In celebration of anger

Years ago I was asked “do the things that make God angry, make you angry?” I loved this question. It freed me to actually be angry about a few things. I am not naturally wired this way and it was absolutely liberating to embrace the notion that anger could actually be righteous!

A few years after that I had a parent of one of the teens in the church where I served tell me that God is never OK with our being angry. This was the teaching they were giving their teenage daughter and she beat herself up every time she became angry with her little brother or some other injustice in the world. She lived in a space where she felt she had to be absolutely at peace and in control regardless of the circumstances around her. She also lived with a lot of guilt and frustration.

While I know in my head that anger is OK, I still don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want to be angry about everything and in fact am rarely angry with wrongs that happen to me. I am much better at being angry for others or for bad situations in general. I usually try to turn my anger into advocacy. When it comes to being angry when I’ve been wronged, I’m still not very good at it. Mostly I just feel hurt. And yes, I have enough schooling to know that is just anger turned inward and is not all that healthy, a post for another day.

For today, I want to celebrate anger. I want to say it is really OK to be ticked off at the injustices and crappy things in the world. In particular, to be angry over the crappy things the church and christians have done to others, both in the church and outside. To be angry that we are far more exclusive than Christ Himself ever was. To be angry that we have managed to reverse the trend of scripture from opening up faith to others to closing the circle ever tighter. To be angry that far too often our colleges and seminaries pander to donors rather than standing for what is true. To be angry that brilliant students love to learn and are encouraged and challenged and then realize that what they hold to be true is unable to be spoken aloud in churches leading to conflicted ministers and congregations who have their ears tickled rather than being transformed into the church. To be angry that clergy have abused their power spiritually, emotionally, physically and sexually. To be angry that we are more concerned with who is “holy enough” rather than “needy”. To be angry that still children and youth are too often relegated to an afterthought and not considered as precious and equally made in the image of God. To be angry that racism, sexism and a whole host of other discrimination takes place in the name of serving God.

Tradition says that today is the day we remember the Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. God incarnate, after riding into Jerusalem on a donkey knowing full well death was just around the corner, goes to the Temple and flips over the tables calling a spade a spade. He says “My house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a robbers den!” He named, out loud, that the Temple had become other than it was intended and in one action opened the doors for the blind and the lame, for children and for all those who were not in powerful positions seeking to maintain the status quo.

The response was “Hosanna”!!! We typically think of this as a word of praise…it really connotes a cray for salvation.

Hosanna today, this week and in this point of history. May we be saved from our own devices and instead become who God created us to be. May we be angry enough that we have been on the wrong path that we fight to make it right.

What makes you angry pulling out your own response of Hosanna?

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About Amy Jacober

Amy Jacober (PhD, Fuller Seminary) is a youth ministry veteran with ministry and teaching experience. She focuses on practical theology, urban ministry, theology & disability, and marginalized communities. She is a volunteer youth worker in her church and community, lead consultant with Youth Ministry Architects and serves on the Young Life Capernaum national board. In her free time she can be found playing with her three young children, husband, and oversized dog.