Monday, April 9, 2012

The Resurrection: A Summary

The Christian year begins with a birth of a baby. The angels sing, the kings of the east come, and the shepherds shout for joy, but we are left with a baby that is tired and hungry and fully God and fully man. The fabric of the universe is torn. The calculations of the wise are altered. God has come.

Four months later in that same calendar we come to the apex of the year. That baby is now a man who is crucified, died, and buried. Dead in the ground, death had won. For three days Satan had his victory. God undone. Hell victorious. On that Sunday morning Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome head to the tomb in pain and grief. The teacher is dead. The Messiah they thought they had known was no more. Their leader dead and so was their hopes and dreams for the future. He had brought so much to their lives and it was now over.

They reach the tomb and a man in white tells them, "He is risen! He is not here." They do not know what to do or what to think. What does it mean that he is risen? The implications were unclear. Jesus is alive, that is enough for now. So they ran back and told the remaining disciples. Peter and John go to see for themselves. It is true Jesus is no longer dead.

Jesus who is God was dead and now he lives.

Over the next few months Jesus appears to many of his followers. He says that the Kingdom has come. But Rome still rules. He says, see with new eyes, but their sight is still darken. Then Jesus ascends into heaven. He is seated at the right now of His Father. The disciples are bewildered. What now? What does this all mean? The Messiah lives! The Kingdom has come! But it is not what we expected. And so they follow his command and head to Jerusalem to wait.

Jesus is the Messiah. This they know. He was dead and now he lives. God has changed the world. Still, they do not fully see it. The world is different, but how, remains to be seen. They must wait in Jerusalem, for God isn't finished yet.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Darkness

Jesus is dead today. His body lays in the tomb. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. He made the blind see, the cripple walk. What was broken was made whole. We went to Jerusalem expecting a coronation. Instead, all we have is this darkness. I gave my life to this prophet. For three years I wandered and learned. I was mocked by my family. My brother talked to me about responsibility, about loving your mother and father. I told him, listen to the teacher, he is going to make the world right. He fed thousands out of a boy's lunch. I couldn't believe, I still can't believe. We don't know what to do. Many have already left, slinking away to the darkness. He is dead. And I am wrong. The messiah is not here.

Words on Good Friday

The murdered Physician, by his very death, has compounded a medicine out of his own blood to heal the sick.

St Augustine

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Doing the Right Thing

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet declares to people, "Do this and good things will happen" or, more often, "Don't do this, and not bad things will happen." Time and time again the people won't listen, the king will throw him in a cistern, and the officials will threaten to kill him, and then bad things will happen to the Kingdom of Judah. As a reader the cause of pain seems so obvious, "Just do what the Jeremiah says!" and all shall be well. Of course the people do not do all that Jeremiah exhorts. The king will listen, but he cannot follow through. Too often the choice is between more pain or less pain, and less pain means throwing the gates wide open for their enemies. That type of trust in Jeremiah's words is hard, even if you believe him to be a prophet.

This is a reminder to me that doing the right thing is often not based on knowledge, but moral and social courage. Generally we know what is right, and even in our post-post modern world where many truths are up for grabs, day to day rights and wrongs are clear as day. Kindness does not require epistemological certainty. Doing the right thing is difficult because we know what is right, yet we are not willing to suffer the consequences. If God asked me why I did (or did not do) such and such thing, rarely could I say, "I didn't know what to do." Rather, I'd say, "I am weak and broken." I still remember with shame my experience in middle school. I was a kid who socially skated by, generally liked by all sorts of groups. Not popular, but not disliked. Perhaps my greatest social talent was to avoid ridicule. That led to a failure of moral courage. When kids would be laughed at and made fun of, I would say nothing. My parents raised me right and I knew it was wrong to make fun of people. I knew it was wrong because I didn't want to get made fun of myself. I knew what was right, but I didn't act. I failed.