Thursday, April 09, 2009

The downhill slide

The religious life is a strange place. 

This is, of course, Holy Week, called that because we're leading up to the holiest day of the year for Christians: Easter... resurrection. I've read a few books this past year that have suggested that resurrection is the only reason to be a Christian, and I've read some that say the resurrection most likely never happened and so what? That Jesus' life, in and of itself, was a testimony to the inner being of God, an example for how we should be patterning our own lives.

I find I have not experienced a major crisis of faith over either viewpoint. I tend to lean on the side of "so what?" simply because I wasn't there, and so many stories of the encounters with the resurrected Jesus describe him as unrecognizable. By his best friends. That said, I also believe in a God who can and does work miracles when it suits God's purposes. The nature of those miracles seems to be what we all get in a snit over. Was he bodily resurrected? Maybe, maybe not. 

He was resurrected. The power and intensity of his presence after the crucifixion glows from the pages of all the accounts of the sitings and interactions that people had with him. His teaching and example did not die with him.

Today is Maundy Thursday, the day we celebrate the Last Supper. We remember tonight that he ate one last hearty and joyful meal with his friends before the downhill slide into tomorrow. We remember that he washed the feet of his disciples as a servant washes the feet of their masters... that he was betrayed by one of his own. We remember that he gave a final commandment to those at table with him... to love each other in the same way he had loved them. We haven't kept that commandment very seriously. I certainly haven't.

Most of my Lenten meditation this year has been on the fifth Station of the Cross: The cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene. I have tried to imagine every emotion Simon might have had in being forced with this obligation: horror, suppressed anger, repulsion, resentment, fear, relief... I can only imagine how he may have felt. But I know how I feel when I'm stuck with a dirty job I didn't ask for. It's been a good one for me.

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