The Revd Wyn Beynon

Stages - An Autobiography

Good Friday 2014

When I was 1 I'd just begun

I'd lie still and be loved by my parents, mostly.

No parents are perfect and some children don't get much love at all,
which is a tragedy,

but that's was how I learned that I was loved,
just because I was.

But I soon forgot

Because I became 2 and discovered that I couldn't do what I liked and had to be corrected.

So, it looked like I wasn't just loved for being me.
Things were expected of me.

Oh the tantrums.
And in my yelling I repeated the story of the Garden of Eden
and was thrown out of my innocence.

I learned that I was naked and needed nappies
and I that to be loved meant conforming.

The damage was done,
as it is in every generation,
in every child,
always and everywhere

But we rubbed along through three, four, five and six,

and I learned to share my toys, mostly.
And to tell tales and sit still and not like girls with curly hair.

And I went to Sunday school,
and fiddled with the radiator bleed tap
and soaked the other children when it spurted,
and  I wasn't bothered a bit.
Though I didn't like the teacher being a bit more cross that she was showing. 

And then I reached 7 and 8 and 9, and 10 and 11 and 12 and it was great.

I had learned the behaviour game and found it easy to fit in 
do the right thing
and feel the comfort of acceptance.

I was part of the club,
and they knew what was what,
and I was was with them,
and we were all good together.

I was in the Church choir,
and I sang about Jesus who died on a green hill far away for me
and I wore a little cassock and surplice and faith was what we all shared,
and that was fine.

And then each year there was Christmas and Good Friday.
I enjoyed Christmas, but had no idea what Good Friday was but it didn't sound nice.

Then I got to be 13.

I learned that people were noticing me as an individual.
I was self conscious, embarrassed.
So I asserted myself. I knew what was what. I had opinions.
I did the teenage thing. I belonged to a group of similar minded people,
and we knew all the answers and other people were stupid and didn't get it.

By 18 I had become a born again Christian.
And the followers of other forms of Christianity, obviously, were not REAL Christians at all.
Faith was about being right and being wrong, about black and white, this way not that way.
And I played the guitar and I  sang that God had forgave my sin in Jesus' name.
And I worried that I didn't really believe properly.
But the gang-church I belonged to did,
so I stuck with them.

And then each year there was Christmas and Good Friday.
I decided that Christmas was a means to an end and Good Friday was where God punished Jesus for my sin.

At 21 I learned that God was not confined to my careful descriptions,
that Christianity came in other forms
and it was OK to question and even doubt.  I had become an adult.
And I associated with other Christians who might or might not agree with me,
but that was fine.
I saw Church as an open association, all welcome.
And looked very adult. 

And I learned to read music from a hymn book
and I sang, praising God for his love. and asking him to heal the world and start with me.

And then each year there was Christmas and Good Friday.
Christmas was great, because God became one of us.
And Good Friday wasn't where God punished Jesus,
it was where we punished God for being awful enough to create us.

I was 21 for a long long time.
After all,
adulthood is about gaining more and more experience of the same thing (isn't it?)

God loved me as I was,
and if we did what God wants then there's half a chance the world will get to be a better place,
if not for us then for our children.
And I was optimistic and prayed for the kingdom of heaven to come on earth
like a divine NHS without the waiting times or having to pay National Insurance or tax.  

And although I knew God loved me,
I knew too that I had to live up to that love,
and do my best to deserve it,
earn it and be worthy.
Although I would have denied it.
Because I wasn't such a bad chap, really.

And then, each year, there was Christmas and Good Friday.
And I thought they were two ends of the same story. 

And then life fell apart. the most awful thing happened.
It doesn't matter what, except that the pain was unbearable,
and I disintegrated into several independent people trying hold themselves together.  
And not really succeeding.

But over a long time something happened.
I discovered that God really did love me just as I was,
although I had absolutely no credit in the goodness bank.
I was utterly, utterly, without anything to commend me.
But God love me just so.

And then, each year, there was Christmas and Good Friday.
And I began to realise that they were not the two ends of the story,
and Christmas wasn't just God's way of getting to Calvary.
Christmas and Good Friday were the same.
They were God's way of  saying,
"No matter how low you get,
I get lower;
no matter how black it gets,
I'm deeper in the darkness than you;
no matter how lost you think you are,
I don't just know the way, I am with way."

And religion stopped being about trying to please God.
Religion isn't about being good, but being God's.
The word Religion - re ligio -means to reconnect the ligaments.
God reconnected me to me, me to Godself, slowly, painfully (for both of us, I guess). 

Jesus knew all this.
He'd been through the human journey.
He didn't give two hoots for being well behaved.
He'd discovered how to be truly religious
- to be permanently connected to his Father.
Which was way too disruptive for his society,
so they crucified him.

But this kind of truth can't be nailed down. 

It just keeps coming back.


And then, each year, there was Christmas and Good Friday,
and it turns out that once you get those two jokers together,
you get the best party of all,
Incarnation, Death and Resurrection.

Maybe your world hasn't fallen apart, yet.

But it will,
because that's the fate of all human beings.
Or maybe it's fallen apart once or many times.
And it pushed you back.
You just went back and tried harder.

Well here's the trick
- when your life hits the buffers, don't try harder.

Admit you can't do it at all.

That is what Jesus really meant by carrying our cross and following him.
Your cross isn't looking after Aunty Flo, or illness, or carrying financial debt
(I know, I've had to do all those things).

Your cross is yourself.
And the painful bit is to admit it.
Admit that you are who you are.
And then you can begin to accept the enormous truth
that God is totally utterly and endlessly besotted with you.
Just as you are.

You and I are the one thing that gets in the way
of our lives being carried upward by that wonderful truth.

You see
when God looks at us, each one 
he sees is himself reflected.
And God is love,
so as far as God is concerned
you and I are love too. 

Then you discover that you don't have to give two hoots about how you behave,
or about being good,
or earning respect.

You're not surprised when you behave badly or get things wrong.
You put things right, you admit you faults, you say sorry.
But you stop getting too worried about it.

After all
there are all those things you've done wrong
that you haven't even noticed. 

Because there's no way we are big enough to deal with it all in this life.

And when people hurt you,
as they will,
you learn to respond by saying,
I reflect God's love,
so I will love them.

Actually we're not too good at this of course,
and often forget,
but God gives us lots of chances to practice.

And then there's death.

Our society is embarrassed by death. 

But it's the only certainty.
Our fate is to die.
But when we realise that it doesn't matter,
that God's love just crashes through death and carries us into eternity,
then we will have grasped not a fate,
but our destiny,
our destiny to be in the heart of God.

And then each year there is Christmas, Good Friday, Easter. 
It turns out that they're all the same, 
because they're all Christ 
and Christ is God.  

The God who loves us just as we are draws us back into Godself, to share in the very being of the Godhead.

Heaven isn't being with God, It's being IN God!
And that's Good News.

Wyn Beynon (c) 2014