On a Pallet
“He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead.” Apostles Creed
Bishop Jake Owensby of western Louisiana recently reminds us in his blog, Looking for God in Messy Places, about the line in the Apostles Creed where Jesus descended to the dead. (“Unbearable,” Looking for God in Messy Places, July 1, 2018 jakeowensby.com) Bishop Owensby’s message is that our God goes to the places that seem like hell on earth to us. I also remember that our definition of hell is the absence of God. Perhaps the creed is telling us that even when we do not feel the presence of God, when life seems unbearable, God is still there.
When we are there in hell, when we feel unlovable, when our health fails, when we lose our job, when our best friend dies, when depression lives not only in a cloud above us but flows in our bloodstream and in the synapses in our brain, this is a hard belief to remember.
During Advent many churches celebrate a Blue Christmas where the church remembers those who have died and offers the grief of those who are grieving to God. This is also a time for us individually to remember and reach out to those who still live in sadness.
This image of a loving, caring God must be written on our hearts during times when we feel connected to God and live in what seems like heaven so that we can then carry that knowledge and feeling with us when our life descends into hell. This is still too hard.
We cannot depend on ourselves to remember how much God loves us. This is why spiritual friends and community are so needed. This is why God calls us to community. When we become paralyzed with fear and loneliness and pain, we need spiritual friends to carry us on that pallet through the roof to God. Otherwise life becomes too hard.
This is not the only answer, but it is the experience I have known best as my friends offer for me to be cared for by the God of love of their understanding until I again am connected to the God of love and compassion I once knew.
Then more will be revealed.