Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter people in a Good Friday world

Golly, I wish I could claim that line --- but it belongs to the late Barbara Johnson, an author and comedian whose perspective was for the most part evangelical Christian.

I doubt we'd have agreed on much theologically. Original sin? Good grief --- we're merely human. A dark and broken world? It's spring, for heaven's sake man --- open your eyes. An angry, petty, tribal god who slaughtered Jesus so we could be washed in his blood? Bullshit.

But on this we'd agree --- that too often we're Easter people in a Good Friday world, suspended in apparent darkness between despair and hope, death and resurrection. I think a lot about resurrection during Holy Week.

Easter is the operative word here, the natural and miraculous, God-given if you care to think in those terms, human tendency to rise again.

We see it all the time, and experience it. On our knees because of disease, broken relationships, disasters natural, financial and otherwise, we rise again. Knocked flat by the deaths of those we love, we rise again.

I see it sometimes in gay kids --- and my LGBT brothers and sisters who are older --- backed into a corner, shoved down and in despair because of the realization that the gift they were created with doesn't fit others' expectations, sometimes their own. Then, miraculously, they accept the gift, rise again and begin to soar.

Christian ideas about atonement vary, but the oldest --- before Archbishop Anselm and then those troublesome protestant reformers --- held that the principal work of Christ was to defeat sin (our inborn talent for damaging ourselves and others) and death, in large part by example. That makes us mere humans in the hands of a loving god rather than sinners in the hands of an angry god. And it's very much a work always in progress.

We're going to witness the baptism of five this morning --- a symbol and a sacrament that goes back to that earliest church. Then we'll stand witness as a young man, a newcomer to Lucas County, renews baptismal vows made in a faith community that now rejects him. 

This is a wonderful and a joyous thing.

It's a beautiful morning; it's a great day to be alive. Christus Victor!

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