Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brad Drell phone home

Brad Drell ain't bloggin' much no more. His field of law is in high demand in these tough economic times, so he's chained to the office quite a bit.

But last year Brad began expressing thoughts based on his ministry to prison inmates. He rejoiced in the pure focus on Jesus and in the ability of Christians from different traditions to work in harmony for the Gospel. And he sometimes compared and contrasted this with the over-complicated and contentious antics of The Episcopal Church (of which he is an active member).

A few days ago, I was invited to offer a Biblical reflection for a group of local Hospice chaplains. This brought Brad's points to mind. Here was a group of men and women from some very different churches and perspectives, having a dynamic and fruitful time together in Christ.

What struck me most is how they find Christ and validation of Biblical truth in the "hard cases." My experience of Episcopalians is that we too often throw down the tough situations as trump cards to "disprove" this or that bit of Scripture or Christian belief.

The main testimony of the day came from a sexual abuse survivor. Her theme was "forgiveness" but there were none of the platitudes one might expect. Rather, she gave amazing insight into a "work in progress", with plenty of setbacks but also stupendous strides forward - all of them imbued with meaning through her relationship with Jesus Christ.

She quoted a friend who described "moving from victim, to survivor, to thriver," a very winsome expression of Cross, Empty Tomb and Pentecost IMO.

Her great insight was to give up on fantasies of a big, cathartic moment of forgiveness that makes all things better. We cannot grant the full absolution that belongs to Christ alone. "Only Jesus is in position to see the whole cost of forgiving - we can only forgive what we know in the here and now." My reflection had been on the long, sometimes ugly journey of Joseph and his brothers, so there were some of those wonderful common points that only God can write in.

OK, I am rambling and not sure how Brad fell out of this train of thought... oh, yeah, I was celebrating his insight into the value of putting Jesus first and working on Gospel imperatives instead of eccentric, factional agendas.

Hope he'll blog again soon 'cuz he says it better.


Georgia said...

Fr. Tim - I needed to hear this more than you could know. If there is any way to get the transcript, a recording of this testimony, please let me know.

Georgia S.

TLF+ said...

Georgia - there was no transcript, but she was working from notes that will soon be worked into a magazine article. Will let you know when it comes out.

Georgia S. said...

Thanks, Fr. Tim.

Anonymous said...


Well, I posted two pieces. So, I've phoned home. But you, my brother, have always understood what I have always said. Forgiveness through Jesus sacrifice on the Cross has always been better than an intellectual dialogue that ended up that "I'm okay." One is real, the other a rationalization.

Keep that faith, Tim. You pay a far greater price for faithfulness daily then I pay ever.