The ecstatic ending.

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I’ve noticed it before and in my past I practiced it; the ‘ecstatic ending’.

I think we sometimes do it in conversation when what we are hearing is too hard to process and we just don’t know what to say;’Never mind, eh: things’ll get better’. Sometimes there is a time to cheer people up, to direct them to some hope, but more often  there is a time to listen, to be silent and to hold.

More particularly in church, shit has happened, the words of scripture have been words of lament & there seems to be no ‘gospel’, yet you end a service, a conversation, anything vaguely Christian with an ‘ecstatic ending’. For example; ‘we know that it says here ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’, but let’s just think of all the good stuff that God does’. Or even: ‘We’ve heard some sad news about Mary this morning, but people: God is faithful!’

I remember once reading a book about the writer being in a church, listening to the worship and the leader said something like ‘we are going to have some silence’ and through the party wall separating the church from the neighbouring house came the sounds of the occupant beating up his wife. The worship leader looked uncertain and.. then ordered the band leader to strike up, but louder.

When this happens:-

Sometimes it feels like a jarring major chord at the end of a song with loads of minor chords: it destroys the overall effect of feeling so connected, that your pain and that of others has been listened to, felt and understood even when there are no answers.

Sometimes it feels like the leader of worship has no real trust in the Divine, and has to impose a happy ending so that it is all ok.

Sometimes (or often!) life is imperfect, there is pain, loss and no sense of a resolution. While we need hope and a crack of light in a dark sky, it is isn’t healthy to be closed down in an ecstatic ending.

Sometimes it is not ok, it will never be ok; but acknowledgment of that is all that is needed.. and that is ok.




4 thoughts on “The ecstatic ending.”

  1. I am liking this blog…. reminds me of Leonard Cohen; “Forget your perfect offering – There is a crack in everything – That’s how the light gets in”

    Too often the voice at the front wants to paper over the cracks and deny the reality.

  2. On the worst night of my life, I saw a cross. It wasn’t a message that everything would be OK, it was simply a message that God in Christ was with me and my family. Things did eventually work our more or less OK, but I didn’t need a happy ending, I simply needed God in the darkenss.

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