Many people find Christians harsh, judgmental and narrowly sure. They also often think we are all creationists of some sort, which is a real barrier to taking us or the idea of God seriously. Even where they feel aware of something beyond themselves which they are not sure they can call God, they are deeply worried about its arbitrariness and lack of fairness. They don’t think that the religious people who dispute between and within religions can be safe objective guides to what this all means.
I’ve collected together examples of this before and posted about some of my attempts to take these things seriously, but each of these things was specifically evidenced for me again last week when I was asked to go to a secular bereavement support group which had said it wanted to talk to someone like me.
I took with me all the things about suffering which I’ve used with a Lent Group and a Sixth Form Study Day earlier in the year, including the Rublev Icon of The Hospitality of Abraham which shows the persons of the Trinity caught up in mutual love and attention with the cup of suffering in their midst. But I used only a fraction of the material because the task was mainly to listen and to agree that what they rejected about God and Christianity I reject too.
And afterwards there was the great reminder that none of us ‘take God’ into situations but wait to find what God is already doing there. The organiser wrote to me very kindly to say that vigorous conversation continued after I’d left: ‘the empathy between our bereaved members reminded me strongly of the scene in the icon... if there is a God, he was with us in that sharing’.
The picture is another of the orchids at Cleethorpes.