Marilyn Christman Living Legacy

Marilyn Christman was a member of the Mamou Steering Committee whose efforts led to the investigation of Mamou Alliance Academy. She was featured along with her sister Beverly Shellrude-Thompson in the documentary All God's Children and was a founding board member of MK Safety Net.  Her life, cut short too soon, remains an inspiration to all who are involved in helping MKs who suffered abuse as children.   

Closing Word at Marilyn Christman's Living Legacy
By Dana Wright
March 4, 2012

Scripture teaches that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church.
I take that to mean that the world, the flesh, or the devil will not be able to stop the Gospel message from taking hold in the world and transforming it from the inside out: "God so love the world…" "Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

But the gates of hell seem to be doing just fine prevailing against the institution that stewards the Gospel. The Church shares most if not all of the world's distortions, myopia, injustice, abuse, violence, dehumanizing practices, evasions of truth, ad nauseum, to give hell seemingly easy access to her heart.

Fortunately, the seeds of self-criticism and repentance are intrinsic to the Gospel's own legacy. The Scriptures are so realistic about the failings and depravity of God's own people, whose tragic attitudes and actions can be found on every page. But even larger on each page is the evidence of a shaping of human history towards justice, truth, non-violence, and restoration of hope that will come to expression in the new heaven and earth. We see glimpses of that movement in the lives of those who do not capitulate to the night but who seek to live in the daylight of that hope.

Sometimes these glimpses of the longing for justice and truth take the form of complaints and laments against the way things are. The Psalms, for example, in their Laments and Complaints bring to expression our righteous anger, sadness, and grief we experience when the vulnerable among us are subject to mistreatment, neglect, and undeserved pain.

When God does not seem to be up to the task of protecting the innocent and the weak, Complaint psalms give us the language to confront God and hold God accountable. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
When the church itself seems to abandon its call to take care and to take heed of those in need, the Lament psalms bring to speech our anger at those who forsake covenant. "Save us, O Lord. The treacherous have come up against us."
And when the church fails to complain and fails to lament the atrocities, secular prophets like singer-songwriter David Gray take up the hope of justice and peace and offer prayers of their own.

Listen to the prayer of his secular Lament "Silver Lining."

Take this silver lining,
keep it in your own sweet head.
Shine it when the night is
burning red;
shine it in the twilight, shine it on the cold,
cold ground,
shine it till these walls come tumbling down.
We were born,
with our eyes wide open, so alive
with wild hope, now; 
can you tell me, why,
time after time they drag you down;
down in the darkness deep,
fools in their madness all around—know
that the light don't sleep.
Step into the silence,
take it in your own two hands;
and scatter it like diamonds all across
these lands.
Blaze it in the morning,
wear it like an iron skin,
only things worth living for
innocence and magic—amen.

I take the work of the Missionary Kid Safety Network as a contemporary Complain and Lament psalm directed at God and the church, helping to bring righteous anger and the hope of justice and restoration to speech—and beyond speech—to action.
Your support of this organization is itself a prayer-becoming-action, bringing the plight of the abused, the ignored, and the vulnerable before God, the Church, and the world so that healing might come.
Let us live out this prayer-become-action in the whole of our lives, as well as in the support of this organization. In this way we will continue to bring our lives and our world into the presence of the only One who can finally heal us and restore us to sanity. Let us offer this evening of hope as our prayer before God. Amen.

Dana Wright
Friend of Shawn and Marilyn Christman
First Presbyterian Church, Everett
Director of Christian Formation and Discipleship