Disillusionment on Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday sermon, preached at St Barnabas Church, Cambridge (14th April 2019).

On this Palm Sunday, let us pray: True and humble king, hailed by the crowd as Messiah: grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory. Amen.

Have you ever felt disappointed with God?

In 2013, two things happened to me that caused me to re-examine some of my assumptions about life and God: the first was that the church I was going to experienced a painful split and the second was that one of my mentors became unemployed and began struggling with deep depression. I remember at the time feeling a mixture of emotions—anger, fear, a sense of loss—but the deepest feeling of all, was that of disappointment. Disappointment at my church, my family, but most of all disappointment at God. You see, I had thought—with good reason and a fair degree of logic since my existence up until this point had been relatively care-free—I had thought that God would give me an endless succession of the things I wanted. The events of 2013—which seem relatively minor now when I look back—blew that faulty assumption, that illusion, right out of the water. 

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When Realism Isn’t Enough: Cultivating Hopeful Lament in an Age of Disillusionment

The observant reader will notice that the strapline of this blog contains the phrase, “refreshingly realistic”. As I explain here, this is my attempt to pay homage to realism, which I describe as a way of sailing between the extremes of utopianism and cynicism. I argue that for realism to work, it must be thoroughly Christian in nature. That is, it must be shaped by the church’s teaching on who we are and the times we are living in.

Another way of saying this is that realism must be shaped by the Christian conceptions of lament and hope.

Without lament and hope, realism is a gateway to cynicism, a “contemptuous distrust of human nature and motives”. This post is an attempt to explain why our realism desperately needs to be characterised by practices of hopeful lament.

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