Friday, April 22, 2011

Dark Day For A Bright Future

The second most pivotal day in history, Good Friday. There is no small irony this Good Friday coincides with Earth Day. While many will be rightfully remembering the creation on this day, I wonder if they will remember the one who redeems all creation? When Jesus went to the cross on our behalf, it was not only humanity that was being brought back into relationship with God, all of creation was. The process God used to bring back the Eden-like relationship was one that was dark and painful. The journey from the table of the Last Supper to the reality of the cross was filled with betrayal, injustice, beating, mocking, and nailing.

History, not just Scriptural history, records the day when the sky turned dark in the middle of the day. When Jesus was doing battle with sin, all that would keep us from our created relationship with God, the whole earth was involved and the light turned dark. The theological world will talk about theories of atonement, and the various ideas of how Jesus death brings about our redemption. All those theories and discussion have their place, this is not it. What I have experienced is this, I was trapped in sin and death until I realized the grace offered to me through Christ. I do not need to explain all the pieces and parts to know the act of Jesus on the cross changed everything for me and for all of creation. This does not mean we are free from brokenness, or that all the world is perfect. What the work of Jesus means is that on the dark day all that would prevent the pursuit of the fullness was defeated. The victory was won when Christ felt forsaken. As Jesus breathed his last, the curtain was torn and all were invited into the Holy of Holies.

The cross is not the end of the story. In fact if it is the end of the story we are all still headed for a death separate from God. If the cross ends the story then Jesus was another moral teacher who had a very traumatic death but that was it. On the cross Jesus steps in and declares whatever is needed to repair the brokenness is being accomplished. Sin is canceled, injustice is addressed, and hope springs. Not until the tomb is found without Jesus do we know that new life is possible. Jesus told that he was only going to be in the tomb for three days, the proof was in the pudding, with no Jesus in the tomb the move from great moral teacher to Messiah was reinforced. The darkness of the cross is turned into a bright future for all who would follow after the One who made it possible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Day To Remember

Maundy Thursday. What the heck does that mean? It is the day Jesus commanded his followers to practice Holy Communion as an act of remembrance and connection with him. The primary setting of memory is the Upper Room and the Last Supper, however there is much more at the table than simply one night and one religious celebration.

The journey to Maundy Thursday began in the ancient times, a couple thousand years before Christ. The people of Israel were enslaved by the Egyptians for over 400 years. God had commanded Moses to lead the people to the promiseland. From captivity to freedom. The night before the journey is the Passover night, when God passed over the homes of the Israelites and struck the firstborn son of all the Egyptians. Once free from Egypt God commanded the people of Israel to have a Passover meal each year to remember the work of God in freeing them from slavery.

It was that very meal Jesus was sharing with the disciples in the Upper Room. The story would have been told of the journey from captivity. All the foods would have been shared along with the singing of all the songs. Yet Jesus, like with many things, put a twist to the long standing religious ritual. This was the night before he journeyed through death then back to life. Within Hours of this meal, Jesus would be going to the cross, so we could journey from captivity to freedom. The meal was a remembrance of years before, and a command for the years to come.

Today many people will let this day come and go with the thought that soon they will have a few days off from work, and we will dig into those little chocolate bunnies, or my favorite stale peeps. Even in the church we rush to the Cross of Good Friday, yet we do not spend time remembering. The ancient story and Jesus Story continue in us today. The gruesome reality of the cross is important only if we remember what the cross is about. We remember today the Body of Christ broken, and his blood shed so that we may move from captivity to sin and freedom in Christ.

Perhaps you will journey to a local church to remember with others at a service (Cortland UMC at 7pm), or maybe you will take time at the dinner table tonight with family. Possibly get together with a few others for dinner to remember and tell the stories of how God has moved you from captivity to freedom. Before we go to the cross we must remember the journey which has brought us to the cross.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Tyranny of Someday

I am sure like me you have a list of somedays. You know the list I am talking about, those things that you will do someday. When all the factors come into place, and the time is right, then we will start the new venture, or make today that someday. The problem is that day never seems to come, there is always a reason that today cannot possibly be someday. Left to its own process, the someday hanging over our heads begins to invade every aspect of our lives. Before we know it we become trapped to someday thinking, and never move into a new reality.

Why do we do this? I am not sure why you do it, but I know my reason is security. I have a great place of ministry which provides enjoyment and financial security. The support of my family is a role which I take very serious and the somedays in my head would call into question my ability to provide that support. Now I know the religious answer is to simply trust God and step out. The validity of this response has not been able to overcome my fear. I, like you perhaps, have yielded to the tyranny of someday.

So what are we to do? Quite simply we must fight the fear and begin making today, someday. I cannot imagine the Peter and Andrew saying to Jesus, someday I will follow. Or Paul saying someday I will get these scales removed from my eyes. We do find people in the Gospels who give Jesus a someday answer when he calls. They have a valid list of things to do before they follow the call of Jesus, yet Jesus calls them to make today, someday. Starting today, those somedays will become todays. I believe there is something to which God is calling us, and we have been holding off. That is the key, we must be following God, not ourselves. The someday has to be rooted in the work of God in our lives, not our own hopes and dreams. The only true reason to hesitate is to make sure it is the call of God, not human will. Once we know what God wants or today to look like, we are to pursue it with reckless abandon.

I want to be clear, this is not safe. People will not understand. A change in lifestyle will be required. Personal luxury may have to be abandoned. Yet we will be the most free we have ever been. The tyranny of someday enslaves us more than we realize. In the process we become enslaved to the things which keep us from stepping into someday. Break the chains and step out. One of the many things causing the church in America to struggle is the drive to live safe and neat lives where everything works and everything is logical. The grace of God is not logical. The call of Christ is often not logical, when using the standards of the world. Still we are called to step out in illogical, and crazy ways. Let's make today, someday.