Ill at Ease

by Andrew Stephens-Rennie

Some days it amazes me what people do to make things seem as though Everything is All Right. Some days it amazes me what I will do to tell everyone that I’m Fine. I’m fine, no really, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.

The show must go on.

And it does. Day in and day out, the show goes on. And I suspect that the show goes on because we can afford to. Or rather, we can’t afford for it not to go on. Even this week, with the passing of saxophone player LeRoi Moore – founding member of the Dave Matthews Band – the show went on without him, with a brief acknowledgment of his life during the show, and a news entry on the band’s website.

I’m not getting down on Dave Matthews here. That’s not what this is about. But it’s interesting to me, in a week where I rather coincidentally picked up John’s gospel to read that account of the Crucifixion, that in spite of it all, the show went on.

What am I talking about?

Something particularly struck me this week as I was reading this dreary bit of scripture on a rather dreary bus ride home. I actually snickered, a nervous sort of laugh at the back of the bus. The bit of scripture that really got to me was John 19:31

Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.

I don’t know why that’s never stuck out to me before, but there it was, as plain as day. It would be wrong, of course, to leave the bodies hanging, bleeding, suffocating in sheer torment on the Sabbath. It was only a natural request that they be hauled down to put Everyone At Ease.

I spent my teenage years in a church where appearances seemed so very important. Where saying you were fine, where praying the right prayers, where showing up to church on Sunday determined propriety. I know my experience isn’t in the least bit unique, but it took me a long time to ask questions of this way of being.

It took me a long time to see that while displays outward piety, ostensible orthodoxy, may have indicated something about my faith, they didn’t tell the whole story. The question of my heart, and the question of my actions the other six days of the week may have betrayed the fact that ostensible orthodoxy isn’t always an indicator of growing faith.

When all is said and done, when it all comes down, if I say I believe something, but my heart or my actions are pointing a different direction, is my faith strong? Is it increasing? In decline?

And so these past few days, I’ve been wondering what, for me, are the crosses I’ve asked to be taken down, for the sake of propriety. For the sake of orthodoxy. What is it about the city I live in that I’d like to have swept under the rug to suit my own sensibilities?

What are the stupid little ‘rules’ that I’ve set up in my own mind that determine what is good and what is holy and what is right? And what are the things that truly do matter? I haven’t got any answers tonight. Mostly because it’s nearing time for bed. Anyhow. While I sleep on it, maybe you could do me a favour and share some advice?

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Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

2 Responses to “Ill at Ease”

  1. lisa

    What are the things that truly matter? Uffff…uncomfortable question, that.

    I spend a lot of time following my own rules, too. Sometimes I can practically hear Jesus saying, “Hey Kid, what’s the big idea? why can’t I get a word in edgewise?” I think there’s so much to be said for *listening* and *seeing*, and with that I direct you to Liz’s post for today:

    wow, you two together just turned my morning upside down!

  2. M.joshua

    I hope this doesn’t come across as too “Charismatic”, but I am confident that the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives should ever be growing. Our joy and our fullness comes from listening to his leading (testing it, of course) and obeying it. As we grow in obedience to God, we’ll get tighter grips on our fidelity with Him. As we have that, He can entrust us to the truly subversive acts that pour out his Spirit onto our scene.


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