Sundays in Easter: The Very Good Gospel (5)

Beauty in the Clouds. Photo by David Cornwell

Shalom says we all are connected. Every relationship created by God is strung together in a web of intimate relationships. To affect one is to affect all. So when our distrust of God leads us to separate ourselves from God, we also are separated from ourselves. We govern ourselves in our own ways, not in God’s way. We don’t trust ourselves. We don’t choose ourselves. Even the narcissist, who seems to choose only himself, does it because of his fear that his inherent unworthiness will be exposed. He places the barrier of the appearance of perfection between himself and everyone else as protection from exposure.

• Lisa Sharon Harper

• • •

On Sundays in Easter, we are hearing from Lisa Sharon Harper about The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right. Her book is about the fullness of the good news that Jesus lived, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven to give us. Harper tells us that God’s good news is about shalom, the opposite of our often “thin” understanding of the gospel.

Following Harper’s thoughts about shalom with God, she takes up the subject of “Shalom with Self” in chapter 5 of her book.  The opposite of the shalom God intends for us is shame — being disconnected from God and others and imagining that we ourselves are not worthy of being loved.

At its heart, shame is a fear that our failures, our shortcomings, our true selves make us unworthy of connection. The core lie of shame is I am not enough.

This is why we make use of various “fig leaves” in the attempt to cover ourselves before God and others. But it does more than that. As the story of the primordial couple shows, we not only try to hide, but we also become defensive and antagonistic. If we give in to shame, it can further disrupt our relational connections.

In the end, shame leaves us standing alone— separated from one another. It causes us to lash out, then tells us to cover our sin, to deny it and defend it and spin it. And on the flip side, shame leads us to craft armor to protect our hearts from more disengagement and separation.

For this reason, the antidote to shame is not merely restoring a sense of self-confidence but also finding ways to be vulnerable with others who are empathetic and who can help us begin to sew up the tears between us and the people in our lives.

Lisa Harper also talks about the power of healing prayer, testifying poignantly about how she found strength to deal with shame through the ministry of gentle, discerning friends who helped connect her to the loving affirmation of God in deeper ways through this practice.

Because their shame was double,
and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot,
therefore they shall possess a double portion;
everlasting joy shall be theirs.

• Isaiah 61:7

13 thoughts on “Sundays in Easter: The Very Good Gospel (5)

  1. I missed you, Susan, and your haikus. Don’t know what you mean by inappropriate, but I can assure you that we in the USA don’t understand things USA either. These days. Always glad to hear a perspective from down under.


  2. Hey Susan. Hugs for you. I can’t remember anything inappropriate you said, and I’m sorry if someone was harsh with you. Please stick around!


  3. I would miss it if you were unable to participate in iMonk fully Susan. Please do reconsider.


  4. Harper takes sin seriously, but seems to have escaped from the theological mentality that locates sinfulness in original sin. As a result, she’s able to maintain a positive understanding of human nature and the human self that often is lacking in traditional Western Christian doctrine concerning humanity. In this, she may overlap your Eastern Orthodox anthropology more than that of the West.


  5. Susan, thank you for checking in and letting us know how you are. I think you are a part of our commenting community and are needed also . . . . . we humans lose much when we think we don’t need certain folks or we ourselves are not needed . . . . in our Christianity, none of us are dispensable because ALL are needed and there is a place for you that no one else can fill or complete. . .

    I didn’t see your comment last week as inappropriate. You said you didn’t understand a part of the post and you asked for clarification. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with asking how others see something in hope that they will share their perspectives with you . . . . I find that to be a healthy way to communicate.

    If more of us tried to understand what was unclear to us, we all might be much better off. Much better off.
    Feel better soon . . . . you are kept in prayer by some good people this week. You have friends here who care about you and your difficult family situation and you need to know this now. Sending hug. 🙂


  6. “Thank you for your concern.
    I have been laying low after I was inappropriate last week.” Susan

    Sorry I missed that; or I didn’t miss it but it didn’t, in my thinking, rise to any particular level of inappropriateness.

    The conversations can be “robust” as C.M. puts it. This is the internet after all. smile


  7. Sorry. Meant for Susan but Christiane is also deeply beloved, although not Australian.

    We can’t all be so lucky.


  8. This series is wonderful. It’s like an extension to the Paschal hymns we sing in the Church this season; all rejoicing and not a hint of condemnation. I thought I wouldn’t like it because LS Harper is too kind and does not take sides in our Manichean struggles, but I’ve come to look forward to it every Sunday.

    Over and above the sin I’m not aware of, and the sin I am aware of and don’t bother to hide, I hide a lot of sin from other people, especially my family and my spiritual fathers. This causes shame, and as Fr Stephen puts it, being harsh and demanding with myself does not lead to healing but only makes me crueller and more exacting to others.

    Christiane, it is a delight having your digital presence here. Don’t censure yourself for not being Saint Claire. Enjoy the coming autumn down under and rejoice. I don’t know if I could ever accustom myself to Easter as an autumnal holiday, like Hallowe’en.


  9. Susan, it’s always good to have you. Just remember: IM is a place where we all must learn to accept robust comments as well as give them. I will not tolerate cruelty but directness is part and parcel of our way here. If you ever think that I or someone else crosses the line, please email me.


  10. Reply to Christiane and Robert F.
    Thank you for your concern.
    I have been laying low after I was inappropriate last week.
    Some things USA I don’t understand, distance and a different environment give us Antipodians puzzlement.
    I am willing to be taught but not chastised as I felt I was last week.
    No haiku today.
    I have been unwell today, we had a Parish Picnic and I had a dizzy, sweaty spell, flashing lights and I couldn’t speak. That was scary, I was born taking We doubt it was a TSI but will follow this up during the coming week.

    So, enjoy a ‘Sue Free Zone’.

    I will come back, but with less gusto. That could be hard.

    Peace to all,


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