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Reclaiming Holy Week through Revolutionary Resurrection

Reclaiming Holy Week through Revolutionary Resurrection

Holy Week reflections by Jorge Juan Rodriguez V
(this post was originally published at HolyWeekofResistance.net)

For many Christian communities in this Empire called the United States, Holy Week has been largely commercialized, commodified and sanitized. Profound themes present in Holy Week of state violence, murder without recourse of marginalized individuals and communities, and the subverting of oppression through revolutionary acts have been diluted for the comfort of the masses and the maintenance of power. Continue Reading..

Another Holy Week

It is Holy Week. The week we recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. His final week with his disciples. His actions in the temple. His perplexing parables. His final meal. His agonizing last hours. The uncertainty of Saturday. The joy of Sunday morning.

It is a week of central significance to anyone claiming to be, or aspiring to be, a disciple of Jesus. One of my favorite weeks as a pastor. Also one of the busiest. Continue Reading..

Atheist: “I Still Believe in Good Friday”

banksy_good_friday

Guest post by Chris Lubbers, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Muskegon Community College

Reflections on Good Friday

I remember being puzzled as a child in church—one of many times—about why the day on which Jesus was crucified was called “Good Friday.” What was good about that? It seemed pretty awful.

I was told that what was good was that Jesus died for our sins, thus saving us from the punishment of death. But everyone still sins, and everyone still dies.

Later I was told that saving us from death was a metaphor for saving us from the eternal torment known as hell, which was not a metaphor. Some people still went to hell, though, because they didn’t believe in Jesus. Whatever that meant.

Have you ever tried to just believe something that you didn’t already believe? Good luck.

Eventually, I was told that it didn’t really matter what we did. God chose from before the creation who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. Problem solved?

Studying Biblical scholarship, church history, theology, ethics and philosophy of religion offered me the opportunity to learn far more subtle, complex, nuanced and technical answers to these simple questions I had raised. But I found them all lacking.

So, why am I writing about Good Friday, when I don’t believe in Easter?

Because, even though I don’t think there are any such things as gods or places like heaven and hell, I still believe in Good Friday. I believe that Jesus was crucified by a powerful and corrupt empire, with the help of the religious leadership, whose authority Jesus questioned on a regular basis, sometimes violently.

Little has changed in two thousand years. Those in power still seek to destroy those who question their authority.

Every once in a while, though, someone comes along and reminds us that some things are worth dying for. They inspire us to do what is right and let the shameful injustice of those in power reveal itself to everyone.

I think today of all those girls, boys, women and men who have suffered and died for our sins.

Do we have enough courage not to avert our eyes?

I Need the Resurrection

Four echoes of Resurrection hope

Read during Easter worship at Watershed, 2012

I need the Resurrection
*
because my sister is sick
and can’t afford insurance,
because I’ve told a weeping Haitian mom,
“No, I can’t take your son home with me.”
because I’ve been rushed off a Jerusalem street
so the police could blow up a package that could’ve blown up us.
Because I’ve exploded
in rage
and watched their tiny faces cloud with hurt.
because evil is pervasive
and I participate.
I need the Resurrection
because it promises
that in the end
all wrongs are made right.
Death loses.
Hope triumphs.
And Life and
Love
Prevail.

 

I need the Resurrection

because I’m tired and worn
the hours are long, the pay not enough
the second job barely covers the costs
for the kids to eat
the rent to be paid;
because life throws you some pitches
that you just can’t hit.
Because she left, and
I stayed.
Because some days a good cup of coffee
just isn’t enough.
Because I’m tired. . .
I need the Resurrection
because night gives way to morning,
darkness. . . to light
and because one day: all things will be new.



I need the Resurrection

because this life is so wonderful
despite its fragility;
the softness of dew on the morning grass
The house quiet while all are yet asleep
The promise of a new day.
Because each day comes and goes
And so many have now gone too.
I need the Resurrection
because I want one more day
with those who have already
Gone to sleep.
One more hello
One more long afternoon on the front porch
Telling stories

I’ve heard so many times
But long to hear again.
I need the Resurrection
because the story must not end.

