The Miracle of Tin

I sat in an Easter service last night and the pastor said “Whatever the world says about you, the cross says you’re loved.” Often, in Christian circles, we use the phrase “the world” when we mean “those outside of us.” I sat in my chair on the balcony, looking down at all the people in the room dressed in their casual clothes, their Sunday best, their jeans and their dresses and I thought about how the people at the feet of the cross have always hurt me more than they’ve healed me. That the world has often been the only voice telling me I was enough, while the Church shook its head in disgust. If we look at communities around the world, I think we’ll see this trend holds true. That the church is the body going into places and communities and preaching how worthless they are. That they’re too gay, too sexual, too Indigenous, too Black, too angry, too happy, too sad to belong here. That, yes, we are all sinners but at least we’re working on it and you’re not. That, yes, we are all images of God, you’re just an uglier and duller one.


The principal miracle of Easter is that Jesus died and Jesus rose again and all of us get to live happily ever with him. But this miracle of Easter is not without its hard pill to swallow for those of us who do not feel safe around Christians. I spend a lifetime in sorrow from the hurt of Christians and my reward for surviving that is an eternity with them? That the people who took me to court to ensure they never had to serve me food will sit beside me at the feast. That the people who mocked my voice will join theirs with mine in refrains of Hallelujah. That the people who shamed me will drop their chains with mine.

I think about Jesus on the cross who cries out “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The people who called Jesus slurs, who whipped at his body, who killed him to maintain political power didn’t know what they were doing? That all seems very intentional to me. That pain feels personal. And then, one or ten or fifteen or sixty years later, those people died and have spent the first part of eternity looking at his Jewish, brown, kingly face.  And it isn’t weird or painful or hard or sorrowful for any of them.

I think about the Marys who preached the first Easter message to men sitting in the same pew as pastors who spent their whole life thinking and saying that women couldn’t speak to them.

I think about Jesus’ great-great-great-great-great grandmother knitting cloth in heaven with all the other sex workers and the suburban mothers who called them whores.

This, too, is a miracle of Easter. That we spend our whole lives beating each other to death with our theological correctness, with our political truths, and our heresy-labels to gatekeep the Kingdom we ourselves are immigrants to just to discover we all end up together for eternity.

The miracle of the tin roof is that one day I will sit with other Christians and it will not be like hiding from lightning. It will be like sitting on a porch swing on a summer day, listening to the way the rain hits the roof. You can keep your mansions and the piles of gold and the health, and the dried eyes. I’ll just take one day sitting with my people and knowing down deep in my bones I can stay.   


Bryce Van Vleet is the #1 selling author of Tired Pages and Before We All Die Let’s Have One Last Chat by the Fireside. You can support him by clicking through blog posts or donating (scroll to the bottom of the page). Like him on Facebook or follow him on Goodreads.

Like this post? Share it with a friend. Hate it? Let us know!

Mercy Will Not End (Part One)


“It’s funny what the drinking games can bring up. From hilarious stories of workplace frustration to anecdotes teeming with regret and shame. It’s a testament to the power of love when a group of friends can sit together in both the heavy and light, the scandalous and the embarrassment. In this way, the drinking adults at a creaking dinning room table are not unlike the creaking pews of a Sunday worship. A collection of sweaty bodies huddled together sharing in both the good and the bad.

As we make our way around the table, little, sharp pins of shame poke their way through our skin as we reflect on the things we’ve been told to be ashamed of. The pieces of our stories that our pastors and the inner voices we hold in our heads have told us propel us into dark places, perhaps beyond the reach of God’s holy grace.”

I’m reminded of this draft I had saved, in a never-finished post on mercy I had in the trenches of this blog, as I listen to my friend admitting their abandoned faith in God on a Zoom call at 4 in the morning. In a similar fashion, they have become so accustomed to the shame and the doubt, continued participation in a system that obviously isn’t enough to save you, is incredulous. What’s the point?

I’m reminded of this yet again as I scroll through the onslaught of COVID memes and brokenhearted updates of lost family members and jobs. Someone has shared one of those copy/paste/share statuses on their timeline. The gist is that this virus has been sent to remind us of our mortality. We spend every day on the line between heaven and hell, participating in and surrounded by a culture that is inherently evil. The usual suspects are present: abortion, New Ageism, witchcraft, gay marriage. The posts ends positively, with a declaration of faith that grants you an exception to hell, if you remember often enough to repent. If you stay vigilant to the fine line you walk between getting into heaven or being banished to hell.

