I’m reading Faith Cook’s Lady Jane Grey: Nine Day Queen of England with interest. Both Lady Jane and her cousin, King Edward VI, are portrayed as strong in the Reformed faith. Both were tutored by brilliantly adept Protestant scholars. Lady Jane regularly corresponded–in English, Greek, and Latin–with Bucer and Bullinger, who complimented the depth of her learning and understanding. When King Edward VI sided with Cranmer and against Knox on the subject of kneeling at the communion altar, he was respectfully rebuked by Calvin himself. Yet the young King and the adolescent girl who became his short-term successor against all her desires and better judgment–as grounded as they were in the doctrines of the Reformation–were both Erastians. They apparently never questioned that the monarch should be the head of the Church of England. Queen Jane never questioned that a monarch or a woman should be head of the Church. In one of history’s oddest and bitterest ironies, when Bloody Mary acceded to the throne, she couldn’t wait to return headship of the Church to the Pope. Queen Mary knew her place was as sovereign of the realm and not as head of the Church. The dearly double-minded Protestant English rallied around Mary, more enamored with her DNA than with the truth of the Reformed doctrines. I queried my friend who loaned me the book how she resolved this in her mind. How could people with the faith and knowledge of Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey believe a reigning monarch should head the Church? The same question had provoked my friend, but she resolved it with the answer that is always simple and always right: the very advantaged are blinded by sin as much as anyone else.
A persevering blind spot of my own caused a bumpy re-entry this morning. I haven’t been able to attend my church for two weeks, though I did attend an evening service last week at our sister church. For two months I’ve had relentless symptoms of some sort of malfunction junction in my endocrine system. I should soon be closing in on a diagnosis and mediation of the nagging crumminess. I went over my anxieties with my husband: I’m not prepared for worship. You don’t have to be; it’s enough to go. I don’t want to speak to anyone. You don’t have to. I become hot and breathless speaking to people right now, and very uncomfortable in any sort of crowded situation. So I simply determined to be present without being present to anyone else, and assumed this would make me somehow safely invisible. Sin believes reality will comport to one’s own interests. Faith shows up without determining anything. I wasn’t invisible, and so I felt utterly graceless and overextended and as though I’d failed some well-meaning friends.
My husband does not call it failure to be sick and overwhelmed. He still loved me enough to take me out in the afternoon for a latte to sip in the car at the waterfront and a drive through Pt. Defiance. But still I feel responsible for my sin’s blind spots that continue to prick me and likely others I prick in my insistence on invisibility. I am quite sure my pastor would agree that a desire for invisibility is not a mark of grace. It isn’t; but then, I don’t ask for salvation from grace, but by grace.
Next week I’ll get back on the horse and try again, without my magic cloak. If I stumble, I may fall, and I will get up. If I sit in darkness, for however long, Jehovah will be a light unto me. My enemy will not rejoice in the end.