Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Family in Christ

So, after my worrying about Good Friday I found some inspiration at The Painted Prayerbook. I don't have big answers about the crucifixion (although, some thoughts earlier today when I was asked about Judas sort of led that direction and gave me some room to ponder alternatives to "God's plan" thinking), but I'm OK with that. Preaching doesn't have to be about (maybe even SHOULDN'T be) about giving the answers. Preaching can be about living in the middle of the questions. So this crucifixion DID happen. It wasn't pretty. Jesus did die. How do we live because of it? Who are WE (not we as in lots of individuals, but we as people of faith, people of God, community in Christ) because of it? How did Jesus behave in the midst of all that was going on and what does that tell us?

Here's what I noticed (with some help from the reflection linked above) Jesus knew it was all finished only after one final act of ministry, even ministry FROM the cross (John 19:28). Jesus knew it was all finished only after giving his mother to John and John to his mother. His ministry and his earthly mission was complete when he made family where before there was none. His death brought them together in a way his life with them did not.

I am thinking about how roles change when someone dies. I remember my grandmother's death when I was in the 8th grade. She was divorced probably 25 years before, right after the birth of her 4th living child, 18 years after the birth of her first child, my mother. She never remarried. My mother was out of the house when her youngest sister was growing up, so they never really had too much of a sibling relationship in some sense. When my grandmother died that really became exaggerated. My mother took on the role of mothering her sister, her sister with a newborn and a difficult marriage of her own. Before their mother's death they were sisters in a distance sort of way, but after she was gone it was almost like parent and child. Roles change when someone close dies.

One of the quotes from Peter Storey that sticks out for me in the Painted Prayerbook reflections is "From the cross where he is nailed, Jesus nails us to each other." The pain he felt, the death he died, threw us together, nailed us together in ways never would have imagined otherwise. The body Christ comes together not because we are related by blood, not because we are united in theology, not because we agree with one another all the time. The body of Christ comes together broken and battered and beaten from many sides because we are united in the broken body of Christ on the cross.

We are united in our betrayal that makes us part of the crowd that cries "Crucify him."

We are united in our desire that THIS, this torturous, humiliating, excruciating death of an innocent man, will NEVER. HAPPEN. AGAIN.

We are united in our sinfulness that doesn't stop it from happening anyway.

We are united at the foot of the cross that displays our brokenness, our unworthiness, our confusion about who we are and what we are doing.

Yet, at this same cross we are united in our blessedness that comes from the forgiveness we receive from the one we put upon it.

We are united in our adoption into a new family, given to each other for love, nurture, and support on the journey.

We are united in our call to make sure this far-reaching, never-ending, life-giving love is known to the world.

I can't make sense of the cross, why it happened, who was at fault, could it or should it have been stopped. I can't make sense of it, and truthfully, I doubt those who say they can. I can, however, see in the cross of Jesus a mandate to live a new way, with new life, cleansed from sin and joined with others in this family of faith.

(Art is "Mary and John at the Foot of the Cross" by Hieronymus Bosch)

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