Fate led me to accidentally walk under a ladder, but touch wood everything was fine – my star sign said it was going to be a difficult day, but I’m a good guy so I figured what goes around comes around and karma would treat me well. Anyway, as luck would have it I was wearing my cross and I took communion yesterday so I pretty much knew God would protect me. Even it had all ended in tears I know I would be ok because I was baptised so I’ll got to heaven. Touch wood.
Superstition is everywhere. Beliefs that denote a wish, a desire for something; a hope that there is a higher power that looks out for us. Touch wood – many say it, but does anyone actually believe that wood has special powers? Fate – a fear that there is some power that directs us like 2 blobs on a GPS into situations that we have no control over. Luck – an entity with a quota we might use up. Superstition comes from fear, fear that something somehow somewhere is going to make bad things happen. Fear that someone is out there trying to trip us up.
Religion often acts in the same way. It also stems from fear, fear that God looks on us badly, fear that we need punishing, fear that in the end he will make bad things happen or send us to hell. We bargain with God in the hope that he won’t trip us up; we look busy doing our best to please him; and if that is a bit much, we try to win him over (or con him) with some superstitious beliefs in the power of church attendance or the eucharist or baptism or confession or jewellery or money or quiet times or piety. I know I haven’t given you much time over the years, Mr God, but here is my baptism certificate and my lucky cross to show I hadn’t forgotten you.
Should we be more afraid of the very real and tangible Mr God?
I am afraid but I am not afraid. I am afraid because God is God – beyond our comprehension and understanding, beyond planets and universes and full to the brim of creative wonderment and overflowing with so much love we could not look upon his face. I am afraid because I am human and he is God.
I am not afraid because God is not like a holy Subbuteo player ready to flick us from this world. I am not afraid because God does not demand endless superstitious acts to keep him onside, acts that I might get wrong and muck it all up and have to start again. He is remarkably irreligious. I am not afraid because Jesus asks for our whole lives and when we give him everything it would be totally out of character for him to turn round and say thanks for this but you forgot to touch the wood. And by the way, its Friday the 13th so you’re out of luck…
I am not afraid because he bursts through and breaks and shatters all ideas of luck and karma and fate with his wonderful, endless grace, grace we cannot earn or bargain for but grace which is given and which we can receive. As the prophet Bono says: Grace travels outside of karma. Grace makes beauty out of ugly things. Grace is the thought that changed the world. Grace is real and tangible and is called Jesus. I said that last one.
Update – Fran points out that Mumford & Sons talk about grace in Roll Away Your Stone – so here it is too!