Saturday, March 27, 2010

the God we didn't want

This article appears in the March edition of St. Christopher's Chronicles...

This is all God’s doing: it is he who has

reconciled us to himself through Christ.

- St. Paul, to the Corinthians

Easter is such good news that we sometimes forget that the particular occasion our Lord had for rising was that we killed him, presumably because we wanted a different-looking god. That’s the story of Palm Sunday. He didn’t appear cut out for it. We wanted a proud king with a strong hand, and by strong, we meant violent. We didn’t want to overthrow the corrupted powers of this world, so much as we wanted to have them be for us -- that is, to have them at our disposal. He got so close to us. And to all the wrong people. He changed the rules. We wanted a warrior and what we got was a mute (forgetting God’s promise to speak through the “still, small voice”). He went out so softly. So we cry out, “Crucify,” even if we think that we, had we been there, might have acted differently, and we prepare our “Alleluias,” and we stuff our Easter eggs, and only if we’re lucky will we discover that we still want other gods.

Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that the earliest Christians were accused of being atheists because the declaration, “Jesus is Lord,” was judgment on all the other lords -- the other gods -- in Rome. “Jesus is Lord” leaves little room for bunkmates.

So Holy Week is here, and I didn’t get the Jesus that I wanted. If I took the time to think about this, I could name my frustration at the difference between the god that I wanted and the Jesus I got as the sin for which I need God’s forgiveness. The Good News of the Jesus I got is that this Jesus, this God, is rich in forgiveness.

Thank God, he is rich in forgiveness.

We’re told that after the resurrection, the disciples were locked behind closed doors, for fear of the Jews. They probably weren’t less afraid to see a risen Savior. If love lives in that space wherein one person says to another, “I’m glad that you exist,” they had betrayed their love of him in the most fundamental way: “We wish you were dead.” “We have other things to be doing just now.” And then, by the hand of a friend, he was dead. The disciples may have been sad, but also relieved. And so when they see the risen Savior, it is not obvious Good News for them. What will this mean for them?

But as it turns out, it is still the Good News. Glory to God, it is such very Good News! That the love of God is not undone by them -- or by us; by their failings -- or ours; even by our wanting other gods.

The baptismal liturgy begins with these words: There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father of all. There is one God. What’s more, he is risen! Best of all, this risen God -- Jesus Christ -- he’s come back! Come back even for us.

*Spoiler alert*


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