Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In Terror and Amazement

christians have just observed easter, a holiday about which i have mixed emotions.  i am uneasy about the militaristic imagery of our hymns, filled with phrases about conquering death.  somehow this "victory march" seems wrong in light of the prince of peace having been executed by the power of a great military state.  easter leaves no room for the recognition of suffering; it pushes those who are hurting and grieving away.  i wish we'd pay more attention to the most ancient versions of mark's gospel in which there is no sighting of a risen jesus, where the women who have gone to the tomb to anoint jesus' body leave in "terror and amazement" (mark 16:8, nsrv translation), and, in their fear, they tell no one of their discovery.

for me, easter is not about eternal life.  rather it is about the permanence of love.  in this way it is tied to my lenten meditations about the qualities of love: love never ends.  as i drove home from church on easter sunday, my thoughts went to the nature of a loving God, a reasonable God, a God who would never create beings whose "very nature is evil," as our easter sunday confession had begun, a God who would delight in eternal punishment for those our religion claims this same God loves.  why would a loving God create us to live this complex existence and expect us to figure it all out in one short lifetime?  the more i think about this sort of God, the less faith i have that the god we are taught about in our churches is an accurate portrayal of the true nature of God.

if one believes in God, doesn't it make more sense that a loving and reasonable God would allow us as many lifetimes as we need to understand what life is all about, to come to a full realization of what love is?  we are such a tiny part of the vastness of the universe, and there must be creatures similar to ourselves out somewhere in the far-flung reaches of space.  is it possible that those beings have found their way to God in exactly the same way christians on this earth have?  are others here on this earth condemned to eternal torment because their cultures have led them to God in different ways than western culture has led christians?

so for me where i am in my journey, jesus' execution at the hands of rome teaches me about a love that lays down its life for its friends.  a literal resurrection is beside the point; the point is that love is unending.  it is the glue that bonds everything together.  it is the reason for living, it never dies.

may we go on loving, hoping for as many chances as we need to discover the true nature of love.  shalom.

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