Sunday, April 12, 2009

resurrection, revolution, redemption

Hello friends,

This is my annual resurrection Sunday thread, yes I know there is a holyground, no I don't care. If you don't want to read about Jesus, please just click on another thread. If you are a believer I hope I might suggest a different way of looking at today's celebration, if you are not a believer, I hope to give you some food for thought, and perhaps a way to engage with the holiday anyways.

In the Western world of Christianity we have tended to put a lot of emphasis upon the crucifixion. I would say above the emphasis on the resurrection. The idea being that Jesus died for our sins, and with that redemptive act, he was punished for our sins, so we would not be "saved". But in the Eastern world of Christianity we see an equal emphasis on the resurrection or maybe even a greater one. And just for today I would like you to join me in looking at that idea.

You see, during the time of Jesus there were many Christ's, or messiahs. This time of Roman occupation was very hard for the Jewish people and they believed very strongly that Messiah would come, and destroy the Romans, and bring back the sovereignty of Israel, and the kingdom of God would begin. Many people imagined they were called to be this Messiah, and they would begin to lead a revolt against the Romans, believing that as they took military steps against their great oppressors God would miraculously join them in their revolt and overthrow the government. Jesus (Yashua) Bar Abbas, (the revolutionary that we call Barrabbas in the gospel stories) was one such man, but there were many others.

The thing is, all of these messiahs wound up in the same place, executed for treason, often on a cross. When Jesus bar Joseph, (jesus the son of joseph), was identified as the messiah, it was believed he would be the true messiah and restore the kingdom to Israel. However, much to the anguish and crushing despair of his followers, he too wound up upon a Roman cross. He would have been just another failed messiah.

But a few days later, we read that Jesus did not stay in the grave. That he was resurrected. And in this belief, he was not just another failed messiah, but the beginning of a revolution, that would in fact rattle the very chains of Rome's hold upon the Jews.

Now, if you do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead (as I most assuredly do) or even that Jesus never did any of the miracles that are attributed to him, or maybe even don't believe that Jesus even lived as an actual person, I would still like to invite you to follow me here, looking at Jesus as a mythological archtype (though again I believe He lived, and was infact who he said he was).

Jesus came from the wrong side of the tracks, hung out with losers, whores, radicals and the outsiders, and stood amidst the government of Rome and the leaders of the Jewish religion, and declared himself the beginning of the kingdom of God. He called the Jewish people to forsake their military dreams of revolution, and called for a kingdom where the poor were esteemed, the sick were the chosen, the disempowered ruled and the leaders were the servants. He called for a non violent opposition to injustice, and embraced all with a love that was pure, and without measure. He called us to treat everyone as we would want ourselves to be treated, and said not to return evil for evil, but good for evil. He said the kingdom of God wasn't to come, but was right here and now as we lived by these upside down values. And in doing so he drew the wrath of the powers of the day, both civil and religious.

So this man standing for peace and love gets in the way. And is murdered for it. The powers that be, come down upon him with all of their vengeance, hatred, racism, violence, shame all poured onto him. And he accepts it all. The powers that be, use all of their weapons to break this man, and he basically takes every blow, and when they have exhausted even their greatest weapon, death itself, leaving him waiting for the end, he conquers it all with love. He says, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing". Violence, and hatred are conquered by love.

But then, even if it is only mythical, the story continues. Jesus comes to life again. Not only are all the weapons of the powers beaten by love, but they are completely overwhelmed by the resurrection. That in giving his life, Jesus destroys the hold of the powers, and calls us all to follow him. We do not march to our deaths in finality, but in our deaths new, resurrection, life begins. This is truly revolution. Again, if even just a myth, the story says even in death, you live on inspiring others, becoming a seed that grows into more truth, and freedom.

Jesus rises again, Jesus rises above, Jesus gives us hope for a new world. That nothing can stop us, not even a cross, a bullet, a hang man's noose, or the slow passing of old age.

In my life, I can face the cross, I can face the powers, I can face the personal inconveniences and sufferings, because I know that in the end, it all pales in comparison to the kingdom, and the victory of that kingdom. Life is meant to be lived in the freedom and victory of the resurrection. Death has lost its sting, I live life not awaiting my end, but in defiance of it. I am called to follow Jesus in loving with abandon, standing for justice, and taking joy in this magnificent creation.

This day we reflect on the idea that the end, was merely the beginning, all of our pain and suffering and even our deaths are redeemed and the revolution begins anew. viva la revolution


1 comment:

David said...

A couple of flicks for you, Rev, that will help your befuddled brain.