

      Hi Susan,

      I hear you say,
      ‘I think I miss the boat on this post.
      Sort me out.”

      I think the author was writing a ‘preface’ to some things she is going to share in future. So it may be too premature to fully understand where she is going with this. Perhaps Chaplain Mike will share some more of her writing so that we can ‘fill in’ those gaps in our own comprehension. That she has suffered: a given from what she has written, yes. That she is not bitter is also apparent. She rather seems infused with a desire to take part in ‘the repair’ of Creation even while she is still not completely past all suffering . . . . I think I understand that sometimes people can’t go back and make it right for themselves and those they loved, so they look ahead and do for others what might have helped in their case long ago . . . . . a kind of ‘wisdom’ come from suffering that is put into action in order to prevent the suffering of others . . . . . I don’t know if that is the writer’s intended meaning, but that is what I sense.

      For this post, if there was one word to be celebrated, I would say ‘hopefulness’ . . . . . if there was one action to be celebrated, I would say ‘attempting to give the care and protection for others that wasn’t there for oneself when it was so badly needed’ . . . . a strange kind of ‘paying forward’ because the original gift was of a supernatural ‘grace’ and ‘healing’ and ‘peace’; and the person ‘paying forward’ is STILL partly wounded and STILL in process of being renewed

  2. “I am still waiting on God for some of the most stubborn brokenness in my soul and life to be healed. Meanwhile, I partner with God to bring healing to some of the most broken corners of our society and world.”
    Part of the mystery of righteousness is acknowledging our downright unrighteousness but still moving ahead. Give it a small but significant twist (pluck out humility and gratitude). and it quickly devolves into ordinary hypocrisy and acting. We are never ‘perfect’ so if we are waiting for that before doing the business of the gospel it won’t happen. We point, imperfectly, at perfect grace.