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Secret Keepers Week 6 – A Christian Book Study

Of all the songs I listened to on repeat while writing portions of Secret Keepers, I think that this one may most clearly convey the spirit of what I have tried to communicate in this story.

The unfathomable wisdom of the YouTube search algorithm introduced it to me in seminary years ago, as various lessons, chapel services, and lunch table conversations bombarded me daily with new examples of just how hurt the world – our world – was.

How deeply we all need a healer.

This song then became one of the guiding lights on my journey into Elias, Hetty, and Henley’s world. So I invite you now to sit back, listen, and allow Hurt and the Healer by the band MercyMe to speak to your soul as it has to mine.

The Hurt and the Healer

As I write this last lesson in my Secret Keepers book study, it is the night before Easter Sunday, 2021.

I chose to do this study for two reasons. First, all my books start with some kind of theological “what if” question – and I do not ask these questions for my own sake alone. By nature, I am a teacher. My background is in church programming and education Very naturally, therefore, delving deeper into the theology behind my writing with a group of people is something I’ve always wanted to do.

A big thanks, then, goes out to the good people at Palmyra United Methodist Church for being the first to indulge me on that mission. You were a blessing.

Second, because in spite of COVID and all the precautions it has brought into our lives in this last year, the months and seasons have continued to turn are always. Time moves on, and the Church calendar has once again turned round to a time called Lent.

Lent is, I think, an important time for reflection and discovery. In the church, Lent is traditionally a time for special book studies, and I wanted to help my father’s church which otherwise would not have had the traditional Lenten study this year.

Likewise, I chose the song today, The Hurt and the Healer by Mercy Me, for two reasons:

First, because I think it wraps up the themes of woundedness, forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing in Secret Keepers.

Second, because tomorrow is Easter, and Easter is the time in the Christian calendar when the hunt and the healer collide.

On Wednesday Night

On Wednesday we met at my father’s church for a wonderful conversation that wrapped up the in person meetings of this Secret Keepers book study. We started Wednesday night by listening to the song I have embedded at the beginning of this post.

It became the jumping off point for a longer conversation.

We spoke of the barriers that exist in front of healing. We wondered why some people can forgive and move on, while others seem to find the journey toward forgiveness so much more difficult.

We spoke of the sufficiency of grace, of having God on our side whether we feel God there or not.

We spoke of the state of our church today and our struggle to understand how to move forward, faithfully, in the midst of a rapidly changing world.

We asked if woundedness existed in our own society today, what it was, where it came from, and how it might be healed.

We spoke of communities as both the cause of so many problems – the root of the “us versus them” thinking that has inspired war violence and prejudice throughout history. And we spoke about how communities are also our sources of strength, belonging, and safety – the places where we can learn to be better.

We spoke again of the importance of education, the only way to encounter new and different opinions and challenge assumptions.

And in the end, we circled back to the song, and I explained my reasons for choosing that song on that night.

Collision

Since first hearing it, I have been intrigued by the use of the word “collide” in this song.

The “hurt and the healer” do not just meet.

They collide

Collisions are violent events. And in Easter, we find the most violent example of a collision between God, the ultimate healer, and hurting people who popular this hurting world.

It is easy, among the pastel colors and chocolate bunnies, to forget, but the Easter story commemorates more than God’s great and triumphant victory over death.

In the Easter story, we find some of the worst examples of human behavior ever recorded. Plotting. Betrayal. Scheming. Violence. Bribery. Murder. The userping of the entire justice system to suit an agenda…

When it comes down to it, Easter is as much about Jesus’s death as it is about his resurrection. And Jesus did not die peacefully in his sleep at the end of a long and prosperous life like so many of the other biblical heroes.

No, in Easter, we also commemorate a day when humans conspired against and murdered God.

And they did it all, moreover, in God’s name.

After all, it was the duly anointed priests who served before God’s altar, read Scripture day and night, and knew themselves as mediators between God and men who put Jesus to death.

Make no mistake, Easter is a victory story – the greatest victory story yet told.

It also offers us great proof of human depravity. And it is in this exact moment – when we humans, fearing the loss of our own power, used God as an excuse to murder God… In this very moment, God refuses to give up on us.

In this very moment, God forgives us all.

This is collision.

We make our great healer into our victim. And we are forgiven. And we are healed.

The Point

My father asked me Wednesday night if there was one thing I meant for people take away from Secret Keepers. And if I am to choose just one, then it is this:

That yes, healing is possible. Forgiveness and reconciliation is possible. The damage we have inflicted and endured in this world can be healed.

That is the one point, but married to it is another:

That we do not accomplish this healing alone.

My book focuses on three children: the son of a wounder, and the daughters of his victim. Two were born to be victims, the third born to be a victimizer. But all three are wounded by the way their world is.

And when the three come together, when they break down the barriers their society says must separate them and learn to look past their own preconceptions about each other, then the wounds begin to heal.

And presiding over the healing they inspire in each other, stands the One ultimate Healer: God.

 

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