April 24th, 2011 by A.G.J.
Recently I read a Dorothy Sayles quote regarding the life and death of Jesus. She writes: “To make of his story something that could neither startle, nor shock, nor terrify, nor excite, nor inspire a living soul is to crucify the Son of God afresh.”
What she’s saying is that for us not to be moved in some way by this story is incredibly painful for God. Why? Why would she say that? Why does it matter what may have occurred some 2000 years ago? It’s ancient history, isn’t it? It doesn’t really affect us, does it? These are questions I urge each and every one of you to ask yourselves. Is this story meaningful to you in any way? Can it help you find the things you long for in your life?
There are so many people, so many religions and religious leaders who stand before us and preach answers. They tell us what we need to think/feel/believe and do in order to be worthy. They tell us what life’s purpose is and why. And it’s not only the religious leaders.
There are those who say religion has no place in our lives. That it’s all corrupt – a man-made weapon used to control and dominate the weak. These secular priests pride themselves on their ability to be rational and employ good common sense.
And then there are those so tired and bitter, they turn away from the deep questions of faith because they are broken and sad and lost.
And I was one of them.
Less than fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It wasn’t that I was sad about my life, I was sad for the world. I saw the ravages of human fear and arrogance. At the age of 29, I found myself waking up to a world riddled with Aids, starving children, war ravaged countries, genocides, mind-blowing levels of mass pollution and environmental butchery.
I knew that I could not in good conscience bring a child into such a world. And that broke my heart.
I was told I needed more serotonin.
What I discovered was: I needed Jesus. I needed someone who’d been there and, knew what I was going through, and could show me a way out.
This is the thing about the Easter story. It is the story of redemption. And redemption is just a fancy word for love. And love is at the core of our truth. It is our essence. It is the way, and the truth and the life. Jesus the Christ is an embodiment of that love. Not only 20000 years ago but right here, right now. And so are each of you. That was Jesus’ biggest message of all. If I could sum up his ministry in a few simple teachings they’d be Wake up. Do not Fear. Believe. Love.
His entire life and his death and his resurrection teach us/show us a path out of our own confusion and despair. Jesus’ life and story cast an eternal light on the path we all seek, the path that leads us home to love.
In closing I want to offer Jane Kenyon’s poem Looking at Stars:
The God of curved space, the dry
God is not going to help us, but the son
whose blood splattered
the hem of his mother’s robe.
The image is graphic and what the poet encourages us to see in it is how human Jesus is and to recognize that it’s his humanity that saves us. Jesus meets us where we are because he’s been there.
He walked this earth. He saw the sun rise and set. He laughed and drank wine. He played with children and wept in a garden. He knows the pain of a broken heart.
He knows the undeniable power of forgiveness and while nailed to the cross asks: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. And near the end he cries out in agony: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
It is this humanness that makes Jesus more than a deity to be worshipped and praised. It makes him a brother to be loved and known.
But again, do not take my word for it, please. This Easter I encourage you to enter Jesus’ story, from any place, and for as little or as long as you like. See where it takes you. See where it takes you.