Posted by: minnow | May 8, 2014

Life with a Dead Jesus

So I spent Easter working, playing bridge with my two oldest sons and husband, watching/listening to the girls hunt the eggs their brother hid, enjoying a beer on the back porch with my husband, snuggling with my youngest, and sleeping.  I didn’t go to a building for worship though I would like to have seen the life-size paper mache donkey my daughter made for children’s church in action. Nor, did I make a big Easter meal and invite the whole family to dinner.  Does my lack of formally celebrating the holiday make me a heretic or anti-social?  Am I sliding down the slippery slop to complete debauchery, destruction, and uncouthness?  I rather doubt it.  And yet, it isn’t an unreasonable question given the social-religious constructs of my not so distant past.

About a week before Easter (maybe two) my youngest who is eight asked if she could get baptized.  After talking to her about it–basically asking her why she wanted to be baptized and listening to her answer, I decided to not give her a yes or a no and simply wait to see if she brought it up again.  In other words, I wanted to see how strongly the idea was pressing on her spirit. I did not find out until today that a woman from the fellowship my daughter’s still go to but I walked away from six years ago asked my oldest daughter for my husband’s phone number so she could ask for our permission to baptize our youngest the Sunday after Easter.  She never called.

A couple days after Easter I started seeing (via FB) Easter Sunday service reviews, praises, laments, and confessions. The most poignant were from some of the ladies in a new group I’ve joined.  All of these ladies are Christians (or at least strongly identified as Christians at one time in their lives) and all of them have at least one child who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community.  Since I was the first in my family to leave the building I have not faced the shunning, pitying, advice giving “brothers” and “sisters” some of the women in this group have faced and I’m thankful for that.  Still, I could hear in their posts mostly about their isolation within their fellowships a deep hurt and profound sadness.

Last Thursday I was sitting in the Hastings coffee shop working on my laptop and listening in on the conversation between two women at the table next to mine.  They were going through a Bible study that involved Paul’s thoughts on prayer.  I so wanted to butt in and ask if they were familiar with the verse in 1 Thessalonians that tells us to “pray continually”. And if they were, I wanted to know what they thought about it.  I wanted to say to them, “our prayers are like breathing, every word that comes out of our mouth, every thought that comes into our heads is part of a conversation with God.”  Instead I finished my work and found myself thinking about them and praying in tongues under my breath as I left.

Seeing those posts, listening to my husband’s recent thoughts about organized religion, over hearing the ladies’ thoughts about prayer, and having my daughter ask about baptism has caused me to check in with myself.  Do I practice prayer the way I wanted to talk to those women about it?  Why wasn’t I excited about my daughter saying she wanted to be baptized?  What comfort is there for women who have been shunned by their Church families or for their children who have endured worse?  What is the point of Easter when the Church leaves Christ’s teachings about compassion and mercy and new life in the tomb?

I find it more and more difficult the farther away from the building I get to extend an attitude of grace toward those parts of the Body who see their role in the kingdom as the gatekeepers–not only deeming all theology that doesn’t line up with their particular reading of scripture as wrong but also passing judgment (as in turn or burn) on the salvation status of various groups of people.  I practice what I preach to them by never suggesting their theology will land them in hell.  At the same time, I no longer hesitate to disagree with them in public or write my own blog posts asserting their theology is out of whack when it come to representing a loving God.  In his post, Gay Marriage and the Posture of the Gospel, Thad Norvell at  Home Anywhere puts it like this–

No matter how correct your position, if your posture toward a world you believe to be “still sinners” is anything other than a love that stubbornly refuses to condemn, but instead gives itself away to point to Jesus giving himself away, you are on your own. You are not standing on the truth of the scriptures or the shoulders of Jesus. Right position without the posture of God revealed in Jesus is not the Gospel. (emphasis mine)

Honestly, can anyone seriously claim they’ve felt loved when their siblings were screaming at them, calling them ugly names, or saying someone else hated them?  We know what love looks like and feels like. Screaming and yelling and condemnation ain’t it. We know what brings life to a person. And, we know what brings discouragement, heartache, and condemnation.  For the first time in 55 years of celebrating Easter I was struck by the parallel scenes of the Pharisees ripping their cloths declaring blasphemy during Christ’s “trial” and the temple curtain being rip from top to bottom upon His death. Indeed we would not have a resurrection without His death.  Yet, looking at these parallel images this year for the first time I understood that Christ’s death was a blasphemy–a lie about God. Death could not hold Him.  How many of you, raised in the Church, have sung hymns to that effect.  So why are we holding on to the grave?

Far too many Christ-ians still live, and worse demand others live, in the gap between Good Friday and Easter morning–with a dead Jesus and a God whose judgment is yet to be administered.  But I have good news. The gates of hell and the grave have burst open!  Jesus is alive!  Judgment has been rendered and the Judge refused to cast the first stone.  We have now been given the power and must decide:  What do we do with the rocks in our hands?

 

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Responses

  1. […] olders object but for the most part I think they see my change as positive).  When the issue of my daughter’s baptism came up about a month ago I felt judged by my former fellowship.  I had to check myself because […]


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