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Grieving and witnessing

A challenge to model ourselves on Christ and witness truthfully to the world, from Jarel Robinson-Brown

Grieving and witnessing ISTOCK

FOR MANY OF US, the time of pandemic was one in which we reassessed our priorities. Yet this introspection is, I suspect, more necessary of our institutions, many of which were woefully unprepared for what a pandemic would bring to the surface. Beyond the death and immeasurable loss of life, our plans, time and patterns – those veils covering over our social myths – were suddenly taken away. The lies we had used to comfort ourselves, particularly about our pasts, were brought to light, and the old plasters that for centuries had covered over our festering societal sicknesses were no longer sticking. Faced with the reality of who and what we are – our complicity in child hunger, our denial of institutional racism, our reluctance to name gender-based violence and our ecclesial homophobia – the Church in the midst of the world has had to dig deep to search out what it is truly called to be, and reflect on what it has been. As sacraments were suspended and churches closed, we realised that our only hope is rooted and grounded in God, not our structures, or our buildings, or our routines. I have often been challenged by something the American theologian Walter Brueggemann said in his book Reality, Grief, Hope: “The prophetic tasks of the Church are to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, to grieve in a society that practices denial, and to express hope in a society that lives in despair.”

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