I need the Resurrection

Because life has never
been as it should be
for me
or, I guess, for you.
I’ve never seen a rainbow
Or a lily. . .
a mountain, or a tree.
Yet these ideas are more
than just ideas,
and one day, I shall see.
I need the Resurrection
Because I long to touch, and feel, and smell
and wonder over
forever… this
Clean earth… which has been sullied.
One day, renewed.
And one day, as I use my senses
to drink deeply of all that is,
I shall see that Creation
Crowned, with a King.

*first story courtesy of Kara Root, pastor of Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Is God Dead?

Grave Reflections for Holy Saturday

This weekend our inclination is to move right to Sunday, with its spring flowers, chocolates, and promise of new life.  On Friday we might pause to reflect a moment on the cruel reality of death, but by Saturday our sights are already set on the morrow, preparing our Sunday best, hiding eggs, planning to attend a celebratory service.

Why not?  God is alive!  At least that’s what William Lane Craig declared to the largely conservative readership of Christianity Today in 2008.  He noted that reports of God’s demise were premature and “grossly exaggerated.”

Yes, the God of power, of triumph, who always gets his way, seems to be alive and well.  And we like to believe that this powerful God turns this power toward us. When things are going well, it must be because God is on our side, as Bob Dylan sang so long ago.

A new world with resources and land and treasures untold is “discovered.”  God is good.  The Native peoples are swindled, conquered, and abused in the name of “progress.”  God is good.  The most impressive empire since ancient Rome is established.  God is good.  We are secure in our nation, our identity, our faith.  God is powerful, is he not?

A convenient perspective, when things are going well.

But it has to be asked: where is this God of power for the people of Japan?  The people of Haiti?  The people of Libya, Egypt and Syria?  Those hit hard in our current economic crunch?  Where is this God of power when our nation is losing its grip as the focal point of world awe?  He’s easy to invoke –even easier to believe in– when all is well.  But too often throughout history, this God has nothing to say to the poor, the weak, the marginalized, and in fact, is often invoked at their expense.  This God is too busy being victorious to stoop and assist the downtrodden.  And so are his people, who demand, ‘strap yourself up by your own bootstraps’ and ‘that’s what they get for not being good Christians’ and so on.

I don’t believe in that God.

For me, that God is dead.

What if God is actually bigger than that?  Bigger than our claims of nationalism. Bigger than a God who acts in power at the expense of the weak.  Bigger than our gospel of prosperity, which ignores people of the third world who suffer so that we can continue unimpeded in our march toward material wealth.  Bigger than demanding his followers sacrifice critical thinking in the name of a slavish biblical literalism.  Bigger than a God who calls us to marginalize the gay and lesbian community. Not just bigger, but better.

The catholic philosopher and theologian Jean-Luc Marion notes that “idols are not just wooden examples of the divine, they can be ideas too.”  In other words, there are certain conceptual frameworks that we setup as “God”, which are not actually God.  John Calvin noted that the human mind is an ‘idol factory’ bent on creating things to worship.  Perhaps this powerful “God” of much of Western Christendom is such a god.

The gods of nationalism, ignorance and fundamentalism seem alive and well, but it’s time for them to die.

And perhaps, on this Holy Saturday, when the tomb is full and the questions linger, you might join me in this funeral.

After all, Jesus himself noted that unless a seed goes into the earth and dies, it cannot rise again to new life.  So perhaps the death of these gods of our own making will pave the way for the God who is, and who is always beyond our limited conceptions of him.

As a Christian, I see this God incarnate in Jesus, who set aside power in entering our world.  And as far as I can tell, Jesus continues to set aside his power in order to empower you and me, who after all, are now his body – his very hands and feet to minister to a broken world – not as powerful conquerors, but as fellow broken vessels.  Now that is something worth celebrating this Easter.

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