I found myself, consumed with these worries from seemingly every direction, whispering the childhood prayer just in case:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my Soul to keep.
If I should die before I ‘wake,
I pray the Lord my Soul to take.


We spend so much time doubting the permanence of sacrifice, I’m thankful to be celebrating the reminder today. Ellie Holcomb’s song “As Sure as the Sun” reentered my life shortly after the lockdowns began. I’ll tell this story more in depth on Sunday, in my Easter address, but this is how the song begins:

There is good news,
There is good truth,
That you could never change,
No matter what you do.You are loved,
More than you know,
More than you could hope for,
After everything you’ve done.As sure as the sun will rise,
And chase away the night,
His mercy will not end. His mercy will not end.

Ellie Holcomb, “As Sure as the Sun”

I love this message (and her album of the same name). As I reflect on this state of our church and our world, particularly on this holy Good Friday, I’m saddened that so many of God’s children are convinced of the thin line, both for themselves and their neighbors. We have so many worship leaders, pastors, every-weekend-in-churchers that are convinced they are one step away from hell. That Jesus’ sacrifice requires daily attention to, constant reminding of, or it will shrivel up and cease. In a time of constant vigilance, fear, and uncertainty, I remain worried for the future of a church that doesn’t seem to trust its most core doctrine.

In Luke 23:33-34, Jesus is being carted away with criminals, bound for slaughter, steps away from the tree he will be nailed to, positioned in such a way his lungs will not be able to suck in air so, despite the blood pouring from his side, his hands, his feet, and his head, his cause of death will be suffocation. He calls out to his constant mockers “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

It’s a simple message with profound consequence.

Forgiveness does not require our vigilance or our allegiance. It is not a jealous lover or in limited supply. It is given to us when we are hammering the nails into the bone of our lover. It is given when our voices croak from the loud and fervent cussing of insults. It is given without our permission or our necessity. It is given in absence of our asking. Whatever you believe the reason for Jesus’ death was, whatever you believe needed death to rectify know this:

Mercy does not end because you forgot to pray the right prayer, because you made mistakes as a mother, because you had sex before you got married.

God’s mercy will not end.


The Sting

On a rocky hill, the crowds have dissipated. A Roman commander sits on this bed, head in his hands, nauseous and thankful for solid ground. The brown, perfumed body of a carpenter is sealed behind a boulder. Two women sit in stunned silence across the rock. They are cried out; their faces dry and stoic.

Elsewhere, a man wakes his best friend’s mother from a fitful sleep. She thinks not of sustenance but of stables and sheep, though she can still taste the peeled hard boiled eggs and lentil soup from her previous night. The two repeat the Tziduk Hadin. The rock is something they can cling to. She gets up and takes her position on a stool in the entry way of the house. Greeters come, bringing her baskets of food. She says all the right words, but feels the emptiness she did all those years ago, when she lost her son at the temple. Perhaps she too cries out to God. Perhaps she feels forsaken.

A curtain flaps in the wind. The spirit of the Holy One seeps out through the tear. It is coming, will be swallowed down in gulps of river water, illuminating darkness, strengthening, sustaining, challenging. But before the Hope comes there is weeping. And silence. And food given to a grieving mother staying in the house of her son’s friend.

Friday offers us a portrait of forgiveness and difficult grace. Sunday offers us hope and a challenge. But Saturday gives us nothing but ritual. Saturday gives us a guard and grief. It gives us silence from God and our textual fathers. It is the cliff hanger that lingers just long enough to trick ourselves into believing that we know the ending. It is hopeless and unsure.

It’s easy to preach about Sunday because it feels good. Sunday is where each of us wants to be. But the reality for many of us is Saturday. It’s doubting and waiting for fruition. No one asks for Saturday yet it is given to us just the same. This Easter, if you can only see until Midnight on Saturday, there’s a place for you in the message of the Gospel. Sunday is coming, eventually, but remember this:

Sunday is only miraculous because the depravity of Saturday was so real.

Blog at

Up ↑