Inspired by Marcus Curnow, and the Seeds team's Easter service
I would invite you all to ponder the story of Jesus for a minute. It matters not if you believe that Jesus, incarnate diety, was physically risen from the grave (as I most certainly do), or if you believe it is an inspiring story meant to give us hope. It matters not if you believe it is just wishful thinking of weak minds desperately trying to escape the thought of their own mortality, or the mythological archtypes drawing us toward existential truths. For this morning or evening let us allow the story to simply sink into our consciousness, and reflect on what it means to our selves, our families, our communities. Even the hardest of critics may be drawn to a surprising new awareness, and the most faithful of believers drawn to a radical new life. I know this morning I was drawn into a desperate desire to join that walk towards resurection.
Jesus of Nazareth, a working class man, from a poor neighborhood in a rebellious and troublesome part of the Roman Empire begins at thirty years of age to announce the kingdom of God. This man rises from total obscurity, and begins to give voice to a revolutionary way of living, and being community. Where the weakest become the strongest, where the powerful are humbled, where the poor are blessed and the peacemakers are called Gods children. Where sacrifice, downwardly mobile ethics, and surrender are praised above power, and wealth, and fame. Jesus announces that this kingdom has come to grant freedom to the captives, justice for the oppressed and dignity for the outcast. And so begins the walk towards resurection.
As He walks this path, he is joined by regular folk. Sinners, traitors, even a terrorist among the group. He walks with the salt of the earth, and contrary to cultural norm travels with women, who not only are friends in deed, but also benefactors. He eats with all and every, and drinks too much wine, being known among the religious types as a glutton and a sinner, and so continues his walk towards resurection.
He is accepted by the suffering, the weak and the oppressed. He is opposed by those with the most to lose, the powerful, the rich, the leaders. He does not walk away from conflict, but seems to walk straight into it. He declares the kingdom with stories that no one understands, and signs that no one can believe. He lives in a strange way, loving, and communing with friends and nature, and God is part of His very breath. He often goes off alone for short times to be filled up, directed, and centered, but always comes back to His friends.
He meets an outcast at a well, and places Himself in her dept. He walks into the temple and rages against the machine of religion that exalts the educated, the rich and the powerful while systematically weeding out the undesirables. He astounds with his wisdom, but then frightens his followers with his cryptic, morbidity. "After all, how can we eat your body and drink your blood?" And he continues his march towards resurection.
Resurection cannot come without death, a fact his friends do not want to understand. But he does, and continues towards it. His life, like His possesions mean nothing to Him, but only His Father, and the kingdom, where all is made right. He is not afraid to die, for His death will be a call for all to freedom, to peace, to justice, to mercy, and most of all to love.
And on this walk towards resurection he faces all of humanities humanness. He faces all of the need, He meets some of this need with signs, some with love, some with food and some with wisdom, but all with compassion. He takes the full force of the crushing need of the world upon His body. He takes all of the expectations of the world, in its lust for power, and political might, all of its desire for security and justice, He takes it all upon Himself but calls us to follow.
And on His journey to resurection the powers of the world have had enough. The powers of the church and all of its hypocrisy strike into His flesh. The powers of rule, and militarism, draw back their muscled hands, and pour out their violence. The powers of our own individualism, guilt, selfishness and greed conspire to see this beacon of light destroyed. Jesus is beaten by fists, by weapons, by betrayal, by denial, by popular vote and all of its deception. The full onslaught of the powers of this world reach their apex upon His flesh and the path to resurection is almost complete.
And then, after taking all that the world could dish out, He rises still. Never more to be punished. Jesus rises victorious over all the violence of the world. And bids us to follow Him.
Jesus shows us the way.
It is not a way of power, and might. It is not a way of violence and domination. It cannot come by the will of man, but by a belief, that my life completely surrendered to love, and justice, and mercy, and sacrifice will result in the powers being thwarted. It is a ridiculous idea, but one that beckons us. Will you join the march towards resurection? Whether it is just a figurative one, that commends fellow walkers like Martin Luther King, and Gandhi for their immortality through the effects of their walk, or the literal idea that someday we will walk in a world where everything is set right, and love is the law, the call is the same. Will you follow? Will you?
Jesus shows us the walk of the resurection, and I for one mean to follow it, come what may.