Monday, March 30, 2009

Why not go out in a whirlwind?

Prophet Elijah, Russian Orthodox icon from fir...Image via Wikipedia

Week 5 of Lent and still counting, still attempting to stay on a path? I am. But I've been reflecting a bit on what the journey and the staying on the path look like at this point in the journey to me? To me it looks like a long trip! But to Jesus, awakening to the purpose of his life, his role, his teaching, his humanity, his temptations - don't you think - it must have, it might have - seemed a very short journey?

Although no one recorded or speculated about Jesus' words on this subject, as they did and recorded in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, the thoughts could have been a bargaining or an argument about why couldn't he be laid to rest and remembered like Moses - job well done - or taken in a heavenly whirlwind like Elijah - now that would be a grand departure! But the cross? Why the cross, the shame, the undeniable disgrace and abandonment? I'm afraid that personally the solution still escapes me no matter how many times I hear, read, or am told the reasons.

I know the story, I have faith, I try to demonstrate it in my life........contemplating Jesus' life, his teaching, his death - the death thing is so gruesome - I mean the Resurrection - can't we just concentrate on the Resurrection? What do you think about the journey, about the end, about the Cross, about the Resurrection? Do you think there could have been a less gruesome story leading up to the Resurrection that would have still yielded us a sacred and holy God to love, live by and worship?

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  1. Ooooh, great questions, SS. I get excited when I read people daring to ask the good questions :)

    I really seriously don't feel like we have even begun to plumb the depths of that cross and what it means. I think the church's insistence on defining it as a blood sacrifice to a God requiring atonement misses the point almost entirely.

    I guess the thing I am focussing on lately with the cross is a more anthropological view, where I think the cross shows us our human propensity to scapegoat, makes it apparent to us where we couldn't see it before.

    I love what Richard Rohr says:

    "We, who worship the scapegoat, Jesus, became many times in history the primary scapegoaters ourselves: Jews, heretics, sinners, witches, homosexuals, the poor, other denominations, other religions.

    The pattern of exporting our evil elsewhere, and righteously hating it there, is in the hardwiring of all peoples. After all, our task is to separate from evil, isn’t it? That is the lie! Any exclusionary process of thinking, any exclusively dualistic thinking, will always create violent people on some level. That I state as an absolute, and precisely because the cross revealed it to me.

    The crucifixion scene is our standing icon stating both the problem and the solution for all of history."


    I know that didn't really answer your question. I'm not sure about that question! Like all the really great questions, the answer is often not forthcoming for days or weeks or months or years :)

  2. Sue,
    Just a small minor point, but the blood sacrifice language so deeply embedded in the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is but one of many doctrines of atonement, which, together, begin to approach something like the truth. It seems to be the one most people hear about these days, and that's too bad because it really takes one down a narrow and unproductive path.

  3. Hmmm...I don't know...I've never thought of this before. Maybe it could have ended differently and it wasn't God's intent to have his son crucified. According to the Bible, Man was given free will. Man decided on the cross. Just like Man decides on what happens in Darfour, Afghanistan, Gaza...

  4. I agree, CP. A very narrow and unproductive path. And something that ends up not being good news, really, anyway. What's so good about the news that God is a bit ... well, pathetic, that he can't deign to look on his creation? :) Sounds like something some narcissistic humans would come up with, haha ;)

    It's something I want to begin to plumb further. Not that I don't think there isn't something in the substitutiionary atonement, obviously - in fact, i think everything is in there. But when you place the focus on a God requiring blood because he's too squirmy to look at us otherwise ... it detracts from the beauty of what that is all about. All that "the human race in Adam" and then "the human race in Christ" and how beautiful it is.

    Pretty wonderful that we have so much at our disposal to be able to go searching for ourselves these days, isn't it :)

  5. Good questions. I have wondered why the cross. Perhaps the enormity of the whole event is what makes it such an important part of history. It reveals the depth of our diseases and sicknesses. And it reveals what our God will allow and tolerate in order to bring healing into our sickness.

    Just a thought among the many surrounding the reasons for the cross.

  6. Why the cross? Why the crucifixion?

    Stand straight, arms wide open to a cross. Stay like this for a while. As you breathe in, open your arms more, lift up your chest like catching the breath after being under water for a while, hold it there for a bit... as you breathe out slowly, feel the belly moving in, and slowly bow your head.

    On your next inhale, open the heart wide, imagine boundless space in your heart, and breathe in your difficulties, your pains, your hurts. As you breathe out, picture God attending to your heart, fixing your hurts, and soothing your soul.

    Repeat the process for a friend, a difficult person, and then the whole planet.

    Then lie down as the dead Jesus. God's will fulfilled.

  7. Sue - thank you for your superb comments on this post. Answering my questions directly is not a requirement, what is a requirement is for me to take the words you've offered and expand my heart and mind around them. Your response to CP further enhances this subject for me. I agree that we have yet to "plumb the depths" of the cross - what God meant, what we think God meant....what is the truth (which hearkens back to Lucy's post of a few days ago.) Thanks again!

    CP - Always great to have you visit and to participate in the discussion with observations on other commenters' remarks. It enriches all of our minds to have healthy debate or contributions for and to each other.

    Roy - The exercise is tops on my list of to do's today. Thank you for your contribution.

    Susanna - So good to have a comment from you today. Free will - oh yes, I belive also that we were given it;regrettably, we do have a way of using it often not to the good of ourselves or to the good of our fellow human beings.

  8. lots of pondering around this (these) subjects. the cross certainly gets our attention like perhaps nothing else can. and what a vivid example of our needing to die again and again and again until we can be resurrected...only to die again. jesus did it once and it was bloody and gruesome. perhaps that is what it took to encapsulate the many deaths we face in our human lives? no answers from me...just lots of pondering.