Sufficient Grace

{originally written Christmas 2010}

[a remembering of friends]

This year has not been easy. As I write that I think, really, is any year here at Sanctuary an easy year; this one though, for myself, has been especially trying. I often think of the song by Keith Green “Asleep in the Light”; when I hear it I ache inside. The song really speaks to the heart of why this has not been an easy year for me.

“‘Cause Jesus came to your door and you’ve left him out on the streets.”

Asleep In The Light by Keith Green on Grooveshark

We do our best not to leave anyone out on the streets. So why then, in the midst of welcoming so many people do I feel so uneasy? I am reminded of Jesus’ saying “that you do to the least of these you do also to me” and then I am attacked by the least of these accusing me of my unchristian attitude when I refuse someone entry who regularly physically attacks people. “By this they will know you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.” (John 13:35). “Love your enemy, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you.” (Luke 6:27, 28). I struggle so much with how to love my enemy…how to bless those who curse me (and believe me, that is no small number when the wind blows right); Praying is easy, but I notice that is the last point that Jesus makes, it’s the first two that I don’t quite know how to process, especially after someone has threatened, punched and tried to strangle people during our worship service.

That in and of itself would be difficult enough on a regular basis, but add to that death. Deaths of friends. Deaths of people whom I’ve known for almost 8 years. To this day, I have grieved over a dozen people, and the process does not get easier; especially when they are people who have touched my life so deeply, friends who have shared so much of their journey, their pain and suffering with me. (I wonder if I’ll ever learn how to grieve properly.) I recently talked with Joe, a pastor friend of mine, and mentioned how I am still grieving certain friends and that it surprised me. He had this interested and puzzled look on his face, “Why would it surprise you?” It was my turn to look puzzled right back. Then I thought about it. The first person I remember losing was my father’s father. That was when I was 7. I did not stop crying when I thought about him until I was almost finished high school. So, if the loss of someone close to me, whom I knew during the first seven years of my life, affected me so deeply, why did I think that the loss of these friends, whom I’ve known for the past 7 years, affect me less deeply.
Lorraine Beavis
Gracie was one of the most vivacious, hardy women I had the pleasure of know-ing. She weathered a lot in her lifetime and still she maintained a beauty like the Rocky Mountains: crisp, powerful, cold and yet inviting to the most adventur-ous. I had the pleasure of working with Gracie several times on various projects. She performed her own poetry twice at different arts eXtravaganza’s; her poetry was angry, insightful and vulnerable. I also had the splendidly challenging op-portunity to direct her and another community member in a short humorous play by Shel Silverstein, One Tennis Shoe. The play was a smashing success in spite of half of the script appearing in various places where it wasn’t supposed to. Gracie never let that get in her way though, she always brought herself back and found a way to get to the end and keep the spirit and message of the play. God bless her 🙂

And then there was Marcel Metten, a wildly humorous, big hearted, light fingered man. My own first encounter with Marcel was over 7 years ago, roughly a month or so after I first arrived at Sanctuary. He had the lightest fingers ever. I didn’t notice for the majority of our conversation – 5-10 minutes or so – that he had my cell -phone; it wasn’t until he told me to hold on, he had a call coming through, that I noticed he had MY cellphone! The smile he had on his face was huge! The next week he tried to pick my velcro pockets – not so successful that time, and, on two separate occasions, he walked in on his own memorial service. Yep, you read that right. Different churches at different times held memorial services for Marcel; on one of the occasions, he simply walked in, sat in the back and waited until someone noticed. Didn’t say a blessed thing. Just smiled.

Joe Abbey-Colborne, pastor at Parkdale Neighbourhood Church, shared this memory with me that I would like to share with you,
Marcel Metten

Marcel was one of the guys who taught me that if I had an issue with someone; with the way he was behaving in the drop-in, that I should not come at them asserting “the rules”.

“Don’t tell me what ‘the rules’ are.” he said, “those are your rules, not mine. You guys make rules and then change them, anyway,” he jabbed. “You talk to me about rules, it doesn’t work ’cause that means you think you are above me.

Talk to me about ‘respect’…that’s different.” he explained, “That means we’re equal. We both need respect.”

I still feel like at some point he will knock on the door, or simply appear on the park bench outside, waiting patiently for a little help.

As I reflect on Marcel’s statement about respect, I realize that is something that I feel pretty deeply, especially when it is betrayed and then DEMANDED in the same breath. That is not easy for me. I don’t know how to love my enemy. I don’t know how to lay down my life for my brother. I don’t know how to bless those who curse me. I guess this is the journey I am on. It’s not easy. It definitely ain’t fun right now. But in the midst of all of this I am reminded that this is not the end. That I am as broken as my friends here. That my anger amounts to the same as their violence in God’s eyes and both sadden him greatly. But it doesn’t stop there…

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *