Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Evaporating

I was an ocean;
I surged and crashed,
I raged torrent fits
Against rock and sand;
I shaped shores,
I smoothed stones,
My tidal tantrums
Educated poets,
Hypnotized artists,
Drown sailors,
And made people into lovers.
-and the sun shone on me.

I was a lake;
I shimmered and stirred;
I held fish and birds;
I lapped shores;
Stoneskippers paradise,
My quiet mystery
Educated poets,
Hypnotized artists,
Drown city noise,
And made people into lovers
-and the sun shone on me.

I was a puddle;
Gathered drops and drips;
I held moments and mud;
Potholes and lowspots;
My ephemeral existence
Educated poets
Hypnotized artists,
Drown sneakers,
And made grown-ups into children
-and the sun shone on me.

I was a tear;
I kissed and told;
I held hearts and souls;
I fell into laps;
My impassioned ache
Educated poets,
Hypnotized artists,
Drown hopes and fears alike,
And returned people back to flesh
-and the sun shone on me

Monday, April 09, 2012

Face time with the Risen Christ

If you had been dead three days and then had been raised from the dead, who would you go show yourself to? Who would you want to know you were alive? Who would need to see the proof?

Jesus had some decisions to make upon being raised from the dead. He would walk the earth a few more weeks and then “ascend” to Heaven (as though Heaven we up there somewhere). One of the important decisions he had to make was who he would intentionally show himself to.

Pilate. Were I in Jesus’ sandals, I might be tempted to go to Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who had legal authority to approve of a crucifixion. Pilate was really wishy washy and gave in to the force of the mob in order to have Jesus killed by his own order. What might he do seeing that man he killed stand face to face? What might Pilate say? Could it be that all Pilate needed was to see Jesus once again? Would he believe differently then? Perhaps Jesus would have some new credibility in Rome and leverage the entire Roman empire for the sake of his mission. Why miss out on such a brief window of power?

But Jesus didn’t go to Pilate. Jesus never had much respect for the power of the Roman empire. He did not ever feel compelled to use any of its power for his mission on earth. In fact, although the power of Rome was vast in it reach and might, it failed to be the sort of power that would sustain the sort of movement Jesus was about. There is no military might, no geographical control, not economic power that is suitable to sustain the mission of Jesus. So Jesus had no motivation after his death to show himself to Pilate because at best there was going to be a divine, “I Told You So,” and frankly Jesus had better things to do.

Sanhedrin. If I were the resurrected Jesus I would have been tempted to go back to my own religious group and point out their errors and mistakes. I would have wanted show up in the religious gathering and shock them all. I would have looked the chief priest in the eye and asked him impossible questions. I would have wanted to rescue my own group.

But Jesus didn’t do this either. There was nothing there for him. Jesus knew that the Jewish religious system, the very system into which he was born (the one he initiated with Abraham), had become as corrupt as Roman politics. Each system had responded to his mission with murder – wouldn’t it just be more of the same response to the mission which had not changed in death?

No, Jesus had no time for Rome and no time for the Sanhedrin. They were not part of his mission before he was crucified and they were not part of his mission after he was crucified.

Friends. Instead of making his resurrected presence known with power political and religious leaders, Jesus went back to the nobodies he had been hanging out with for the past three years. He wanted his friends to know he was back. He knew that the people who believed in him and followed him, flawed a crew as it was, before he was crucified were going to be the people most likely to reproduce his subversive ways after he was raised. He also knew that they were the most likely to have nothing to lose. They had no split allegiances.

Had Jesus gone to appeal to the power of Rome, his success in his mission would not only have looked like Roman and taken on its power structures, it would have experienced the decline and fall of Rome and be done itself. Had Jesus gone to appeal to the power of the Jewish religious system, Christianity would never have been more then a Jewish sect.

Jesus did not come to bless the Jews only. He was not only the Messiah to the Jews, but to the entire world.

In short, Jesus couldn’t allow himself to think as small as Rome or as small as the Jewish religious system of the day. His vision was more grand than that of vast political and religious systems. His vision was something more enduring and powerful. Jesus started his mission with friendships.

Feast

God of this world, Divine of Heaven

How complex life is

We roil and shuffle trying to spell meaning

With thoughts and feelings rushing in unexpected

With patterns of life rushing around us

Whispers catch our attention in one hundred different directions

We live in the whirlpool of complications and challenges

And yet, you are the God of order

You are the God of meaning

You live between the galaxies

And you live between the neurons

And though you are always everywhere,

You have thrust freedom upon us,

We are freer than we know

Yet fettered,

But fettered by freedom

So we ask in humility,

We ask in hope,

We ask in desperation,

What shall we do?

Who shall we be?

I want to be everything you set the parameters of my life to be

I want to gather my gifts and find a right place to set them

I want to step and my footprint look like yours

I want to have made meaning in this world

Free me further still

From my pride

From my distorted thinking

From my imposing emotions

From my self-absorbed tiny little world

From my grandiose beliefs

From my self-righteous judgment

Here, take this, it is my best, it is moldy bread.

Make a feast.

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Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter

He is risen. He is alive. He is my hope.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Hunger Games Easter

After watching the Hunger Games, I might actually go ahead and read the book. It easily ranks up there with The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and The Chonicles of Narnia in ripeness with theological implications.

There is good and evil. There is the fake or gilded world and then there is the real world. There is a narrative of death that is powerful and seemingly irresitible and the strength needed to live the counternarrative is not only difficult, it is dangerous. The story of "live the narrative of death or die" wears relentlessly against those who are honest, free, and hopeful.

"May the odds be ever in your favor," is the twisted blessing that is spoken to encourage everyone. It is a diabolical sort of "God bless you" with God being replaced with a wicked game of chance. It gives some kind of sense that if your name is not drawn to go into the annual death match, you were in some way favored. However, the oppressiveness and deceit of the statement imposes on everyone because everyone is forced into the anxiety having the chance of kill or be killed.

Everyone is objectified. Everyone is equally worthy of death. And yet it is even more sickening than just death. For the masters of death, there is value in keeping people alive for sport, for the entertainment of the powerful. Just like in the Matrix, providing the masses with some minimal life satisfaction to believe they can live or are living serves the powerful. The oppressed must live just enough to provide a resource to be exploited by the powerful, but they must not be allowed too much hope or it gets out of control and the oppressed may believe they can have freedom, may pursue great freedom.

Jesus was situated in the political superpower of Rome and the religious superpower of the Jewish religious system. Each of these systems had powerful control mechanisms that served the powerful for the exploitation of the masses. Systems of death were used to control. Jesus may have been more aware of his freedom than Katniss, she was not far behind. Her innocence in loving freedom is refreshing and it isn't too hard to think of her Messianic archetype.

Jesus lived within these systems, but was not beholden to them. He neither bowed to Caesar nor did he run from Caesar. He neither obeyed the Sanhedrin nor did he fear them and flee. Jesus operated on a completely different power system. He called it the Kingdom of God.

Whatever metaphor might now better fit what Jesus was doing 2000 years ago, it was about freedom and taking the side of the oppressed.

When the systems of death were ramped up by Rome and the Sanhedrin, they killed Jesus. And yet even in death Jesus was defiant. There is a difference between being killed and being willing to die. Jesus took the power out of the hands of his killers by freely dying. Jesus' death actually created more life in the lives of the living.

Here in the Easter season, Christians think of how Jesus died and how Jesus defeated death. In the Hunger Games, life and death is the up and running theme throughout. Even though there are political, religious, economic, and media systems of dehumanization, of objectification, of oppression, of death, freedom and hope cannot be snuffed out.

We must be not give in to the systems of death that swirl and seduce us. We must live. Being yourself, the image of God that you were made (and helping others do the same), is the most powerfully subversive initiative you can take.