By Tom Ehrich
The woods are filled with wounded Christians.
Wounded Episcopalians, wounded Presbyterians, wounded Roman Catholics, wounded Southern Baptists. Our stories are different, but at some level they sound the same. We engaged with a church, and we got hurt.
The woods are filled with other wounded folks, too. Wounded Mets fans. Wounded Republicans, wounded Democrats. Wounded steelworkers and autoworkers. Wounded soldiers. Wounded native Americans. Wounded women, wounded gays, wounded immigrants, wounded African-Americans.
Many stories, but some common elements. Things didn't work out as we had expected. We trusted the wrong people. Our reach exceeded our grasp. Maybe we were betrayed, maybe we were unlucky, maybe someone really was out to get us.
Some of our wounds are deeply painful, deeply personal, deeply paralyzing. My disappointment in the New York Jets probably doesn't count as one of those deep wounds. But I do have such wounds. Life is a wounding business. My wounds, probably like yours, are woven into the fabric of my life. If I tell you my story, much of what I tell has to do with wounds.
Some wounds get healed. Mostly, though, we move on. We put a wound behind us. At our best, we forgive the one who hurt us. Or maybe we just write them off. We develop other friendships, other interests. We learn to live with a broken limb, as it were, because the urge to live is greater than the urge to give up.
As I watched the video of Michael Curry's sermon at his installation as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and read about the three-hour service, what I saw was a wounded church trying to move on. Bishop Curry's message had many points, but one clearly was, Let's get over ourselves, let's join the Jesus movement, and let's work with God to turn the world upside down. Let's stop being warriors for church causes, and instead be lovers of God and lovers of neighbor.
Even though the inclusive event troubled some who still believe, after all these years, that history can, must and will go backward, the service at Washington National Cathedral was a rainbow of wounded souls reaching for hope. The service had Gospel music, drumming, sprinkling of water, tradition, laughter, tears, orderly processions, disorderly shouts of urgency -- it had everything that could come out of those woods where the wounded ache for better days.
I didn't hear a victory shout from a church that had thrown off its detractors and wayward souls and dissidents. I heard a church shouting, "Onward!" All of us, onward! Right and left, traditional and progressive, old and young, male and female, gay and straight, black and brown and white -- all of us, onward!
We are wounded folks, all of us, in one way or another. But God is transforming us by love. Not by victory over our pain-causers, not by revenge, but by love.