“Going On”

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Sermon Notes

Blue Christmas Service, December 21, 2019

Staged Reading: “Going On” by Katie Langston

A note on “Going On”

This short play is an exploration of the theology and emotional content of books by three theologians who have bravely wrestled with cancer diagnoses in light of their Christian faith: Todd Billings, Kate Bowler, and Deanna Thompson. Obviously, I don’t pretend to know how a conversation of this nature would actually go, nor do I claim to have insight into the inner-most workings of these authors’ hearts.
My imagination was caught by what I saw as a tension between Todd’s and Kate’s approaches—a tension that I believe we often find in faithful attempts to wrestle with suffering. That is to say, Kate tends to emphasize the experience of not-knowing and resists attempts to “explain” her suffering, while Todd is deeply committed to exploring the meaning of his own experience of hope in Christ in the face of illness. Deanna brings what seems to me a sort of third way through that tension, embodied in a paradox she expresses in her work, and that is often the best any of us can muster: I can’t go on. I’ll go on.
In the play, this tension is expressed symbolically and literally, until a moment when Todd and Kate find a way to engage with, and ultimately care for, one another—as we are all called to do as members of the Body of Christ.
-Katie Langston, March 2019
Billings, J. Todd. Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ. Brazos Press, 2018.
Bowler, Kate. Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved.           Random House, 2018.
Thompson, Deanna A. Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma, and Ministry.  Westminster John Knox Press, 2018.