Tonight I went to a WASO concert, featuring Richard Mills’ new composition The Passion According to St. Mark. It opened with a Canzon by Giovanni Gabrielli for brass, which was really good, and then we heard Vivaldi’s Motet for soprano, string and continuo In furore iustissimae irae, with Rachelle Durkin singing. Never have I had a vocalist captivate me, but Ms. Durkin sang with such passion, and her body presence showed an absolute knowledge and love of the music. It was also rather beautiful to see a human side where just before the start of the Mills, she had an “Oh my god, did I really just do that” moment where she knocked over her glass of water, with quite a loud clunk as the glass hit the floor, and water spilled towards the first violins. But she took it in her stride, composed herself, and sung brilliantly.
There was one part of the Passion that interested me in particular. Mills has interspersed the Gospel narrative with selections from various sources – psalms, old testament writings, and writings of prominent religious figures such as Hildegard von Bingen. One quote caught me particular:
I am not your God,
If you have not denied me once, twice,
If I have not heard you complaining or doubting my existence.
I am not your Love,
If you have not rejected me often.
For what then am I worth to you,
If you were always sinless?
That was written by Abioseh Davidson Nicol, a Sierra Leonean academic and poet, amongst other things, and was taken from his book African Easter, Good Friday: The Wounded Christ.This was placed right after Peter had disowned Jesus three times, and it caught my attention for a few reasons.
I’m sure I’m not the only Christian to have doubted the existence of God. But it’s something that we as Christians don’t really talk about. It’s almost a taboo topic – you can’t let your faith falter. But it happens. I’d like to think that despite being slightly musical and creative, I’m also kind of logical in my thinking. And I’ll admit – there is almost no logical reason to believe in God. You can’t really see, touch, taste, hear or smell God in our traditional understanding. If I weren’t to believe in God, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about trying to be Good in every aspect of my life, I could try other things that I might be interested in. I’ve felt these things, and I’ve been tempted very strongly sometimes. Life would be so much easier if I weren’t a Christian – that’s what it feels like sometimes.
But, then I remember what has happened in my life. And while I might not see God in our traditional understanding, I can see God’s work in this world. I can’t feel God with my Hands, but I know that I have felt his presence in my life, in a way that is difficult to explain. And I think that is part of why some people find it hard to understand Christians.
Over the past couple of months, as I’ve gotten to know some of my girlfriends friends, I’ve noticed a lingering argument between one of her friends, and someone else that he knows. He’s an outstanding fellow, strong in his faith, and often posts comments or updates to that effect. I’m really excited to see what he can do in this world. His friend however, through a few posts that I have read, whenever he posts something exciting that he’s experienced, she tries to tell him that he can’t have experienced it (though, not quite in those words). I think the problem is that she is trying to bring Logic to an argument that isn’t about logic. And while experience is a great teacher, and we would love to share our experiences with those around us – often it won’t work unless we allow it to happen to them. And that’s tough – telling them what’s happened in our lives won’t help them, even if we would like to bring Christ into their lives.
I think what I’m trying to say is that we, as Christians, aren’t just following the flock, aren’t just following the traditions of our parents. We have thought about these things – and if you as a Christian haven’t really questioned whether God exists, then perhaps that’s something you might like to explore – and we’ve decided that our belief in God is well founded. So when someone asks us to open our minds to the possibility that there’s no God, we can proudly say “I have, I thought about it, and I truely believe that God exists, that God is active in my life, that he/she/it loves me, and that they Love you too – whether you like it or not!”