URC Daily Devotion 11 October 2023

Wednesday, 11 October 2023

I’m a Christian…despite it all….

Habakkuk  3: 17 – 19

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
    and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
    and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
    and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    and makes me tread upon the heights.


Elie Wiesel told of rabbis imprisoned in Auschwitz putting God on trial for allowing the German genocide against His chosen people, the Jews.  After many arguments, the rabbis found God guilty – who on earth could blame them?  Then, after the verdict was delivered, a candle was lit and the evening prayers were said.

There is much in the Church demanding a guilty verdict.  Our record on anti-semitism is, perhaps, our most ancient sin vying for prime position with our sexism.  Sections of the Church justified colonial expansion and its consequent slavery.  The persecution of those who thought, or loved, differently added to our hatred and denial of God’s image in His creation – to say nothing about how our clinging to patriarchal modes of power imperils the lives and faith of women and children.  Then there’s the Church’s inability to see, and differentiate itself from, what’s going on around it.  Whilst the Earth burns – fuelled in no small measure by the wars we wage – the Church prefers to focus on the insignificant.  

Personally I’ve been wounded by sections of the Church far more than by wider social movements – and those wounds have come most deeply from the more “progressive,” “inclusive,” and “liberal,” parts of the Church far more than my Catholic childhood or charismatic Anglican teenage years (though they don’t get a not guilty verdict either!)  

So why am I still a Christian?  Millennia ago the prophet Habbakuk foresaw environmental ruin and consequent famine and yet still sung of his trust in the Most High.  Decades ago those rabbis in Auschwitz clung to faith at the same time as believing God had wronged them.  I can only admire that illogical tenacity.  I don’t believe God has wronged me – but elements of His Church have.  So for me, being a Christian is often about differentiating between God and the Church; seeing the Church as a flawed agency of God’s love always in need of radical reform.


God of the Church
we pray for its renewing,
for You to show us where we need to reform,
where we can bind up the wounds of our world,
that we may praise you,
and cease wounding others.




Today’s writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the URC’s Minister for Digital Worship and a member of the Peedie Kirk in Orkney



New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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