Gospel According to Glee – 40 Days at McKinley High
Day 13 – Wednesday after 2nd Sunday of Lent
To Read: (Series 2 Episode 3)
[Kurt’s Dad has had a serious heart attack and the choir members gather around Kurt to offer prayer and support. Kurt is an atheist and tells Sue Sylvester he does not like religion in School. Sue has Principal Higgins enforce the school rules to stop them singing spiritual songs while at School. Guidance Counsellor Emma tries to get Sue to change her mind]
EMMA: There is a boy in that Glee Club that might lose his father. How could you get in the way when the only thing anybody is trying to do is give that poor child just a little bit of comfort? What happened to you, Sue? Please tell me what horrible, horrible thing happened to you that made you such a miserable tyrant?
SUE: Have a seat. Since I was a little girl, I’ve had exactly one hero. My big sister. You know how much I worshipped her? She was the sun and the moon to me. And while I was still very young, I noticed that other people didn’t feel the way I did. People were rude to her. They were cruel. They laughed at her. And so I began to pray. I prayed every night for her to get better. And nothing changed. So I prayed harder. And after a while I realized it wasn’t that I wasn’t praying hard enough… It’s that no one was listening. Asking someone to believe in a fantasy… however comforting, isn’t a moral thing to do. It’s cruel.
EMMA: Don’t you think that’s just a little bit arrogant?
SUE: It’s as arrogant as telling someone how to believe in God, and if they don’t accept it, no matter how open-hearted or honest their dissent, they’re going to hell. Well, that doesn’t sound very Christian, does it?
EMMA: Well, if that’s what you believe, that’s fine. But please keep it to yourself.
SUE: So long as you do the same.
EMMA: That kid could lose his father at any moment.
SUE: You should start preparing him for that. Now get the hell out of my office.
[Later Sue is playing checkers with her older sister Jeannie who has Down’s Syndrome]
JEANNIE: Boom. Boom. I won!
JEANNIE: Sue, you’re letting me win.
SUE: No, I swear it. I’m not!
JEANNIE: You’re letting me win, Sue. You’re letting me win.
SUE: Do you believe in God, Jeannie?
JEANNIE: Do you?
SUE: No, I don’t.
JEANNIE: Why not?
SUE: Because when we were little girls, you were perfect in my eyes… And I watched the world be cruel to you, so…
JEANNIE: God never makes mistakes. That’s what I believe. You want me to pray for you, Sue?
SUE: Yeah. That would be nice.
JEANNIE: I win.
‘One of Us’ sung by New Directions
Original Artist: Joan Osborne
From the Scriptures:
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”’) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. (John 1v14-18)
If God is a God of Love.
If God is all powerful.
If God promises to answer our prayers.
Why does God permit suffering?
These questions come back again and again down the ages for religious and non-religious people alike. Rabbi Harold Kushner tries to answer the question ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People’ but one would sometimes wonder why, if God is a loving Creator of all, then why should God love the better behaved part of it more than the poorly behaved part?
C.S. Lewis addresses the Problem of Pain in his book of the same name from a Christian viewpoint. Though published in 1940 it is very much essential reading for those on the Journey of Faith. He even examines the problem of animal pain as well as human to break the link between deeds and punishment, prayer and pain.
We seem to have grown up with a split personality worldview. An entitlement which allows us to tell God who God must be for us. At the same time God is to be the answer for all our pain but also the problem behind our pain in allowing it in the first place. Poor God, gets blamed for everything whatever does or does not happen.
People either treat God like a one armed bandit – if I make enough prayers eventually I will receive the answer I want – or people treat God as a fantasy and live a life that presumes pain is just our lot.
I have yet to discover all the answers, but when my pain is hard I remember that God came to live with us, embraced our pain, and wore it as a badge of love on the cross.
The one promise that Jesus made to his disciples that we know has always been kept is this:
In this world you will have trouble.
Then he immediately reminds them;
But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16v33)
God does not cause pain. Pain just ‘is’. It is part of our human condition, caused by our own frailty, the greed and selfishness of others, or simply the fact that we inhabit a world that is a living organism with sliding tectonic plates and changing weather patterns that bring earthquake and tidal wave, storm and drought.
God’s answer for pain is to endure it with us. To stand alongside us and die with us. When I find myself leading the funeral of someone who has died young the family often find comfort in the knowledge that God incarnate did not only die, but chose to die as a young man that we might find the way to the life after life. There is no ‘What if’ about things, ‘God is one of us’ who is not distant and far away but one from whose presence we are never separated (Psalm 139).
And until that time when prayer is no longer needed. We remind each other of God’s faithfulness. We light candles to remind us of the hope of a future when light will dispel the darkness of the present. And we thank our Beloved for using an instrument of torture, suffering, and pain to be the symbol of our redemption.
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield
but to my own strength.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.
Grant that I may not be a coward,
feeling Your mercy in my success alone;
But let me find the grasp of Your hand in my failure.
- Still today in the United Kingdom some Christians class people with Disabilities as ‘sinners’. Find out about groups like my lovely friends at Disability and Jesus and see how you can help those with disabilities live the truth that God doesn’t make mistakes.
- If you or someone you know has a chronic illness and pain try to add it to your daily prayer until Easter. The answer to prayer is not always healing but does always include a peace that passes understanding.
Reprise: Click here to watch the original version of today’s song
Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright © Becca Anderson 2017
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Transcripts of Glee Episodes were made with thanks to subslikesscripts.com
These Reflections, ‘ ‘Gospel According to Glee’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2021 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged.