Friday, May 28, 2021

Shame and glory

Today was my son Noah’s last day at Sixth Form College. Noah’s cohort have had such a disrupted A-level experience. It has not been what they, or their teachers, would have wished. And it is hard enough to deal with disappointment as an adult, let alone as a seventeen-, eighteen-year-old whose pre-frontal cortex is essentially undergoing something akin to the hidden transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Undoubtedly, Noah and his peers have not always handled these past two years as they might, had they been thirty-five; and so, on top of the disappointment, and often anger, they have experienced a great deal of shame, of being wrong or a failure or a disappointment to others, to their parents and teachers. Shame that, unaddressed, overshadows their hope for a meaningful future.

The antidote to shame is glory. Not the tawdry bling of making a name for yourself, but a personal share in God’s glory. For the glory set before him, Jesus scorned the shame of the cross, of the humiliation of public execution. That glory was you, and me, having a share in God’s glory, as those lovingly fashioned by God from clay (malleable, like a teenage brain) and entrusted with a share of the life-breath of God’s own utterly free Spirit—literally, inspired by God—and invited into reconciled relationship with God, through Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Drawn into mystery, and adventure; into disruption and uncertainty, yes, but a redeemed and creative, life-generating, disruptive grace, and faithful journeying through life.

I see the glory of God in my son, and in his peers, in their teachers who have given their all and done their best for their students in challenging circumstances. Just as love casts out fear, so glory overthrows shame. The academic year is over, though teachers must still deliberate their assessments and students await their grades. But for now, rest in peace, and rise in glory.

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